Mexico City, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 07/30/11
Personal Experiences from Mexico City, Mexico
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
Parent (used to be a teacher in another school)
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
8th and 10th grade
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)?
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?
C - Not clear and not always following your wishes.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
F - Who cares if you are new? You are 10% of their worries, the others are locals, permanent residents.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A to F with comments:
C - no effort to integrate kids (no sponsoring program) and sometimes only 1 French kid per class, all other kids speaking Spanish among themselves.
2. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
Despite its name of French-Mexican highschool it is mostly a Mexican school with a majority of French teachers (but not all). All international schools here are more Mexican than American or British despite their names. 4 to 5 families from the US mission place their kids there (not all with ties to France). I believe it is better for primary school than high school.
3. 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:
B - Treatment seems to be the same but it highly depends on the teacher. Some teachers don't speak French and it was my son's first year in Spanish (8th grade) - can be tough.
4. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
B - It could get an A because the system in place (intranet) is very well done to follow online grades, activities, homework, etc. but some teachers don't fill it and some teachers don't respond to emails because they are not all computer savy. The referent teacher always answered promptly to my emails.
5. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
Nothing planned. Will depend on willingness and openness of teacher in Primary school and don't count on it 6-12 grade.
6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
A - Many: sports, art, circus, theater, chess, fencing, ... Cheap price, about $80 per semester for 1 to 2 hours per week.
7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
Very variable depending on each teacher but teachers NEVER coordinate among themselves so your kid can be swamped 1 night and have nothing the next or have 3 exams the same day.
9. Administration-parent communication:
With accounting very good, with principal sometimes a bit slow. It depended on the subject.
10. Teacher-student communication:
With 10 to 12 different teachers per kid, it really depended on the teacher and some teachers had openly stated that they liked girls better so my son was always in the back of the class. My son had 2 teachers that didn't speak any French and my daughter also (she was in her 3rd year of Spanish but that is not sufficient)
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?
English. In 10 to 12th grade they have a level system which is good (from learner to bilingual) but in 8th grade they were all mixed up. Mexican students from good families are increasingly bilingual Spanish-English. Despite the good number of bilingual kids in 8th grade, they were mixed up with French kids that barely spoke. Very detrimental. We had to take a tutor to challenge our kid because what they did in class was at about 4th grade level English in the US.
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:
14. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:
15. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
16. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
17. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
18. What activities do you feel are missing?
19. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
20. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
21. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
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?
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
B - Fairly good library
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
C - Good equipment but less than 1 machine per student and not too many classes on the subject.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
C - The facilities are amazing: large gymnasium, new equipment, lots of space despite being in the heart of the city in Polanco. BUT - there is a but: the fact that PE teachers are Mexican without an ounce of French language has me worried. If your kid gets injured, he won't understand what the kid says and will have to rely on other kids to translate ... If your kid has a personal problem impeding him/her to perform a certain gym activity, it is impossible to convey to the teacher which in turn gives him/her a failing grade ...
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
In 8th and 10th grades about 25 students per class.
6. 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?
French Baccalaureat is sort of the ancester of IB.
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
Depends on teacher.
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
A - Many extra-curricular activities, sometimes proposed at lunch time so that the kid doesn't need to leave school too late. Very cheap. Some classes almost private: 2 to 20 students.
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Since it is a French school they should be required to speak French fluently. Some did not speak ANY French.
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
11. 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?
Eventually they do but it takes time - language barrier.
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.
No bullying but exclusion de facto by language.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
Location, Polanco: kids can walk to school. Size and equipment.
2. Greatest challenge?
Forcing Mexican subjects (Mexican constitution in Spanish in 8th grade) that do not belong to the French curriculum on French kids.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Yes with younger kids because it is modern, well equipped, very active socially and you can establish a better communication with the single teacher they have in Primary school.Not after 7th grade because you have 10 teachers to deal with and they all have different ways, there is not a specific school style.