Samui Wining & Dining
A License To Learn

The International School of Samui has been granted the island’s first International School License.

82It’s getting shorter. The ever-diminishing list of amenities that the tropical resort island of Samui does not have is now quite small. And the latest item that can be crossed off the list is having an accredited International school. And that’s because the Thai Ministry of Education has recently granted the first International School Licence to a school on Samui. The International School of Samui (ISS), formerly known as Bluewater, is to operate under the new name from August 2010.

Bluewater School, founded in 2006 by Jeremy Lees, a UK-qualified teacher and former British Army officer, very quickly established itself an excellent reputation amongst the island’s discerning parents. And in this short period since opening, the school has gained 230 students (with more enrolled to come in August), representing some 35 different countries, with pupils coming from nations as far away as Chile and the USA.


The news that Samui will now have its own International school is spreading fast and already having an impact, as this could be quite significant for the future success of the island and its businesses. Many on Samui felt this licence was practically impossible to obtain. But, after two years of numerous submissions and the meeting of strict criteria, the school was granted the first International School Licence in South East Thailand in March this year.

Principal Jeremy Lees says, “I am proud to announce the prestigious grant recently presented signifies that ISS is now accredited as an International school by the Thai Ministry of Education, the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), Edexcel International Examinations and the Independent Schools Association of Thailand (ISAT). It means that we are the first and only school here to be licensed to teach the National Curriculum of England. Parents can feel secure in the knowledge that the school is not only operating properly, and to international school standards, but also that it’s the only school on Samui regulated to do so by the Thai government.”

For many expatriate parents with school-age children, this means that Samui is finally a viable (and indeed desirable) place to live. The curriculum follows that of the UK, so students should have continuity in their studies, even if moving around from one International school to another. The ISS has no less than 22 qualified British nationals as class teachers. (It must be the biggest employer of expats on the island. The usual strict company regulations on expat to Thai staff ratios do not apply to schools.)

In recognition of the country it’s in, the school also teaches Thai language and all aspects of Thai culture, and Geography and History lessons which cover the local area, too. It has a large extra-curricular activity program of music, drama, dance, art and design. And native speakers teach the Chinese language, too. Other facilities include a large swimming pool, and a wide range of sports is taught in the well-equipped school grounds (Jeremy even says he hopes to add touch-rugby very soon).

The family-orientated school has a highly-focused but relaxed atmosphere. Jeremy’s goal is to have a school where the students’ education includes not only learning about specific subjects but also maintaining an open mind. He encourages students to ask questions, and embraces the multi-cultural aspect of his school. In the religious studies, every different religion is taught impartially. A school run like this will, no doubt, produce confident well-rounded young people, properly equipped and informed to cope with the riggers of modern life. And, of course, the final objective is for students to obtain academic qualifications that will gain them entrance to top universities around the world.

ISS will very soon be a buzz acronym on Samui. It will surely open many doors, and help attract some more top professionals to the island. Jeremy has already had enquiries from hotel executives previously deterred from coming working here by the low level of education available for their children. Business owners will obviously be welcoming this news with open arms. With the global economic downturn and Thailand’s political problems conspiring to cause a serious drop in tourism this year, and possibly in the future, a boost in the expat resident market is just what’s needed for local commerce and service industries. And it wouldn’t be too speculative to think that Samui property prices and rentals could go up, especially in the school’s catchment areas of Bophut, Choeng Mon and Mae Nam. For expat families posted in the region, Samui’s relatively low cost of living makes it a feasible alternative to more expensive residences, like Singapore and Hong Kong. And now that an International school can be added to the other recently established quality facilities, such as hospitals and shopping centres, the attraction must be getting even stronger.

The ISS School has adjacent land available to expand in the future and Jeremy is confident that he’ll eventually be able to accommodate up to 450 students. With his passionate enthusiasm and clear vision of how he wants his school to evolve, the ISS could well become one of the island’s biggest assets within a few short years. One gets the distinct impression that this is just the beginning for this innovative place of learning and development. Jeremy, still clearly excited and delighted with his school’s new status, stated at the end of his press release, “It is incredible to actually realise that we are now the first and only school in South East Thailand to be formally allowed to call ourselves an International school.” It certainly is an achievement that he, and his 65 staff, should be very proud of. And, most likely, it won’t be long before a grateful business community of Samui will be proud of ISS as well.


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