WHAT ARE THE BEST SCHOOLS IN HUA HIN?
What are the best schools in Hua Hin is a question that every single parent who is considering moving to our beach town will ask us. Even if they’ve done their own exhaustive research, each client will ask us our opinion on the best schools in the area. Since we have a child, and since we’ve been here for nearly 5 years and have checked out most of the schools in the city, people seem to want to know our thoughts on this topic. I would first like to say that a parent’s preference for a school’s philosophy and teaching method is a very personal and subjective matter. There is no right or wrong answer, as long as the child is happy at the school and performs well. We know parents whose children attend nearly every school in town, and they all seem happy with their choice of school, even if there is the occasional complaint or gripe about something. Here is a list of the international and larger Thai schools in Hua Hin: Hua Hin International School Yamsaard BECC Pathravadi (Elementary) Pathravadi (High School) Salesian Somtawin Halio http://www.halio.org Hua Hin International School is the newest to join the ranks of the international schools in Hua Hin, and only opened its doors last August (2015), but so far seems to be doing very well. The school received far more students than it anticipated in its initial year, and despite being far more expensive than the other international options in town (3 times more expensive, in fact), many parents eagerly moved their children there, thanks in large part to its preceding reputation as being the only school in Hua Hin that would be on par with the international schools in Bangkok. The school is professionally run (with a British “Headteacher”) and follows an adapted UK curriculum as well as a strong Thai language program; it is fully accredited and only employs teachers from the UK and Thailand. The campus will grow each year with the eldest students (currently at grade 8 now) until Years 12 and 13, which will follow the internal baccalaureate program. Located directly next to Black Mountain golf course, the school is approximately 15-20 minutes to Hua Hin town center, and about 5 minutes to the bypass road. Yamsaard Hua Hin is another international school, located off Soi 94 in central Hua Hin, and is about 5-10 minutes from town center, which is quite convenient. Yamsaard is a fully accredited school and recently adopted the Cambridge English Program to enhance the English language program. Yamsaard is Thai with the main branch in Bangkok, and all the high level administrators of the school are Thai. The philosophy of the school is distinctly Thai, as is the curriculum, though every class has both a native English speaking teacher as well as a Thai teacher. The school has a good reputation throughout the country, which is important if your child plans to attend high school and/or university in Thailand. Our daughter went to Yamsaard when we first moved here, and she was quite happy. We loved her kindergarten teacher and felt that she was learning a lot. There is a nice mix of Thai and international students at the school, and the community is friendly and welcoming. The Thai teachers are stricter here than at the other international schools, and I think this is due to the fact that it is very Thai in culture. It was a bit of a shock for our daughter when first attending Yamsaard, but overall she had a positive experience.
The BECC is an international school with a UK curriculum that is based within the Vic Patravadi campus just south of Hua Hin town center. The head administrators are English, and the philosophy is more about learning through play and through doing, which resonated well with us (and with our daughter). She’s been at The Becc for 3 years now, and is very happy here. The teachers are all native English speakers, and each class also has a Thai teacher who assists and teaches Thai every day. If I had one complaint about the BECC, however, it’s that the Thai language program doesn’t seem to be a huge priority or focus. We understand that there is a lot of material to cover in the day with only the UK curriculum, and adding Thai in the mix requires some juggling of priorities. After some feedback from parents who feel that a stronger Thai program is essential here in Thaliand, the administrators have responded with more emphasis in this area. The atmosphere of the school is very open and communicative, and the teachers and administrators are continually encouraging creativity and independent thinking from the students. The school itself is very free-form and natural with open classrooms (no doors, no AC units) and an artistic feel. Indeed, the school is within the Vic Patravadi campus, which is the only performing arts school in Hua Hin, founded by one of Thailand’s most famous actresses, Khun Patravadi. The campus is amazing, set within the city but on a huge property amidst the countryside with horse stables, deer, turkeys, goats, and other wildlife. In fact, I joined our daughter’s class on their weekly cross country run through the campus and was amazed at the natural beauty and the expansiveness of the school grounds (it was my first time to explore the area).
Patravadi (High School) That brings us to the next school: The Vic Patravadi is a high school which teaches all aspects of theater and performing arts, including acting, singing, dancing and choreography, music and video, set design, costume making (and fabric dyeing), photography, painting, etc. Every year the Vic puts on a play or musical completely produced and acted by the students and teachers, and every student is required to perform. We’ve been two years in a row, and both shows were amazing: so professionally done and so beautiful. We were very impressed, and now want our daughter to go here when she’s old enough! Additionally, there is a Weekend School that the Vic Patravadi offers for any child, regardless of whether they are enrolled at the school or not. Our daughter is currently taking private singing and piano lessons from one of the teachers, and he is great! He is able to achieve the difficult task of keeping children engaged and interested while having fun and learning. Patravadi Elementary School The elementary school is associated with the Patravadi high school and within the same campus. The school seems to have a more traditional educational approach than the high school, though less traditional than other Thai schools. The Thai language skills are strong, and there are more Thai and mixed race Thai children who attend, though there are a few non-Thai children as well. I don’t know much about the academics of the school, to be honest, though the facilities are very nice. Salesian This is a private Catholic school located in the heart of Hua Hin town center. It is one of the largest schools in Hua Hin, and has a good reputation throughout Hua Hin and beyond. The enrollment begins at nursery (age 3) and goes through high school, and there are more than 1,000 children in total. The school is strong in Thai language skills, math and science, but the English program does not compare with the other international schools throughout Hua Hin. We have heard good things about Salesian from parents whose children attend, though we don’t have much experience with the school ourselves. When we first moved to Hua Hin, we visited Salesian as a possible option, but the headmaster told us he felt the school was too large for our daughter and that a smaller, more intimate option would be a better transition for her from her previous preschool in the US to kindergarten in Thailand. Paul and I both appreciated his honesty and wisdom, as looking back on his comments, we think he was completely correct in his assessment.
Somtawin Located in West Hua Hin, off the bypass road, about 20 minutes from town center, this international school has a stronger English language program than Salesian and possibly Yamsaard, but I’ve heard that the Thai language is not as big a priority here. Somtawin starts at age 3 and goes through age 18, and currently is the only international high school option in town. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews from various parents, some say the teachers are great and the quality of education is very high; other say the opposite. I understand from a good friend of mine that Somtawin has made an effort recently to hire better teachers and that the standard has improved Halio is a small, more alternative school located in Northwest Hua Hin in a large house within a small housing development. The location is a bit remote and slightly more difficult to get to, but we’ve heard really great things about the school from enthusiastic parents whose children attend. The school is small and very community-oriented, and one thing that seems nice is that the younger children and older children have a lot more interaction, and the classes are divided by skill level rather than age. The students are able to have a more active role in their education by choosing the classes themselves, which encourages independence and personal responsibility. I like the philosophy of children taking a more proactive role in educating themselves and learning to think for themselves, both inside and outside the classroom, and this seems to be a big focus at Halio. The school currently has students enrolled from age 3-18, though recently stopped accepting applicants for the upper years program for children aged 13-18. We hope this information is helpful, and if you have any feedback for us about your experience at any of these schools or any Hua Hin schools that we may have failed to mention, please let us know. Thanks!