British International College is like no other school in Johannesburg, for better or for worse. Forget the sprawling campuses at St. Stithians, BIC offers a small campus in Central Bryanston, home to only about 200 students. There is no football field, no cricket pitch and no rugby ground here. If your child wants to play sports at a school level, or take part in school debate competitions or something similar, I suggest you leave this school off your shortlist.
However, if your child aims to go abroad for university, few schools can surpass the preparation that BIC provides. The curriculum taught here is the British A-Level syllabus, which is globally recognized as one of the best school-leaving qualifications. I am currently in the process of applying abroad, and I cannot stress how much of an advantage having A Levels is.
There is a strong focus on academics here. From the moment you walk in, you find yourself surrounded by high-achievers and extremely talented people. Such good company motivated me to work to the best of my ability. On the other hand, the atmosphere is perhaps too relaxed and family-like at the school, which can lead to people slacking off on their work. There is a focus on being able to maintain your own discipline, which some might struggle with.
Meeting people from all around the world is a way of life here, and I have been exposed to so many interesting cultures. Even as an introverted person, I have found it so easy to fit in and make friends here.
BIC's classes are small, and one can expect a lot of individual attention from the teachers. Some of these teachers are well-recognized for being some of the best in the business, though I've had some teachers in the lower grades who were frankly awful.
On average though, the teachers are really approachable and they are well-versed in the Cambridge syllabus. In my opinion the commerce and science departments of this school are amazing, and numerous students from this school have won international awards from Cambridge and various olympiads.
Walking around the school, it's difficult to believe you can spend upwards of 100k Rands on such a dull environment. The insides are vaguely unpleasant, while at least the outdoors are nice and sunny. This might be a deal breaker for many, but I got used to it quickly.
There isn't a strong focus on extracurriculars at this school. Yes, there are clubs and there are intramural events, and some of them are good fun. However, on the whole, a lot of the events feel rather half-baked and not as grand as you might find at other schools.
The administrative staff are nice people, but I've had numerous mishaps in paying fees and signing up for exams with them. However, the director of studies and the principal are both very knowledgeable and offer amazing counselling for getting into your choice of university, even for foreign universities.
I've listed many downsides of this school, but I still believe it deserves 4 / 5 stars. This is due to my future plans and a preference for a smaller, international enivronment, which makes it easier to live with these disadvantages.
If there's one piece of advice I can offer a prospective student / parent, I would suggest joining this school during the AS Level year (equivalent to grade 11) instead of earlier.
The teachers are better at this level, and the benefits of a Cambridge education aren't really that relevant before this point.