History of GIS

Garden International School has come a long way since being founded in 1951 as one of the first British international schools in Malaysia. From its original location in the Lake Gardens of Kuala Lumpur, GIS now is based in Mont Kiara and Desa Sri Hartamas in Kuala Lumpur. GIS is one of the largest international schools in Malaysia, educating up to 2,000 students.


Bringing out the best since 1951

Our Timeline

Explore our timeline to learn about our milestones over the last 70 years, delivering excellent British-based education in Malaysia.

Mrs Sally Watkins and her two sons, Colin and Clive


Garden School was founded by Mrs Sally Watkins, the wife of Fire Brigade Chief. Lt. Col. F.F.C. Watkins, in the Lake Gardens of Kuala Lumpur.


The earliest record in existence shows that there are 33 students enrolled, with two full-time British teachers.


Garden School combined its Kindergarten and Primary School and moved to 251 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

Students and staffs in the 1960s


The Secondary School was introduced, marking the beginning of a through school for children aged 3 to 18 years.


The Secondary School moved to Jalan Yap Kwan Seng with 36 students.

Garden School was selected to be the first official centre for the prestigious and authoritative University of London General Certificate of Education examination in Malaysia. The first cohort of 11 candidates sat their ‘O’ Levels.

Staff dinner and the various GIS Campuses in 1970s


As the school expanded, so did its site, with the Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary students spanning 3 campuses in 1973.

Garden School celebrated its Silver Jubilee. Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj was invited as the Guest-of-Honour.

GIS Campuses and academic staff in 1989


Garden School moved into the 4.5 acres purpose-built site in Cheras. With 700 students aged 3 to 17 years, over 30 nations were represented across the student body!


The term ‘International’ was added to Garden School, to reflect the diverse nature of the school as well as the international standard of education on offer.

Main campus in Bukit Kiara and another campus in Kuantan


Garden International School opened its sister school on the East Coast of Malaysia: Garden International School Kuantan.


Garden International School moved from Cheras to Mont Kiara.


The new International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) was introduced in 1998, replacing the University of London GCE ‘O’ Levels.


The Sixth Form was launched, offering Cambridge ‘A’ Level from September 2000.

Various school facilities


Garden International School was accredited by the European Council of International Schools (ECIS), as a mark of the quality of education on offer.


The seven storey Arts Centre was opened, with specialised classrooms and equipment for Performing Arts (Music, Drama), Visual and Modern Foreign Languages.


Facilities continued to be improved, with major renovation works for both Primary and Secondary cafeterias.


The UK Guardian newspaper named Garden International School as one of ‘The Best 8 International Schools in the World.’


The quality of learning environments were improved, with renovation works for the Secondary Library and Sixth Form Centre completed.


Some major improvements to the site and sporting facilities, with a new synthetic turf field laid, as well as extensive renovations to the Sports Hall, Grand Hall and both student and admin areas across the Secondary School.


The Early Years Centre was moved into a purpose-built campus at Desa Sri Hartamas.

Renovations are made to the playgrounds across both sites.


Four Science laboratories were renovated, offering an outstanding learning environment for Secondary students. The development of sports facilities continued, with tennis courts built and the installation of floodlights on the AstroTurf.

New front of school entrance and grand hall lobby


Key developments were made to the Primary school, including the renovation of classrooms, the office and play areas. Other developments to the site included the improvement of the multi-purpose outdoor courts and CCTV systems, ensuring an optimum setting for learning and staying safe and happy.


Following on from Primary, renovations are now focused on improving key areas across the Secondary school, including the secondary office, staff lounge and science labs.

Developments in ICT, including ICT facilities, iPads introduced (For Years 4 – 5 and in EYC), The Learning Garden (VLE Moodle) and the introduction of Google Suite.

GIS Kuantan celebrated 20 years of Educational Excellence, and was accredited with a five-star rating following a visit from the Ministry of Education.


ICT developments: Introduction of the ‘1:1 iPad Programme’ in Years 5 – 8.

The development of facilities continued, with Secondary classrooms, the gymnasium, the Secondary Library, Modern Foreign Language Classrooms and other parts of the sites all renovated.

GIS Kuantan introduced IGCSE courses, and upgraded a broad range of facilities across the school.


GIS becomes an Apple Distinguished school.


GIS becomes the only school in Malaysia to receive the Global Innovation Award 2016, recognising exemplary values and best practice in teaching and learning in 21st Century schools.

GIS is shortlisted for the British International School Initiative of the Year category of the TES Independent School Awards 2016, in recognition of its outstanding strategic achievement through the unique and innovative Large-Scale Enquiry Programme.

Garden International School (GIS) is awarded the Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) in recognition of its quality of teaching and learning in science.

Key Information Communication Technology (ICT) developments: Introduction of ‘1:1 iPad Programme’ from Year 3 onwards.


A new, state of the art Sixth Form Centre was completed.


GIS was awarded the Relocate Award 2020, recognising its outstanding relocation provision and support.


GIS celebrated 70 years of first-class education. 

Future Planning

School Development

We have an exciting renovation project planned which will deliver a world-class auditorium, an olympic-size swimming pool, basketball courts, an underground carpark, plus additional student learning environments at our main campus site.

The build will ensure our facilities reflect the levels of world-class teaching and learning that we are so proud of, and allow for outstanding new learning experiences for our students and community.