Pristina, Kosovo Report of what it's like to live there - 03/31/14
Personal Experiences from Pristina, Kosovo
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
I am a parent.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
My kids attend KG, 2nd, and 5th grade. (ILG is an elementary school from pre-K to 5. There are older websites which state that ILG offers grades up to 8, I believe, but that is no longer true.)
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 husband works as a contractor here in Pristina.
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
We heard great things - parents really love this school. Also, frankly, there isn't any other good option for our age slots. We are happy with our choice.
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?
A - There are no problems with admissions or placement.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
B - The welcome is very warm and friendly, the director makes very sure that everybody feels welcomed and taken care of. I agree with a prior reviewer that a hand-out sheet with general information on what the kids should bring to school would be good. I sent my kids with pencils and folders but they don't need them. Everything is provided at school.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
My kids seem very happy in their classes. Class size varies from over 10 to just 5.
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:
A - I have not encountered any problems at all. The school is small and this creates a very safe and harmonious environment for the kids and the families.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
A - I've never had to wait more than a few hours for an email reply. The teachers are always happy to talk to the parents. Best I've seen so far, and this is our seventh country.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
I am not aware that such programs exist.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
B - There are some activities but the spaces are very limited and you have to pay extra for the bus service. My son participates in soccer which is great. There are some craft classes, and some music classes.
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
B - As everywhere, this strongly depends on the teachers. We are very lucky that our kids have excellent teachers who challenge them. I can't speak for any of the other teachers we haven't had yet, but I have not heard any complaints. I'm personally not a fan of the math program (Everyday Math) but again, it depends on the teachers.
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
A - Again, this depends strongly on the teacher. What I really like is that all kids get a "Homework Agenda" which is either filled in by the teachers (lower grades) or the students themselves, and has to be signed by the parents every day. This ensures that all kids (and parents!) know what homework is due and that everything gets done. This agenda also serves as a communication tool with the teachers.
8. Administration-parent communication:
A - Quick answers, transparent communication.
9. Teacher-student communication:
A - The teachers all seem to genuinely love kids. This is not a given, so we are enjoying this very much.
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?
As I said, I am personally not happy with the math program but there is a fabulous math teacher who makes it work.
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:
The school is very small, and special needs is not really something they do here in Kosovo.
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?
Art, music, ICT are regular classes.
15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
17. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
My son participates in soccer and loves it. My daughter did a crafts class in fall and also loved it.
18. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
Yes - you just have to ask. It's not only limited to academics, either. I've gotten everything from doctor recommendations to a recommendation for wood pellets. The director is very good at making you feel like a part of the community in no time.
19. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
We have not encountered any.
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?
I've not needed counseling but I've talked to individual teachers about problems and they were always very responsive.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
A - For the size of the school, and the fact that we are in Pristina, the library is great. Friday is library day when the kids can borrow books, and each classroom has its own little library of books as well.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
B - The kids have access to a computer lab and get regular ICT classes from an early age on.
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 - There is PE twice a week, and they have an indoor space in case of bad weather. The outdoor space tends to get VERY muddy (we're in Pristina, when it rains, the city is muddy), so don't send your kids to school in their best clothes!
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
A - The ratio is small and in most cases, the classes have a TA as well.
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?
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)?
There are no electives per se. Music, art, and ICT are taught at every level, and French starts at grade 1.
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. I'm not aware that there are any such services.
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?
Yes, for its size, there are quite a few extracurricular activities.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
My kids do - we have play dates and there are a lot of birthday parties. Be aware that usually, the entire class plus sometimes siblings are invited to birthdays -- there is very little to do in Pristina, so we like partying!
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.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
This school is part of the expat community and you can tell. It's a warm, welcoming, and safe place for our kids. I love the teachers my kids have - there is a lot of willingness to learn and continue their own education which is fabulous. I'm already sad that our fifth grader will need to move on to another school at the end of the school year. (ILG is an elementary school.)
2. Greatest challenge?
The school is small and this limits what it can offer. I think they are doing a great job, and I wished they would go on beyond fifth grade (which, for space and legal reasons, is just not possible).
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?