In 1988 Ronald Stones OBE, who was then the principal of British International School, Jakarta, suggested that Headteachers of Britsh Schools in South East Asia meet in order to discuss matters of mutual interest, and offer each other support in delivering a British type curriculum far removed from home base. A number of British International Schools had been running very successfully in South East Asia long before this, but they had always been self-contained and operated independently of one another. As a result of this initiative FOBISSEA (the Federation of British International Schools in South East Asia & East Asia) was born!

The first meeting was hosted by Mr. Stones in Jakarta in November 1988 and was attended by 5 heads: Mr. Abidin of Kota Kinabalu International School, Mrs. Goodban, Tanglin Trust School, Singapore, Mrs. Cloutt, British School Manila, Mr. Thomas, Bangkok Patana School, & Mr. Eales, Alice Smith School, Kuala Lumpur.

The inauguaral meeting was judged a great success, and it was agreed that the that the experience had been of benefit to all – so much so that it was decided that the meeting should be held annually with a different school acting as host each time. This enabled the Heads to see each other’s schools and in the process, gain new insights to what was being offered. All the schools were different to some degree, but the common denominator was the fact that they offered a British curriculum. As the National Curriculum developed in the 1990’s, ties strenghtened.

In the early days the organisation was very informal: there was no official secretary and the Head hosting the annual conference took the minutes. Since then the Federation has grown more seeking admission. It is now much more formal and structured. A Constitution has been adopted, which is adhered to by all members. There are two meetings a year, a Business meetingin March and a conference in November, under the control of an elected Chairperson. A permanent Secretary was appointed in 1998.

FOBISSEA is not just about the Music Festival or the Primary and Secondary Games, though both the Music Festival and the Games are what most people are aware of. It also exists to provide a forum for professional dialogue between the Heads and staff of British International Schools in the region, supporting professional development, training and contact. It is also beginning to act as a lobby group, making British organisations in the region aware of our schools and what we can offer. Companies who are investing in the region, whether they are from the UK or elsewhere need to know that there are quality international schools in Asia. FOBISSEA is becoming a very important service organisation that can help ensure that this is indeed the case.

In 2013,  the membership agreed to change FOBISSEA to FOBISIA (the Federation of British International Schools in Asia) to better reflect the growth in the Asian region.

The overall aim of the Federation is to promote excellence In good British-style education in our schools, and to provide opportunities for inter-school competitions and enrichment programmes.

The Games and the Music Festival are now well established in the calendar of the Federation of Schools and provide a most valuable platform for students and staff to join together in a spirit of enjoyment and cooperation.

From a very humble beginning, the Federation has grown over the past thirty years to be an organisation known and respected all over Asia and beyond, serving the interests first and foremost of all FOBISIA students, teachers and schools.


The Federation of British International Schools in Asia. (FOBISIA)
39/4 Todsamon Clubhouse Building
M FI, Soi Lasalle 39/1, Sukhumvit 105, Bangna
Bangkok, Thailand 10260   Phone: +66 82 574 1110
powered by finalsite