According to official figures obtained by TIS Monitor, Bangkok Patana has the most students of any international school in Thailand, with second place going to St Andrews NAE Sukhumvit 71.
Some families deliberately choose to enroll their children in large schools with high numbers of students. A larger school usually means a wider selection of courses such as foreign languages or after-school activities are available, and gives children more opportunities to find friends.
Other families prefer smaller schools with fewer students. These also have several advantages, as a smaller scale allows the bonds between children to grow stronger. This applies to the bonds between children and teachers as well. It also means the distances between classrooms and other facilities are shorter.
The high pupil numbers of larger schools can be seen to some extent as a sign of success: schools are only able to attract large numbers of students when they have great facilities, and a strong track record in terms of educational outcomes and student satisfaction.
Ultimately which type of school to pick is a choice each family has to make for themselves.
The optimal school size for both elementary and secondary levels is an issue that has long been debated:
“There are good arguments for both larger schools and smaller ones. Research has done little to provide clarity on whether there is a relationship between school size, academic achievement and student satisfaction. In the end it is important that parents find a school that matches the needs of their children,” says Dr Anders Engvall, head of research at TIS Monitor.
Official data from the Ministry of Education
But when choosing a school for their child, how can families know how many children are enrolled in a certain school? When TIS Monitor looked at the more than 100 international schools in Thailand, not all of them were found to present student numbers on their websites.
As a result of this, TIS Monitor has requested and since received information on student numbers directly from the Ministry of Education. These figures are based on the information that the schools themselves report to the ministry.
Looking at the list of Thailand’s ten largest international schools, in terms of number of students, it is unsurprisingly dominated by well-known Bangkok based institutions.
Thailand’s Ten Largest International Schools*
1. Bangkok Patana School 2,213
2. St. Andrews School Bangkok NAE (Sukhumwit 71) 1,858
3. NIST 1,704
4. International School Bangkok (ISB) 1,513
5. Ekamai International School 1,407
6. Singapore International School of Bangkok (SISB) Pracha Uthit 1,277
7. Harrow International School Bangkok 1,259
8. Ruamrudee International School 1,065
9. Bangkok Prep 1,004
10. Thai-Singapore International School 1,000
Looking outside of Bangkok, there are also large international schools in Chonburi, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
Thailand’s Ten Largest International Schools Outside of Bangkok
1. Rugby School Thailand, Chonburi 814
2. HeadStart International School, Phuket 757
3. Lanna International School, Chiang Mai 730
4. Unity Concord International School, Chiang Mai 730
5. British International School, Phuket 674
6. Regents International School, Chonburi 642
7. Mooltripakdee International School, Chonburi 638
8. Saint John Mary International School, Saraburi 492
9. Chiang Mai International School 476
10. Grace International School, Chiang Mai 461
Outside of these major urban centers, there are no international schools with more than five hundred students.
*Update April 8, 2021: Thailand International School Monitor draws on data from Thailand’s Ministry of Education for this analysis (ranking). While offering information on the vast majority of the country’s international schools, data for some schools are missing from these official statistics (notably Shrewsbury International School in Bangkok which on its website claims to have 1783 students, making it the country’s third largest school).