Bucharest, Romania Report of what it's like to live there - 12/30/14
Personal Experiences from Bucharest, Romania
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
Middle, high 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)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
It was recommended by our employer and seemed the best best in the city.
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: The admissions staff is outstanding and had a lot to do with why we decided to enroll our kids. No question was too hard and they are very professional. It's a shame the rest of the school isn't the same quality.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
C: It's not bad but at our previous school there was a lot more done to help kids transition in. When we arrived, our eldest was expected to know things by the teachers without much help.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
On the whole, the school is too relaxed and not very friendly. Academics are weak and many teachers are indifferent. It's luck of the draw if your child is going to get good teachers and if you don't, there's nothing you can do. Rich Romanians are the majority and the school doesn't feel international because the Romanians pretty much run the school.
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:
D: Secondary administrators especially in the high school give preferential treatment to wealthy Romanian students. There's a lot of bullying but if you're in the right group, your child can get away with it.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
C: It depends. Some are great, some never reply or only after you contact them many times. Bringing lack of communication to the administration's attention gets you labeled a troublemaker.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
I don't know about this but I'd like to see honors classes.
5. 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?
Laptops and school trips.
6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
A-: Pretty good but you have to shell out a lot of money for off-campus tournaments.
7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
D: Almost no one checks on the teachers so if you get a good one, you're lucky and if you get a bad one, you can complain forever and nothing will change. My kids often don't get their assignments returned for weeks even months and get stressed at the end of the marking period when teachers actually start assigning work. My eldest has fallen behind due to two years of bad teachers.
8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
C: This is a problem area. Lots of busy work, then periods of nothing at all and then a rush to get things done at the end of a marking period.
9. Administration-parent communication:
D: If you aren't a wealthy Romanian you can expect not to be listened to, especially in the high school. In the middle school it can take a very long time to get anything resolved. The new director has what he calls an open door policy but tends to make sweeping changes without consulting.
10. Teacher-student communication:
C: It ranges from excellent to my kids coming home crying because of what teachers said to them.
11. 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?
Yes in all subjects depending on the teacher. Technology and writing are weak.
12. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
13. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
There are a lot of electives that are generally good, especially the music program.
15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
I just want the classes and programs offered to be consistently good.
16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
The majority of interscholastic activities require a trip to another country. The cost adds up to an already expensive school.
17. What activities do you feel are missing?
18. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
People just seem unhappy. There's a high school newspaper which has language that would be forbidden at any other school or a workplace and most of the articles are about poor teaching, bullying and the indifference of the leaders. There was even an article about good places to go drinking. We have never been at a school with such poor school spirit.
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?
D: There are new counselors and one of them doesn't even show up for appointments Some parents are resorting to spending a lot of money to hire private college consultants because the services at the school have gone downhill.
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-: Good up to the high school level, but there needs to be more research resources for high school students.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
D: It's all over the place but often doesn't work. The technology staff is often rude and the director of the computer program is unapproachable.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
C: Many changes in the program. It's no longer about sports being enjoyable and lifelong but about mastering skills regardless if kids can do them or not. Teachers range from outstanding to indifferent to mean. My kids are exercising less because they don't like going to PE and don't think they can do sports.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
B: Some of the classes are huge, some are small. We are told classes are never more than 20 students but the reality is different.
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?
C; They are there but the standards have dropped and rumor has it that scores have gone down but it's hard to get actual data. Expect to get stonewalled if you ask for information or have a problem.
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)?
A to B: Good now but there are rumors the choir program is being taken away next year. The choices there right now are very good.
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
No. There are a lot of foreign teachers, especially Romanian. English levels vary.
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
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, but it's hard for kids to be on teams that actually get to play other teams.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
There is a huge division between the Romanian students and the non-Romanian students. The school is supposed to have only 30% Romanians but it's the majority in the middle and high schools. If you don't speak Romanian or are not Romanian you can't be friends with about half the kids, and the Romanians are often pretty nasty to the other kids especially if they aren't rich.
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. The Romanians are well known for using obscene language about other students which most of the teachers don't know but the kids do. There's supposed to be an anti-bullying program but when you report bullying to the administration they try to find a way to blame you or nothing happens.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
It used to have higher standards so if it chose it could do it again.
2. Greatest challenge?
Low academic and teaching standards and an administration that circles the wagons when a problem is brought up rather than trying to do something about it. I have seen the quality of the education slide during my time here and from what I can see those in charge are OK with it. Poor teachers get to stay as long as hey want.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
No. We have asked for a transfer because we no longer believe our children can get the kind of education we want for them and unfortunately this is the best school in town.