Tallinn, Estonia Report of what it's like to live there - 04/03/13
Personal Experiences from Tallinn, Estonia
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?
Grade 1 and 2
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)?
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?
B, easy to submit online, no testing required.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
C+, the online system can be hard to manage, but the office staff is knowledgeable and can direct you where you need to go.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
The academics are at least a year behind the curriculum in the US. Both grades had problems managing disruptive students and providing cademics.
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:
Estonians usually go to the local schools, so this doesn't apply.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
C,parents would have to go in to talk to teachers and see if there were any problems. The teacher provided an outline on what would be covered in the year, but sections were omitted.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
C-,none for gifted, ESL is available and another parent hired someone on their own to help with their child.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
C, a few,the school is small so not enough kids to support any variety.
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
D, no standards, no encouragement to try to do their best.
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
None or too much, it rarely connected to what was being taught in the classroom.
8. Administration-parent communication:
C,the director would listen to concerns and not resolve them.
9. Teacher-student communication:
C-,the grade 2 teacher often used sarcasm and degrading comments to the children that were difficult to understand.
10. 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?
Yes, all of them.The PYP is not "allowed" to use textbooks or worksheets, so a lot of time was spent reading library books.
11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:
14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
The basics are provided. My children did not bring home many art projects. They did both music and choir and seemed to learn a lot from it.
15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
the basic academics are missing major concepts, such as geometry and spelling, it would be nice if they were taught keyboarding and how to use the computer instead of just Google searches.
16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
Some trips cost extra, parents are expected to transport their children for field trips as there is no bus.
17. What activities do you feel are missing?
18. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
19. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
It wasn't hard for them to start school here, the classes are small and academics limited.
20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
The younger grades are often left unsupervised and this can lead to problems. There are behaviour problems at the school and kids do not know how to respond when they are being bullied. Teachers are very slow to respond and the problem continued.My children would not want to go to school as the year progressed.
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?
C,not enough variety.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
C,my children were given time on computers, but no skills were taught.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
A,PE teacher is knowledgeable and works well with kids, facilities are quite small and old, only a gym.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
B, from 15:1 to 3:1, depending on grade.
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?
IB at PYP and high school level, do not know about AP.
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
No,as mentioned before the homework was random and often not related to classwork. My grade 2 child was given a sheet of long division problems, but had not done any multiplication yet in class. Most parents supplement their children to keep them on the same academic level when they return to their home country.
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
C+, small school,the PYP required over 50% of class time be in fine arts.
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
No, none available.
11. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
No, soccer, swimming and dance for the younger kids.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
No locals, mostly expats.
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.
Only by each other.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
Their ability to deny reality and avoid problem solving.
2. Greatest challenge?
The school lacks qualified teachers in the PYP and will not tell parents what is being taught. It becomes a guessing game and then a rude awakening when you realize you need to spend weekends and holidays supplementing them so they won't need tutoring when returning to their native country.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
No. I would recommend exploring The English College for primary or high school, Audentes has IB for high school and there will be an EU school opening fall 2013.