Manila, Philippines Report of what it's like to live there - 05/30/17

Personal Experiences from Manila, Philippines

Manila, Philippines 05/30/17

Background Information:

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


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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?

2014 to 2017 kids in Elementary School, Middle School and High School

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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)?


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

Yes, we chose this school for a number of reasons in no particular order:
1) Lack of homework in Elementary School
2) Proximity to home
3) Availability of after-school activities
4) Provides busing
5) Not religious

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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?

Admissions are clearly stated but are difficult for the parent and child as the school will not formally admit the child until an in-person interview is completed. Additionally, this school gives priority to Embassy families but it DOES NOT guarantee a placement. This is particularly true at the Elementary school level where they are at capacity and will not increase classroom size for an Embassy child.

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

Excellent. The school is well versed in transitions both for arriving and leaving students. They provide peer groups for new kids, invite parents to special coffees and even allow parents to ride to school on a space available basis until they have transportation.

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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?

Communication is definitely a dance. There are weekly newsletters from each level of school and core teachers usually send out a weekly update. If you read everything then you will know all that is going on but it can be overwhelming.

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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?

Parents are responsible for the following:
1) Uniforms - Must be bought from the school store but are comfortable and cost much less than other postings we have had.
2) Musical Instrument rental
3) Laptops are required starting in grade 7
4) Some after-school activities

ISM does not incorporate things like field trips, year books and many after-school activities into the tuition.

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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?

Each grade level has numerous guidance counselors. The high school has an extensive worldwide college reach and facilitates student getting into top universities.

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

No before school care but buses come early and school starts at 7:30 in the morning for all grade levels.

After-school care is only through activities but Manila is place where most people are able to hire helpers inexpensively who do after-school care if needed.

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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?

Yes, ISM is the best library in town! Books are allowed to be taken home, kids can check books out electronically and kids take stacks of books over summer break. Parents are also allowed to use the library. There are no real public libraries in Manila.

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

See above. Technology at ISM is top notch and does not lack in any area. The entire school has Wifi which students and parents can access at any time. There is a sophisticated monitoring program and school professionally records all performances so parents can sit back and enjoy the show.

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

Technology is integrated into all aspects of school and homework. In grade 7 they will be required to bring their own laptop. While the school does not require a certain computer, most students have Apple products. In the younger grades they will have their own Chromebook in the classroom that does not come home. So at home the child will need a computer to do occasional homework.

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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?

ISM has it all for PE. Two swimming pools, track, tennis courts, weight lifting gym, soccer fields, baseball, Akido, etc.

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7. 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 an IB school with the majority of kids getting a full IB diploma. They do offer AP classes and the option to not do IB work. The IB program extends to all grade levels and in middle school they begin getting IB grades on the 1 to 7 scale.

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

There is much controversy over this. In Elementary school homework is focused on reading a book or if a task was not finished in class time. There is no mandatory amount of time that is spent on spelling, math etc for homework. Most projects are done in the class and are not sent as homework. Considering the amount of time kids spend on a bus getting to and from school, this is really helpful. In Middle school there is some homework and it builds as the grades progress into High school.

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

Everything and programs are extensive.

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

Yes most teachers are from outside of the Philippines.

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

No experience in ES but in Middle school they start separating advanced classes like English and Math.

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

Limited but they are working on them. My daughter was able to work in school with a speech specialist and there is some OT support. School is offering self contained classroom starting this year and does offer support to kids with additional needs. But this is often limited to what expat is in the country at that time.

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

School is completely wheelchair accessible including elevators.

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

None but school does not offer any second language classes until kids are in grade 5. They do offer an extensive ESL program but we did not use it.

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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?

Yes very extensive. Activities start in ES and kids can take different buses home based on their activity for the day. There is also an extensive after-school sports team program. Nothing is missing.

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