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Parent's Review of British International School Riyadh in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Submitted by geranium

What is the name of your child's school? (Please report on one school per survey.)

British International School Riyadh

In what town or city is this school located?

Riyadh

How would you describe this school? (i.e. American, British, International, Local, etc.)

British

What grade levels are represented at this school?

K TO 18 YEARS [UP TO UNIVERSITY]

How do most children get to school everyday? (bus, train, walk, etc.)

BUS- 60%

WALK- BIG COMPOUND ATTACHED TO SCHOOL CALLED AL HARMRA, SO KIDS CAN WALK BY THEMSELVES TO SCHOOL

PRIVATE TRANSPORT- TAXI [CALLED LIMOUSINE~ AND TRUSTED DRIVER TAKE KIDS THROUGH SECURITY AND DELIVER TO FRONT GATE]

How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?

BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL-RIYADH: IS BEAUTIFUL WITH A LOT OF THE FACILITIES BEING NEW. HOWEVER "NEW' DOES NOT MEAN: CLEAN/ PERFECT/ WELL BUILT/ OR EVER! EVER! MAINTAINED, IN RIYADH. IT DOES SEEM THE CLEANING/ AND MAINTENANCE STAFF UN MOTIVATED, OR "JUST SEE IT OR GET BASIC MAINTENANCE.SENIORS HAVE FRESH PURPOSE BUILD FACILITIES IN 2008, LAST YEAR [BUT IN FIRST MONTHS WAS CRACKING IN WALLS AND NEEDING SOME REPAIR], GLASS NEEDED CLEANING ETC. MIDDLE YEAR AND JUNIOR ALL HAVE WELL COVER AREAS BUT UNLIKE AUSTRALIA...THE SCHOOL DON'T SEEM TO GET THE NEED TO PLAY, UNWIND, AND NOT JUST SIT. DRIVES 15 YEAR OLD CRAZY...BEING ONLY WHITE BOY IN CLASS THAT CAN'T FIND A SEMI COOL PLACE, OR EVEN HAVE ALLOWED TO ENTER AIR CONDITIONED GYM OPEN TO PLAY BASKET BALL OR HAND BALL!

EXCELLENT POOL AND THEY DILIGENTLY RUN LESSONS AND KIDS REALLY IMPROVED. THEY HAVE A FABULOUS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST: BUT HAVE NO SPACE FOR HER AND LOOK TO BE LOSING HER AND HER YEARS OF SKILL THIS YEAR!.

STAR BUCKS: A GREAT MEETING PLACE FOR PARENTS AND NANNY'S, BUT UNFORTUNATELY OUR MIDDLE TO SENIORS ARE DEVELOPING A CAFFEINE HABIT, AND EXPENSIVE! UNIFORM SHOP...GREAT FACILITIES, BUT LACKING DIRECTION AS GOAL TO RAISE MONEY...? EMPLOY SOME BODY TO BE IN-CHARGE FUND RAISING. LIBRARY SMALL, BUT STRICT IN RETURN POLICY, WISH OPEN TO PUBLIC.SO SMALL THAT ANY ONE WITH KIDS THAT READ "CRAZY" THEY HAVE READ MOST OF BOOKS! .CANTEEN TOTALLY FUNCTIONS FOR STAFF: VERY EXPENSIVE. KIDS GET TO TAKE "SAD" PACKED LUNCHES THAT YOU LOAD WITH ICE-BRICKS [DON'T GET WHY NO FRIDGE PER A ROOM!]. LOTS OF FILTERED WATER COOLER EVERYWHERE, AND ENCOURAGEMENT OF STAFF TO USE THEM!GREAT NURSE CLINIC AND VERY INFORMATIVE! ADMINISTRATION AND FRONT DESK STAFF VERY FRIENDLY; NEW VICE PRINCIPAL AND PRINCIPAL APPEARS VERY EXPERIENCED BUT PROBABLY MORE IMPORTANTLY, OPEN, APPROACHABLE, SO LOOKING FORWARD TO A GOOD YEAR!

extra-curricular activities: fantastic; staff committed; school encourages++; you could have 1 child doing 3 to 4 activities after school a week, without trying.Almost to much...can mount up financially, and not cheap! all sport e.g table tennis, basketball, gymnastics, crafts, brownies and music [offered in the school], after study support groups for middle years and seniors e.g maths, biology etc, literary you could have and after school activity that you would really enjoy, every day of the week!

What has this school done to help your child transition from the curriculum in your home country into the curriculum in your new country? Are there programs to prepare your child for repatriation?

LOTS OF PROBLEMS WITH TRANSFER OF 16 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER FROM OZ TO SAUDI...IN THE MIDDLE EAST/ BRITISH THERE 2 YEAR BLOCK THAT SHE FEEL BETWEEN. SHE WAS THE "ROUND PEG SQUARE HOLE"...THEY DID TRY, BUT THE BRITISH SYSTEM AS A WHOLE IS REASONABLY INFLEXIBLE AND NOT LIKE "AUSTRALIAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM" AS WE BELIEVED IT WOULD BE! ALSO, AUST. START SCHOOL YEAR JAN/FEB WHERE BEGINNING NEW YEAR ALWAYS SEPT. PROBLEM!

WE ASKED WHATO DO OVER AND OVER...BEFORE ARRIVAL...BUT SAID THEY WOULD ASSESS...THEN WE WOULD GO FROM THER...WE HAD THE KIDS DOING A TONNE OF STUDY PRE ENTRY TO SAUDI AS THE SCHOOL HAS ASSESSMENT [THAT COST YOU EXTRA!] THAT DETERMINED LEVEL/ YEAR ETC.,. WE WERE GIVEN NO DIRECTION WHAT TO STUDY, EVEN THOUGH WE ASKED...REALLY WEAK AREA OF SCHOOL...SO KIDS WENT BACK AND FORTH OVER YEARS OF STUDY... MY DAUGHTER, FALLING IN "GIFT AND TALENT" IN OZ AND DILIGENT STUDENT...FLOPPED ON THERE TEST AND FITTED NO WHERE.

SON, 15..ALSO GIFTED AND TALENT, BUT DID LITTLE STUDY AND A LOT OF PROCRASTINATION...AND A LAST MINUTE TUTORING FROM SISTER..BLITZED..THE HIGHEST ENGLISH TO AGE LEVEL THEY HAVE EVER TESTED IN THE SCHOOL.

AFTER 1 YEAR...DAUGHTER WENT BACK TO OZ...SON HAS GREAT HELP FROM TEACHER...OUT OF THERE WAY HELP...BUT HE IS ONLY WHITE/ CAUCASIAN BOY IN YEAR...IS LONELY...AND IT'S HARD WORK.JUST SEEMS THIS 15 YEAR GROUP WHEN LOST A LOT OF "WESTERN STUDENTS DUE TO BOMB AND FAMILY EXIT ALL THOSE YEARS AGO!" REMAINS A HOLE IN THIS YEAR LEVEL! OUR 2 YOUNGER KIDS OF 12 YEARS...GIRL, AND 8 YEAR OLD BOY HAVE ADJUST SO MUCH BETTER. BOTH TEACHER GONE OUT OF WAY...DO EXTRA WORK IF REQUIRED...BROUGHT PARENTS IN IF WE NEEDED TO WORK TOGETHER ON A CHALLENGE.

NO PROGRAMMES...NOTE: BE AWARE OF THE DREADED "SATS": A CRAZY INTENSE FORM OF EXAMS THAT EVERYONE PRESENTS ARE NOT STRESSFUL AND THE KID AREN'T TO BE STRESSED BUT IT MEDIEVAL TORTURE ON THE 11-12 YEARS OLDS, AND THERE FAMILY FOR 6 MONTHS!

How would you describe the social activities available for parents through this school? Are there parent-teacher organizations?

YES P.T.A FUNCTIONS. SMALL INVOLVEMENT AS YOU ARE HERE PRIMARILY FOR THE "MONEY" SO USUALLY BOTH PARENTS WORK. IF MUM DOESN'T WORK, LIKE MYSELF LAST YEAR I WAS LOST FOR A "YEAR IN FAIRY LAND MENTAL, ADJUST TIME TO THE "MAGICAL KINGDOM"SAUDI"!!! GREAT VOLUNTEER SYSTEM, BUT MUST REMEMBER THAT WHICH TAKES YOU 2 HOURS COMMITMENT IN AUSTRALIA E.G UNIFORM SHOP, WILL TAKE YOU [3] TIMES IN THE KINGDOM BECAUSE OF LIFE BEING NOT SMOOTH AND SIMPLE E.G. YOU DON'T DRIVE AS YOUR BANNED BY LAW, SO YOU ORGANISE A DRIVER, HE DOES NOT KNOW WHERE TO GO AS NO ONE USE AN ADDRESS, BUT ITS BY ASSOCIATION [THE NEXT IMPORTANT LAND MARK]; THE ACCENT PREVENT CLEAR COMMUNICATION; YOU MISS PLACED ABIYAH [BLACK, BAG, COAT THAT COVERS...EVERYTHING!]...YOU REMEMBER PUTTING IT OUT TO WASH AND NO IDEA WHERE HOME HELP PUT IT, EVENTUALLY GET TO SCHOOL, BUT NOT CARRYING "IGAMA "[PROOF OF YOUR STATUS TO BE KINGDOM] SO HAVE TO GO HOME TO GET IT...COME BACK...WHERE IS MEETING...FINISHED HOURS AGO !!! TIMES EVERYTHING BY THREE PLUS AND THAT'S HOW MUCH LONGER IT TAKES TO ACHIEVE.

What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling their child in this school?

EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO GET KIDS INTO B.I.S.-R, AS NEARLY FULL, EXCEPT IF ENGLISH AND DUTCH PASSPORT HOLDER. START WHEN KIDS ARE YOUNG AND BOOK EVEN COUPLE YEARS BEFORE SCHOOL ENTRY. DESPITE HASSLES AND COST THE ONLY SUITABLE CHOICE IN ALL RIYADH UNLESS YOU HAVE A RIDICULOUS INCOME OR BENEFIT FOR U.S.A SCHOOL, AND THINK YOU WILL END UP IN THERE SYSTEM FOR LONG TIME!

GO AND SPEND SOME TIME WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS FRESH KNOWLEDGE ON THE BRITISH EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM: VERY ORDERED, VERY STRUCTURED, WHICH LEAVES PRONE TO INFLEXIBLILITY. DO YOU HOMEWORK RE HOURS OF FACE TO FACE TEACHER CONTACT: IN RIYADH WE HAVE 176 STUDENT TEACHER CONTACT DAYS[NOT INCLUDING THE WEEKEND], WHERE THEY GET 5 HOURS AND 40 APPROX MINUTES [MINUSED THE BREAKS: WHICH ARE USELESS AS THEY DON'T GET WIND DOWN, PLAY, THEY ARE NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO GO LAY ON "BEAN BAG" AND QUIETLY READ IN HOME ROOM!!! THE LIBRARY IS THE ONLY ESCAPE SO DIFFICULT FOR REAL "BOY, BOYS ACTIVITY AND ADHD KIDS!!!!!"] WE LEFT 24 TEACHER STUDENT CONTACT DAYS...LONGER BREAKS IN SCHOOL DAY...FULL ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY...A SELECTION OF MATES...NOT BEING HASSLED AND TEASED BECAUSE WHITE [ONLY THIS GROUP IN 15 YEAR OLDS]

DO YOUR HOMEWORK BUT ULTIMATELY HAVE TO WORK WITH WHAT YOUR GO! NOTE: IF YOU CAME FROM A PRIVATE SYSTEM WHERE YOU ARRIVE AND EVERYTHING IS PROVIDE FOR AND INCLUDED IN FEES INCLUDING: ALL STATIONARY; ALL SCHOOL TRIP;ALL DAY TRIPS; MOST AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES AND YOU HAVE A GOOD SECOND UNIFORM SHOP BURSTING WITH CLOTHES; PRINTED AWARDS;PRESENTS MADE FOR SPECIAL DAYS; MORNING TEAS; THEN BE AWARE THAT ALL OF THE ABOVE WILL COST YOU, ESPECIALLY THE HOLIDAY!!!

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Comments about this Report

guest
Sep 26, 2010 16:45

haha i got my son in bisr and he is saudi

guest
Nov 20, 2010 06:09

The curriculum offered at the British International School, Riyadh, is the English/Welsh curriculum. There is no such thing as a 'British' curriculum. The Scots have their own curriculum which is more flexible (like the English/Welsh). However, it is worth noting that the national curriculum of England/Wales has changed in recent years and is now more flexible. Also, the person commenting (above) suggested that only those with English or Dutch passports can get their children into the school. This is not true since their is no such thing as an 'English' passport. If you have a U.K passport (Great Britain & Northern Ireland) and are Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, you will have the same chance of placing your child in this school than someone who is English or Dutch.

guest
Jan 3, 2011 08:01

Not really an unbiased or balanced report. I'm from the UK and think the school is great. My kids have been here for 3 years and I am extremely content with all areas of their development. You can't put a price on that. If you can, then don't come here in the first place !

guest
May 1, 2011 12:25

i can only say the comment from the guest writing in jan 2011 is from a long term expat in denial... British school royadh has several problems and the maintenance of the equipment is the least of its worries. I have a daughter in year 3 and a son in Year 1 and we have been thru hell the entire time we have been here which is coming to three years. and we are leaving saudi now ONLY bcos the school is so poor in its standards academically that we cannot risk our kids' education any further. the teaching is not upto in anyway standards in even a british comprehensive... i have had friends who have made the mistake of staying here till the kids finish primary school and put their kids in secondary in the UK and they have been thru sheer hell... bcos the school doesnt have any affiliations with any school in the UK and doesnt support your application in anyway... parents are left to bewilder their way thru the whole process on their own. the major advice i got from them was LEAVE before the damage is permanent - which is before year 4.otherwise life is saudi is great - the school has been a constant stress factor. the PTA has been turned into a social group by the women who run it and they are just keen to get into other social events with the events they organise which basically just boils down to the ball! pathetic. stay away. the american school i believe is marginally better and in secondary certainly a lot better. consider that one... the fact that hardly any british students stay on here after year 4 speaks for itself i think!

guest
May 14, 2011 14:41

Hi, are there any latest comments regarding quality of education at British International School Riyadh? I am looking to move to Riyadh with three school going kids.

guest
Jun 15, 2011 13:01

We have been here for one year, and have been happy with the school. Like any school, some teachers are better than others and we have been lucky in that regard. In any case, we won't keep our daughter here past Year 8, mainly because we don't feel Saudi is an ideal environment for a teenage girl, regardless of how good the school is. As mentioned previously, if you are possibly moving between school systems, you need to be aware of the two year blocks for IGSCE and A levels, and also that the cut-off dates for age/year group differ from other school systems and there is no flexibility. This can make the transition very difficult for some children depending where their birthday falls. The school has recently tightened up the limits on class sizes, so it is even harder for non-British/Dutch passport holders to gain entrance in certain year groups.

guest
Sep 3, 2011 07:08

I think the academic level at the BISR has and is going down hill, after sending my kids to the school for the past 3 years. The amount of holidays taken is excessive which to me limits the amount of learning that the kids do. I understand that it is not the UK and there are additional holidays in Saudi but the correct balance doesn't seem to be there. Furthermore, before each school holiday (Christmas, Easter, End of Year), the kids seem to do less learning and more social activities such as watching movies, playing games, etc.

guest
Sep 17, 2011 12:34

i think the post ha ha i got my kid in to b.i.s.r and he is saudi just speaks volumes about the quality of the kids and their parents who now attend this school. my child has been there two years and there is not one area that the school has helped her improve on. i pay them fees and teach her more at home ! the children or most of them lack social skills and do not even know how to play ! they might have a pool,but take a look at how many classes are in each year and work out from that how much swimming actually is fitted in to a week ! playgrounds are overcrowded with children and from year 3 up there is no equipment to play with and in all weathers they are left outside to sweat.the uniform standards are beyond appalling with girls wearing summer dresses with trousers and headscarves, skirts just skim their bottoms and it is nothing to do with the shop that sells them but the girls that roll them up and the parents who turn a blind eye,all sorts of hair accessories or hair hanging all over their faces,children in training shoes instead of proper fitting school shoes. also seems to be a huge weight problem amongest very young children that the school and parent ignores.pta is a bunch of long term expats who lack any management skills for raising money and just want a get together and run the ame old silly hat competition year after year.i mean please where is their imagination. a huge number of the teachers would be jobless in any other country and lack any real skills or care for the well being of their children. huge lack of communication and middle management require proper training on a yearly basis. i would suggest to any caring parent to stay well away from this very badly run school .

guest
Oct 21, 2012 13:19

I am moving back to the UK next year and I have seen BISR through five years now and the only thing I can say is thank goodness i am going to the see the back of it finally. That said there is a new management in place - the new principal comes with a great reputation of turning around schools and the primary leadership, which I always thought was part of the problem of this school has left. The new primary head looks like she knows she is doing. It's just that I am afraid they will find the culture in the school hard to fight. The teachers are used to doing things their own way and they don't like or welcome questions from you. Any complaint is met with a complaint in return. I think when I say that I have said enough - no good confident teacher would discourage parents from talking to her. The PTA I agree with comments above needs to be dissolved as it serves no useful function except to get the members into various other social functions. They used it like a social club - there's no point in it being there. The only useful thing the PTA does is run the shop which is staffed by friendly volunteers. Any new parents coming n please be aware you cannot take it for granted just because you are paying you are getting bakue for money here - come armed with lots of workbooks etc to work with the kids at home just to keep abreast of what's happening in the UK. A useful thumb rule I found for what your child's standard is in the UK compared to here is to assume it's one grade less than what they get in their reports here.

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