Bangkok, Thailand Report of what it's like to live there - 09/30/13
Personal Experiences from Bangkok, Thailand
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?
1st through 5th grades.
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?
The neighborhood. Children are able to ride their bikes around freely without concern. It was one of 2 schools that the Office of Overseas schools suggested. The other was downtown where we would be living in a high rise with 4 very active kids. We wanted our children to be able to go outside.
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 - Very easy process. We did most of ours via email before arrival in country.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
A - The school offers Parent Education Seminars every month with topics such as curriculum (writing/math), and stress management. They also have a very active PTA that sets up "Welcome Coffees" that serve as a meet and greet/informational get together. Many, many options to learn more about the school and meet other parents, both new and returning.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
The school as a whole is very inviting and staff is always eager to help with anything. After our first year I feel that the school is more concerned with test scores than the individual student. If your child doesn't fit into the mold, there is something wrong with your child.
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:
B - We had a few issues with a couple of staff members but administration was helpful in getting these issues resolved, although very late in the school year.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
A - Teachers and parents on a first name basis. Email and classroom blogs are used very frequently to convey any and all information.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
B - No "Gifted" labels here. Classes are mixed with different learning levels. Programs such as "Math Olympiad" are offered for those who need a higher level of learning. There is a whole learning support staff who help those who need a little extra push or have learning difficulties. Speech and ESL/EAL also offered.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
A - Everything under the sun is offered, very few without fees though. Sports include basketball, baseball, soccer, track and field, and the Swim Team. Gymnastics (competitive and fun levels), Dance, Music/Drama, Legos, Chess, Scouting (Boy and Girl), and many, many more. Some worth the extra fee and some not so much.
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
B - Standards are very high.
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
B - Homework time limit guidelines in place for each grade in Elementary. Minimal homework.
8. Administration-parent communication:
A - Administration is very good at letting you know pertinent information. Always open to questions and suggestions, or to just chat.
9. Teacher-student communication:
B - For the most part it is great but as in any other school, there are personality conflicts and teacher assignments are not always spot-on.
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?
Yes - A lot of emphasis is put on writing but not on spelling and grammar.
11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
Yes - One child was placed in a classroom with extra aids to help with completing tasks/motivation. One child has extra help with handwriting. These services are provided by the Learning Support Staff.
12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
So far - This process is new to us this year but seems to be working thus far.
13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:
No - Not really much of a program. Just a few classes in specific subjects do not constitute a Gifted and Talented program. It seems more like they are offered just to say they offer them.
14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
Yes - Every student not under the "Learning Support" umbrella is required to take a foreign language, Thai, the first year. Every class attends art and music at least once a week.
15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
A true Gifted/Talented program. One where students are placed in classes with other students on the same learning level.
16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
No - All field trips (including overnights) are included in tuition. Supplies included on the Elementary level also.
17. What activities do you feel are missing?
18. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
Not all of them - Many they are not interested in or are too expensive. Also, there are so many available activities that you cannot possibly do them all.
19. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
Yes - New student groups, classroom buddies for the start of the year.
20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
Not enough supervision during non-structured time, i.e recess.
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?
A - Elementary has 2 counselors, 1 for Pre-K through 2nd Grades and the other for 3rd through 5th. New student groups at the beginning of the year to help kids adjust. Open door policies.
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 - Wonderful resources. Brand new High School library from which parents are allowed to check out books and movies as well. Elementary school "Hub" even has a 'parent only' section about puberty.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
A - IPads used in every class, even in the library. Every student has his own blog. Every class has its own blog. Middle schoolers are issued laptops.
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 - A wide range of activities and sports taught, including swimming towards the end of the year.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
In the Elementary school every class has an aid to help the teacher all day, every day. Starting in 4th the aids are less involved and actually work in more than one classroom as the students become more independent and need less help.
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?
Not available in the Elementary.
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 - MANY options available in the arts. Dance, Gymnastics, Musicals, Choir, Strings program, Music lessons. The art and music programs during school hours are amazing. My kids come home excited to tell me about the new artists they learned about.
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.
Yes - Math Olympiad. Services provided as a pull-out during certain periods of the day by a Math Specialist.
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?
Yes - The school is a private school but many local Thai children are enrolled. The neighborhood that the school is in is full of expats from all over the world. The majority of the students live within the gated neighborhood community, or right outside.
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?
"Work-shop" model based curriculum. Technology.
2. Greatest challenge?
Being more open to those that don't fit the typical mold.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Yes and No. We had a rough 1st year and the only reason we continued was for the stability for our children who had already made friends and were comfortable in the school after having a year under their belt. We learned of other schools in the area that could offer our children more emotional support but were not sure if they would challenge them academically.