Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 08/08/16
Personal Experiences from Amman, Jordan
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
Yes, I am a parent of former students.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
Grades K-3 (Jan. 2013-2016) and Grades Pre-K1-KG (Sept. 2013-2016)
3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
Spouse's work - Private sector.
4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Yes. This school seemed to follow the same curriculum as my oldest child's previous school, it was nearby, and it seemed friendly and welcoming.
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?
No, the admissions process was confusing and challenging. It was unclear until a few days before the start of the semester whether or not our child would be admitted.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
It was pretty good, considering that our child started mid-year.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
From our experience, communication has usually been good or excellent between the teachers and ourselves, with only one exception in our four years at the school.
The communication from the administration, on the other hand, requires significant improvement. Our attempts to seek clarification on school policy, discuss issues concerning our children, offer constructive criticism where we saw areas which required improvement were often met with defensiveness and occasionally outright hostility, by both the principal and the superintendent.
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?
There are some small additional costs, such as occasional field trips and voluntary contributions towards class parties/ gifts for teachers/ etc.
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?
The elementary school had one counselor available.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
No, not that I'm aware of.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Yes, there is a library. The elementary library has a very small collection. Yes, students can borrow books to read at home, but the library has had some issues with being inaccessible to students, with my children having been turned away during the school day on several occasions.
To add to that, students from third grade up do not visit the library with their class on a regular basis, decreasing their exposure tremendously. Furthermore, books in the middle/ high school section were not made available to the younger elementary school kids, which limited strong readers in the lower grades in their choices.
Due to the lack of a clear protocol for returning books, multiple books that we had returned were later deemed "lost" and we ended up paying for books which later turned up in the collection.
4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
Yes, the resources are good and up-to-date. The only criticism I have is that students from the third grade upward do not regularly visit the computer lab.
5. 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 gym and an outdoor playing field, which is covered in Astroturf. A swimming pool is under construction.
6. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
1-20 for grades 2-3
1-10 for grades Pre-K - 1
7. 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?
No, I didn't feel that my child who finished at ACS in the third grade was challenged at all by the curriculum. From my experience, there does not seem to be much differentiation taking place in the classroom, so students who grasp the material easily are left unchallenged. The materials and the way they are presented and communicated didn't seem to cater to different learning styles.
In the Early Childhood Education classes, on the other hand, the curriculum seemed just right, with the focus being primarily play-based and building social competency.
8. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
From our experience, yes.
9. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Music and Art.
10. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
11. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
From our four years at the school, I don't believe the school is equipped for gifted/ advanced students. There was no placement testing and no gifted program, as far as we are aware. There seemed to be very little differentiation going on in the classroom, with teachers focusing the majority of their attention on maintaining discipline in the classroom rather than focusing on learning approaches.
In our four years at the school, our children were never offered a chance to compete academically, such as in a spelling or a geography bee, and there seemed to be no other formal recognition of students with advanced abilities, which might have encouraged them academically.
12. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There is a learning support person and an assistant, who lacks formal training. Our eldest child was diagnosed with a physical need which impacts learning, and we requested support from the learning support office but were denied support and told, for over two years, that it could barely cope with its current intake.
We received a letter from the principal of the elementary school in the middle of the last academic year to inform us that the school would no longer be able to support our child's needs: our child would not be re-admitted for the 2016-2017 school year, despite the fact that we were fully providing outside support for our child (which amounted to approximately JOD 400 per month) with occupational and social therapy. Our feeling when we left was that the school is trying to bar students with any kinds of special needs from continuing at the school, as I was informed by the administration, my child's teacher as well as other parents, that there were similar letters to ours that went out.
13. 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?
There are many activities available, on a first-come, first serve basis. Bus riders could ride a late bus home after activities, which was a huge bonus.
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, I think they are in the elementary school.
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.
Yes, there were instances of bullying with our eldest child. It was generally addressed by the counselor and the principal, but it still continued, to a lesser degree.
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?
F. No, I would not choose this school again and I would not recommend it, particularly to parents with children who have different/ special needs. While the school has many wonderful teachers, the administration lacks effective communication and, in our opinion, integrity and professionalism. From our experience, there seems to be little to no oversight or accountability for decisions made by the administration, some of which seem to undermine the teachers and staff who work most closely with the students.