What is a world class school?

World-class. It’s one of those words that gives you a general impression of its meaning but what does it actually mean? International schools are fond of using the term but what would such a school look like? Here, Head Master of Harrow International School Bangkok, Jon Standen, gives his opinion on what makes a school, world-class.

jon standen, head master


A world-class school is characterised by its alumni. A true reflection of a world-class school is one whose alumni have gone on to be leaders in their fields. Harrow Bangkok is still a relatively young school - a sprightly 22 - but in 10 to 20 years’ time we'll see more great things our alumni have been responsible for. The current alumni already show a genuine love for their former school and recognise how it helped their development and so far many have been very extremely successful. But as more and more students graduate from the school I expect to hear from more Harrow Bangkok alumni leaders in their fields.
 

Another measure of a world-class school would be the quality of its exam results, which for us are our students’ IGCSE and A Level grades. Exam results are life-enhancing, they really matter, and all great schools know this. Our A level results, at 60% A*-A enable our students to reach the very best universities in the world. We need to remember though, that it’s not all about A* and A grades. Every student matters to us. World-class schools should be valuing all academic achievements and adding value to every child so that they are all reaching their full potential. For some students that’s a B or a C grade, and these grades should be celebrated as much as the A* and As because it is that individual’s personal best.

To be world-class will also mean the school will go well beyond the academics with a much broader academic mission and purpose, to provide a truly holistic education.

Schools like Harrow Bangkok, of course value academic success – as great grades open doors – but equally strive to develop a lifelong love of learning, to give students critical thinking skills that they're going to need whichever profession they end up in. They will also be nurturing personal skills and values that will turn interviews into offers and make leaders who are team players. And this comes from the combined effects of a quality extracurricular programme (at Harrow Bangkok, the Leadership in Action programme), a varied Sports programme, a skilled and energetic Creative Arts department, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) development and facilities that offer the very best environment for teaching and learning.

In a world-class school both the academic curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities help students acquire the qualities valued by top employers.

This article has been published in The Bangkok Post Brunch Magazine 22-28 September 2019, and the Bangkok Post International Education 2019-20.