By Michael Tatarski

The quality of the teachers, the curriculum, extracurricular activities, school facilities — these are just a few of the factors that prospective parents and students consider when selecting the next step on an educational journey.

The Australian International School (AIS) in Ho Chi Minh City understands how important these decisions are. That is why it works hard to deliver a high-quality, international education for all of its students.

Davina McCarthy, Executive Principal of AIS, said: “Our vision is very much about offering a world-class education for local families.

“Many of the fully-qualified, experienced teachers at AIS are from Australia or New Zealand and were trained in those countries. That gives us a sense of Australian fair play and a ‘have a go’ attitude, which are strong characteristics of the Australian education system.”

The school follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge programs. While this means certain parts of the curriculum are fixed and follow international standards, AIS ensures that the student experience is varied and allows students to develop their own voices. “There’s a real Australian friendliness about the school, and we also have contacts with the Australian consul, who are very much about making links between Australia and Vietnam,” Davina said.

Davina and her colleagues also aim to align AIS’ philosophy with the IB curriculum in their own ways as well.

“We’re about the 360-degree student experience, so it’s about academic success but it’s also about sports, arts, and drama, and developing leadership skills; those are really strong at our school,” she explained.

In the classroom, AIS – which is celebrating its 15th anniversary – uses an inquiry-based methodology, which aims to elicit frequent participation and discussion from students. The school has also deeply integrated technology into its courses – a necessity brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Technology plays a big role in how our students learn, as it will in their lives after they leave school. We also give parents the opportunity to have parent meetings online and regularly communicate with them about developments at school,” Davina said.

Beyond education, AIS has also committed to continuing to invest in Vietnam and give something back to the local community.

“Part of the IB Diploma Programme encourages students to help their community and lead projects, which has resulted in fundraising for flood-hit areas and installing waste bins for ethnic groups in the Central Highlands. As a school, we have also worked with a charity to create a library in the Mekong Delta,” Davina said.

The school has recently invested heavily to ensure its facilities are world-class, with 10 major projects in the pipeline. One of these is a completely-renovated entrance to the school.

Davina added: “We wanted to look at creating an inviting space for parents and the community. So our reception areas have been a key focus because we want to make sure that student spaces are welcoming and engaging.”

AIS, which has several campuses around Thao Dien and Thu Thiem in HCMC and offers boarding, is also aiming to create more green spaces, in line with the interests of the students.

AIS Class of 2021 achieved 100% pass rate and average points of 33 for the IB Diploma, well above world average

“We know that our children are really interested in environmental issues; it’s something they’re really passionate about through their student representative councils. So we’re making sure that green spaces are more usable and eco-friendly,” Davina said.

This care for what students believe in is ultimately what makes AIS such a rewarding school to attend. Davina explained: “There’s a lot of fun here. I’ve never been at a school that is so strongly student-led; they have a very definitive voice in the school. The students really are part of everything we do, and we live that philosophy.”

As well as a strong student voice, the school also has outstanding IB Diploma results, which can open doors to the world’s best universities. In 2021, the school has its best-ever results, with a 100% pass rate. From Kindergarten through to the Senior School, the school delivers a quality education for Vietnamese and international students, both academically and in terms of helping students grow as young people.

These factors, perhaps, make choosing the right international school a little less tricky.

Nguyen Lan Chi achieved highest score in Vietnam
for the Year 11 IGCSE subject, English as a Second

A published Vietnamese children’s book “Mat Ong Va Ca Phe” (Honey and Coffee), written and illustrated
by Nguyen Bao Chau, Year 11

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