Reykjavik, Iceland Report of what it's like to live there - 04/04/14
Personal Experiences from Reykjavik, Iceland
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
Parents of ISI Student.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
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)?
My wife and I were working in Reykjavik.
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
The school's website indicated it had a solid curriculum and eluded to the school being accredited like other international schools. I wish there had been more parent reviews, I would have decided AGAINST enrolling my child here.
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. If your child is close to the age to start school, it is the Principal or Headmistress' decision on if the school will accept him/her at age 5 or 6.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Non-existent. We wrote to ISI to enroll our child 6 months before we arrived. I had to write two more times before we received a response and even then it was non-committal. We had to find out when school was starting by asking other parents once we arrived in town.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
The curriculum is unorganized and feels thrown together without much thought. There are no full-time teachers just many part-time teachers and only two native English speakers for a school of 65 students. This round robin of teachers and the poor curriculum make this school an absolute waste of money and your child's time.
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:
The school administration is a power clique. If you voice dissent over school practices or mismanagement, you are isolated.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
We hear nothing from the teachers except for parent-teacher conferences (3 times/year) or if there's been a fight at school.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
Non-existent. We did not find the needs of gifted students were met e.g., parents of students with learning difficulties are expected to pay extra fees to the school.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
The after-school activities are expensive and poorly organized. Very disappointing!
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
See comments on the dismal state of academics at this school. Your child would be better off in a local Icelandic school.
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
Homework assignments are a new trend in the last 2 years. Even so, with so many teachers and zero coordination, assignments are often contradictory and confusing. The addition of this new NAMFUS system had done little to nothing to improve the poor communication.
8. Administration-parent communication:
Poor. School is unresponsiveness or defensive to parents' concerns.
9. Teacher-student communication:
It is confusing for children in grades K-6 to have so many teachers.
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?
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?
15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
Strong academic education in English, Math, Science, and offering a world language. This will come with properly trained and licensed teachers.
16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
No academic requirements.
17. What activities do you feel are missing?
Anything taught by an experienced, licensed teacher would be appreciated.
18. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
19. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
Poor supervision by teachers and administration.
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?
Non-existent. We found out about some problems our child was having with another child from the other parent 3 months after the fact. The school never said anything.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Library is adequate.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
There is no technology lab at school. Kids are loaned iPads during the day to learn materials. Students are poorly supervised when accessing the internet.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
This program is OK and includes an indoor gym and pool. I have yet to see any physiology being taught. It's basically structured recess.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
Depends on the grade but anywhere from 15:1 to 6:1.
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?
None. This school only offers grades 1-7 (they just cancelled Kindergarten for 2014-2015).
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
The creative arts program at this school is the worst I have ever seen. The art assignments are uninspired, music is nothing more than sing-a-longs, and drama is being taught by a person who was an intern last year.
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. It would be nice if this was offered or if teachers were at least trained to recognize G&T students.
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?
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Socialization between ISI and the host school, Skaalandskoli, students is not encouraged nor supported.
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.
Yes. There have been problems with host school students but mostly internal to ISI students. Teachers and the administration failed to address the issues from the onset which resulted in some instances of physical violence between students.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
Its location inside a modern Icelandic school. The downside to this is that as the host school has grown in student numbers, the ISI classrooms are being taught on balconies and passageways.
2. Greatest challenge?
The arrogrance of the Headmistress and the staff.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
If I knew then what I know now, I would have turned down this work contract and gone elsewhere.