WELLINGTON College, a long-established British school, will open in Bangkok next year, marking its entry into the Asean region.
With what it calls a focus on child-centred teaching amid an open learning environment, the co-educational school aims to encourage students, through a variety of activities, to discover what piques their interest and passion — preparing them for the 21st century.
The first phase is scheduled to be ready in August 2018 to serve local families, as well as in the region and across Asia. Construction of the school is 40 per cent complete, and is proceeding on schedule, in time for operations by August next year.
Located on Krungthep Kreetha Road, the Bt2.5 billion project spans 50 rai with plenty of green space, and is half way between the city centre and the airport.
In the first phase, the school will provide a curriculum for pre-nursery through to Year 6. When the school opens to include Years 7 to 12 for full operation by 2020, the school capacity will be 1,500 students.
Darika Lathapipat, chairman of the board of governors of Wellington College International School Bangkok and president of Dhurakij Pundit University, said the move to open the school in Bangkok was supported by a rising trend of foreign direct investment in Thailand and the technology-driven Eastern Economic Corridor, covering the nearby provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao.
Darika also cited the exponential growth of international schools in Thailand over the past 20 years, reflecting the demands of a high-income market.
The Wellington College International School Bangkok will follow the standards set by the Wellington College in Berkshire, England, offering a British curriculum that integrates child-centred teaching methods in a positive learning environment. In addition, leadership, discipline and responsibility—as well as necessary skills to live and work in the 21st century—will be cultivated and fostered in children.
“We consider Thailand is still open with a number of attractive opportunities in relation to the current competition in the industry,” Darika said.
“Supported by a limited number of premium international schools accounting for only the renowned five, and a thorough market survey revealing a high demand for valuable education can be expected, we are in no in hesitation about setting up a Wellington College in Bangkok.
Darika said the international college is aimed at families whose neighbourhoods are in Bangkok and its vicinity. Annual tuition fees of around Bt475,000 to Bt750,000 a year are affordable when comparing to the cost of studying overseas in the UK or the US, Darika said, with the added advantage of students being able enjoy being with family and travelling to school conveniently.
Focus on standards
“We are committed to making sure Wellington College International School Bangkok is up and running and meeting the standards and expectations of Wellington College before considering expansion to other areas or markets. We have the licence right to the Indochina region (including Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia), so when the time is right, we will start looking at other markets,” she said.
Helen Kavanagh, international business director at Wellington College, said the school is one of the world's top co-educational independent day and boarding schools in Britain.
Its importance to the country’s educational portfolio is characterised by excellent curriculum and highly recognised professionals, she said. This helps to form a strong base for self-learning educational environment where children can develop their proficiency, learn new skills and explore interesting challenges.
In 2015, the school was featured in The Week and named as the most forward-thinking schools in the UK, while The Tatler magazine awarded Wellington College with the Good Schools Award for the best senior school in the country, she said.
“Following business negotiations in Thailand, we undertook a thorough examination and review on the management team, location, surroundings and potential market, and came to the conclusion that Bangkok has the potential and readiness to become a stronghold of Wellington College in Asean,” Kavanagh said.
“Supported by the government’s economic and social development, we have great trust in our local partners to make the right investments and planning, and we expect a successful expansion in Thailand.”
Christopher Nicholls, founding master, Wellington College International School Bangkok, said that the school will deliver the British curriculum using the best of British methodology.
“We hope that children who graduate from Wellington College International School Bangkok will serve as true inspirations to others; to ensure this, we prioritise and develop their individual talents and interests to the greatest extent possible,” he said. “Alongside academic excellence, the school will cultivate deep intellectual thinking, reflective development of self and inclusive social engagement to enable students to live, work and flourish independently beyond school. This is the great achievement to which we aspire at Wellington College International School Bangkok.”
Darika said: “For our first year, we expect around 200 students enrolled across pre-nursery to Year 6. We are not limiting our market to any nationality, so our key target students are from families in the vicinity with an interest in sending their children to international schools, and especially families that understand and appreciate the Wellington College ethos as expressed in our identity and values.
“We will have up to four classes per year group, limited to 15 pupils per class for the early years and a limit of 20 pupils per class at the higher levels. Total capacity of the school is 1,500 pupils.
“Through my years of experience, I believe the very first step of making the right decision of choosing a suitable place for a child’s education is probably the most critical one. During this time, social and other skills can be taught and developed. In early childhood development from birth to age five, parents should expose their children to a suitable educational environment, i.e. schools where they can learn how to develop physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually throughout their lives.”