Tbilisi, Georgia Report of what it's like to live there - 05/02/20

Personal Experiences from Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia 05/02/20

Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

I am a parent at the school. My child is in the 8th grade (MYP3).

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

My child has been here for 1 year in the 8th grade.

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3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

I came with my work.

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4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

Yes. I chose this school because it is an IB school and my child has always attended an IB school.

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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?

No. We were told we needed ALL school reports for our child since kindergarten. Once we got here, we were told we only needed his last report, but it had to be translated and notarized. We sent in all our documents before arriving but they were never passed on to the principal. We were also required to get some other documentation through the ministry, which we could not do until we arrived. We felt that the principal was quite rude when it was not ready by the first day of school.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

Very poor. Upon meeting my child for the first time, the principal stated she needed to assess his problem (he has dyspraxia) and figure out how to deal with him. We felt that our child was labeled prior to our arrival and we felt unwelcome. To our knowledge, there is no active PTA and, in our experience the school did not make any attempts to get to know parents or welcome them.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

Poor. The principal sends emails out occasionally. They are filled with grammatical and spelling errors. The school uses Managebac and all teacher communications are done through here. While we are familiar with Managebac, we are also used to schools where teachers make an effort to reach out to parents. This was not our experience here.

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2. 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?

There is a school uniform but the school does not have a uniform shop. Students in secondary are required to bring their own electronic devices. All after-school activities cost extra.

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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?

They have a school counselor but she is often too busy with the IB students to assist with other issues students may have. She is not familiar with universities worldwide and in our experience seemed of limited help. She acts more as a CAS coordinator than a counselor.

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2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?

No. Students take a bus to school and home again. There is no additional care provided.

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3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

There are 2 libraries, one for primary and the other for secondary. They are very small and do not have a vast selection. Also, this year, the director/owner of the school decided some books (The Outsiders and The Giver) were inappropriate and were consequently banned them for the school.

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4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?

All students are required to have their own devices. It is still unclear what students use them for. All assignments are posted on Managebac, but it does not seem that technology is being used to enhance the curriculum. Students still turn in their tasks on paper.

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5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

There is no computer lab. The internet at school is also very spotty. Most teachers are Georgian and do not try to integrate technology. Of the expat teachers, more than 75% are not qualified teachers and are unfamiliar with different educational resources available online.

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6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

There is a small swimming pool but swimming is not offered to students in secondary. There is a small gym but it lacks equipment.

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7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

This is a small school, so class sizes are small. There are less than 15 students per class.

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8. 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?

This is a full IB school.

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9. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?

No since teachers do not seem to be properly trained to differentiate and meet the needs of their students. They prefer students who fit in a box. Very traditional views.

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10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Yes. There was very little homework assigned.

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11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

There are visual arts and drama. However, they do not follow the expectations of the IB and we were very disappointed. We were told before arriving that they had a music program but they do not.

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12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

No. The school will tell you all their teachers are English speakers and they are. However, many teachers are Georgian and their English language skills are poor.

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13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

There are no services available for students who are either gifted or on learning support.

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14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

None. My child has dyspraxia and should be allowed to type all his assessments. This was a struggle to get teachers to do. He's also entitled to extra time on assessments but we were told by administration that they could not accommodate this despite of his IEP.

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15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

None. There are stairs. There is no other way to make it to the second level.

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16. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

The school does have EAL teachers, however, they do not seem to know how to get students engaged or up to the levels needed.

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17. 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?

There is a limited amount of choices. They have MUN, but only for high school students. The sports are limited to 3 (basketball, volleyball and cross country) and depend on time of year.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?

The director/owner is very religious which I imagine would affect how she would relate to students in the LGBTQ community.

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2. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?

In our experience, the school does not have the means to accommodate any student who does not fit in a traditional box.

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3. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

Students all get along and socialise, but this is due to the small classrooms and not because of the administration.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?

I would not recommend this school to parents. In our experience with the school, it is poorly managed and the administration is uncaring. I am surprised they pass their IB inspection. They do not seem to embrace the values and qualities of an IB school.

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2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.

My child's sense of humour, sense of self and personal identity were stripped during our year here. We have chosen to send him to boarding school, instead of keeping him here for another year.

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3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

The school has a very strict dress code. Students are threatened with suspension if they break the rules. Even shoe color is mandated. We have not been happy at this school mainly because of our disappointment with the school administration and management.

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