Baghdad, Iraq Report of what it's like to live there - 11/12/23
Personal Experiences from Baghdad, Iraq
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?
I taught 5th grade and KG2
3. What years did you live here?
Sept 2023-November 2023
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?
There are one or two others
Admissions & Welcome:
1. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
As a teacher with new students arriving, I would try to pair or buddy them for a day or so just to help them become familiar with the environment.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
They use Google Classroom and HUBmis for liaison between teacher and families.
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?
School fees, uniform, books.
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?
They did have a full time counsellor but she left recently. They have a doctor on-site.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
There is no daycare, but there is an independently-run "homework club" I believe.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
No tech requirements. Most students have access to computers, laptop, iPad at home. In the classroom, there are smart boards and you can link your laptop for playing videos etc
5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
They have ITC classes.
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
There is a PE room for young children; not sure if there is a gym. There is a decent sized outdoor pool. There is a grassy volleyball area, and two playgrounds. Very charming to see.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
In the grades I taught, fifth grade class had around 24 students with just myself teaching. KG had two assistants, one for personal hygiene needs and a teacher assistant for around 20 students
8. 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?
The curriculum is from Pearson, mainly - at least in primary grades. I think it is adequate.
9. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
10. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
None that I know of: no clubs. Shame, really. Many students come from wealthy families so they could afford these things if there was motivation or encouragement.
11. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Yes, absolutely. No question.
12. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
I don't know of any special programs.
13. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Well, the full-time counsellor helped in that area, but she left recently.
14. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There are stairs at the school, there might be a lift.
15. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Most of the students speak fluent English. There are some who struggle with writing, but I could only offer extra practice sheets at fifth grade level. At KG level, I did some drama activities for ESL and of course worked continually on basic writing and reading skills.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?
Well, this is Iraq, so not much tolerance at local level, but the school itself has an admirable, all-inclusive policy consistent with Western guidelines. Staff are all sorts, and it is accepted and not commented on or noticed really.
2. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
No because expat children are on a higher academic level, even though the standard of English amongst students is quite good. I only knew of one, and she was homeschooling for that reason.
3. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
As a teacher of fifth graders, I did see some occasional skirmishes. I don't know if it's a big problem, though. The school does take a firm line on it.
4. What is the climate for students who identify as ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious minorities at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Have your children had any experiences in this area?
The majority of students are Muslim. There are a few exceptions, but it doesn't seem to be any issue. Race is not even a thing, and teachers are different ethnicities from around the world.
5. What can you say about diversity among the faculty and staff at the school and their experience in supporting minority students?
The staff is a model of diversity and inclusivity. The greatest dilemma I think is for students returning from life abroad (eg., Sweden or Hungary etc) who must adjust to the culture here. Culture shock is REAL, and I think some care could be taken in regard to these students who DON'T speak the local language and are used to a different way of life.
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?
Well, you have to realise Iraq is a tough environment. In some areas I would give "A" and in other areas eg., elective programs or school-based programmes, for example a student newspaper, "C" for could do better. I think they could develop a strategy to build school/team spirit.
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
Challenges, as a teacher, is the attitude of students towards learning. Of course a some have a great attitude whilst others just want to play.
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
Overall, if you want your children to have a future in the English-speaking world, then instruction of lessons in English is good. You could probably supplement your child's learning at home for extracurricular and extension activities.