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Performance Arts: A serious commitment at AIS

When it comes to performance arts the Australian International School (AIS) is shooting for the stars. Alongside its strong academic credentials is a commitment to the arts. Principal Dr. Roderick Crouch, himself a passionate fan of the arts, argues that participation in the performance arts leads to greater engagement in learning. Not only that but they also offer “a shared activity with a common purpose transcending cultural boundaries and building confidence”.

AIS Concert Band 2019-2020

Investment in Resources and Partnerships is Key

Since 2016 AIS has invested heavily in skills, equipment and facilities. The school boasts a team of dedicated international teachers who motivate the students to achieve self-confidence and express their individuality through performance arts. Each year AIS aims to raise the bar for itself. This year AIS has joined the Inspired educational group (who have performance arts as one of their three pillars), and partnered with Asia Music and Performance Arts Education (AMPA) to start a dance program while in 2020 AIS will benefit from Inspired’s partnership with Berklee College, Boston.
The school is among one of the few in the country offering a full band programme – the scarcity and cost of musical instruments in Vietnam excludes most others. Each child in year 7 – 10 has the opportunity, at no extra cost, to learn a musical instrument and is encouraged to join the concert band. Secondary music teacher Mr Colin Burstow, a professional session musician for many years, stresses the importance of offering opportunities to try not only different instruments but also different styles. Burstow is keen to get all students involved in music regardless of ability. Since joining AIS he has been impressed by the work ethic and positive learning attitude and feels fully supported. He adds “the environment at AIS allows me to do my job without restrictions and this shows. For a small department we are able to produce performances of an exceptional standard”.

Band Practice Session

Opportunities are there for the taking

None of this would be possible without the students. One such student is Young Jin Cho (Eric). Eric has eagerly grabbed the opportunities on offer. After only three years of learning the trombone, he took part in an international orchestral performance at Carnegie Hall. Inspired to take things further Eric set up his own group ‘Cho’s Trombones’ developing leadership skills as he leads the juniors. Eric also conducted the live orchestra in the school’s recent production of The Adam’s Family. When asked how he finds the time given his IB workload he replies…
In addition to music, dance plays a large role in school life at AIS. With support from AMPA in the form of expert dance teachers, AIS has added a dance option to the year 7 – 10 curriculum. The inter-house competitions for years 11 and 12 are hugely popular. The opening of a performance arts center to include a dance studio later this year is a further example of AIS’ long term commitment.


IB ASEAN Education Forum 2019 at AIS Vietnam

On the 7-8 November, AIS is proud to host the IB ASEAN Education Forum 2019, an opportunity for educational leaders and professionals from Vietnam and neighbouring countries to share best practices on international education. This year, AIS Vietnam will welcome around 120 teachers from both IB and non-IB schools.
The forum offers a unique blend of panel discussions, keynote presentations and breakout sessions covering a wide range of education-related topics. Dr. Roderick Crouch, AIS Executive Principal, is also a keynote speaker for the forum.

Preparing High School Students for Post-Graduation Success

“I’m adulting now,” Milly says with a laugh when explaining what she has been doing since graduating from Australia International School (AIS) this past spring. After receiving one of the highest scores in the world on the International Baccalaureate (IB) exam, she received a 50% scholarship to one of Australia’s top schools: the University of Melbourne. Rather than start right away in the fall, she elected to begin in early 2020, affording her some time to explore new interests.

“I never would have imagined I’d be here now,” Milly tells Saigoneer in a recent phone call, referring to the two-week mixed martial arts workshop she attended in Bali. She first took up the sport to help fulfill the IB’s CAS (creativity, activity, service) requirements and found herself loving it so much that she not only flew to Indonesia to practice, but is starting her own business to teach taekwondo to children and train personal fitness clients.

The business requires a lot of paperwork, record-keeping and financial decisions that her finance classes at AIS prepared her for. More importantly, a self-professed introvert, Milly says attracting and interacting with clients demands a level of outgoingness that would have been impossible without AIS experiences such as leading the Global Issues Network (GIN) conference; an event that brought together 220 students to discuss and respond to a variety of real-world problems. Such formal and informal activities helped not only give her tangible organizing, delegation and planning skills, but succeeding at them instilled in her a new sense of confidence that is fueling her current endeavors. Moreover, the collaboration with a variety of peers from numerous backgrounds helped her hone her social alacrity.

The Power of the IB System

The type of growth and passion Milly displays is exactly what AIS Executive Principal, Dr. Roderick Crouch, hopes the IB program fosters amongst his students. The rigorous IB coursework, which involves tests in six out of a possible 20 core subjects, including a foreign language, a 4,000-word research paper, and a long-term project, isn’t easy, but he thinks it pays dividends for students later on: “At a philosophical level, a child should graduate with the ability to open as many doors as possible.”

To that end, AIS believes in teaching students how to think not what to think. Classes, therefore, involve discussions and dialogues that encourage students to seek questions and formulate independent ideas. And while critical-thinking activities are built into the IB curriculum, AIS takes it a step further through courses like the required Theory of Knowledge, which examines what knowledge is and how one acquires it.

The IB program allows for flexible curriculums that respond to the unique needs of students. Writing skills have been a major emphasis at AIS, partly because English is a second language for 85% of the student population. Milly says her writing improved drastically because teachers would assign essays focused on controversial issues that students would have to take a stance on. Being passionate about the topic increases the time and effort students put into the work, which allows for greater attention to a variety of elements of writing.

Formal and informal professional learning networks (PLNs) among the staff help ensure that AIS continually improves and integrates innovations in education. Teachers work together to share wisdom and create curriculums and also attend several professional development workshops both in-house and at other institutions. AIS is also the first Asian school to become part of Inspired, a global network of schools that facilitates student and teacher exchanges.

Preparing Students for University

Convincing universities around the world of one’s qualifications can be difficult, especially when coming from less-developed countries like Vietnam. The globally-accredited and strictly monitored IB solves this issue. Admissions offices around the world understand perfectly how to asses and evaluate IB scores and are familiar with the rigors the diploma involves. Consequently, AIS students have gone on to study at some of the premier schools in America, Europe, Australia and across Asia.

Being able to get into university is only half the challenge. Students must also know which schools are out there and which offer the best fit. AIS, therefore, partners with Avenues to Success (ATS) to provide guidance in the process, and each year representatives from approximately 150 different universities around the world make official visits to the school.

AIS is currently constructing a new building for dance classes, expanded spaces for students to socialize and study together during unstructured time, and boarding facilities. These facilities mean that in addition to doing coursework at a college level, AIS students encounter the types of community and social experiences they will have in college, and thus arrive prepared for what is a drastic change for other undergrads. Similarly, to help students prepare for the freedom and temptations of university life, AIS has a clear behavior management plan with expectations and repercussions to develop accountability and responsibility.

“You only get your child once,” Dr Crouch says when explaining what motivates parents to send their kids to the best institution possible. It’s easy to assess academic performance via grades and test scores, but evaluating social and personal growth is more difficult. As Milly’s journey exemplifies, AIS fosters not only classroom success, but opportunities to become more involved, passionate and committed global citizens.


Inspired and Berklee Launch Exclusive Partnership

“Inspired by Berklee is an incredibly exciting initiative that will bring the skills, insights, and creative dynamism of the world’s leading contemporary music, dance, and theatre institution into a school environment.”
– Nadim M. Nsouli, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Inspired

The new initiative, called “Inspired by Berklee”, features a pioneering curriculum and artists-in-residence program that will develop contemporary music, dance, theater, and creative capacity skills at Inspired schools worldwide

London, England and Boston, MA—Inspired, a leading global network of 53 premium schools, has agreed to an exclusive partnership with Berklee to introduce an innovative curriculum and artists-in-residence program that sets new standards in creative and artistic education in youth. The program will be called “Inspired by Berklee”.

The partnership will see all Inspired schools globally being assigned educators from Berklee’s award-winning faculty, student, and alumni base, who will work with Inspired school faculty and students to develop contemporary music, dance, theater, and creative education programs and experiences at participating schools. The partnership will extend beyond the development of a traditional performance arts curriculum, but will also encompass technology, media production, and creative entrepreneurship education. The goal of the partnership is to provide Inspired students with the creative skills and mindsets needed to succeed, lead, and innovate in a fast-paced 21st century economy.

Berklee alumni, which includes luminaries such as Quincy Jones, John Mayer, Esperanza Spalding, and Annie Clark (St. Vincent), have collectively won over 295 Grammys, as well as numerous Oscar, Emmy, and Tony awards.

Inspired owns 53 premium schools around the world, including the Reddam House schools in England, Australia, and South Africa; the International School of Europe group in Italy; the ACG schools in New Zealand and Indonesia; Colegio San Patricio and Sotogrande International School in Spain; PaRK International Schools and St. Peter’s in Portugal; St. John’s International School in Belgium; St. George’s International School in Switzerland; the British School of Bahrain; Brookhouse Schools Kenya; Cambridge College and Colegio Altair in Peru; Blue Valley School in Costa Rica; Australian International School in Vietnam and many other leading high-performing schools. Inspired advocates for student-focused, holistic education, with students encouraged to discover their unique strengths and passions in academia, sports, and the performing and creative arts.

Inspired by Berklee schools will develop a schedule of visits with select artists in residence who will lead students in the development of projects and collaborations that bring contemporary music, dance, theater, and creative media insights and trends into the school environment.

Inspired by Berklee will feature public performances by visiting Berklee faculty who will work with Inspired students and teachers to create original works to be performed within the schools.

In addition, Berklee will run annual workshops at its campuses in Boston and Valencia, Spain, and at its new center in New York City, for performing arts teachers at participating Inspired schools to advance their professional development and prepare them to teach the coming year’s Inspired by Berklee program.

Inspired by Berklee will also see the development an online education resource to provide materials and inspiration for students to help advance their creative education and expression. The award-winning Berklee Online is the world’s largest online music school, offering online courses, multi-course certificate programs, and undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Nadim M. Nsouli, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Inspired, commented, “Inspired by Berklee is an incredibly exciting initiative that will bring the skills, insights, and creative dynamism of the world’s leading contemporary music, dance, and theatre institution into a school environment.”

“At Inspired, we place huge importance on the role of music, dance, and theatre in helping our pupils gain a rounded education, build their self-confidence and leadership skills, and learn to express themselves creatively through a range of different media.”

“Gaining a world-class education means far more than merely fulfilling the requirements of an exam-based curriculum, and the partnership with Berklee gives our pupils a unique educational opportunity that few others will ever have the chance to experience.”

Inspired by Berklee will launch in January 2020, initially with a number of Inspired schools taking part in the program. It will be rolled out across all the Inspired schools by September 2020.

Panos A. Panay, senior vice president for global strategy and innovation at Berklee, stated, “Berklee College of Music has nurtured the creative and career potential of some of the world’s most inspired artists, helping them to refine their talents and go on to win hundreds of Grammys, Tonys, Oscars, and Emmys, as well as to lead and redefine their collective industries. It is so exciting to work with Inspired to bring that creative capacity to students at the Inspired schools and to help shape and develop a new generation of creators, innovators, and leaders at an early and pivotal point in their lives.

Berklee President Roger H. Brown added, “Berklee has developed a powerful technique for teaching music, dance, and theater that emphasizes creativity, collaboration, and improvisation,” said Brown. “We are very excited about our relationship with Inspired because it allows us to share the power of this method within a dynamic K-12 network around the world. We believe it will enrich the education of these students whether they go on to become scientists, business leaders, writers, doctors, lawyers, or proponents of the performing arts.”


AIS Moon Festival 2019

In Vietnam, the Moon Festival is the most important celebration of children, it is also a great opportunity for the family to spend time together. This year at AIS, we celebrated the event traditionally by carrying lanterns, playing drums, enjoying moon cakes and singing cheerful songs. Through those activities, our children learnt all about this amazing festival!

As Dr. Roderick Crouch, AIS Executive Principal, said in his opening remarks, the moon festival is about children and we, at AIS, are about children. That’s why we love this festival so much because it puts children at the heart of all we do.

Let’s look back on the AIS celebration of the festival.

For the moon festival at Thao Dien Campus, please click here

For the moon festival at Thu Thiem Campus, please click here



Why is Early Years education important?

When is my child ready for school? And what kind of school should I choose?

These are crucial questions that every parent will spend considerable time and resources investigating—because nothing is more important than seeing our children succeed and thrive. So what are some factors that parents should consider when answering these questions? It is helpful to first examine why an early education is important.

Australian International School Vietnam

“Social skills are so important for this age!” says Rachel Perkins, Kindergarten and Primary Principal at Australian International School (AIS)

“Children can not only develop their knowledge of maths, literacy, the world around them and beyond, but also emotional development and interpersonal communication skills.” 

Why AIS?

As an international school, AIS gives students the ability to interact with other students and teachers from over 40 countries—helping them develop empathy and multicultural understanding from an early age. But what is it that truly sets the AIS early years programme apart from other international schools?

“High-quality teachers!” emphasizes Ms Perkins. “We take great care to ensure all of our teachers have great references, and at least three years of teaching experience in their home countries.”

Australian International School Vietnam

AIS also equips their teachers with tools to openly communicate and share what happens in the classroom with parents, not just in quarterly reports, but throughout each day. Using software called Seesaw, teachers can upload videos and photos of their students’ activities that parents can access directly from their phones—and best of all, photos and videos are private, for their parents’ eyes only.

Video source: Australian International School Vietnam

Parents who visit any AIS campus need no convincing: this international school offers some of the highest-quality educational facilities in the city, with spacious and modern classrooms, playgrounds, and open green spaces. AIS also features a range of campus styles and sizes, including two smaller locations in Thao Dien for a more intimate and personal setting.

Australian International School Vietnam

Using a “play-based learning” approach, AIS engages their students through all their senses and fosters a creative and active learning environment. “The play-based approach is very important to us,” says Ms Perkins…

“While it may just look like the students are having fun—and they are!—everything we do in the classroom is actually carefully planned to promote the development of social and physical skills.” 

Choosing AIS

AIS is an International Baccalaureate certified school with an exceptional Primary Years Programme that goes well beyond international quality standards. For parents who want to ensure the absolute best start for their students and a solid English education, AIS offers placement tests for kindergarten students who can then choose EAL courses suited to their level.

Australian International School Vietnam

While AIS is certainly well-equipped for all stages of a child’s development, the decision must ultimately be made by those who know the child best. “When parents know, they know,” says Ms Perkins. “It’s up to parents to decide when their child seems ready to engage and begin learning. And when they’re ready, we’re waiting for them.”

Source: citypassguide


AIS Welcome Back BBQ Party

Dear Parents,

The new school year 2019-2020 has started extremely well. All AIS families are invited to the annual Welcome Back BBQ Party! It is sure to be a great event and I look forward to seeing you there!

The details are as follows:

Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Sports Field, Thu Thiem Campus, 264 Mai Chi Tho Street, Dist 2, HCMC
5.00 pm – 7.00 pm

Dress code: Casual
Please remember that AIS is a non-smoking campus

There will be food and drinks, lots of games and activities for children, musical performances, fashion shows, photo- booth, face painting…

To assist with catering, please RSVP by 20 Aug, 2019 using the following link:





Student Age: born from 01/9/2013 – 01/02/2018)

A Free Trial experience will allow your child the chance to get a feel for the program’s challenges, see our classroom dynamics, as well as meet our teachers, and like-minded peers. Special benefit: Waive of application fee (3,180,000VND) and cute gifts (Australian Koala + AIS Water Bottle) for students.
Condition: Application fee will be paid during registration, and deducted in tuition fee when receiving the offer, or refunded when students failed the test.
Register Now!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email:

Hotline: 19006940


The Challenge of Good Parenting

Recently a number of staff have become parents for the first time. The joy on their faces is simply wonderful, despite the lack of sleep! Although my own children are adults and I now have grandchildren, I remember the day that each of my children was born and the sense of overwhelming love that flowed through me. Yet as they grew, I realised that in all the challenges of life, being a good parent was one of the hardest for we want the best for our children, but we don’t always know how to make that happen. As I reflect on this, I realise that good parenting comes from two simple thoughts – the importance of spending time with your children and setting the right example.

But modelling the best behaviour for our children can be very challenging indeed!
An example of this is when our children become teenagers and we are helping plan their futures. Often children can say they want to finish their high schooling overseas (so they can be more grown up) and as parents, we think we need to support this as a demonstration of being a good parent. But is this the best choice?
When we send our children away, we can send them into cultures, which can have values that clash with our own. For example, some western countries may be more permissive about sex, alcohol and drugs. When we add the lack of supervision, this brings considerable risks. There is no doubt that some thrive in a new and challenging environment, but more just survive, and some finish barely alive. Research has shown us that as ‘parachute kids’ (as children who are parachuted into new cultures are known) are separated from their family and culture at a formative age, they are more susceptible to isolation, aggression, anxiety, depression and suicide. In fact, a reasonable number do not settle and end up returning to their families, which leads to further disruption academically, socially and emotionally.
As good schools know, the greater the cooperation between parents, child and school, the greater the outcomes for children. This is almost impossible when we send our children away. Yet excellent cooperation is a feature of AIS where we have such a high quality staff to support us, and that our children will have so many opportunities to grow.
If we want to help our children succeed – and isn’t that what we all want- then we need to find time to be with them, and model what we wish them to do. For me, time with our children passes too quickly, and so keeping a family together so that we can be there to support our children and help them make good decisions is too precious to give away. In the end, it wont matter what we say if we don’t live what we believe and find the time our children need to be with them.

Dr Roderick Crouch – Executive Principal


The Benefits of Music Education

I wrote about the importance of physical activity, including Physical Education and sport at AIS. Another important pillar of the AIS curriculum is the Performing Arts, and in particular music. Most people appreciate that music contributes to students’ development as well-rounded individuals. What is less widely known is that studying music actually enhances students’ brain function and thus their ability to learn.

A study led by Dr Anita Collins from the University of Canberra concluded that formal music training has positive effects on several aspects of brain development. According to Dr Collins, “learning a musical instrument lights up all functions of the brain in a unique way, and improves vocal, vocabulary and memory skills.” Another study conducted at the University of London found that musical experiences enhance processing ability which, “can impact on the perception of language, which in turn impacts on learning to read.” There is also evidence to show that learning music can help students’ self-confidence, self-discipline and team work and, according to Nina Kraus from Northwestern University in Chicago, that “musical training during [childhood] may produce long-lasting
positive effects on the adult brain.”

Put in simple terms, learning music in general, and learning instruments in particular, helps students to progress in all of their academic subjects including the critical core of English, Science, Maths and Languages. In this light, students at AIS are well served in terms of musical education. Specialist music teachers are employed to deliver our music programmes for Kindergarten through to IB. There is a strong focus on learning instruments. In the primary school Year 4 students learn the recorder, Year 5 students, the ukulele, and in Year 6, guitar. From personal experience – I have twin daughters in Year 5 – I can attest that the karate belt system that is used has been particularly effective in motivating students to learn to play their instruments. Students learn progressively more challenging songs and as they master each one they are awarded a coloured ‘belt’ ( in the form of a ribbon which they can attach to their instrument), starting with white and culminating in the highly prized black belt.
In 2016, former Music teacher, Mr Andrew Sweeney made learning to play concert band instruments the basis of Year 8 – 10 Music classes at AIS. This continued the focus on learning to play an instrument. It also resulted in a major expansion of the music performance groups in the Secondary School to the point that by the end of the 2017-2018 academic year the Concert Band comprised 40+ members. Mr Colin Burstow, who took over from Mr Sweeney when he returned to Australia in June, has continued to enhance the performance music programme at AIS both in terms of quantity and quality. By the beginning of the second semester we will have five important ensemble groups: a Concert Band, Jazz Band, Junior Concert Band, Rock Band, and the Choir. The AIS Concert Band gave one of the standout performances at last month’s Saimuse Concert, an event involving music groups from most of the major international schools in Ho Chi Minh City, adding to AIS’s growing reputation for excellence in the performing arts.

Mark Vella – Deputy Executive and Secondary Principal