Mumbai, India Report of what it's like to live there - 09/15/21
Personal Experiences from Mumbai, India
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 - 4th, 2018-present
3. What years did you live here?
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?
Ascend International School and DSB are also offered. But 98% of families go to ASB. We chose it because we were wowed by the facilities, the reputation the school has, and the PYP (IB) program.
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?
Yes. The application is lengthy. I thought the art submission and letter of recommendation from my daughter's prior teacher (a KG teacher) were a bit much.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Excellent. Separate orientations for students and parents. I remember even being assigned a parent sponsor to answer all my questions!
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Excellent. If anything, the school OVERcommunicates. Urgent announcements go out by email and SMS. A weekly newsletter called the Friday Flash goes out every week. There are also fairly frequent emails from the Head of School, Elementary School Principal and the child's teacher. I like knowing what's going on, but you have to read everything close to ensure you don't miss something important.
2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
For elementary school, we've only had the expense of the Physical Education uniform. In 4th grade they are required to have a laptop each day. You could bring your own or the school can loan you one for the year.
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?
Again, only speaking to Elementary here. They have two elementary-only Counselors and a Psychologist. There is also Learning Support teachers for each grade, EAL teachers, and Occupational Therapists. The school is amazingly-well resourced.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
Pre-pandemic there were a few early morning add-ons that kids could do. They were about 20-30 minutes. They were free. After school all kids enroll in After School Activities (ASAs). Elementary can take up to 3 a week. They were in person pre-pandemic buy have been online since March 2020. There are also programs called Intercessions that run for 8 weeks when school is out. These are also free and were moved online during COVID. They typically run from 9-3 PM. Your kid can be in school most of the year if you really want them too.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Great library with an abundance of print and online resources. Updated frequently. Kids can borrow books to take home.
4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
The IT team is phenomenal. One of the things that wowed me was for a townhall meeting with very important content they had an app you could log into that would translate what was being said into your mother tongue. Obviously we didn't need it since it was in English, but still - WOW!
I don't think there is a computer lab, per say. I think there are just computers on each floor and the students use individual laptops.
5. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
Kids have STEM as part of their "special" classes. Technology is integrated into that for grades K-3. For 4th and up, they need to have a laptop each day and a portion of the day is spent doing work on the computer.
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
The school has amazing facilities. On the 6th floor of the school there is a swimming pool, climbing wall and traditional gym. On the ground floor, across from the main school building there is a big soccer field and playground with cushiony turf. The playground and field are enclosed to control the air quality. So even on the bad AQI days, kids are still able to run around.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
My daughter has 18 kids in her class. There is one main teacher (American) and an assistant teacher (Indian). Then there are also all the specialists that I described above. They are a mix of International and Indian.
8. 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?
Yes, it's available. It's encouraged but not required. Most do it.
9. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?
All grades follow the IB program (PYP, MYP, IB). The teachers are rigorously trained in this methodology and blend subjects along with learning themes (Where We are in Place and Time, for example). ASB prides itself on individualized instruction and meets the child where they are. My daughter has been challenged but not to the point where she is so overwhelmed she wants to quit.
10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
There is no homework prior to grade 4. In grade 4 they introduce it but it's less than 30 minutes a night.
11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
K-5 gets music/art during the school day. There are also ASAs that have art, music and theatre focuses. These are available for 6-12 but I'm not sure how they are integrated.
12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Yes, instruction is done in English.
13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There is a gifted program, although I don't know the specifics. There was also a 4th/5th mixed class this year.
14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
The school is able to cater to some learning disabilities. They will be honest up front about if they have the resources your child would need.
15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There is an elevator. Not sure what else would apply though.
16. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There are English as an Additional Language (EAL) classes during school. I don't know anything more.
17. 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?
At the Elementary level, extra-curricular activities are focused on the After School Activity Program (ASAs). The benefit of these is that she's been exposed to lots of different things but I feel frustrated at times that she hasn't participated in any one thing long enough to develop some mastery at it. The middle and high school have more developed Extra-curriculars in addition to ASAs. Pre-pandemic there was also Maker Saturday, a fun Saturday once a month when families could come to campus once a month and do STEM activities together.
1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?
A+. We have been thrilled with the school. It has to be in the top 5% of International Schools. We would definitely choose it again. The teachers and support staff know my daughter's strengths and opportunities and are constantly working with her to bring out her best self.
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
Highlights have been the close relationships my daughter has had with her teachers and the counselors. We've also loved the big annual events (on hiatus during the pandemic) like Incredible India and Festival of Cultures. The school recognized during the first month that my daughter had some social/emotional challenges and had her do weekly sessions with the counselor to help her develop the skills to make better friendships and problem solve when conflicts arose. Online learning was challenging and her energy waned after 1.5 years of it, but I do think the school did a phenomenal job with it. I don't feel that she fell behind during that time.
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
Elementary school parents seem universally happy with the school. I've heard mostly good things about the Middle School. Definitely some mixed reviews on the High School, although I can't speak to that personally. Overall though, this is a fantastic place to send your child(ren) and definitely a great reason in itself to come to Mumbai.