Guangzhou, China Report of what it's like to live there - 05/18/16
Personal Experiences from Guangzhou, China
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
Attended 1st-4th grades
3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
U.S. government assignment
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
The majority of U.S. consulate children attend this school. During the admissions process, the school was welcoming and efficient. The school is ~15 minutes away from my home and there is a school bus. I saw no need to look further.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
I don't think they are transparent, but I did think they were very efficient and friendly.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
I find the school to be very welcoming, warm, and inclusive. It is pretty international, with a decent number of Americans, lots of children from other Asian countries, and a smattering of children from other countries. The school does a nice job of making everyone feel a part of the community. We have been very pleased with AISG.
2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
A- There are parent-teacher conferences as well as student led conferences. All of our teachers have been incredibly responsive on email.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
5. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
Lunch can be purchased but does not have to be. There is a small PE uniform charge.
6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
C- The school has a free after school program that runs for about 8 weeks per session (3 or 4 sessions, can't remember how many). The program has pros and cons. It includes a lot of unusual offerings, like finger knitting and disc games, rather than traditional sports/music/drama. I think a lot of us wish there were traditional sports programs, like soccer offered all semester. Instead, we sign up for weekend sports at additional high cost. There are also no opportunities to learn instruments so people find teachers outside the school. This year, the school organized a new swim program at additional cost in collaboration with the Guangdong Swimming Association. It is offered 2x/week and children who can already swim receive further instruction. It has been very popular and they plan to expand it next year.
7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
Not sure- they seem to have high standards but I cannot say what happens if the students do not meet them.
8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
B- different teachers assign different levels of homework. I thought our teachers assigned the right amount and kind.
9. Administration-parent communication:
A- Many families claim that the communication is poor but I really disagree. They have regular newsletters, plus emails about special events. You just have to take the time to read things.
10. Teacher-student communication:
A- my kids have developed great relationships with all their teachers.
11. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?
12. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
13. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
In elementary school, there is art and music once or twice a week. Kids (2nd grade and up, I think) can sign up for the spring musical and the choirs.
14. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
organized sports and musical instruments
15. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
16. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
17. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
Not aware of any
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
A- the library is a wonderful community space and everyone loves to be there. It is well stocked. Sadly, the librarian of many years is leaving, but hopefully they will bring in someone equally warm.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
A - good IT program in elementary school. Kids have classroom Ipads and seem to have a good balance of using them and using other resources.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
6. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
Yes, for my kids it has been.
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
B- elementary school has no electives. Kids do music and art 1 or 2/week, depending on the week.
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
I believe so. They all seem to.
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
I don't think this is offered.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
Not that I am aware of. This really does not seem to be an issue here, or at least not systematically in any way. I believe the school would address it immediately if so.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
Inclusiveness, celebration of community and ethnic diversity.
2. Greatest challenge?
We had some frustration about the fact that it is an American school but does not celebrate or commemorate American holidays. However, thanks to some advocacy over the past few years, the school will be closed on Thanksgiving 2016. We hope further holidays will be incorporated into the curriculum.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Absolutely! It has been an academically rigorous, warm, wonderful community for all of us. I feel that most of the teachers and administrators are genuinely there out of love for teaching and that they truly care about our children's happiness and academic progress. AISG has been a wonderful school for our family.