Your Insider's Primary Schools guide
IN Ho Chi Minh City 🇻🇳 Since 2008
SAIGON INSPIRATION EDUCATION PRIMARY International Primary Schools in Saigon
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Top Tips & List of Primary/Elementary in HCMC
Find the perfect primary / elementary school for your child in Ho Chi Minh City with our overview of the city’s premier international primary schools and bilingual primary schools. Scroll down to find details about admission fees, curricula, notable features, and other useful details to make the process of choosing a school easier.
When it comes to choosing a primary /elementary school for your child, the number of options in Ho Chi Minh City can seem a little overwhelming. But luckily for you, the team at CityPassGuide Education has not only experienced ex-pats who know the city very well but many of us also have families here, so we’ve been through this whole process of researching, visiting, and choosing a school for our kids.
To help you in your own task of finding the best primary /elementary school for your child we’ve created a useful list of top early years education providers, with all the must-know details for each one. However, here is a very quick overview of what you can expect when you begin your search for the best primary school for your child.
Firstly, be aware of linguistics! Primary / Elementary education are both terms used to talk about schooling for children between the ages of 5 and 11. However, in a multinational, multilingual city like Ho Chi Minh City, you will undoubtedly hear parents, teachers, and students using these terms interchangeably depending on whether a school has a stronger alignment with a US curriculum or British Curriculum. You may also hear some schools use the word ‘kindergarten’ to refer to the school year for children from five to six years of age, whereas others will use this term to refer to an early years education provider for students aged 3 to 5!
It can be a little confusing at times so to make things a little clearer, this guide will use the term ‘primary’ to refer to education providers for students aged 5 years old and above. A child’s primary education lays a strong foundation for their future academic endeavors. It is in primary school where many students experience their first taste of formal education as nurseries, preschools and kindergartens tend to be less formal in their approach.
Primary school curriculums will introduce core subjects such as mathematics, languages, physical education, and social studies with a lot of emphasis being placed on developing reading and writing also. As you start to investigate the options available, you will see that international primary schools in Ho Chi Minh City also place a great deal of importance on developing ‘soft skills and good studying habits that will prepare their students for the more significant challenges in years to come.
Many schools offer a wide and varied program of ‘enrichment classes and extra-curricular activities that make use of the school’s excellent facilities. Enrichment classes are particularly focussed on allowing students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in class to a less academic situation. Extracurricular activities, such as dance and swimming lessons, provide primary students with opportunities to develop their first social networks and gain essential non-academic experience.
For a summary of the top international primary schools in Ho Ci Minh City, please keep scrolling.
MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF VIETNAM
Budget: Fees for primary students at Montessori International School of Vietnam start at VND 335,000,000 for a year. School meals are also optional extras, as transport to and from school. For full details click here.
Languages: English instruction. Some classes in Vietnamese
Curriculum: MIS follows the Montessori philosophy and is accredited by the American Montessori Society. Students are encouraged to become independent learners via free exploration.
Unique feature: In addition to following the Montessori philosophy, MIS is an advocate of ‘Resources for Infant Educarers’ or RIE®. As a result, the school is very well placed to provide parental support for parents who wish to adopt the Educaring™ approach. MIS is also able to offer a variety of learning environments at each of its 3 HCMC-based campuses.
INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON PEARL: ELEMENTARY & EARLY YEARS SCHOOL (ISSP)
Budget: An application fee of VND 25,000,000 VND is applicable to each student and annual fees start at VND 349,700,000 in kindergarten, rising up to around VND 458,000,000 for elementary. For more information please see this fee sheet.
Languages: English instruction.
Curriculum: This school is a part of Cognita Schools Group, which follows the American Core Curriculum and focuses on teaching core values such as honesty, caring, respect, responsibility, and wisdom.
Uniform: The school’s uniform is a red short-sleeved polo emblazoned with the school’s logo at the front. Depending on the student, the shirt is complemented with either blue shorts or a blue skirt.
Unique feature: ISSP is now the only international elementary and early years school (18 months – 10 years of age) in HCMC to have the prestigious accreditation from the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL VIETNAM (AIS)
Budget: A nonrefundable application fee of around VND 3,200,000 is payable at the time of application. Annual fees for primary students start at VND 432,000,000 and rise to VND 501,000,000 Click here for full details.
Languages: English instruction. Vietnamese instruction for all students up to Year 6
Curriculum: IB, IGCSE, and IB Diploma Program. Co-education.
Uniform: The school has a variety of uniform options all based on the school colors of blue and white.
Unique feature: AIS offers an extensive range of facilities over the school’s three world-class campuses, with each of its classrooms and learning environments being spacious, well-resourced, and technologically rich. The primary year’s curriculum follows the IB Primary Years Programme, supplemented by Cambridge International Primary Programme to ensure students develop an inquiry-based approach to learning.
ANNE HILL INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Budget: Primary school tuition fees at Anne Hill International School start at VND 213,000,000 for year 1 (5 years old). Tuition fees at Anne Hill International School cover the costs of core subjects, meals, uniforms, and transportation. However, a VND12,000,000 registration fee still applies to each student. See this sheet for more information.
Languages: English instruction with options for Vietnamese and Chinese Mandarin as a second language.
Curriculum: International Primary Curriculum member, pursuing Cambridge accreditation. Cambridge International Primary Programme is followed for key subjects such as English, Maths, and Science
Uniform: The school uniform combines a light green t-shirt or polo shirt with neutral-colored shorts or culottes.
Unique feature: Anne Hill International School is an independent school offering brand new facilities for its students. For those looking for a truly international school experience, the school currently has students from more than 40 different nationalities enrolled, making it one of the most varied student bodies that we have come across.
European International School Ho Chi Minh City (EIS)
Budget: Administration fee of VND 4,500,000 per student, registration fee of around VND 40,000,000 and tuition fees start at VND 462,000,000 for Grade 1 up to VND 503,000,000 in Grade 5. Tuition fees can be paid in up to 10 installments. The school has a partnership with a few banks which allow 0% interest rate by credit card payment. For more information please see this fee page.
Languages: English instruction. Additional languages: German, French, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese.
The International School of Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC)
Budget: An admission fee of VND 50,000,000 is required for all primary applications. Annual school fees start at VND 524,200,000 for Grade 1 (6 years old), rising to VND 608,800,000 in Grade 5 (10 years old). For full details of fees and repayment schedules click here.
Languages: English instruction.
Curriculum: IB curriculum. Co-education.
Uniform: The school uniform is a blue sweater and white polo shirt featuring the school logo.
Unique feature: ISHCMC’s primary curriculum offers a ‘transdisciplinary’ approach to learning. This means that students do not just take “math,” “reading,” or “art.” Rather, learning is meaningfully connected across disciplines as well as to the real world. Learning is focused on the needs and desires of the student versus a set curriculum. Units of inquiry are fluid and are purposefully crafted by skilled teachers with the interests and needs of our learners in mind.
Renaissance International School Saigon
Budget: A nonrefundable application fee of VND 4,000,000 applies to each student when an application is made. A further one-time registration fee of VND 39,700,000 is payable when a place is the primary school is accepted. Annual tuition fees for primary students start at VND 466,550,000. Please click here for more information.
Languages: English Instruction. Mother tongue tuition in Vietnamese and Korean. French and Chinese as additional languages.
Curriculum: English National Curriculum (see website for specifics), IGCSE and IBDP. Co-education.
Uniform: School Uniform is required for all students but vary depending on age. For full details click here.
Unique feature: Renaissance International School Saigon has an impressive range of accreditations including CIS, FOBISIA, and Round Square. The Primary School covers Year 1 (5 years old) through to Year 6 (10 years old) and is based on the National Curriculum for England enhanced by the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). As the only Round Square school in Vietnam, the Primary School actively embeds the associated IDEALS through the program and this provides the students with an expansive educational experience.
Horizon International Bi-lingual School
Budget: An admission fee of VND 25,000,000 is required for all primary school applications. Annual school fees for the bilingual program start at VND 180,590,000 for Grade 1 to 5. Visit the fees page for full details.
Languages: English and Vietnamese
Bilingual Program: Horizon International Bilingual School is the first school to introduce and apply the Bilingual Programme in Vietnam. The bilingual curriculum practices are carried out according to Vietnam’s Education law requirements. The aim of the Bilingual Programme is to nurture Vietnamese students according to the National Curriculum. The primary school lessons are taught in Vietnamese and English synchronously by Vietnamese and foreign teachers.
Unique feature: HIBS has two rather unique features to consider. Firstly, it is recognized as being the oldest Bilingual school in Vietnam having opened in 2005. Second, it prioritizes a modern approach to lesson delivery, utilizing i-pads and a variety of apps to deliver lesson content. Maths and Science are areas of particular success to the school.
Saigon South International School (SSIS)
Budget: A nonrefundable application fee of VND 10,000,000 applies to each student, with a VND 45,000,000 Enrollment Fee required to guarantee a student’s place. Annual fees for primary students are VND 545,000,000. Note that this school is a non-profit international school and all fees are reinvested in the school. In spite of this, it is one of the best international schools in Saigon. Please click here for more information.
Curriculum: Advanced Placement (AP), American High School Diploma (College Preparatory), SSIS follows a tailored curriculum based on the North American education system. Students can also study the IB Diploma Program at this school.
Uniform: School Uniform is a blue polo shirt or t-shirt featuring the school logo.
Unique feature: As mentioned above, this is the only non-profit international school in Vietnam and the school’s revenues are reinvested in the school. Over 850 students from over 30 different countries attend this school, and the student-to-teacher ratio is 10 to 1.
LA PETIT ECOLE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Budget: Elementary students at La Petit Ecole can expect to pay around VND 245,000,000 for tuition each year. However, different ‘early bird’ reductions in fees are available depending on when payment is made. Full details are available here.
Languages: French and English.
Curriculum: La Petite Ecole follows a French National Education curriculum and has been accredited by the French Ministry of Education. The school is also a member of AEFE (Agency for French Education Abroad), ensuring a high quality of bilingual tuition.
Unique feature: La Petite Ecole focuses on providing an exceptional learning environment for its students. This means that the facilities are not only well maintained and modern but classrooms are fitted with air purifiers and outdoor play spaces are fitted with pollution control monitors to ensure students stay safe when playing outside. So there you go, 10 of the best options for international primary students in the city. We hope this introduction has helped you to start filtering through what is undoubtedly a massive and varied selection of great schools. Keep checking back for our updates as we continue to research the top International Primary Schools in Saigon.
SAIGON INSPIRATION EDUCATION PRIMARY Keeping Good Counsel
We sat down to interview Michelle Parker, the Guidance and College Counsellor at The American School, on what it means to be a great school counselor.
How does a counselor ensure he/she is sending a child on a path the child will both benefit from and enjoy?
They meet one to one and in groups to make assessments to get in touch with who they are. There is never a magic wand or any guarantees; the whole point is that the counselor works with the children throughout their school career to gain an understanding of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
To what extent should a counselor advise a student? Is it more motivational and self-help or strictly academic advice?
Counselors are never strict about anything. I cover social, emotional, academic, and career choices. This is a holistic approach to education, we allow children to make informed choices about their futures.
How do TAS’s counselors determine what subject a student is best at and should pursue?
Their subject strengths don’t really matter, I don’t tell them what to do, ever. It’s just a case of opening up their horizons and getting them to recognize the options open to them. For example, if a child wants to be a vet, I would look at their science grades. If they are failing badly then it is not a good match. If however, they are adamant that this is the path they want, then it can be an opportunity to improve their science grades. That is to say, if they really want it, then they would have to buckle down to succeed in these core subjects.
Is a counselor in some ways a child psychologist?
It runs parallel to it. In the US you have to have a degree in psychology and a master’s in school counseling. It is a specialization within the broader subject.
Do parents who meet the counselor have a say in what the counselor tells the student?
Parents don’t have any say in what the school counselor does. Of course, we meet with them to explain what we are doing. However, it is a case of us informing them what happens and not parents telling the councilors what to do.
Is student counseling a new practice in Vietnam?
It’s not new to American schools, but it is new to Vietnamese. The Vietnamese kids which make up 50% of the school take on the role very well. Kids like to talk, to their counselor. It is rewarding and incredibly exciting to see them open up for the first time. For them, it is extremely cathartic because they know it is completely private and the trust will not be broken unless, of course, they are in danger.
How do Vietnamese parents who may have not heard of this practice before, react to it?
Asian parents in general seem to take it quite well. They have already made the step of placing the child in an American school, so to a degree, they have already taken that leap of faith.
How do Vietnamese students react to counseling compared to foreign students?
Foreign students are more familiar with it, as it is widely used and accepted in the USA. but Vietnamese children soon get used to bit and when they do the reaction is about the same.
How does TAS choose its counselors? Do they look at their background to see if they themselves were a success academically and career-wise?
Obviously, qualifications matter immensely, than experience. After that, it is all individual to each school. They will have an idea of the style that they want and will choose someone for the role for different reasons.
Has TAS ever had a bad counselor?
Not so bad, but in any career field there are going to be cases of a mismatch. You cannot reach every single child, but we really try to get to as many as possible. Counselors want to help people, they are approachable and open. But sometimes a child will simply not respond to a certain personality, that is just life.
Do you think the age of a counselor has any bearing on their ability to identify with and enable the children to open up?
I honestly don’t think age is an issue, it’s all personality.
Do counselors also suggest extracurricular activities for students?
Not so much suggest, but I do get involved. I love sports so I have taught tennis and play a lot of sports here. I really enjoy the teachers versus kids volleyball. If a student is conflicted between what they want to do and what their parents want, how does a counselor guide the student to do “the right thing”?
I always tell the child that it’s their life and their future; they must live it. With the guidance of the school, we will always put the child’s best interest first. I meet with parents in groups and explain that it is of paramount importance that every child is accepted as an individual. The best thing a parent can do is to support children in their endeavors, no matter what their choices are.
What is your bottom line? What do you see as the best that you offer to the school and the children?
SAIGON INSPIRATION EDUCATION PRIMARY What is the British National Curriculum?
A quick search of all schools in Ho Chi Minh City suggests that there are around 10 different curriculums on offer to students, including German, French and Finnish alongside the more common British and American options.
For parents looking to find the best school for their child, choosing a school with an appropriate program for their needs can be a time-consuming and confusing task. At CityPassGuide: Education, we’ve been researching and summarising the different options available to students in the city.
Education in the U.K
In the U.K. schools are either funded by the government and as a result, are free for all students, or they are privately funded, and fees are charged for students to attend. About 94% of students attend government-funded schools, where the system is regularly considered one of the top performers in international education with all students receiving a thorough introduction to ‘core subjects’ Maths, English Literature, English Language, and Science.
There are noticeable differences in the curriculum followed in Scotland and those followed in Wales and England. However, all government-funded schools in the U.K follow a National Curriculum, which, put simply, is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools in the UK to ensure that children learn the same things. Each curriculum covers what subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject.
Despite having a national curriculum to follow, teachers are still able to develop exciting and stimulating lessons to deliver the necessary materials. As a result, the individual experiences of students may vary but their overall education remains the same.
Legally, students in the UK can leave school when they are 16 years old. However, students who wish to attend university often continue in full-time education until they are 18 years old, studying AS and A Levels in England and Wales, or Higher or Advanced Higher in Scotland.
Key Stages and Assessment
In England and Wales, the national curriculum is divided into the following ‘key stages’, each of which has its own learning objectives and at the end of which, a formal assessment will take place.
Early Years: students aged 3 to 5, assessment at 5 years old.
Key Stage 1: students aged 5 to 7, national assessments at 7 years old in English, maths, and science
Key Stage 2: students aged 7 to 11, national assessments at 11 years old in English and maths, teacher assessments in science
Key Stage 3: students aged 11 to 14
Key Stage 4: students aged 14 to 16, national assessments (G.C.S.E.) in all subjects.
Key stage 5 (optional): students aged 16 to 18, national assessments (A’ Level)
For students aged 5 to 11 (KS1 and KS2), compulsory national curriculum subjects at primary school are: English / maths/science /design and technology/history/geography/art and design/music/physical education (PE), including swimming/computing/ancient and modern foreign languages (at key stage 2).
Schools often also teach: personal, social, and health education (PSHE)/citizenship/religion (parents can request for their child to be removed)/modern foreign languages (at key stage 1).
In these early Key stages, communication skills receive significant focus, with the priorities for young students being that they can read easily and fluently, acquire a wide vocabulary and that they are able to speak comfortably and express their own ideas.
As a result, Key stage 1 and 2 tests cover the student’s ability in English reading, English grammar, punctuation and spelling, and maths.
In Key stage 3, it becomes for students to study a modern foreign language. In the UK, the most common choices are French, German, and Spanish, however, schools in Ho Chi Minh City regularly offer a much wider range of languages including Vietnamese, Chinese, and in some cases Korean.