New Delhi, India Report of what it's like to live there - 10/23/18

Personal Experiences from New Delhi, India

New Delhi, India 10/23/18

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.

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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?

High School- presently attending

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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)?

Diplomatic posting

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

British School, German School, French School...chose AES based on reputation and English language curriculum.

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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?

Well enough...

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

The PSA is very proactive and welcoming of new and returning families, they host a lot of activities to promote community cohesiveness and set a positive tone for family involvement. The Tiger's Den is a hub of activity open to parents and older students. Some parents are there all day, every day...

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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?

Hard to say...there is an effort to send out weekly electronic newsletters, but some information is repetitive and dated, or does not appear in a timely manner. There are many community activities for which large fees are charged- tickets will be on sale on campus during the day (inconvenient for working parents) and prices will skyrocket if purchased at the door- a recent Diwali event charged $30 USD at the door. It is unclear what certain events are/ their purpose and the school appears to operate under the assumption that everyone has been there for years- very little in the way of event description.

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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 an optional laptop insurance fee (money well spent IMHO) and travel fees for MESAC and IASAS events- typically airfare as students lodge with host families.

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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?

This school seems primarily dedicated to college admissions (at least at the HS level) and the few events I have attended ramp up parental anxiety.
I feel like not enough attention is paid to students' social/emotional well being at these events.

In our experience, academic/college counseling is luck of the draw- there are three HS counselors. The school appears geared toward getting kids into top schools, but will also discourage kids from "shooting high", which seems counterintuitive. It also seems that families with special needs kids are left to their own devices - the school provides little in the way of learning support and families with kids with more than mild learning or behavioral issues are not served well in my opinion. Other international schools in the region are making great strides in this arena, AES does not appear to do so.

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

I have only visited the HS/MS library which appears adequate. Parents can avail themselves of a vast digital library- the staff will install an app on your device.

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

School provides MacBooks to HS students. Most assignments are done through online portals.

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

Nice physical facilities, the campus has some geographical constraints and is compact but appears well equipped.

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5. 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?

The school is IB and it seems like half of the 11th and 12th grade students pursue the full IB diploma. AP classes are also available. From what I hear, there is a lot of flexibility.

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6. 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?

The curriculum seems challenging, especially the IB diploma program.

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

For IB students, there are several hours of homework and time management responsibilities to juggle...I am a fan of structure and hard work, so it seems good.

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

Yes, everyone seems to speak English fluently.

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

Very few at the HS level.

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10. 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?

The sports program seems robust and well developed, there are service clubs and academic clubs...there are lots of options for students.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

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

This does not appear to be a problem- we have not noticed any problems with integration.

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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?

A solid B. Based of its "glowing reputation", we were expecting something a little more fine tuned.

AES is a good school, not the best we have come noted, there appears to be a lot of unevenness and lack of preparation. For instance, some events are scheduled to conflict with other major events, parent teacher conferences at the HS level are difficult to schedule especially for working parents and you get about 8 minutes with the teachers. While welcoming to new families, there seems to be a lack of attentiveness to detail (use of acronyms for meeting rooms, a general befuddlement when parents show up for an event...I was once sent to 3 different parts of campus to find a particular meeting).

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

New Delhi is a challenging yet fascinating city, India is culturally rich and AES is a good school. I do think there are many people (families and staff) who have been here "forever", so some of the vibrancy and cultural diversity often seen at international schools is missing. We are happy with our choice to come to India and AES and the experience is "good enough".

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