Information for Members

12 Submitted Comments About the “Excellent” Parts of Working at International Schools

September 12, 2017


International School Community is full of tens of thousands of useful, informative comments…22211 comments (12 Sept. 2017) to be exact.

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Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website and share what they know about what it is like working at a specific international school.

We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as being some of the most interesting and useful ones related to the “excellent” parts of working at international schools from across the globe.

12. Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.

“Currently, insurance is through Scholars International. Coverage for medical care in the United States is something like 70% (not great) but outside of the US, coverage is great. Local hospitals are excellent and many teachers have surgeries, medical treatments (including cancer treatments), ect here in Korea. Our school is close to an amazing International Hospital, Severance Hospital at Yonsei University. Many other hospitals in the area are also well-known and provide excellent care!” – Seoul Foreign School (South Korea, Seoul) – 133 Comments

11. Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus.

“Keystone was built in 2013/14 as a purpose-built school. It looks like a New England or UK boarding school. It’s facilities are excellent. There is a fabulous performing arts centre, lots of meeting areas and tons of classrooms. The sports facilities are also top-notch. The grounds are well-kept. The staff apartments are spacious and well-appointed. There are separate primary and middle/high school buildings as well as the sports hall, residences and the performing arts centre. The management is also upgrading and maintaining facilities as needed. The surrounding area is very suburban. This is not downtown Beijing. There are grocery stores close by as well as a couple of small shopping malls. There are stores catering to expats nearby too.” – Keystone Academy (China, Beijing) – 54 Comments

10. Name some special things about this school that makes it unique.

“Since 2010 there have been 2 Head Teachers, 2 Primary Heads and 2 Deputy Heads due to overarching management cost cutting and general incompetencies. As well as massive staff turnovers. People see out their contracts and don’t renew because money, housing and work life balance are better at other schools. However that being said, the teachers at the school both primary and secondary are excellent teachers. Very social, helpful and happy. They bind together and get along well. The teachers that have left have gone into fantastic things, probably because of the chaos that comes from management, has built these people to make it in the real world. Lasting friendships between the teachers and everyone looks after everyone. I did enjoy the comradary here.” – Jumeira Baccalaureate School (United Arab Emirates, Dubai) – 104 Comments

9. How have certain things improved since you started working there?

“The Academic Registrar for the past two years has done much to review, simplify and streamline processes. She has also maintained – latterly when support has been lacking – almost single-handedly excellent relations with staff, parents, students and the expatriate community when helping to market the school.” – The International School of Sanya (China, Sanya) – 29 Comments

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8.Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus..

“The school has a wonderful multistory building with fully equipped Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science laboratories. There is a gymnasium and multi cuisine food court as well. The auditorium of the school is excellent with a seating capacity of around 800.” – Gandhi Memorial International School (Indonesia, Jakarta) – 6 Comments

7. What types of sports programs and activities does the school offer? 

“Football is the main sport and both boys and girls are involved in football. Also basketball is popular, The school has excellent facilities.” – Colegio Los Nogales Bogota (Colombia, Bogota) – 33 Comments

6. In general, describe the demeanor of the students.

“Generally, excellent. 2013’s comment still stands; Wells is fortunate to have students from not the “richest” families of Bangkok, so a degree of humbleness still exists in most.” – Wells International School (Thailand) (Thailand, Bangkok) – 55 Comments

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5. Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.

“Health insurance provided. Taiwan has excellent and affordable national health insurance.” – Ivy Collegiate Academy (Taiwan, Taichung City) – 41 Comments

4. What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school?

“This is a good place to be in. The working atmosphere is excellent and as teachers we can do and suggest many things in order to help with the school’s normal development. We have reached to a point were we are stable in terms of foreign staff and locals do everything they can to help foreign teachers to feel as comfortable as possible.” – Changchun American International School (China, Changchun) – 71 Comments

3. Describe proximity of major airport hubs to the city center and give sample taxi, train, subway and/or bus fares to get there.

“Hong Kong has excellent public transport. You can check in at IFC in Central or Kowloon half a day before the flight and then take your time shopping, eating, or sightseeing. The express train to the airport is quick, comfortable, and inexpensive. There are numerous buses and the MTR. As well, taxis are readily available, as are hire cars.” – Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (China, Hong Kong) – 111 Comments

2. Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.

“More local teachers than expat. There are approximately 15-20 American teachers working at the school. Local teachers speak excellent English and are great colleagues.” – American School of Belo Horizonte (Brazil, Belo Horizonte) – 46 Comments

1. How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country?

“Compared to teaching in the UK this is a dream, as long as you are prepared for the culture shock of living in a small village of thirteen million. Small classes, good behaviour and a genuine interest in study, excellent resources, great quality of life. Admin is less than in the UK although it is creeping up. Some of it good, some of it of limited value (just like the UK). I enjoy my teaching and the travel opportunities this place offers.” – Wellington College International Tianjin (China, Tianjin) – 54 Comments

If you have an interesting and useful comment to add related to the excellent parts at your school that you would like to share, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Bangkok, Thailand

April 16, 2015


Around the world, there are cities that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

Some cities, though, have MANY international schools!  When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city.

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Bangkok, Thailand

Currently, we have 49 schools listed in Bangkok on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
Bangkok Patana School (Bangkok, Thailand)17 Comments
Concordian International School (Bangkok, Thailand)23 Comments
KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand)61 Comments
NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)65 Comments
Ruamrudee International School Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)21 Comments
Wells International School (Thailand) (Bangkok, Thailand)18 Comments

Recent things they have taken on
“In 2012 the school implemented the Literacy by Design program for K3 – Grade 4, and the IB Diploma Programme in 2013. It also began scheduling more consistent weekly professional development meetings in 2013, including WASC focus and home group sessions, and grade-level meetings. As of 2012, it joined EARCOS and now regularly sends its staff to the annual conferences.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“The ELD team just attended the ELLSA conference in Bangkok.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“In 2014 the school will be launching the Professional Development Hub, which is intended to be a central location for teachers in the Southeast Asian region to receive professional development.” – NIST International School

“The school is well-known for IB standards as quite a few of the teachers are IB Examiners and moderators. The Head of School is also on the Board of the IBO worldwide. Currently they are participating in a pilot study for the MYP.” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

Expectations of staff
“Teachers are assigned a maximum of 25 contact periods (45 minutes each) per week, while department heads have a maximum of 20. Minimum expectations include curriculum mapping on Atlas, and personal daily or weekly lesson plans that are attached to the maps. Weekly professional development is mandatory. Staff are encouraged, though not required, to take on extra-curricular classes or activities.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“Expectations are high but lots of support.” – Concordian International School

“(Sorry, as admin it’s hard for me to comment, but teachers seem to work hard, but get non-contact time).” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

“High expectations, but with exceptional support and resources. Teachers are expected to participate in 2 extra curricular activities each year, which is quite manageable.” – NIST International School

Kinds of teachers that work there
“Approximately 30% of staff are from the United States, while the rest are a mix of over a dozen nationalities. While the school will hire inexperienced teachers in special circumstances, prospective hires should expect to be turned away if they don’t have a degree in education (or their subject areas at the secondary level) and a few years of experience. Nearly 70% of the teaching staff has master’s degrees.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“Most teachers are from USA (there around 180 in total). A few are from the UK and Thailand.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“All teaching staff are fully qualified. Most are British, with some Australians, South Africans and Filipina. turnover is high. Last year 40% left. Most leave due to the lowish salary rather than because they are unhappy with the school.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School

Housing
“Ruamrudee does have a housing allowance – B20,000, but it is part of the actual salary, so it’s taxed at 30%. So, effectively, the allowance is B14,000 – enough for a small local house/apartment.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“There is a housing allowance which is sufficient to rent a small studio. There is no extra for married teachers.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School

“Around 40000 Baht a month for singles and 60000 Baht for teaching couples.” – NIST International School

“Small housing allowance.” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)

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If you work at an international school in Bangkok, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #32: David Walters (A director at an international school in Bangkok)

September 24, 2014


Every so often International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed David Walters:

6239_unnamedTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

My name is David and I have been working abroad since 2005. I am originally from an area just South of London. I came to Thailand straight from University and never really looked back. I started my career teaching PE and then went on to teach Year 5, all at my first school in Bangkok. I then changed to my second school, also in Bangkok, where I worked for 5 years in Key stage 1 and 2 positions. Whilst working at my second school I opened a Kindergarten with a colleague, which has now been going for four years. I love both travelling and teaching, so teaching abroad couldn’t be more perfect for me.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

A lot of luck was involved with my first job in, not only  international teaching, but in teaching itself. I had just been rejected from what at the time, I thought, was my dream job . It was a fast track management position at a well known leisure centre chain in the London. I was just out of University and it was a dream opportunity. Having made it down to the last 8 candidates from 400 odd, I fell at the final hurdle. It was a time when jobs in the UK were hard to come by, so I sought experience abroad. I luckily landed a PE teaching job in Thailand. After about a month of teaching I fell in love with the kids, the culture, the freedom and the teaching. I still wasn’t a fully qualified teacher at that point and after two years I returned to study in the UK to become fully qualified and pursue a full time career as a Primary and Early Years teacher. I consider myself lucky on three counts:

1) not getting that first job

2) finding teaching

3) starting my career teaching in Thailand.

Which international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.

06DavePhonicsAlthough I was lucky to get into the international school setting and teaching to start with, being that I wasn’t qualified, the school that I worked at didn’t exactly set high standards. The first school, Heathfield International School, was not very good at all and I didn’t spend long there. When I joined I didn’t have much experience an like I said I wasn’t qualified at the time, so it was at least a good stepping stone. The second school, Rasami International, was better but still had a lot of problems. The first two years that I worked there were fantastic, the third good but after that it was all downhill. To begin with I was surrounded by really good teachers and a very supportive Head but the school was badly run and the good teachers began to leave. When the Head left I knew it was time to go and at that point the school that I had opened myself was more or less established.

I set up my own school with a close colleague of mine. He was one of the teachers I met at Rasami. We decided to open a school because we both had dreams and ideas of how a school should be run. Both of us think alike and have always fostered ideas and teaching philosophies that break the norms of how we are taught to teach. I am somewhat of a rebel in this sense, often going against suggested practices for teaching. The freedom to teach the way I want to teach makes everyday amazing. What could be more fun than doing the job you love however you want to do it?

Even though I have had ups and downs in the schools where I have worked, I would definitely recommend working abroad to anyone. Even through the downs I have enjoyed every moment of my working life and not many people can say that. I never look at my job as work. I don’t think of that 6am alarm call as the start of a boring day but rather one of excitement and discovery. If I could, I would go back and do it all again, but I wouldn’t change a thing. The things I have seen, the people I have met, both good and bad, have made me a better, stronger, more rounded person. The fact that I could open the school of my dreams at such an early age, is a testament to the opportunities available when working abroad.

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

The list of cultural differences between Thais and Westerners is never-ending. With so many talking points, from floods through to coups, the ways in which we think is so much more different and this becomes apparent the longer that you stay here. We all think our culture has it right and that the others are doing something wrong, but given that they think that about us as well, one of us has to be wrong. Nevertheless you have to accept the differences and move on but even after living here for 9 years and being fluent in Thai, I still don’t understand a lot of what Thais do and every day I find my jaw dropping to new lows. Sometimes it’s frustrating (most of the time) but sometimes it can be the cause of laughter too.

In my first Year of teaching here I made a grave error that to my good fortune the Thai “victim” saw the funny side of. The Thai staff greet each other with what is called a “Wai”. To do this you put your hands together in prayer form and rest the fingers either below the chin, nose or on the forehead. The higher up the Wai, the more respectful it is. This is because Thais believe that the top of the body is the most revered part and the feet or bottom is the least. One day after changing for swimming an elder Thai teacher walked past and gave a Wai. At that exact moment I had a shoe in hand and being slightly startled I raised my shoe to my head and gave what was probably the first and last “Shoe Wai”. This is actually quite a big insult but the Thai teacher found my embarrassment more amusing than the insult of the action.

DSC_0058What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

After being my own boss for some time now, it is very difficult to know what I would look for if I was to find a new school. It might happen one day and if everything went badly and I found myself having to look for jobs again I would definitely look at working in Japan or Taiwan. I have visited many places in Asia and several places from other parts of the world and these are the only two countries I really felt at home from the moment I arrived. It helps that Japanese food is my favourite.

I have obviously set up my school the way that I think a school should run and finding another one that matches my vision would be difficult, but I would hope that the way the world is changing it won’t be too long before schools around the world follow suit. I would definitely like to see a school bend the rules a little and put the focus back onto the children. Schools that give time to the teachers to develop new teaching ideas and games rather than pushing teachers to mark books or fill in paper work can achieve wonderful things with the children. I would also like to see a school caring about the environment. I love following scientific trends and it is important to me that a school looks after and is part of the community in which it is situated. Schools have a responsibility to teach children how to look after the world, how to recycle and how to keep fit and eat healthily. I would look for a school with a social conscious and a moral compass.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

The opportunity of a lifetime.

Thanks David!  You can check our more about David at his blog.

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 1 year free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the Thailand like David?  Currently, we have 44 international schools listed in Bangkok on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• Bangkok Patana School (17 comments)

• KIS International School (Bangkok) (40 comments)

NIST International School (29 comments)

Thai-Chinese Int’l School Bangkok (16 comments)

Wells International School (Thailand) (18 comments)

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #1: Go travel crazy!

November 30, 2013


We all hear about the big possibility of saving while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t. So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?

1269203_10151627517416587_2134762640_oHow NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #1 – Go travel crazy! (Take a trip during every break opportunity you get!)

We feel uncomfortable when we don’t have our next trip planned. Some of us even feel uncomfortable when we don’t have 2 or 3 trips planned to look forward to.

It is even worse when your colleagues have their trip planned and you don’t!

And even worse than that is when your colleagues copy the same trips that you are going on.  Ha ha!

So if you have enough money to travel with (because you are not paying for a car, car insurance, cable tv, etc…), then why not take this opportunity in your life and explore the world?  But all these trips can indeed add up and deplete your bank account, and you can’t necessarily be traveling to the Maldives during every break you have.

It depends a lot on where you are living too; how expensive these trips that you may be buying.  You might have to spend a lot of money if you are traveling from a rather small airport or from an airport that is in the middle of nowhere.  Flying out of those cities can really ‘break the bank’ in your feeble attempt to travel and also save money at your international school.

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Some say too that the day of finding cheap trips is over with.  Low cost airlines are not really so low cost anymore with all their extra add on fees *e.g. to check in a bag.  If you are not smart about when you buy the flights and what websites that you use to buy them on, then you will be paying a lot more money for your flights than you could be paying.

How sad when your friend has found a good airfare and then 5 minutes later when you buy the exact same trip, the price has gone up.  Flight prices change all the time and can change rather quickly.  Buying at the right times can help you save at least a little bit of money as you go travel crazy.

So, how many flights a year are international school teachers taking each school year?  It is probably between 15-20.  And to make things

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worse, we feel like any number less than 10 flights a year is hardly traveling at all (‘Groan’…said all your friends in your home country).  Maybe to save a little bit more money, we can try and cut down our number of trips a year, but that seemly is….unlikely!

To save you some money, we do have a comment topic related to this theme.  It is in the travel section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby.

‘Just paid $2000 for round trip to U.S. in Dec.’ – Okpo International School (14 Total Comments)

‘It’s not the cheapest destination to fly from. Expect $1000 to fly internationally, and during holiday periods airfares to popular destinations (Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia) can get close to that.’ – Beijing BISS International School (32 Total Comments)

‘Since Bangkok is a major travel hub, airfares to surrounding countries are almost always available at less than US $1000, and deals can be found with just a bit of work.’ – Wells International School (Thailand) (17 Total Comments)

Checking out these comments before taking a job at an international school can give you a better idea of the amount of money that you can expect to pay for flights out of that city.

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Surveys

Survey results are in: Describe the current condition of the international school building you work at.

September 15, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted are working in a Brand new/Excellent international school building.

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We all dream about teaching in the perfect, purpose-built school building, but many of us never get the opportunity.  According to our recent survey results though, it appears as if most of us are!

Maybe it is because of working at an international school, I mean many of these schools are run by some of the richest people in the city’s community. Most of these well-off families want their children to attend not just the best school in the city, but possibly the nicest looking as well.  If some people with money and good connections in the community want a nice-looking school building for their children, then I am sure they can and will do just that!

Many international schools however find themselves stuck in a converted building, meant for another purpose….not so much for teaching.  In those buildings, international school administers and teachers struggle to ‘make-it-work’; somehow managing to educate students in less-than-ideal situations.  Even when they try to update something in the building, there are too many extraneous factors that stop them from doing so.

Other international schools start off as someone’s (or a group of people) dream.  Not existing before, the new building is constructed to fit that dream.  The people in charge can direct how the building looks like and make it the most purpose-built as they can to fit their needs.  There are definitely international schools out there just like that, someone’s dream school.

But for the other international schools stuck in a building that is either falling apart or too small to fit the growing needs of the school, getting a new building made for them is a big challenge to say the least.  Constructing a new international school building is multi-faceted and very time-consuming.  Many factors come into play and the timing has to be perfect.  There needs to be the right amount of funding up-front.  There needs to be years of planning to take place and support from all stake holders.  There also usually needs to be a stable student-body where the student numbers are either growing or holding very tight.

Of course when the stars align, then the lucky international school teachers (and all the other stake holders) get to work and learn in a brand new, excellent school building. I mean who wouldn’t want to work in a new purpose-built international school building?

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Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses the building and campus for each school.  It can be important to know more about the school’s building if you are planning on moving across the world to work in it.  Is your potential new international school state-of-the-art in its design with the most up to date technology or a building that is falling apart?

The comment topic in the School Information section tab is called:

• Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus.

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Taken from the Vietnam American International School‘s school profile page.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website; 547 to be exact.  Here are just a few:

One International School Community member said about working at MEF International School Istanbul: “The Int’l school is very subservient to the National school in terms of use of facilities and is given a real afterthought treatment by the general management.”

Another member said about working at Yokohama International School: “Space is really expensive in the school area, however, YIS has adequate space for its size. It is somewhat restricted in terms of sports facilities, but uses a nearby field.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at Wells International School (Thailand): “Wells includes three campuses: 2 kindergartens and 1 primary and secondary campus. All three are relatively small, but the facilities are expansive given the land restrictions. The head campus, located on Sukhumvit at On Nut, has over 30 classrooms, an auditorium, three science labs, 2 sports courts and more.”

If you are currently a premium member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know about the buliding/campus of the international schools at which you have worked. You can start by logging on here.

Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.

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School Profile Searches

Using the School Profile Search feature on International School Community: Search Result #11

June 20, 2013


Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you.  You get the possibility to search (using our unique search engine) for international schools based on the type of school that best fits your criteria.  There are many different kinds of international schools: ones that are small in student numbers to ones that have more than 1200 students, ones that are for-profit to ones that are non-profit, ones that are in very large cities to ones that are in towns of only 1000 people, etc.  Each international school teacher has their own type of a school that best fits their needs as a teacher and as a professional.  Your personal life is also very important when you are trying to find the right match.  Most of us know what it is like to be working at an international school that doesn’t fit your needs, so it’s best to find one that does!

Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search our 1445 schools (updated from 1405 on 10 April 2013) for the perfect school using up to 8 different criteria.  The 8 criteria are: Region of the world, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Country, Year Founded, Kinds of Students and Size of City.  You can do a school profile search in three different locations on our website: the homepage, the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page. Check out our past school profile search results here.

Search Result #11

Criteria selected:

  1. Region of the world (SE Asia)
  2. Curriculum (All)
  3. School Nature (All)
  4. No. of students (Medium 300-700)
  5. Country (All)
  6. Year founded (0-15)
  7. Kinds of student (Mostly Local)
  8. Metro Population (All)

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Schools Found: 9

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The nine international schools that met the criteria were found in three countries:

Cambodia – Cambodia International Academy, Western International School (Phnom Penh) and Jay Pritzker Academy (18 Comments).

Thailand – Keera-Pat International School, Bangkok, Wells International School (Thailand) and St. Stephen’s International School (Bangkok) (8 Comments).

Vietnam – APU International School (27 Comments), Singapore International School (Saigon South) (6 Comments) and British Vietnamese International School.

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Why not start your own searches now and then start finding information about the schools that best fit your needs?  Additionally, all premium members are able to access the 8470 comments and information (updated from 7799 on 10 April 2013) that have been submitted on the hundreds of international school profiles on our website.

Join International School Community today and you will automatically get the ability to make unlimited searches to find the international schools that fit your criteria (with a free 7-day trail of premium membership).

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