The American School In England
Coordinates: TASIS England, also known as "The American School in England," is one of five American schools located in and around London. It was founded in 1976 in the village of Thorpe, Surrey, south west of London.
The school consists of an early years program called Frog Hollow, a Lower School (pre-kindergarten to 4th grade), a Middle School (5th-8th grade) and an Upper School (9th-12th grades). In total there are approximately 750 students and 100 full-time faculty. The Upper School has about 390 students, 165 of whom board.
The Lower and Middle schools teach the American Core Knowledge curriculum. The Upper School, starting in 2005-2006, offers the International Baccalaureate together with the traditional American AP system, which it has offered since its founding.
One of the many programs that TASIS offers is its INPRO, "in-program", travel week during October. During this week off, students travel, if they wish, to various countries throughout the world. Past destinations have included France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Russia, Italy, Greece, Morocco and various Eastern European countries. The Greece trip has traditionally been the Senior class trip.
Origin of name
TASIS stands for The American School in Switzerland. TASIS England was originally set up as a branch of that school based in Surrey, England. Its current official relationship to the original TASIS (other than sharing private ownership) is that of a sister school. TASIS England was founded in 1976 by Mary Crist Fleming for the purpose of expanding the TASIS family. Although fairly young, it is the second oldest international school in the London area.
Campus and surrounding areas
The school was converted from a 17th-century manor. Hence, the Coach House buildings were the coach houses of the manor. Dr James Lander, a history teacher at the school, wrote an extensive history of the school and surrounding area in The Heart of Thorpe.
The school is divided into North and South campuses, separated by Coldharbour Lane. The Lower and Middle Schools are completely located on the North side of campus. Several dorms, Thorpe House, the Admissions building, cafeteria and Student Center are located on the South side of campus.
With the help of a $745,000 grant from the US embassy, TASIS augmented its campus security with the addition of an extensive infra-red CCTV network and a new public address system. The campus is secured by security personnel who routinely patrol campus. In the event of campus invasion or any incident that should require swift evacuation from the campus, TASIS is served by a comprehensive emergency plan by which students and staff are transported via a protected route to a safe haven. It is important that on hearing about an evacuation, no TASIS parents attempt to return to campus or attempt to pick up their child. When it is safe for students to be released, parents will be contacted by phone.
The school is currently undergoing rebuilding under a ten-year Master Plan. Thus far, extensions have been built to provide more classroom space, and the gyms have been expanded. There is a new fitness center, concessions booth, four new changing rooms, two dance studios and a new PE department office. These new changes were financed on a one-off surcharge to tuition which families are expected to pay during their first year at TASIS.
The school is located near Staines, which has a cinema, shops, as well as a train station. The school runs shuttles on the weekend allowing boarding students easier access to the town. The school is not immediately accessible by public transport.
Lower and middle school students are required to wear a uniform, though this varies depending on which school division the student is in. The middle school wears navy.
Starting 2007-2008, the Upper School introduced a new dress code to cut down on dress code violation. The dress code change was controversial among many parents and students, as could be expected of any tightening of dress code. Dress code for boys did not change greatly, but girls had much less freedom than had been previously allowed. During the 2007-2008 academic year, administration planned a new dress code for use in the 2008-2009 academic year and further as deemed appropriate. This new uniform rotates every semester. Mimicking professional attire, it tightens during the winter term from TASIS polos and TASIS sweaters to TASIS button-down shirts and a jacket and tie for boys and a TASIS button-down shirt and sweater for girls. The dress code loosens again for the spring term.
Overall, the school has lower than average levels of unexcused absences from students and equally low rates of punishable offenses committed on campus. The teacher student ratio is 1 : 7.
The Upper School is college preparatory and currently operates on a block schedule. The school is also a boarding school, with a boarding body of over 160 students.
Current graduation requirements are as follows:
- English - 4 credits
- History - 3 credits (with required courses in grades 9 and 10, and including US History at the 11th or *12th grade level)
- Foreign Language - Third-level proficiency in a modern foreign language. If a student has completed the second-level proficiency in Latin, a further two levels of a modern language will satisfy this requirement. Students must satisfactorily complete at least two levels of their foreign language study in grades 9-12.
- Mathematics - 3 credits in high school
- Science - 3 credits in high school laboratory science courses, including Biology
- Arts - 1 credit
- Humanities - 1 credit (in grade 12)
- Physical Education - Required courses in grades 9 and 10
- Sports/Activities - Students in grades 9 through 12 participate in the afternoon Sports/Activities Program.
- Community Service Program - Students in grades 9 through 12 complete a CSP assignment on or off campus
In 2004-5, the school was inspected by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education of the UK government. It is in charge of school inspections in England.
The school does not offer honors courses, as students of high academic standing generally elect to take AP or IB courses. The Advanced Placement courses do not require the writing of the AP exam, although it is usually taken. Vice versa, some students take AP exams without taking an AP course.
Many students take Advanced Placement (AP) tests. Currently, APs are offered in Art History, Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Economics, English Language, English Literature, Environmental Science, European History, French Language, German Language, Government, Latin, Music Theory, Physics, Spanish, Statistics, and US History.
The pass rate of AP exams at TASIS is 20% above the American independent school average of 70%, as 90% of AP exams taken at TASIS England in May 2007 received grades of 3 and above. TASIS' British web page posts their 2007 AP exam results as the following:
Art History: 100% Biology: 100% Calculus AB: 86% Calculus BC: 100% Chemistry: 82% Computer Science A: 67% Economics: Macro: 79% Economics: Micro: 73% English Language and Composition: 100% English Literature and Composition: 100% Environmental Science: 82% European History: 100% French Language: 78% Government and Politics- Comp: 100% Government and Politics- US: 100% Music Theory: 50% Physics B: 89% Spanish Language: 100% Statistics: 100% US History: 94%
The school currently offers the IB Diploma as well, a program of studies recognized in colleges and universities internationally, especially in Europe. 100% of year two IB students at TASIS England passed in 2007.
Graduates from TASIS England often go on to university. In 2007, 97% of TASIS graduates were either accepted into three or four-year universities, or chose to pursue a gap year before making university plans. While many TASIS graduates go to American universities, some go to the UK, Japan, Spain, Germany and Canada.
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TASIS offers competitive soccer, volleyball, basketball, tennis, cross country, and lacrosse at the varsity and junior varsity levels. Students travel throughout England and Europe for tournaments.
TASIS is a member of the International Schools Sports Tournament (ISST) conference, often winning several a year.
Notable former pupils
- Emma Caulfield - actor
- Emmy Clarke - singer, songwriter and film director
- Francesca Gregorini - actor
- Tyler Hinman - crossword solver and constructor
- Camilla Luddington - actor
- Jon Finkel - Magic the Gathering World Champion
- TASIS England
- TASIS, The American School in Switzerland
- OfSTED Report on TASIS England
- Fleming, Mary C. The American school in England. 1 Jan. 10 Feb. 2009 <http://england.tasis.com/>.