Changing international school shortly after starting?

(17 Posts)
NatD1 Tue 19-Apr-16 05:43:11

Having a real dilemma and wondering if anyone else has done similar or has any advice.

We've been expats for many years. My children always studied IB education. We recently moved 2 months ago and they started at a new IB school. They love school and we're very lucky that they always transition well and take things in their stride. Everything else regarding the move has been great and we love our new country.

And here's the big BUT. The school we spent ages deliberating over and huge sums of money just isn't what we were expecting and academically they'd be better off staying home. As parents everything seems wrong (one example of many. In 2 months they only have 3 half pages of work in their maths book). We're worrying we've made a huge mistake and I struggle to see how school is going to make positive changes quick enough in many different areas. This seems a bigger problem than just being a relatively new school.

Today I revisited a school we had previously dismissed (campus and classrooms felt small). However, they're building a whole new block and having major building work taking place soon which we hadn't heard about previously. Had a very good conversation with the head of secondary about the move from IB to British schooling. She put my mind at rest.

My instinct is to move them but I'm loathe to do this as they have settled. On the other hand don't want to waste more time waiting, hoping, praying that things will improve educationally. Plus add in the money we'd have to find to start again has me seriously concerned. (We'd have to borrow it from somewhere).

I'm feeling a cr@p mother for making such a lousy decision in the first place. Can't believe after all of my past experience, research and visits etc that I got it so wrong.

Anyone ever faced similar and how did it work out?

MangosteenSoda Tue 19-Apr-16 06:17:46

I know someone who recently moved their 14 year old from an IB to a British curriculum after she complained that she wasn't learning enough. The same mother also had to move two primary age children after they became very unhappy in the same school. I shudder to think of the cost of doing that, but in her case, the children are all happier now. I think that's really the key - do your children want to move schools?

If they are happy where they are I'd start by speaking to the school and getting very detailed information about the curriculum, expected pace of learning and academic expectations. I'd also talk to other parents, especially in years above or with different class teachers to see if your experience is the exception or the rule.

MangosteenSoda Tue 19-Apr-16 06:35:36

I'd also think about how long you are likely to stay in your current location. If only for a couple of years, you could plug gaps with tutors.

DesertOrDessert Tue 19-Apr-16 06:36:47

We did.
Took the best school places going when we landed, but knew from about week 2 it wasn't working academically, or frankly in terms of expected behaviour standards. We re contacted all the other schools DH had previously been told were full. 6 weeks later we got offered assessment. 7 weeks after starting school 1 they were in school 2 (and third for that school year). It was absolutely the best decision. My kids are no longer streets above the rest of the class in terms of ability or behaviour. They still talk about old school, but aren't fussed about it. Only lasting damage seems to have been on our wallet. Check the terms for leaving mid year.

Laptopwieldingharpy Tue 19-Apr-16 07:11:31

We also did move from IB to a single curticulum school. Within 3 montgs if starting we pulled him and home schooled for a term until we got a place.
Absolutely the right decision for us.
I wouldn't let it fester, your children will feed the mood off you.
Maybe talk to them candidly about it and get their input?

NatD1 Tue 19-Apr-16 13:42:45

Thank you so much. I was feeling like we were the only people to ever think this way. Your comments have made me realise that if its not right then there's nothing to lose by moving them. Yes academically and behaviour standards in class are unbelievable. Think my children are sat in shock most of the time at what goes on.

I took laptops advice when my daughter came out of school. Quiet moment waiting for her brother. She told me all about today's latest class drama and how she was fed up at never getting any work done because of it. I asked if she would prefer to go elsewhere. She looked relieved and said yes please! Really took me aback as she's a trier and never quits anything. Asked my son later on. He said it's ok at school but he wouldn't be sad to leave and go elsewhere. As I said they're positive, happy go lucky kids who will try to get on with whatever life throws at them but this is too much.

Next week is holiday (thank god). Then there's only 6 weeks left before finishing the school year. If we say now we at least get our deposits back. DH is determined to wiggle things round to sort money and get them out of there. Start afresh after the summer.

We do have a meeting with the principal in the morning but unless he comes up with a miracle answer, complete school attitude change and a magic wand. We're out of there.

Thank you so much for those of you who answered so quickly. It really means a lot.

booklooker Tue 19-Apr-16 17:40:28

Please can I ask a question of those parents who have removed their children from IB schools. Were they studying the Middle Years Programme (MYP, for students aged 12 - 16) Or were they studying for the actual Diploma (i.e Sixth Form, or Grade 11 & 12)?

The reason that I ask is that, as an IB teacher, I really like the Diploma courses, but I have some reservations over the MYP.

I would love to hear some parental feedback. But I do not want to hijack the thread.

NatD1 Tue 19-Apr-16 23:21:19

Hi Booklooker. I'm not removing them because of IB (currently myp) but because the school is all wrong. There's no alternative IB school locally so it's over to British for us.

Love PYP. My older daughters were very successful with DP. MYP in comparison to the other programs does seem a bit loose.

I've always been a strong supporter of IB and hope in the future we can return to it.

Laptopwieldingharpy Wed 20-Apr-16 12:21:32

We called it quits in grade 4. This particular IB school was all reputation and no substance compared to others we had experienced. And we already had strong reservations about the MYP. So with an inconsistent faculty, poor curriculum development and admin/governance issues, it was an easy decision to make.
Quite shocking as we are in a very competitive asian environment. Very average academics and a deletere spoiled third culture kid atmosphere.
You know what's best for your family. Sometimes we have to accept that all the carefully laid plans....

Laptopwieldingharpy Wed 20-Apr-16 12:38:25

We would also love to slot back into the IB dip. But chances are slim where we are now.

ChinUpChestOut Wed 20-Apr-16 12:47:27

OP I was a parent who didn't move her DS despite watching him fail and fail and fall behind. I was desperate for my DS to be an IB kid (PYP - booklooker) as I really believed in the IB diploma. He started at that school aged 6 1/2, and I finally moved him at age 8, after 18 months.

He could barely write at age 8. I moved him to the British School and within half a term he wrote a side of A4 about a school trip - not something he could have done 8 weeks before.

He kept all his friends from his old IB school, and made new ones at his British School. It worked fabulously well apart from him having to be kept back a year to catch up. When you know it's wrong, move them.

ohtobeanonymous Wed 20-Apr-16 14:06:59

I am a strong supporter of British education but there are varying standards of International School provision for ANY curriculum. You know if the school is style over substance. Move your kids if you are not happy - the cost of fees is so high, it is crazy to pay for a sub-standard provision. Make it very clear to the Principal why you are removing your 'business'. They may actually be grateful for the honest feedback and it gives them a chance to act upon it.

Some British schools also offer IB for Y12 and 13 alongside iGCSE for Y10 and 11. Is that an option where you live?

shockthemonkey Tue 26-Apr-16 09:51:15

Booklooker, many parents share your reservations about MYP.

Even if they want IBD, and the kids did well in PYP, few can imagine playing curricular hopscotch, finding an alternative to MYP, to come back to IBD for the last two years of school. It seems unecessarily disruptive.

Apart from the perceived woolliness of the MYP, there's also the question of the lack of formal qualifications to replace IGCSEs, GCSEs, or even the local equivalent such as Brevet des Collèges, which is vital when it comes to making university applications in the UK. (If I understand correctly, IBO does not offer exams upon completion of MYP).

Yes, UK universities look quite favourably on IB, but highly selective universities also look at IGCSEs (and up until now, ASs) to assess the relative academic strength of their applicants. In the case of students who have followed IB all the way through, they don't have much other than grade predictions to go on.

booklooker Wed 27-Apr-16 11:11:21

Thanks for your response monkey, it is no suprise to me that parents have their reservations.

Though if they are worried about university entrance, this may be a little unfounded, a girl in my class got an interview at Oxford based upon her MYP achievments. She had sat IGCSE's but did not mention them in her application as she knew that UK students would have 12 or 13 GCSEs, whereas she had only sat 6 IGCSEs

BoboChic Tue 03-May-16 10:22:52

My nephew has been right through the IB programme (PYP, MYP and in the middle of his IB exams at this very minute). His siblings are currently in the first and third years of the MYP.

My sister doesn't think there is anything conceptually wrong or lacking in the MYP. It is very demanding (unlike the PYP). However, there is an issue of teacher recruitment/quality that makes effective delivery rather unreliable. This is a growing problem throughout Westerm education systems and not confined to the IB programme.

Not having an examination at the end of the MYP is not an issue for university application - the IB is not alone in not really doing public examinations before the end of secondary school.

NatD1 Tue 03-May-16 10:43:28

Update. We saw the principal who agreed with everything we said. Agreed it wasn't good enough etc but could offer no solution. Told us it would take a couple of years to sort out the school and we would be better off elsewhere as our children were wasting their time there!

We instantly looked in earnest elsewhere. Just waiting on the formal offer letter and they'll start at the new school after the summer.

It is very annoying about the wasted money and lies we were told to get us into the school but I've calmed down a lot now after a week's holiday to reflect on things. We caught the problem quickly and dealt with it. Onward and upwards. Chalk it up to another expat experience.

(And we still have heard zero from the principal who was looking into things and getting back to us)! Think that says it all!

Laptopwieldingharpy Tue 03-May-16 11:48:35

A good MYP can only be delivered by a very experienced faculty. Well anchored and experienced in delivering a well established national curriculum instead of simply relying of the IB learner formula to hide the shortcomings of the school's " curriculum development team".
OP, i feel your pain. How lucky to have an alternative offer!
Don't put your hopes up too high for an answer from that principal. Very lucky that you had that genuine talk though. We got a lucky escape from a prominent IB school that has since dedcended in such lowly depths of misery with teacher turnover and board governance issues .
Wasted money yes hurts but more than that the LIES, the hubris. Always trust your instincts as a parent. When there is a sore spot, the school admin/ counselors and "recomended outside resources" all want one thing only: throw the ball at each other to keep the fees coming.

Onward and upwards yes!

All the best!

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