A reader replied most recently with:
I am glad that the poster who posted on Sept 23rd admits that he/she does not teach English at VIS. A whole report without any paragraphing certainly does not entail confidence.
The fact is that, yes, VIS is expensive and does not offer value for money. Also, Vientiane is a small town and the shenanigans of some of the VIS staff are noted and observed by both other expats and Lao nationals. This is disappointing. The comment "VIS employs several dozen staff members, all qualified and with teaching experience in other schools and countries, and cannot be held responsible for the behavior of individual staff members outside of school hours." is, I am sorry to say, absurd. Of course the school is responsible for the actions of its teachers.
From an educational point of view, the PYP in particular, but also the MYP have lost ground worldwide; the IB is certainly a highly regarded qualification. However be aware that it is aimed more at students who need a generalist education and are perhaps not sure of their future career paths. It is unfortunate that the previous poster does not address these concerns.
I accidentally stumbled upon this page and am unpleasantly surprised by the many negative comments about VIS. Hence my reaction.
Let me start off by saying that I have been a teacher at VIS for over 2 years now. This may trigger responses from some previous commentators along the lines of 'rose tinted spectacles' but that would be a bit too easy. I am equally critical as many of you are. I am also not a teacher of English, nor a native speaker, so I can already take away any concerns, as indicated by one of the commentators, should I happen to make a grammatical error in this post ;-)
It seems that a lot of the criticism is due to VIS being an expensive school. I fully agree that VIS is much more expensive compared to some other schools in Vientiane, or possibly in Thailand. There is however a big cost to any school that aspires the IB accreditation. The PYP, MYP and DP programmes at VIS have been accredited for several years now and have been positively evaluated by the IB. VIS is also accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). These accreditations don't come without big investments in both facilities and staffing. The VIS facilities are up to international standards I would say (with an Olympic swimming pool recently added as well) particularly within the context of Laos. The ICT, mentioned as a weakness by some commentators, needs to be seen within this context as well. The school's admin is doing their best to provide state of the art ICT resources, but are dependent on external providers. The internet connection, to name an example, does go down some times (although really not very often), but the school cannot be blamed for this. VIS has invested in the installation of smart boards, laptops for every secondary student, ipads within the library for primary, and audio/video equipment. A new wing has been completed in 2012 with very good facilities for the arts and technology and design.
VIS is a relatively small school in a low income country and perhaps this is why the school fees are felt as being excessive, but if you compare them to other IB schools in the region (PP, BKK), you'll find them to be one of the lowest in comparison.
There is a comment about the high staff turn-over, albeit from 2 years ago, but I don't think this a valid argument to dismiss the school. Vientiane is a very transient place and many people come for a limited amount of time to work here, not just at VIS. So yes, some teachers finish their 2 year contract and move on. And yes, not everybody is always happy with the way some things work at VIS and decide to leave. But doesn't that apply to any organisation or institute? From my contact with colleagues I can honestly say that the majority of people working at VIS are positive about their overall work conditions.
Then there is a repeated argument about one or more members of staff with a certain reputation in the Vientiane night life, although it is left up to the reader's imagination as to what that actually entails. But even if we let our imagination go wild: VIS employs several dozen staff members, all qualified and with teaching experience in other schools and countries, and cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of individual staff members outside of school hours. It is not fair on the entire school to be dismissed if a staff member gains a certain reputation, whether based on hearsay or not. VIS is an alcohol and smoke free school, but does allow their staff members to have a private life as well.
There is also a peculiar remark about teachers taking their kids out of VIS. That is really extremely uncommon. I know of one teacher who has indeed put her child temporarily in a boarding school in Thailand, but has brought her child back to VIS after one year because of disappointing results there. My two children are enrolled at VIS (in primary) and they love it. They have attentive and caring teachers, and a variety of after school activities to choose from.
Lastly, about the results in the Diploma Course. VIS is still a small school (just over 400 students in the entire school) and we have relatively small cohorts of students in the higher grades. This means that comparing our DP scores to international standards is not fully justifiable given the relatively small sample size (I am speaking here as a mathematics teacher). Some years our scores are perhaps low, but other years are good (like last year's results). The difference often depends on a few students's results that can tip the balance. VIS has nonetheless seen a positive trend in DP results over the last years, which is to be expected given the increase in DP students and ongoing investment in professional staffing and professional development.
Having said all of that, in an attempt to put things a bit in perspective, I do understand that some commentators, whether parents or teachers, have had such a negative experience with VIS for some reason to the extent that they rate the entire school in such a negative way. That is very regrettable. I don't think however that it represents the general opinion of the majority of the large community that is involved with VIS.