Bucharest, Romania Report of what it's like to live there - 07/07/13
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?
Reception- year 1
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)?
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?
I think they strive to be transparent.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
I felt very supported by the teacher but found moms' groups a bit hard to "break into"... and a bit cliquish.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
My child's class had a very nice mix of local and expat children. Overall, the classmates were quite kind and supportive of each other. I have heard that not all the classes had such a good rapport as ours.
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 - in younger grades
C - in older grades (based on others opinions)
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Very good .
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
B. My child was advanced for her age in both reading and math. We feel like they did try to keep her moving forward in reading. They could possibly have done better, but we were not disappointed and I feel like she got a solid education - far better than she would have at the American School in Bucharest -- where in an initial interview they accused us of pushing her (keep in mind they'd just met us) because we began teaching her to read at 4 -- when she asked to learn. By contrast, the British School assessed her and gave her books to read on her first day! We're thankful we chose BSB over AISB for younger grades, although I think AISB was much better for older children.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
B. Gymnastics, dance, tennis, some languages, and such -- but some were expensive. We loved the gymnastics teacher. Despite a lack of equipment, she gave our daughter a great foundation in flexibility, balance, strength, and tumbling.
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
Appropriate for the age level. More math in year 1 would have been better.
8. Administration-parent communication:
In my case good, but some others have felt that they are a bit impersonal.
9. Teacher-student communication:
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?
11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
12. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
13. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
14. What activities do you feel are missing?
I would love to see gymnastics equipment, as there is no shortage of good gymnastics instructors in Romania. It would be a big bonus if the school could offer it, as it was hard for expats to get such experience in the community. The school employs a fantastic gymnastics teacher, but it lacks equipment.
15. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
16. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
Yes, in our case they did.
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?
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Limited library space but OK selection. I wish they would allow parents to check books out.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
B+ Again, the school is for the younger children.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
There is a dedicated and encouraging PE staff. Swimming lessons were a bit weak, but I have heard that now they go off site to a bigger pool and are getting more consistent training.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
B... Reception was too big: 19 students, 1 teacher and an aid. But most of the students were new to English, so those ready for more advanced work did not get the attention they needed. The administration did respond and add another aid.
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?
It is not an IB school, so no IB offered.
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)?
Again, I only had a young child, but they did a variety of art in class and had some electives. Although my daughter never got her first choice of electives, she did enjoy the ones she had (sewing, card making, etc.
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Yes... All did. The head teacher was a native english speaker. Romanian aides with good-to-excellent english skills.
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Too young... Gifted instruction began in older grades
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?
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
In the younger grades, yes, especially our class. Not sure about the upper grades.
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.
I did hear of at least one terrible case in the upper school that was not adequately addressed.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
In comparison to the other large expat school, the academics for younger children is stronger, the campus is beautiful (I like the large old houses as classroom buildings), and it is well maintained. The teaching staff we had seemed to be caring and dedicated
2. Greatest challenge?
Class size in the upper grades. Rented facilities limit growth and expansion capabilities.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Yes and no. My daughter was very happy here. I might have chosen another small international school (InSPE) for its creative individualized and caring approach. BSB was very nice, but InSPE excels at teaching and engaging young children.