Krakow, Poland Report of what it's like to live there - 10/02/15
Personal Experiences from Krakow, Poland
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?
My children attended kindergarten and are now in first 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)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
We chose this school because it was well regarded in the expat community. The educational program was what we wanted for our children. Also, it has great facilities. Krakow has problems with pollution in the winter. The ISK campus is on the outskirts of the the city with lots of clean air, great outdoor space and a forest across the street for exploration.
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?
The school is very clear about the admissions priorities. This is the first year that they have had a waitlist for several of the classes. The popularity of the school is growing.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
I think that the communication is very good. (Sometimes it is a bit too much). It made our transition quite easy. I know that it is a priority for the administration.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
Our classroom group is lovely. There are children from 8 different countries. The class consists of 20 kids. They are constantly exploring new ideas and the learning environment is both stimulating and fun for my children. I've been very impressed with the sense of community in the classroom and with the parents.
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:
The school tries very hard to transition new families into the community. Parents are very active and there are a lot of events and activities to encourage a good sense of community.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Excellent. We receive a weekly email with photos and news about the activities for the week. I am able to email our teacher with questions or concerns and she is very responsive.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
Since the classes are small, the students have a lot of individual attention. There is also a dedicated person on staff to help with children with different learning needs.
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?
There are lunches that are available for purchase and a gym uniform for the middle and upper schools.
6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
I was surprised by the number of activities available for a school that is still fairly small (260 kids). The activities are divided into age ranges and include arts and crafts, guitar lessons, swimming, climbing, language clubs, judo, lego club, film making, and dance just to name a few.
7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
Again, I'm impressed with the personal attention my children have received from their teacher and the school.
8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
My children receive homework on Friday to be turned in the following Thursday. It is reasonable and they find it interesting and engaging.
9. Administration-parent communication:
Fantastic. Again, we sometimes receive too much info from the school!
10. Teacher-student communication:
My kids have loved their teachers and the teachers have had positive interactions with them, even when it involved some disciplinary problems.
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?
Not that I'm aware of.
12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:
14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
I wish they had more but understand that resources aren't there yet.
15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
For the older children, there are competitions (math meets, knowledge bowl, etc.) that happen in other countries and cost extra money. They also have fall and spring camps.
17. What activities do you feel are missing?
18. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
My children love the after-school activities and participate in many.
19. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
We haven't had a problem.
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?
One of my kids went through a rough patch in the classroom. The counselor spent some one on one time with her to help her verbalize what was going on. I credit the counselor with getting her through that spell very quickly.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Seems quite good but is it ever enough?
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
My children are so young that I'm not as familiar with this but I know that the ISK gala funds went to purchasing more technology for the classrooms last year. It seems to be a priority for the school.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
The PE program is great and because there is a lot of room to run and play on the campus, the kids love it. There is a great soccer pitch too. Some of the PE classes are held in the adjacent forest. Finally, there are a lot of after-school programs to extend the PE curriculum.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
Our class has had 18-20 kids with a teacher and an assistant. The school breaks larger groups into 2 classes. I think they do that at 23-24 kids.
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?
The IB course is new but is going very well.
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
There is a lovely music teacher and theater program. The older kids put on a big show in the winter and the younger ones have a show in the fall. I wish that there were enough resources for instrument instruction but the school isn't there yet.
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Yes. My children are starting the PETS program (Primary Education Thinking Skills) shortly. This service is provided by the school for gifted and talented children.
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?
Yes. The expat community in Krakow is very fun and there is a lot of socializing outside of school. There is also a nice mix of Polish families at school so we feel well integrated into the community.
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.
Not that I'm aware of. The school has started the "Second Step Program", a school-wide initiative that we are implementing this year that addresses social and emotional needs of students and includes a focus on bullying prevention and child protection.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
The greatest strength is the passion that the administration, parents, teachers and students have for ISK. Everyone seems to genuinely love ISK and want to work towards making it a great school.
2. Greatest challenge?
Growing pains. The school is gaining in popularity and the facilities are starting to become a bit crowded. They have a master plan in place but it will be a time of transition for a while.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Yes. We wish we could stay. I love the small community, the opportunities for my children to experience a vibrant international community and the creativity with which the teachers approach learning.