Ljubljana, Slovenia Report of what it's like to live there - 08/07/21
Personal Experiences from Ljubljana, Slovenia
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?
P1 and P4
2020 - 2021
3. What years did you live here?
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?
yes - English-speaking expats also go to the British School [BISL] and Danila Kumar (a PYP/MYP school). Secondary students also attend Bezigrad, an IB school, and Vector International Academy [VIA]. There is also Ljubljana International School [LIS], a brand new American curriculum school opened by the former QSIL director.
When the QSI unexpectedly shut its doors in spring 2020 we decided that ESLJ would be the softest landing for our elementary-aged kids.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
7 out of 10
The PTA President is very helpful, as is the head teacher, Ms. Cankar. The kids themselves are somewhat welcoming but in our experience demonstrate a bias against non-European children.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
8 out of 10
Communication is much better than it was at QSI. The director communicates well as do some of the teachers. Some other teachers are less communicative. Communication is by email and, during pandemic lockdowns, Microsoft Teams.
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?
Tuition is significantly less expensive than at the other international schools but the burden of school supplies is carried by parents. I spent about 500 euros on school supplies at the beginning of the school year. Field trip costs are reasonable and there are no uniforms. Music lessons and sports are not available on campus.
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 secondary school is growing every year, but at the moment only goes up to 8th grade. There are no counselors at the school for social, emotional or academic, but the director is a psychologist so she has an understanding of social-emotional learning.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
In non-pandemic years there is an on-campus extended day and after-school activity program run by the PTA. Contact the PTA for updated prices but it wasn't expensive.
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 but it is small. The school welcomes book donations. Yes, students can check books out and the books are a mix of classics and more recent books such as "Wimpy Kid."
4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
There isn't a computer lab.
5. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
During 2020-21 school-year, students were distance-learning for half of the school year and were required to provide their own devices. I'm not sure about non-pandemic years, but when the school was open, technology was not required and homework was not provided. My P4 students reports that they used computers in the classroom.
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
The school is in a historic building at the School Center in the center of Ljubljana. It has a wing of the building, which it shares with other Slovene schools - mostly secondary schools. It has a nice playground used exclusively by ESLJ, and it shares its gym with the other schools. There are no athletic facilities other than the shared gym. No pool.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
There is a homeroom teacher who is your primary communicator, and then teachers split the portfolios of language arts, math, discovery of the world, foreign languages, art, music, and PE. This school emphasizes foreign languages and offers French and German. All students are also required to take Slovene.
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?
It's a European Curriculum ... I don't know how to compare the curriculum directly to the American curriculum but I do know that my P4 student did not receive the support he needed in math.
9. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
I wasn't aware of any homework provided by the school.
10. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
The homeroom teachers vary from fluent speakers to less fluent speakers, but the trend seems to be in hiring native English speakers who are also certified teachers. The foreign language teachers send communication home to parents in German and French and do not offer or seem to appreciate being asked for a translation to English.
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?
There was not an existing support program for LBGT+ children although equality and equity were taught as part of the curriculum. In our experience, there is some openly racist behavior at the school, so I would imagine that LGBT+ children might have a hard time.
2. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?
In Ljubljana international schools there are no specific programs for children with special needs. The tendency appears to be to hold children back if they need learning support and to move them ahead if they are advanced in any particular subject. However, the environment for these children appeared to be welcoming and inclusive.
3. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
4. 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.
My child reported openly racist behavior towards children of Asian descent. Generally speaking, most children were of European descent. We experienced a hint of an anti-American attitude.
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?
If you must go to Ljubljana and you have elementary-aged children, this might be your best choice. If you have secondary children I would not go to Ljubljana.
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
My son's P1 teachers were excellent, and we also had good experiences with Australian, American, and Canadian teachers. The Director, Ms. Cankar, is wonderful. The children were generally pretty easy-going, and there was no open bullying.
The biggest challenge is the lack of physical activity.
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
Do your research about all of the available schools in Ljubljana and make your best choice based on what each school has to offer and what is most important to your children. BISL emphasizes academics, Danila Kumar has robust athletic facilities and offers after-school programs, ESLJ seems to have a nice community and is in a fantastic location, and LIS might be the best choice for special needs children. Yet, all of these schools have significant challenges as well so do your homework before arriving.