What is the name of your child's school? (Please report on one school per survey.)
American International School of Jeddah
In what town or city is this school located?
How would you describe this school? (i.e. American, British, International, Local, etc.)
What grade levels are represented at this school?
Pre K 3 up to grade 12
How do most children get to school everyday? (bus, train, walk, etc.)
A combination of compound bus, or personal driver, or father/male guardian driving the children to school.
How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?
The school has a reasonable range of facilities, but they are very old. There is no pool, and no track. There is a grass field for soccer, and an indoor area for basketball or volleyball, but this area is also the meeting area for school-wide events (the gym). Buildings themselves are very old and in a poor state of disrepair. Carpets were replaced but the air conditioning system has not been maintained and dead cats have been found in the ceiling of the elementary building. The lease was recently renewed for a further 3 years, but it remains very uncertain.
Activities are sometimes arranged by teachers, but there is no consistent range of extra-curricular activities from year to year, or even semester to semester.
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?
There are no such programs for children, and the older the child, the more difficult they may find it. Arabic is mandatory across all grades. Islamic studies is mandatory if you are Muslim, and Islamic culture is mandatory if you are of any other faith.
How would you describe the social activities available for parents through this school? Are there parent-teacher organizations?
The elementary counsellor has done a fantastic job of encouraging parents to discuss issues, but little else is done at the school. The Superintendant remains invisible to all. He does not arrive at school until well after school begins, and generally leaves before school finishes. He has just taken up the presidency of the American Businessmen of Jeddah and tends to spend more time on other activities. He is generally reluctant to meet parents and it is difficult to obtain a meeting with him.
The school has a PTSA, which has been run by a board member, and is thus usually an extension of the Board. Parent involvement remains very low, with only a handful turning up at any meeting.
The overall community has been transitory and unfortunately not enough parents are involved in the school and ensuring that there is a reasonable level of accountabiltity.
What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling their child in this school?
Be careful with your money. This school will laud their achievement in increasing enrolments by 50%, however class numbers are very, very high and facilities and resources do not match. Textbooks are often non-existent. Pre K3 classes will have 18 in each class by the end of the year (2009/10), with most others higher.
Fundraising by the Board was vigorous a couple of years ago for a pool - no-one seemed to factor in the fact that the lease was about to expire. Whenever questions are asked about what happened to that money, the discussion will head in a different direction. There is no public documentation about the funding of the school.
Teachers are very well intentioned and usually very professional. They are exceptionally caring and have a great work ethic. It is just a shame that turnover is significant. Amongst the overseas hire staff, there is almost no-one who has been there longer than 2 years. They receive little support from the Superintendant or the Board.
Teachers find that they have to tutor to have an adequate income, so they are not keen to remain after school hours.
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