Schools in Thailand 

Expats moving to Thailand with children won't be overwhelmed by the choice of schools; many local public schools have restrictions with regards to children's nationality. Foreign children can attend public school but, unlike Thai families, expat families will have to pay tuition fees.

Furthermore, the primary language of instruction at both public and private schools is Thai, which presents a language barrier for expat students. Expats therefore generally opt to send their children to either a private bilingual school or international school in Thailand.

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Public education in Thailand is free for Thai nationals up to the age of 13. At this point they need to satisfy academic entrance requirements and begin to prepare for university, which starts for students as young as 16 years old.

Free public education is available for Thai nationals only. To be considered a Thai national, the child must have at least one Thai parent and their birth must have been registered in Thailand. Schools will ask for proof of this in the form of a birth certificate. Children who don't meet these requirements can still attend public schools, but not for free.

The English Programme (EP) is a government initiative offered by a number of public and private schools. In an EP class, almost all subjects are taught in English by a teacher hired from abroad.

Public and private schools with EP classes charge both Thai nationals and expats for these classes. This is in addition to tuition fees. The total price of attendance at either an EP public school or an EP private school will still fall well below the high cost of international schools.

For families who plan to live in Thailand long term, English Programme schools may be the best option. They offer an opportunity for children to develop closer links to Thai culture and society while still allowing access to a bilingual education.

Private bilingual schools are a good option for expat parents who can't afford the high costs associated with international school fees. The standard of some of these institutions has greatly improved over the course of the past decade, and Western-style teaching philosophies which focus on student-centred learning have had more influence in recent years.

English programmes vary between schools, so expat parents should do their research before making a selection. It is also worth bearing in mind that many of these schools are religious, and the curriculum will likely include a value-based learning system that aligns with the school's designated faith.

For families who plan to live in Thailand long term, these private bilingual schools are often the best option. They offer an opportunity for children to develop closer links to Thai culture and society while still allowing access to a higher standard of education, a wider assortment of extra-curricular activities, and better facilities which are usually associated with private schools.

Most expats in Thailand, especially those only relocating for a short time, choose to send their children to international schools in Thailand. These schools, be they American, English or French, teach in a language and style that would be familiar to children from that country, and allow for continuity by providing home-country curricula.

These institutions are accredited by external bodies, and it follows that both learning standards and the criteria for hiring teachers are high. Wealthy Thai families often prefer to send their children to these schools, and as a result, it's normal for their student bodies to include a large number of local students too.

International schools in Thailand are almost always well financed, boast modern facilities, small class sizes and an impressive range of extra-curricular activities.

Although a large variety of international schools can be found in major cities such as Bangkok and Pattaya, options are more limited in rural areas. Expat families living in more rural locations should explore boarding options or homeschooling.

The more popular international schools tend to have long waiting lists, while admission may be based on language proficiency and academic achievement. Requirements vary from school to school, but it's always best to start the admission and enrolment process as early as possible. Fees for international schools in Thailand tend to be high, and expats relocating for work should try and negotiate an education allowance into their employment contract.