Finding the perfect school for your kids is never an easy decision and if your kids aren’t happy, it is unlikely that you’ll be too happy either. We’re lucky that Bangalore offers us a variety of choices in different parts of the city. So before you head off in search of a new school, here are some tips from a former teacher and mother about the most important things you should be considering.
1. CURRICULUM PROVISION
2. ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT + SCHOOL ATMOSPHERE
3. ENTRANCE EXAM
4. SPECIAL NEEDS
5. ENGLISH AS AN ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE
8. LOCATION OF SCHOOL
1. CURRICULUM PROVISION
WHAT IS TAUGHT IN THE SCHOOL?
• Look at as many schools as you can, they are all different and offer different styles of teaching. Beware of schools claiming to teach certain curriculums from different countries when in fact they just choose certain elements as this will affect any tests that children may take in the future related to that curriculum.
• Research what curriculum they offer before you go so that you understand what the children will be taught and so you can ask relevant questions for your child, especially if your child is nearing critical exam time.
• When walking around the school, look at how the children behave. Are they happy and smiling? Or silent with their heads down? Do the children smile to welcome you and your children? Do the staff speak to you? (They should do!) Are the children flicking rubbers with their rulers?! Are they generally under control of the teacher?
Bear in mind the activity at the time , it’s hard to keep a class quiet when they are doing practical activities like dissecting hearts ( I once had someone look round as my class of 34 were doing this, the noise and smell was awful – although the parents still liked the school as they liked the “casual mayhem” and the pure joy that the children were experiencing! )
• Look at the work on the walls? Is it just ‘the best” writing up there or is there a definite range? (A range will show that all children’s work is appreciated and valued)
2. ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT + SCHOOL ATMOSPHERE
I’m not sure on the true system of comparing school results here in India. I have found different results each time I have searched or questioned people. In the UK, the criteria are the same in every school (and even then, there are doubts on the true results with off rolling, where children who will not get the higher grades are asked to leave or moved elsewhere, cramming and other ways of adjusting the results). Here different systems seem to operate so beware of schools claiming to be the best. Which official board or education department has said it and how do they get this information? What are they comparing? Value-added education or pure results? Are they comparing the same exam boards or mixing them?
• Think carefully about your child’s needs. Some children love a formal academic setting, but some prefer hands-on practical learning where they can move around more. Just because a school says it is academic does not mean that your child is academic. Boys of primary age find listening and learning in a formal situation harder than girls. (Boys love to produce two lines of writing and think they are finished whereas girls will write pages and pages!) Is the school aware of the differences that boys and girls need when being taught? There is a difference ….
• Make sure there is a balance of hands-on learning, practical activities and academic learning, where they sit and listen. Also, think what you were like at school, did you enjoy pages and pages of mathematical equations, recalling your tables by heart or writing at length? Or did you prefer Scientific experiments, designing and making robots, writing exciting booklets or practical mathematical problems that involve using equipment so that you could “see” how to get the answer? (drawing, model making, using counting equipment) Remember your child may not follow your learning style.
• Be careful when listening to parent discussion on academic achievement – people can exaggerate what their children can achieve. I’ve been at playdates with my children and overheard parents talking about their children (that I was teaching at the time), and I was amazed at their claims of how intelligent they were! Be aware that not all children achieve their full potential when in primary education and children develop at different stages, so try not to compare children or their work, especially reading books, as only the teacher has the true insight to this information. Each curriculum will have set criteria for levelled assessment and progression of work that teachers will use to rank children in the class; parents don’t have this information.
• So instead, endeavour to find out things from other parents like:
Are the teachers open to discussion?
Do they listen to parent’s opinions and act upon requests?
Are they interested in the children by reassuring them, helping them, listening to them, looking at the pictures that they draw, models that they make, etc.?
Are the teachers/staff kind and happy to see both children and adults?
Do the teachers/staff smile? (children worry if their teacher is stern looking!)
Do the staff make the children feel good about themselves and their work, whatever their level of ability?
Do the teachers shout when it is not necessary?
Are the children excited about what they learn and eager to talk about their school projects?
Do they want to find out more about what they are learning when at home?
Does the school allow parents in to look at their children’s level of work and discuss their progress when a parent requests a meeting?
3. ENTRANCE EXAM
Some schools require an entrance exam. Think carefully about letting your child do this. Any good school or teacher will understand your child’s level of ability very quickly and sort relevant work. A test taken when a child is nervous does not reflect their true ability. You want their start to a new school to be positive and not be relying on a token test.
I personally would not let my children do one as I know that children don’t perform their best when they move to a new country, a new house, start a new school, leave their family behind, etc. etc. Above all an entrance exam for a young child is unnecessary.
4. SPECIAL NEEDS
• Is there a SEND department? (Special educational needs and disability) This is very important as it means the school values children of all needs and abilities and incorporates their learning into the classroom or teaches them one to one or in small groups. Special needs also include gifted children….
• Some schools provide no provision for Special needs!
• Remember that in a class of 22 children or more, they are not all on the same level of learning, the teacher should differentiate the work and there should be a teacher that oversees children with learning needs (Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism, Sight issues, hearing issues, general emotional and behavioural problems, coordination, EAL… there is a very long list …….!)
• If your child has English as an additional language (EAL) how does the school cater for them?
• Are there mother tongue lessons to support them?
• Can the school be contacted quickly when needed and do they respond to emails/ messages promptly?
• Does the school rely on parents to fill in the areas that the children find difficult? (If so beware- it is up to the teacher to teach the children, you are there for support not as the teacher.)
• Is there a reasonable amount? I have found that some parents of Indian origin expect more homework than expat parents. As a teacher, I hated setting homework, as some work would come back totally correct and I would know immediately which parents had helped or done all the work themselves. In fact, when teaching grade 4 one year, I once set a question on purpose that was a GCSE question in algebra and 3 answers came back perfectly answered (one parent was an accountant, one a vet, the other a doctor – they had done the work and pretended their children had done it!) The other parents complained that the question was too difficult and had told their children to abandon the work after 20 minutes -my instructions that if after 20 minutes you have got nowhere, give up, it’s up to the teacher to sort it. Those parents had listened to the homework advice and I was so pleased!
• Homework is meant to test the children, not the parents, and there should not be copious amounts and it should be one activity that has recently been taught. If a child can’t do the homework, then it is incorrectly set.
• As a teacher, I know it is the work in school that is used for assessment and setting of the children’s level of ability, not what they do for homework! This is why I don’t insist on lots of homework for my own children, I would rather have them do outdoor activities or general free play, for example, that are not school related after school and at the weekends. With my own primary age son, I set a time limit of an hour of formal homework a week and that’s it, no more and I send in a note to the teacher. Of course, some parents insist on more ……
• With older children of secondary age (grade 6 upwards) a more formal approach is needed and a greater amount of homework but again they need time to pursue outdoor activities after school. Check what is set at each age level for homework, the timescale to complete the work and handing in schedule. They will need your guidance on the amount each night to do.
• Make sure you point out to the school what you expect and do not be intimidated – your child will not fail if they do not do their homework when at primary school, believe me! Although secondary school (MYP) is different……!
8. LOCATION OF SCHOOL
• Location of the school in relation to your home- older children, can cope with longer journeys but primary age children have a long day at school and thought about the bus journey is needed.
• Also, find out if you can have the bus supervisor’s phone number. My son’s school gives out the numbers of the adults on board, and they can be contacted quickly, even on the journey. This reassures both parents and children in a city that can be clogged with traffic for quite a while.
• Find out what the procedure for lunch time is. Some schools don’t allow a pack up, and the children have to eat the Indian food provided. My children found it difficult to eat the food with the level of spice when they first came, but the school allowed food from home. With positive encouragement from the school, both my boys now eat the school lunch. The comfort of home food helped them when first settling in.
• Get the school that you choose to clarify the costs involved, even down to what you will be charged if your child needs a plaster! How much is the internet usage? Check what should be in your package (I have heard parents were shocked to discover charges that seem inappropriate and over the top)
• There should be a breakdown of what you will be paying for and at the end of the year what you have spent.
Order Tramadol Online Usa Carla has been a teacher in the UK for 28 years. She has taught about a thousand children over the years, being involved mainly with primary and nursery aged children, although she has worked with secondary schools in her role as a Science coordinator.
She has been a SENco (Special needs coordinator), a reading advisor, assessment coordinator, a key stage one coordinator, deputy head and head teacher. She has also trained many teachers and been involved with educational research and behavioural and emotional management in the classroom.
In her last school she was also involved with working with an Indian school in Chennai, which gave her an insight to what she could expect here in Bangalore.
She gave up her last job to come to live in Bangalore with her husband and children and they arrived in December 2017. She has two boys aged 9 and 12 who go to a local international school. Before coming here, she home schooled her boys for a few months, so she now has experienced this too!