Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 07/13/22
Personal Experiences from Amman, Jordan
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
I am a parent of two children in the high school.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
Son - 8 and 9 (will attend 10th)
Daughter - 10-11 (will attend 12th)
3. What years did you live here?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Others from the embassy also attend ICS and the French school. We chose this school because it is a shorter commute and we heard it was the best in terms of teachers, facilities and community.
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?
Admissions and placement procedures were clear but the MOST extensive of any of the schools my children have attended. Also, one child was accepted and my other child wasn't accepted for 3-4 weeks which was very stressful. There wasn't great or very friendly communication from ACS during this process.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
It is really hard to say or judge since we arrived during COVID. My kids' entire first year was virtual and they didn't meet a single person. The school handled the academic part of that well, but they made little to no effort to help new kids during that year. It was brutal.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
There is a weekly newsletter that is generally helpful. At the high school level, I mostly don't hear from the teachers unless there is a problem and then they will send an email. They do parent - teacher conferences virtually which is great for working parents. We can just schedule them and do it over a couple days. I find their PowerSchool system pretty useless in terms of helping me know how my child is doing, but they do put a lot of emphasis on the kids taking responsibility for signing up and knowing what they need to do so often the parents are out of the loop.
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?
I haven't had any but once again, due to COVID, there haven't been any school trips or very many activities.
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?
There is a college counselor who has been there forever and people seem to think she is great. We are just getting started with her, so the jury is still out. They have school counselors at each level (middle, elementary and high) who seem good.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
Not that I know of.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Excellent and beautiful library with great borrowing - even parents can borrow.
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
Students all have to have apple laptops that we have buy. They do everything on google - technology is very integrated into everything they do.
5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
very modern and up-to-date
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
I think PE is the weakest area at the school. Seems like the gym teachers just sit on the side and let the kids have a free period. The athletic director is great and has gone to great lengths to piece together activities something that the kids do during the terrible, awful, always evolving covid-times. Swimming pool is amazing. Great facilities for other sports. My kids played volleyball, badminton, track, cross country soccer and basketball. Even though COVID ruined most tournaments and games, they still had a great time and it was how they met most of their friends.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
not sure - Some classes had as few as 4 kids in them and some had 15?
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?
AP- teachers seem great and kids were very well prepared for the AP exams.
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?
My kids were challenged and teachers were responsive. My two kids are kind of at either end of the student spectrum. One really pushes herself and one needs pushing and the teachers did well with both.
10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
all of those- I have heard that music is the weakest but my kids don't do it.
12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
My daughter is taking four AP classes and has been able to really push herself academically.
14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
They have learning support for all grades. It has been very helpful and made a difference for my son.
15. 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?
They have most all sports. The after school activities are kind of hit or miss because it just depends on what the teacher who volunteers and what they offer. They do seem to try to offer a range - crochet, dungeons and dragons, yoga, art, etc.
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?
It seems very welcoming especially considering the climate in Jordan in general. They have a "compassion club" that plans activities and they had an LBGTI speaker last year for the middle and high school.
2. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
In general, it is sort of split between the expats and locals but I don't think there is trouble between the two groups. My kids have gotten to know locals from sports and they have made friends that way. I think it is more that the local kids have been together so long and the expats come and go.
3. 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.
Less so than other international schools we have been at
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- There are definitely things I wish they would change - it was a terrible first year being virtual, but overall it has been a terrific school.
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
Kids have ultimately made friends; playing sports; being in the school plays; relationships with teachers; short commute
challenges - no friends during year of virtual school; second year, since they weren't "new" anymore, the school didn't help them connect or integrate even though they had never been on campus
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
Having talked to parents at other schools, we are happy with our decision to send our kids to ACS. It is a great school. While not perfect, I think it is the best option in Amman.