Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 09/28/15
Personal Experiences from Amman, Jordan
School Name: International Community School (ICS)
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?
Children range from pre-school through 5th grade, or year 6 in the British system.
3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?
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?
We chose the International Community School because we wanted our kids to have an international experience. ICS has over 65 different nationalities and only about 20-25 percent of the students are Jordanian. The rest are from all over the World. It seems as though every other embassy except the U.S. Embassy sends their children to ICS. The U.S. Embassy generally directs everyone to the American Community School, so you will have to look for ICS yourself.
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?
Embassy kids usually get a spot. All embassy kids, not just U.S.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Very receptive to new families. They have a lot of student turnover because of the diplomatic community. New students are integrated quickly.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
The school has a British feel to it because most of the staff is from the UK, although several are from Australia, NZ and The Netherlands. The education is in the British System, not the American. The learning environment is great. Small class sizes, dedicated teachers, good after-school programs. ICS is located outside of the city about 20 minutes from the U.S. Embassy in the countryside. The air is clean and the location clam.
2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
OK and getting better. It really depends on your teacher.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
There is a gifted-and-talented program called GAT. This is an after-school club where the students who are selected for GAT gather together and work on various projects.
5. 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?
Not really, just the basics, uniforms and extra activities.
6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
Great, a lot of activities for all ages.
7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
There is not a lot of homework, but enough to keep our kids busy. The primary school's reading program is fantastic.
9. Administration-parent communication:
Could be better. There is a new head of school beginning in 2015, so this may improve.
10. Teacher-student communication:
11. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?
Yes, all my kids were challenged.
12. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
13. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
Yes, the special needs program is one of the main reasons we chose this school. ICS was able to support our needs, but they cannot support severe needs. ICS is an inclusive school, so if your child cannot be included in the mainstream classroom, they may not be able to support him or her. The program is pretty good. It was the only option for special needs in Amman at the time.
14. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
More sports for girls, but this may be characteristic of the Middle East and not just ICS.
15. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
There are trips and after-school programs that cost extra money. It does get a little pricey.
Academics & Resources:
1. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
2. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
Yes, very good.
3. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Pretty good and getting better. ICS is a small school, so they are building. The do have several teams like soccer, swimming and basketball. ICS competes in the British Schools of the Middle East (BSME) games each year.
4. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
Max class size is 25. Typical size is 18-22. There is a one teacher and at least one aid in each classroom.
5. 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?
There are no AP classes, only the GAT after-school club. No IB program yet, but ICS may be moving to it in the future.
6. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
Enough, but not excessive.
7. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
There are many after-school programs, from sports, to music and even a robotics club. The one downside is that the after-school programs can be a bit pricey.
8. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Yes, most are educated in the UK, Australia, or NZ.
9. 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?
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Yes, all the time.
2. 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.
Very little, but there is always some of this. ICS takes bullying seriously.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
Its diversity. We made friends from Jordan, Belgium, Japan, the UK, South Africa, and may other places. Our children made great friends.
2. Greatest challenge?
The misconceptions: One is that ICS is an hour away from the U.S. Embassy. Actually, it is 20-25 minutes away during rush hour and 15 minutes otherwise. The second is that ICS is a "special needs school" and caters to disabled children. This is not the case.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Yes, we all miss it very much.