Bogota, Colombia Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, Colombia 03/14/15

CGB

School Website


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent.

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

Middle and High School.

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2012-2014.

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Government.

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

Strong academics.

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

Mediocre. If you don't speak Spanish, you can't talk to anyone in the office or administrative areas. If you are only an English speaker, you are cut off completely in that way.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

The atmosphere is not welcoming to foreigners, especially if you are not white or hispanic. There is much focus on skin color and class in Colombia.

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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:

In our experience, the local Colombian kids are favored over the foreign kids.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

It's mediocre. Americans are used to a lot more interaction so that's an adjustment.

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4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

There is some of this; overall academics are quite good - the regular classes are very challenging.

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5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

Very, very few. Transportation/traffic and school location are very difficult, so they incorporate activities into the school day.

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6. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

There is a lot of homework in the high school, which is fine.

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7. Administration-parent communication:

I definitely got the feeling the British administration was "annoyed" when the Americans speak up about issues.

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8. Teacher-student communication:

Students tend to be disciplined unfairly without the parents being notified. We find that children are unfairly targeted by the local Colombian kids, and frequently pulled into the Counselor's office without the parents ever being notified. I find the secrecy unnerving and unfair. If it's all above board, why not communicate issues openly to the parents?

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9. 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?

The academics are quite good across the board.

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10. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

They are not all equipped to handle any sort of special-needs students. I have heard numerous stories.

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11. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

There are some Colombian teachers who refuse to interact with African-American parents. I have personally witnessed a Colombian teacher close a door in the face of an African-American male parent who was not being aggressive, but wanted to talk. "Mixed" couple are a complete spectacle and totally rejected by society. Think long and hard about bringing any non-Hispanic or non-white children to this country. Even if they are the "right" color they still will not be accepted by the student population.

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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?

See above. I found the counseling to be unhelpful.

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2. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

Terrible! The campus is very small. Many kids complain that the PE staff embarrass them.

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3. 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?

AP and IB are available and good.

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4. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Yes.

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5. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

Very few.

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6. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Some classes are taught completely in Spanish, which is very difficult for new kids for the first year.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

The local Colombians will not socialize with the American or foreign kids. It is incredibly isolating.

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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.

This is common. I am perplexed by reviews that claim otherwise. The staff will either not help, or can't. It is hard to change ingrained attitudes no matter how much attention is paid.

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Overall Impressions:

1. Greatest challenge?

The British teachers make a lot of what could be considered as anti-American comments in front of the student population. Please be aware you will have to review all history lessons at home, because the children will be taught history from the British perspective. This perspective includes teaching American participation in WWI and WWII was of no consequence. The American role on the world front is absolutely minimized and regularly criticized. Children are asked to defend American policies in front of the class.

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2. Would you choose this school again? Why?

If I could reverse time and not attend this school, I would. It had a terribly negative impact on my children.

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Bogota, Colombia 02/05/15

Colegio Gran Bretana

School Website

http://cgb.edu.co


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent.

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

high school

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2013-2014.

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

private corporate.

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

I wanted a school where my son would be happy and fit in. We move around so much that I decided that no matter what, I wanted my son to be in a safe space where he would be comfortable. We also wanted an English-language education (not bilingual).

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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?

Admissions seemed open and honest and we felt that it was very thorough. I liked that they interviewed my son and he really was happy to have the school visit. I know that some families have been able to get Skype interviews, when necessary.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

Like every school my kids have ever attended, communication needs improvement. However, I saw improvement even though we were only there a year and some months. The school is aware of the needs and trying to make changes and I felt listened to when voicing concerns.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

CGB is a comfortable place. No school is perfect but CGB works hard to make sure that it is a great environment for all and that students' needs are met to the extent possible. Bullying is not tolerated and is an open, on-going discussion among staff and students.

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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:

Being Americans, we weren't sure about going to a British school, but my son fit in just fine and loved the international community. I haven't met anyone who didn't feel like they were an equal and appreciated part of the school.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

Some teachers are great and a few are not-as-great. Thankfully, the Head of Secondary was always there to step in and help if there were any issues with the teachers. I'm a pragmatist and I don't expect perfection, but on the balance I felt that I had good communication with my son's teachers and I felt like most of them were open to my questions and concerns and kept me informed. There are no perfect schools with all perfect teachers but CGB tries and listens and tries to help when problems arise.

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4. 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?

Lunches are required but it is not a "hidden" cost. Uniforms are de rigueur in Colombia.

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5. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

I have heard that primary and middle schools have specific programs for gifted students. At the high school level, it is harder because the IGCSE program is more-or-less fixed. That said, the IGCSE program allowed my son to really do a lot of science and math, which he loves. At the IB level, there are both HL and SL courses to meet kids' needs. With special education, my good friend's son, who has Down's Syndrome, was warmly welcomed and accepted into the school community. I know they can't take every kid with special needs but CGB does try to make accommodations and really does care that they have a well-rounded student body.

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6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

This one is difficult as the school cannot really offer too many after school programs because of the realities of living in Bogota. Traffic issues mean that the buses really have to get the kids home early. However, the Co-curricular program tries to make up for this by providing after school-type programs during the school day. There are sports teams that do have to have after-school practices and games.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

I always felt like the standards at CGB are high and all students are required to hold to them. It is a school, like any, so it is not perfect, but they do try and CGB is trying to work within the fact that it is an international school with a constantly in-flux student body.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

For the most part, homework was reasonable and appropriate. As always, teachers vary and some can give too much and some too little. Being a teacher myself (not at CGB), I know that homework is a balancing act and I haven't always agreed with what I've seen my son bring home but I feel CGB is no different than all of the other great schools my kids have attended--there are always great teachers and not-as-great teachers--but CGB attracts well-qualified teachers and does a good job listening to parents when they have concerns.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

My communications with the Head of School, admissions, the counselor, and the program coordinator were always answered quickly and I felt like I could address issues frankly, when necessary. Things always fall through the cracks but having had my kids at so many schools has allowed me to recognize that while improvement is needed, things are generally good and CGB tries. Because CGB is located in Colombia, there are some staff members who don't speak much English (security and maintenance staff mostly and some of the office help), however, there just aren't that many fluent English-speakers in Bogota and I know that finding and employing English-speakers is difficult (my husband has a hard time finding them when he needs). I also assume that I am a foreigner in someone else's country so I don't think I can expect that everyone will speak English (as a previous commentator mentioned). It is easy to find translation, if needed, and aside from a couple native-Spanish and Sociales class teachers, all the teachers and the upper-level staff speak fluent English.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

Some teachers are better at this than others. For the most part, the teachers at CGB did a good job with my son. I had a few problems with teachers and their communication with my son (who misses a lot of announcements, etc, from distraction) but we spoke and worked it out. Always, we were able to work things out when there were issues.

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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?

No. The classes were challenging and the IGCSE program is a good program. My son would have liked more HL IB course choices but he was generally satisfied and had to put in good work.

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12. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

The math teacher let my son work on extra math problems and work ahead in class. The daughter of a friend has been encouraged to work ahead in the Math IB class so that she can get to more advanced math. The teachers do try to give the kids more work if they need it so that they will stay engaged and excited. I can't speak to the other side of the spectrum.

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13. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:

Yes.

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14. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:

I cannot speak about this one. My son was only in the high school program which doesn't have a specific gifted program but does have a variety of classes.

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15. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

There is some art, music, and drama. It is not what would be available in a large school but CGB does try to make these options available. My son took music classes outside of the school in addition to his keyboard class at CGB.

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16. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

A band class would be nice but CGB isn't big enough to support a strong music program. It was the same at my boys' previous school so I can't say that it is any different. Thankfully, Bogota is a really large city so the opportunities outside of school have been sufficient to make up for it.

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17. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

Only the degree program tests (IGCSE and IB) and the class trip.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

Just some clubs and after-school activities but my son took swimming near our house and the piano teacher comes to the house and he has a good group of friends that has a weekly game night. This is just the reality of Bogota. Many of the good schools are north of the city and the size and location makes it hard to have at-school activities outside of the school day. We adjusted and my son has really been happy here.

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19. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

Yes.

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20. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

Yes. They were warm and welcoming and my son fit in seamlessly (even though he tends to be a quiet outsider who tends more toward geeky pursuits).

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21. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

I can't think of any. There have been times in the past where my son has had issues with being bullied but never at CGB. I have really appreciated this.

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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?

I think that there could be improvement in the college selection/application area but I have heard that steps are being taken. I can't speak to the Counseling program but I do have friends on the Advisory Board and they have said that they have been pleased at how well the school listens and considered their opinions and suggestions.

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2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

I thought the library was fine. I didn't go there very often but my son did bring home books to read.

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3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

The IT program is constantly improving. CGB has a fantastically enthusiastic IT coordinator and he has been implementing big changes. My son was able to take computer science courses which are offered from middle-school on.

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

Standard PE classes like all we've ever encountered. However, with the co-curricular program, my son was able to branch out and do sports activities he enjoyed more than just PE (rugby, tennis, swimming).

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5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

Anywhere from 5-1 to 20-1 depending on the class. My son's classes were rarely over 17 students.

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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?

IB courses... Reasonably good opportunities. Being a smaller school, it is difficult to offer as many HL classes as they would like but they do try and they will open some special classes if they have a couple students who really need/want it.

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7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

For the most part, yes.

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8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

Unfortunately, CGB is a small school so there aren't as many opportunities as we would have liked in music. However, there are opportunities for each of these areas. The Co-Curricular program tries to incorporate opportunities in the arts and my son was able to take keyboard the entire time he was there.

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9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Most teachers are required to speak English fluently. As far as I know, only the native-Spanish class teachers and the Sociales class teachers might not have spoken fluently. My son, being a non-native Spanish-speaker, did not take Sociales and was in a special SSL (spanish as a second language) class, which he enjoyed. My son did not have any classes where his teachers were not fluent in English. When I was at the school, everyone spoke English fluently. I was comfortable speaking with all the teachers.

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10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

At the high school level, it was as possible to offer a larger variety of class levels but my son was mostly engaged and pushed. In math, he was allowed to work ahead and work on special problems.

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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?

They have the Co-curricular activities program which is pretty good. My son was able to play rugby, which he never had the opportunity to do before.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

My son has a small, international (including Colombian) group of friends. Generally speaking, as a parent I am wary of the social scene here in Bogota as there is often a lot of alcohol involved. However, I count myself lucky as my son has a small, close group of friends and they are always at our house or another parent's house who we know well.

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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.

My son never felt this. There is a small group of Colombian students at CGB who have been there long-term but the number of continually-rotating international students has kept this group reasonably open and accepting of new students. I think it is a much better situation at CGB than at other schools here in Bogota and better than other international schools my boys have attended.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

The school is small and they are committed to fostering a comfortable, bully-free environment for students. This is why we chose CGB. We heard so many bad things about the bullying and clique behavior at the American school that we knew that wasn't an option. We made the right choice and our son was happy at CGB.

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2. Greatest challenge?

It is a small school so my son wished he could have had a little more choice in his classes but it worked out and he was satisfied and got a good education.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes. My son was happy at CGB. Having had so many school experiences, we knew that our son's happiness was the most important things. CGB offered a good balance between education and experience and if you are coming to Bogota, I think you must give CGB consideration.

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Bogota, Colombia 01/21/15

Colegio Gran Bretana

School Website

http://www.cgb.edu.co


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent.

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

U.S. 2nd grade through 4th grade.

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2010-2013.

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Government.

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

We liked the size of the school and the "feel" of the school. We spoke with people who were either in and had been in Bogota and regardless of where their children went to school, they all said they'd either had a great experience at CGB or they had heard of great experiences from other people. All reports were positive.

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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?

A - The admissions process was very thorough for the entire family - there was even a very serious thought-provoking interview of the parents! We were told the procedures up front and everything went as we were told it would, in terms of testing, notification and placement.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

A - CGB is very welcoming to new students and families. We received information in a timely fashion and were introduced to other families at various school functions. The school is small enough to be able to promote a very supportive environment. It's hard to slip through the cracks.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

We felt like the teachers were all very caring, but required structure from the students.

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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:

A - CGB did an excellent job of treating us all the same. I never felt like our nationality or that of the teachers or faculty ever affected our treatment or that of other students.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

A - I never hesitated to email the teacher if a situation arose, and I always got a timely and appropriate response. The electronic system of mass communication was efficient for those of us who checked the site.

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4. 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?

Yes - lunch must be purchased (and was very expensive for what my child ate) and uniforms are required. Additionally, there are costs for some co-curriculars depending on what your child chooses to do.

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5. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

B - Our child participated in services for gifted students. There was some transition in the program while we were there and there was room for improvement.

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6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

A - The offerings of after-school activities for our child's age were excellent. The best part is that CGB builds in the so-called co-curricular activities into the school day so there's no shuttling around after school to take children to various activities.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

A - We believed at the time our child was there that the standards were appropriately high and now having been back in the Arlington Public School system for the last 1.5 years, we can attest that our child was very well prepared for one of the most rigorous public school systems in the country.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

A - The quality of the homework assigned was excellent. CGB really nailed it on the concept of creating critical thinkers just on the homework assignments alone. Sometimes I felt like the quantity was excessive, but as I said earlier, our child was very well-prepared for school in the U.S.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

A - On the very rare occasion when I needed to contact the head of primary, I had no problem doing so and always got a timely response.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

A - Communication was always effective between the teachers and our student.

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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?

No - our child was appropriately challenged in all classes. I found that each teacher to whom we were exposed had a natural ability to push each child appropriately even in a large class setting.

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12. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

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13. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:

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14. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:

Our child was challenged sufficiently without the gifted and talented program!

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15. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

Yes - electives in art and music are required in at least the elementary school. Our child took violin one year and did Stomp two years. He had a wonderful art teacher and produced excellent pieces of art (really as a non-artsy child). When we were there, the elementary school produced a musical two of our three years. The quality of the production was superior. I believe that has changed now, which is a loss to the children who thrive in drama.

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16. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

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17. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

Yes. Starting the second grade, the students have the opportunity to go away for overnight trips, which start with one night away and go up from there. Those trips cost money (and some of the fees, particularly for the longer trips in high school, are very costly). Additionally, some of the co-curriculars cost money if supplies or outside staff are required to teach the course. All extra costs are always presented well in advance so you have time to consider options, get the money together, etc.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

Our child would have loved to play baseball.

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19. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

Yes - our son did taekwondo and tennis.

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20. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

Yes - The school is very Harry Potter-ish with a house structure. New students are assigned to a house immediately and therefore start bonding with other students across grades who are in the same house. It's a wonderful way for new students to meet children across the whole school. That, to me, is the best assistance you can give a new student.

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21. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

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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?

A - During our first year at CGB, our son suffered from what I considered a bullying incident with another American child. As soon as I learned about it, I contacted the teacher who scheduled a conference for 7:30 the very next morning. By the time we arrived for the conference, the teacher had corroborated our child's assertion and provided a thoughtful and effective solution. To see his interaction with our son was amazing and the problem was resolved. He arranged for class seminars with the school psychologist on "how to be a friend", etc. If I hadn't already been hooked on CGB, I would have been a convert at that point.

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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 - The library was sufficient for our child's age at the time we were there.

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3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

A - Since we've left Bogota, I understand the IT program has been greatly enhanced with more computers, laptops, iPads, and significantly better connectivity.

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

A - Our child loved PE at CGB. While he didn't get to play the sports that he really loves (American football and baseball), he had exposure to different sports and always enjoyed the class. The annual field day was a particular highlight and our son even trained for it each year. He still talks about how much fun this activity was.

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5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

A - Over the course of 3 years, our child was in class with anywhere from about 15 other children up to maybe 25.

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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?

A - IB is available.

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7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Yes - Although the type and amount of homework was not what we were used to, I believe that CGB pushed students beyond an ordinary math worksheet into more functions that required higher critical thinking.

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8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

A - Our child isn't particularly interested in the musical arts, so he suffered through one year of violin but found his niche in Stomp for the next two years. There is truly something for everyone, whether it's a string instrument, Stomp, dance, drama, percussion, etc. And he had wonderful art instruction for the entire 3 years.

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9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Yes - all the core subject teachers spoke English fluently although there are some elective and assistant teachers who did not.

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10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Yes - our child attended a gifted and talented class. I never saw much evidence of what happened in the class so I can't attest to what type of instruction he received.

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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?

Yes. The school offers a very diverse "co-curricular" program that's actually built into the school day and is therefore required.

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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 - our child had multinational playdates, birthday parties, sleepovers, etc. He still considers a CGB friend to be his "best" friend.

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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.

The school has zero tolerance for bullying and we saw that firsthand when our child had a bullying experience (with another American child), and the school nipped it right in the bud. I can't say strongly enough how inclusive the school is. They foster an environment of acceptance and that really showed across the students, the parents, the faculty, administration and staff.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

The size of the school allowed us as a family to be known and appreciated and welcomed. We didn't get lost in the shuffle of a thousand other kids. Because everybody knows everybody, it's a very wholesome environment of inclusion. It felt like family there.

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2. Greatest challenge?

The greatest challenge was the school's location. It's a beautiful, idyllic setting but the bus ride is long for the children, and depending on traffic conditions, it could be very frustrating to get to the school in the middle of a workday for music concerts, conferences, etc. A small price to pay for a great education.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN! The education was top-notch, our child was loved and cared for, the learning environment and curriculum were exceptional, and we felt like we belonged to a family from the day we went for admissions testing.

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Bogota, Colombia 08/14/14

Colegio Gran Bretana

School Website

http://www.cgb.edu.co


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent.

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

Middle school.

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2012-2014.

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Government.

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

To obtain a quality education.

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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 (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:

The local Colombian kids seem to be favored by the staff over the American kids.

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2. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

Communication is extremely limited.

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3. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

Very limited.

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4. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

Nonexistent.

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5. Administration-parent communication:

If you do not speak Spanish, you cannot communicate or even call the school. You cannot show up and communicate with the guard or with anyone in the office in order to make payments or to conduct similar activities.

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6. Teacher-student communication:

The teachers are very different from what Americans are used to. Children report that teachers do not hesitate to humiliate children in front of their peers, and regularly announce all the grades from tests and projects. If a child is sick or hurt, the teachers are not concerned and do not believe in sending kids home for these issues. It is a different way of thinking.

Children report of regular anti-American comments made in front of the class.

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7. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

The school does not recognize special needs such as ADD or ADHD although they claim to be able to work with kids with special needs. The medications needed are not legal in the country and it is difficult to get them in. The process involves many papers and waivers.

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8. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

No.

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9. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

Your child will be expected from day one to take several classes per day completely in Spanish. The social language amongst the student population is Spanish. This can be overwhelming for new kids.

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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?

Counseling at the school is the worst I have ever seen.

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2. 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's facilities do not in any way support physical education and the children very much dislike PE.

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3. 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?

IB is available.

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4. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Yes.

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5. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

These opportunities are extremely limited.

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6. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Yes.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

The Colombian kids do not mix with the American kids. The American kids, regardless of social skills or past experiences, will not succeed socially in this environment. It will not happen. Almost every American kid I talked to over a two-year period was extremely unhappy and a number of them had to seek outside counseling to cope.

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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.

Children report that extensive bullying is allowed and happens to the American kids. Children feel there is a lot of racial bias against children who are not Caucasian or Hispanic with light skin. The society is very racist and Colombian culture class teaches the "social pyramid." Colombians with white skin are at the top of the pyramid and those with black skin are at the bottom. My child reported being taught this in class, and he/she was also taught that mixing races is "wrong."

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Overall Impressions:

1. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Absolutely not. Do not bring your children to this country or to this school. I wish I would have listened to similar advice in 2012.

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Bogota, Colombia 05/16/12

Colegio Nueva Granada

School Website

http://www.cng.edu


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

10-12

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2010, 2011, 2012

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Private company

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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 transparent to us at all, but they accepted our kids for whatever reason ($$).

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

D.We came in mid-semester, and this might have had something to do with the complete lack of effort to integrate or inform any of us.The school was completely disorganized in terms of assigning classes to our daughters, providing them any introduction to students or the campus (my husband and I got a tour, but the girls did not), having any sort of info available for us on how to access the computer system, where to go for help, how to contact any other families, etc.Absolutely no orientation whatsoever.I'm certain they got tired of hearing from me.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

Students in the high school are generally friendly if your "outsider" child does not try to break into the long-established social order.Majority of students show a very lackadaisical attitude toward attendance, dress code, homework, etc., but there are a group of students who are quite intense & competitive as well.

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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:

C.In the only specific instance of disciplinary action with which we were involved, the school came down very hard on our child (to the point of affecting her future post-CNG) and, in my opinion, not with her best interests at heart.There was no flexibility shown.However, extreme flexibility exists in regard to local families (this based on both knowledge of specific instances and students' general observations/interpretations). As well, it's very evident from Annual General Meetings that you are a foreigner attending a US-style Colombian school (it is not an "American" school, it is a Colombian school with a US curriculum and teachers/admin).This is fine with us; we like this combination -- but you should not expect to have an influential voice in any decisionmaking with regard to the school, or have any influence or be treated as someone the administration is trying to keep satisfied or pleased.You are a visitor in the school.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

C. None, but usually none needed.The few times I would have liked to have been notified, I ended up contacting the teacher rather than the other way around.

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4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

D.Looks good on paper.I would be EXTREMELY wary of sending your academically-minded child to this school; while s/he may be challenged/stimulated in certain classes, the school is very poor in guiding (both teachers and admin) students to challenging US universities.Your child will be on his/her OWN in this regard, despite services which make it appear this school knows what it's doing in this regard.Be wary of stats they show you about students accepted to "Ivy Plus" schools.They are very proud of this stat but I highly suspect it is one or two children accepted at multiple schools; in both 2011 and 2012 most of the "honor student" kids my children hung out with were not accepted at these schools, although many of them got into "good" schools that CNG consistently suggests in its literature are "second tier".

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5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

A.Good, and students are able to participate in more than one activity (unlike the school we left in the States, where they were supposed to focus & become expert in one sport or art).

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

F.Very poor.Foreigners (we) have been held to extremely high standards and actually have had a minor disciplinary incident treated as a very major one.Local friends whose children are in the school have been shocked by the extent of this punishment, saying worse behavior by their children goes unremarked upon (or "uncaught").

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

B.Plenty if in AP courses; my daughters have considered some useful and some busywork.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

D.Admin is available, very nice to talk with, but absolutely unbending with regard to requests, complaints, or suggestions, even in cases where they have admitted a problem exists.So the communication is open, but the results are nil.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

A.Seems good.

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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?

Yes. AP Calc was abysmal for both my daughters, but CNG has since changed the teacher.

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11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

No.

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12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:

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13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:

As far as I know, there is no additional "gifted" program, other than AP courses and a few extracurricular activities.Students can participate in, for example, Model UN or Math Olympics -- but they need to find out about the qualifying exams for this latter activity on their own and make sure they have nothing scheduled during this time if MO is something they'd like to do.

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14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

Yes.

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15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

I have heard there is limited opportunity for kids playing orchestra instruments.There is no high school orchestra or choir.

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16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

Yes, each yearly class trip (considered part of the curriculum) has a cost, AP courses cost extra (despite the College Board insisting that there should be no additional expense to the school offering an AP course).

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

None that we needed.

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18. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

Yes.

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19. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

Not if you arrive mid-year.I cannot speak to fall-entry activities, as we were never included in any (I don't know if they exist).Please see comments on "support of new students/families", above.

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20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

If your students are in any way insecure, this is DEFINiTELY not the school in Bogotá for them.They need to be 100% convinced of who they are and that they are okay as they are before jumping in to this social environment.Their confidence will take a knock even so, but if they are strong, independent, and confident in who they are as an individual they should come out the other end having had a really interesting and broadening experience.If, however, they are the more typical teen and have some insecurities, the social scene at CNG will magnify those and social exclusion or even ostracism by the majority of the class is likely.

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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?

F.This is one of CNG's weakest links.If you choose to enroll your children here, be ON TOP of every aspect of their academic situation, needs for the future, placement, grading, etc.Do your own research about what your child will or might need to return to school (high school or university) in the States or elsewhere; the counselors here ARE NOT INFORMED, though they are happy to tell you everything is fine.

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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.Excellent.

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3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

F.Horrible.In transition; should have a more useable version in 2013?

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

B.Fine.P.E. teachers (and, far worse, several teachers of academic subjects) do not understand the grading scale.

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5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

In my daughters' classes:from 1:20 to 1:7.

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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?

A.Several APs available. Teachers' abilities vary but CNG seems to be making changes and trying to place teachers well-qualified to teach APs.

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7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

For the most part.

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8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

B.All that our children wanted to pursue was available.Several other parents wish additional areas were available (eg., choir, orchestra).

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9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Yes for most subjects.

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10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Yes.AP courses.She is on her own for additional stimulation.The school has no idea she is "gifted" (despite paperwork submitted from previous school and various test scores -- which I have to presume, based on various conversations, never made it from admissions to HS counseling to informing teachers).I figured it would come out on its own (some individual teachers have remarked on it) but in terms of providing additional challenge or support, zip.As well, if your student is entering mid-high-school, if you don't holler about how bright s/he is, s/he will lose at least one year of academic material by being put in whatever classes are available & need to be filled (if our experience is anything to go by).

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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?

Yes.

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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, with limits (see below).

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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, being excluded, but I think this is to be expected a school with 90% local students (though their stats say differently, a high percentage of their "US" citizens are dual citizens and have extended family & friends in Colombia; many have grown up here.In my daughter's class of 120 students, as far as I know, there is one other North American and 3 South Koreans and that's it for foreigners (possibly some students from Mexico or S. Am. countries of which I'm unaware).Which is fine -- it gives you a "local" experience and is great for her Spanish (the social language is almost entirely Spanish).However, these kids have been together mostly since K4, have well-established social cliques, and you shouldn't expect your child to break into those and be fully accepted (even if they make a big splash initially as "the new kid").There is a sizable group of locals (maybe 15% of the class) which is open to including newcomers.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Exposes confident foreign students to local culture in an accessible way.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Currently, teachers don't know how to consistently interpret the "4.0 grading scale" implemented 3 years ago.The admin is aware of the problem and is supposedly working with teachers to fix it, but if 2 or 3 of your students' teachers choose to interpret a 3.2 as a "great" grade for a top student, your child's college apps are screwed.Despite having had an interesting and broadening experience, my daughters' transcripts (considered "good" by The Powers That Be at CNG) have prevented them from applying to some honors programs at universities, excluded them from merit-based financial aid, etc.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

No.Although it has given our daughters a chance to learn Spanish, to meet some great people, and to explore several extracurricular activities, it had a permanent negative effect on their high school transcripts.The administration proved to be unbending on all areas of concern which we brought to its attention (but all members of it were very welcoming of any help or volunteering we were willing to provide)."Comments and suggestions welcomed, but none will be acted upon." seems to be the credo.It is definitely a one-way street with regard to problems at this school, at least if you are a foreigner.We clearly are not their target market/audience and they do not need to accommodate us.I don't think of myself as unreasonable in my expectations of an "American" high school; CNG surprised me repeatedly in its failure to understand what I thought would be clear to professionals at a US-style high school.My concerns were brushed aside as "It will all be fine" -- and as it bore out, it all was not fine.My kids had excellent SAT/ACT scores and I am convinced this is what got them into at least some colleges -- their transcripts from CNG were surely a millstone and continue to be with regard to applying for additional programs or merit aid at their universities.I believe there is at least one other high school in Bogotá (and likely several) which can provide similar opportunities for learning and interaction but which better understand these administrative issues and at least one of which provides a much less intimidating social environment.

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Bogota, Colombia 09/18/10

Colegio Anglo-Colombiano

School Website

http://www.anglocolombiano.edu.co


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

Transition

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2008-2010 (current)

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Work for an international NGO

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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?

A: Apparently there were problems with this in the past, but the board has worked hard to eliminate the problems.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

A: Very good.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

Very satisfactory. Small classes, extremely motivated and committed teaching staff and management.

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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:

A: There are more local kids than ex-pats. This is the case with all private schools here. This is not an 'international' school per se. There are none here. This is a Colombian private school with a British curriculum and system, a British rector and many British teachers. A percentage of ex-pat kids and a majority of Colombian kids.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

A: Really good - online communication as well.

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4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

A: The school has a very high level of academics that would easily serve a gifted child. My child has Down Syndrome. The board made a special policy to admit kids with developmental disabilities as a pilot. There is also another child with DS here. The support has been stunning - exceptional, wonderful.

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5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

A: Anything you can think of.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

A: Yes.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

A: Lots of homework, but good quality.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

A: Has been very good in my experience.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

A: Very good.

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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?

No, none I have experienced.

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11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

My child has a classroom assistant who helps her in her classes. She goes to an off-site facility (Anthiros) for therapy.

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12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:

There is no other school that really provides this, so I am thrilled with the level we have.Colegio Nuevo Granada (CNG) supposedly does, but I have heard it is chaotic. And in reality, if you have a special needs child and are not a diplomat or a Colombian with 'palancas' there is NO CHANCE your child will get into CNG. Supposedly they admit kids with special needs. They wouldn't even give us an interview!

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13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:

Not applicable.

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14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

Yes.

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15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

I don't know of any.

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16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

Yes, lots of them.

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

I can't think of any.

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18. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

Yes, swimming.

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19. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

Yes.

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20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

I don't know of any. The school works hard to address all issues as they arise.

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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?

A: Very good.

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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: Very good one.

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3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

A: Very good one.

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

A: Very good - see above.

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5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

A. Around 18 kids per class.

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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?

A. Yes.

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7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Yes, in my experience.

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8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

A: Very good selection of just about any art, music, drama, sports you can think of - both through the normal curriculum and as extra-curricular activities.

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9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Yes, most. I think the Spanish teachers do not. Not sure about the PE, music, etc teachers. This is not an issue for my child, who speaks Spanish.

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10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

My child does not, and I don't know about this.

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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?

Yes, lots of them.

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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.

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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.

Those I know are very happy at this school. No bullying or exclusion.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Gosh, everything. The quality and commitment of the teachers and administration, the grounds, the location, the activities, the academics.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Can't think of any.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

In a heartbeat.

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