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Quality over quantity at QSI Phuket

Located down a quiet Kathu side street and surrounded by lush forest, QSI Phuket (QSIP) is a small yet well-established non-profit international school that has dared to do things a little differently for almost two decades. The oldest international school on the island, its methods are tried, tested and sure to challenge our notions of what education should look like. Allow me to borrow their acronym – which actually stands for Quality Schools International – to explain a little more.

By Amy Bryant

Saturday 15 February 2020, 06:00PM

Quality, not quantity

Some 100 students, 15 teachers and nine support staff make up the school, meaning class sizes are small, with a student-teacher ratio of 10:1 at the very most. As a result, learning feels intimate and tailored. (15:1 is the maximum you’ll find at any of the 37 QSI schools worldwide. QSI Shenzhen maintains this ratio even with a student body of 1,500.)

QSIP’s modest campus reflects this intimacy and lends the school a close-knit family feel where students look out for each other and the lines between year groups blur. Grade 10 students mentor kindergarteners in reading. Grade fives pick up and dust off grade ones after falls in the playground. And the staple events in the QSI calendar –its Trash Fashion Show, Student Top Chef Competition and International Day to name just a few – are whole school affairs.

While the five-rai campus might be considered small by some, it still squeezes in 20 classrooms, two football pitches, a basketball court, an athletics track and a photography and film room. As a not-for-profit school, the focus of Director Rob Peters and his team isn’t on expanding the campus or generating revenue but instead on continuously investing in quality teaching.


The QSIP curriculum itself is centred around “mastery learning”, an educational philosophy formulated in the late ’60s in the United States but which has since transformed education in institutions around the world. In a mastery learning classroom, each student is treated as an individual, and no one is left behind. Teachers break learning down into steps, ensuring that a student reaches mastery of a topic before they move onto the next. Students who do not demonstrate mastery are given further time and instruction until they’re up to speed.

At the core of the philosophy is the belief that all students can achieve success in a topic if they learn and process information at their own pace.
QSIP’s small class sizes go hand in hand with mastery learning. With ten students or less in each class, teachers are able to track progress with ease and offer time and support to those who need it. The students, too, feel able to ask for help without fear of judgment from their peers or pressure to move onto the next topic. With mastery learning in place, the QSIP motto “success for all” becomes a daily reality.

HeadStart International School Phuket


It would be easy for a smaller institution like QSIP, nestled away in the hills, to become insular, but the school remains active and integrated with the Phuket community. With many staff members Phuketians or long-term expats, their investment in giving back to the island is almost inherent.

2019 saw QSIP hold an island-wide blood drive and host local religious leaders of Muslim, Buddhist and Christian faith in a blessing ceremony. And off-campus, visits to non-profits Soi Dog Foundation, Asia Center Foundation and Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation were organised across the year.

The school also took part in the Phuket’s Best Burger competition, proving that there’s fun to be had even after the bell rings.

It seems that this integrated, community spirit, combined with quality, student-focused education, is behind the success of QSIP over the past 20 years. Here’s to 20 more.

For more information, visit www.qsi.org/thailand/pkt  or email phuket@qsi.orgket@qsi.org

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