Panyathip British International School, Laos

We spoke with Palinyakone Panyathip, CEO of Panyathip British International School (PBIS), to hear about the school’s experience of COBIS Accreditation and the impact it has had on the school community. PBIS went through COBIS Accreditation and Compliance in 2023.

Why did you want to pursue Accreditation? What did your school look like before Accreditation?

Our school has a rich history of over 20 years, and we recognised that it was time to modernise our policies and operations. We saw it as an opportunity to enhance our safer recruitment procedures and ensure policies are consistently enforced across all our campuses. We are a very ambitious, forward-thinking school, and I always say that you learn by doing, and we try to do better every day.

Our pursuit of COBIS Accreditation and Compliance is not only a great PR and marketing tool but also an affirmation that we have taken the right steps, an assurance and a pat on the back that we’ve done everything right. Yes, it is something to be proud of, but more importantly, it allows us to identify areas for improvement and benefit our school community. While we believe we are giving our best, we aim to meet an international standard, which the COBIS Accreditation has made possible.

How did you find the process?

The COBIS team was nothing but supportive from the start. When I spoke to everyone in the community, I always said “Don't call this an inspection.” I said, “This is a self-improvement process.”. I know there are negative connotations to the word ‘inspection’, and it never felt like one. We welcomed the process because we felt a critical eye would be a good thing, and everyone involved had a great experience. We had nothing but reassurance and positive encouragement, even when identifying areas our school could improve. The COBIS team was so supportive and encouraging from the beginning.

Laos is a developing country, so some things are harder for us; for example, we have had a hard time recruiting and retaining staff due to various reasons, and the COBIS team was very understanding and was able to share insights from schools in the network who had the same challenges. We really felt supported throughout the process, and we were able to be very transparent with the team, which made it all a lot easier. It really made the difference that COBIS was not coming to inspect us, but to help us self-evaluate. COBIS understands the different nature of every school and helped us to succeed. I would recommend it to any school.

What impact has the scheme had on your school? In which areas have you seen specific change/growth/development/improvement?

The great thing is that even during the Accreditation process, we could see the impact it was having on the school. With our Health and Safety policies, in particular, we had passed all required local regulations, but we weren’t sure ourselves. We wanted to be certain that we were also meeting international standards which is why we have invested in developing our facilities, particularly with fire escapes and fire alarms. With COBIS’ invaluable advice, we were able to not only update our policies but also further develop our school facilities in terms of Health and Safety. We also now have a new lockdown policy waiting to be approved by the board, which we did not have before, and we have updated other policies as well.

We have three campuses, and we often found things were inconsistent between them. Communication is a COBIS standard, and we’ve really seen that come alive and improve communication between campuses. We’ve also extended and improved communication with our parents, and all of our updated policies and practices are now clearly visible on the website, which is a COBIS requirement.

How has your school community been impacted by the Accreditation? How did they find the process?

It has really given reassurance to the staff that we live by our motto, ‘Be the best that you can be.’. We are really living that value as a school. I believe our role as school leaders is to be inspiring and create a sense of belonging, and we explained from the beginning that this was not an inspection but a self-evaluation, and self-improvement process that will benefit everyone. We told staff to look at it as a Professional Development opportunity for them, and it really was – we all learned a lot. It was a significant milestone for everyone.

Parents are reassured by the quality assurance this has provided. We received Beacon Status for demonstrating excellence in Safer Recruitment, and this really confirms to parents that this is a safe environment. One parent even said they could see that safeguarding was a living value here, not just a statement.

How has Accreditation impacted student life at your school?

The report fed back that we have very happy students and proud parents, which was a wonderful thing to read. We are so keen for our students to become global citizens, and being part of COBIS will make that a reality. We will be enrolling them in the various student engagement competitions, and there are great opportunities for them to network and learn to be citizens of the world.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about the impact of the scheme?

We very recently changed our name from Panyathip International School to Panyathip British International School. It’s a significant change, and I think it shows our dedication to providing high-quality British education. Now that we are a fully accredited COBIS member it felt like it gave us a clear direction in terms of delivering British education in Laos and ensuring our students are being prepared to be citizens of the world and can access reputable colleges and universities all around the world. Being a bridge to success for our students is something we are so proud of, and this Accreditation motivates us to continue to raise our standards – we will never stop.

For any questions or for more information about the COBIS Accreditation and Compliance scheme, please contact