The small minority of high-end international residential schools distinguished by sprawling campuses in salubrious environments, offering international curriculums and superb faclilities have established formidable reputations
With the majority of new generation international schools promoted as day or day-cum-boarding institutions and sited in the state capitals and tier II cities, it’s unsurprising that the league table of wholly residential schools under the umbrella category of international schools, is the smallest — comprising eight institutions. Yet this small minority of exclusive high-end international residential schools distinguished by sprawling campuses in pristine, salubrious environments, offering sports facilities matching the best worldwide, excellent pastoral care and highly-evolved international curriculums and pedagogies, have established formidable reputations.
Heading the sub-category of international boarding schools for the fourth consecutive year is the Woodstock School, Mussoorie, promoted more than 150 years ago by American Presbyterian missionaries in 1854. This vintage school — arguably the country’s first international school — is top-ranked in this sub-category on ten of the 14 parameters of K-12 education excellence, and in co-curricular education, pastoral care, life skills education and internationalism across all international schools (day and day-cum-boarding and residential). Following Woodstock at #2 is the new-age Good Shepherd International School, Ooty (estb.1977) which has displaced Kodaikanal International School (KIS, estb. 1901) as Tamil Nadu’s #1 international residential school. Ranked #1 in 2013 and 2014 and #2 in 2015-17, KIS is ranked #3 this year.
Dr. Jonathan Long, principal of Woodstock, which prepares its 500 students for the American High School Diploma (classes XI-XII) of the US College Board of Advanced Placement with class X students writing CAIE’s IGCSE exam, and has recently enabled students to opt for the middle years and diploma programmes of the International Baccalaureate examination board, is enthused that Woodstock is top-ranked for the fourth year in a row.
“We’re thrilled to receive this news which is acknowledgement of our effort to continuously improve under all your parameters of education excellence. And despite being a 160-year-old institution, we are constantly introducing innovations and best practices. For instance, Woodstock is moving towards becoming a full IB school even as our Centre for Imagination is working closely with students on several interesting game-changing projects. Moreover, we are increasing the number of our community engagement projects and are about to start construction of a new state-of-the-art science centre,” says Long, an alumnus of Nottingham and Oxford universities, former principal of Aiglon College, Switzerland and Mahindra United College, Pune, who was appointed principal of Woodstock in 2011.
Dr. P.C. Thomas, founder-principal of the Good Shepherd International School, Ootacamund/Ooty (GSIS), is pleased about GSIS’ consistent top table national ranking and particularly that it is ranked #1 in the southern state of Tamil Nadu (pop. 67 million). Sprawled across 180 green acres in Ooty — ‘the queen of hill stations’ — this CAIE (UK) and IB (Geneva)-affiliated school offers unparalleled academic, sports and co-curricular education facilities to its 800 students.
“It feels great that we are consistently ranked #1-2 among international residential schools countrywide by your respected publication. Within the community of knowledgeable educators there’s widespread and growing awareness that GSIS offers infrastructure, co-curricular education and pastoral care comparable with the best residential schools worldwide. This is reflected in the highest score awarded to us under the parameter of safety and hygiene. Currently, massive construction is underway on our main Palada campus to accommodate the junior school campus which is presently located at Fernhill,” says Thomas.
Following GSIS in the 2018-19 league table of wholly residential international schools are the Kodaikanal International ranked #3 (2 in 2017), UWC Mahindra College, Pune, at #4 (3) and the vintage Hebron School, Ooty (estb.1904) at #5 (6). SCAD World School, Coimbatore, ranked #6, Cathedral Vidya School, Lonavala, at #7 and MIT Pune’s Vishwashanti Gurukul at #8 complete the league table of India’s elite wholly residential international schools.
Dr. Aninda Chatterji, principal of the CAIE and IB-affiliated Cathedral Vidya School, Lonavala (CVS, estb. 2008), promoted by the top-ranked Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai (estb.1860), is also pleased that CVS is ranked among India’s top few international residential schools. “Our distinguishing feature is that we combine the time-tested traditions and experience of our nationally admired parent school with the best international curriculums and excellent pastoral care. We provide our students globally comparable education on a clean, green and healthy 40-acre campus, a mere 2.5 hour drive from downtown Mumbai. Though we are a young school our students are already making their mark. This year, 39 CVS students have received 80 scholarship-cum-admission offers from premier foreign universities, and our average IB Diploma score is well above the world average,” says Chatterji, an alumnus of Allahabad University who taught English at his alma mater for two decades, served as head of pastoral care at Pathways World School, Aravali, Gurgaon followed by a stint with Gems Education, Dubai. In 2016, he was appointed principal of CVS which has an enrolment of 300 residential students mentored by 50 teachers.