Belgrade, Serbia Report of what it's like to live there - 12/02/18

Personal Experiences from Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia 12/02/18

School Name:

School Name: ISB

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?

From August 2013, we had two daughters at ISB, the youngest completed the 4th, 5th and 6th grade, and our oldest went to 8th and 9th grade, and left ISB to go to boarding school after the first term of her 10th grade year.

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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)?

United Nations.

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

ISB was the only international school offering the IB curriculum. There are other schools offering the British curriculum (Chartwell and Prima) and the French curriculum.

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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?

Yes. A very efficient and responsive admission officer when we applied in the spring of 2013.

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


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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 was good, overall. We had basically no issue in the primary school. There is a weekly newsletter. There are meetings with parents. Some parents had issues with the Elementary school principal, who had a reputation for not being comfortable dealing with women. I could understand the feeling, but it didn't bother me. A new principal came (and has now left) for the Secondary school, and we liked his approach and philosophy, overall. But it seemed that he had trouble implementing new policies.

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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?

Yes. Before you even enter the grounds, you have to start paying for pretty much everything. It is an expensive, very expensive school.

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Academics & Resources:

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

There are after-school activities. The choice depends on teachers' skills, availability of coaches and outside teachers, etc. A group of mothers from the Parent Teacher Association fought very, very hard to get the school to offer a swimming program but the administration was not embracive of the idea. Eventually, it happened, but in a lukewarm way. I don't know if that program is still running or not, but I was part of those parents initiating it and the experience was extremely frustrating.

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2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

Yes, both campuses (The elementary and the Secondary schools are on different campuses, walking distance, though) have a library and students can borrow books.

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

Laptops are provided by the school in the classroom and remain there for the Elementary School. Starting in the 6th grade, kids have to bring their own laptop. This was one of our main issue, and one of the reasons we decided to switch our youngest daughter to Chartwell. Technology was overwhelmingly present, everything was done on computers throughout the day, and then, back home, homework also had to be completed on computers. My children reported that some teachers asked kids, even in the 6th grade, to do their research on the computer, and while the kids were supposed to do that (and actually spent a lot of time watching You Tube videos) they would see teachers on their Facebook account. Mobile phones were allowed throughout the day (this may have changed, I heard that some new rules had been implemented, after a lot of parents complained).

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

Good when it comes to ball sports. They have a large gym. Basketball, volleyball and soccer are widely encouraged and coached at a pretty good level. The school is part of the CEESA and students can participate in competitions across Europe (at a cost). As I mentioned above, swimming did not seem to interest the school administration at the time our children attended. Track and field activities are there, but not as developed as they could be in our opinion.

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5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

Good. It changed from year to year, but I don't remember classes over 18 kids.

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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?

IB school. IB Diploma taught throughout.

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7. 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?

Academically, it is a good school. There were some truly excellent teachers during the years that our kids were there. And there were a few who were so and so just like at other schools.

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


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

All of these are available. Especially drama and the visual arts. They have a beautiful art room flooded with light. And a black box for drama as well as a small amphitheater outside.

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


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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.

There was a school counselor at school. Our older daughter had some issue, and they did try to help. The first year, the counselor was fantastic. After that, a lady came who had been a middle school principal but didn't seem to have any proper training in psychology or dealing with children with any type of special needs (nothing overly serious I should add). According to one of our daughters, "she tried too hard" to relate to students. As for the high school counselor, we did not find her being overly supportive. In the elementary school, they had a school counselor. There was an issue of bullying between a couple of kids at some stage and they addressed it promptly and efficiently.

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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.

See above.

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

They have English as a second language available and students who need it take these classes instead of another language class until they catch up. But we have no personal experience with this.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

This is a difficult endeavour. The will to integrate both groups is definitely there. Is it successful? I'm not sure.

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Overall Impressions:

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?

Again, it is a good school from an academic standpoint. The experience in Elementary school will depend largely on the grade teacher. Ours was good overall, so I would give it a B.

In the Secondary school, however, things become more difficult. We found technology to be too overwhelmingly present.

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2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

We heard that the school is now building a new purpose-built campus a little outside of town.

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