Ankara, Turkey Report of what it's like to live there - 07/09/14
Personal Experiences from Ankara, Turkey
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?
3rd grade and 6th 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?
PYP school, IB school, well-balanced curriculum, more educational opportunities.
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?
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
At the beginning of the school year there is always a welcome session for new students. They are able to meet other students at the school prior to the first day and get a tour around campus.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
In the past decade or so, the school has tended to be more Turkish in population, but that has been changing in recent years. The international student population increased 25% for the 2013-2014 year and they started an international parent organization. The families that send their children there tend to either be wealthy or work for the university. Students are encouraged to be well-balanced, with art, music, drama, and band being required courses up through middle school.
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:
Since many of the office administrators tend to be Turkish, it is easier for Turkish-speaking parents to make their way around the school, however it is always easy to find someone to help if you are on campus. It is also pretty easy to find out who the best person to call is. I was very impressed with the school overall.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
As in most schools, this depends on the teacher - some are great about communication and some aren't.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
Good curriculum for gifted students (the PYP and IB program tend to be on par with the GT programs in the States). There is some support for those with learning difficulties.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
In elementary school, the after-school program is built into the school day so that transportation is pretty easy. For the older kids, there are options as well. The school has soccer, basketball, volleyball, and tennis teams. They also had a small cross-country team.
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
Weekly homework packets in elementary, homework assigned on a class-by-class basis in middle (5-8) and high school (9-12).
8. Administration-parent communication:
Weekly updates from each principal.
9. Teacher-student communication:
Frequent progress reports.
10. 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?
11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
For mild cases.
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?
Not as wide as in Fairfax County, VA, but more so than any of the other international schools in Ankara.
15. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
There are other opportunities for students to participate in, such as class trips, but students are not required to go (though most do).
16. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
17. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
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?
Good counselors who are willing to make the best of each situation.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
A small library, but with decent resources. Students have access to the university library as well.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
In elementary school, all students take a weekly IT class and use the school labs. In upper elementary school the students are encouraged to bring their own laptops/netbooks/tablets, and there are computers in the labs they can use as well.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
On par with what we have seen in Fairfax County, VA.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
Most classes have about 15-18 students. In elementary school there are 2 teachers for each class - one international teacher and one Turkish teacher.
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?
No AP classes, but all high school students participate in the IB program.
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)?
Not sure of the exact number, but one of the best selections among the more popular international schools in Ankara.
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.
No, but the PYP and IB programs seem to cover that.
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, though initially it seems that international students hang out together and Turkish students hang out together. The longer the student is at the school, however, the more the lines blur.
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.
Some do, but I wouldn't say it is any worse than at public schools in the States.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
2. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Yes, my kids were very happy there and I was happy working there. The teachers I worked with were great and the majority were well-qualified. I loved that Turkish was a part of the curriculum and my kids were interacting with the local population more than they would have at other schools, definitely more so than they did our first year when they were at the DOD school.