Mexico City, Mexico Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico 05/17/16

American School Foundation

School Website

http://www.asf.edu.mx


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?

Grade 1

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

2014/2015 school year

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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?

It was the only school we applied to that had an available space for a first grader.

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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?

F

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

F

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

In our experience, unfriendly, impersonal. This is a very large school. There are problems with bullying even at first grade.

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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

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

F

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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?

Gym uniforms, activity fees (which are reasonable for what you get)

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

A

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

C

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

B

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8. Administration-parent communication:

F

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9. Teacher-student communication:

D

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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

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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:

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

Trips are included but activities are a separate fee that you must pay in person at the school.

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

Yes

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

No

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

It's not a warm and inviting environment. I felt that as a parent and I can only imagine how a child would feel. People are polite but not friendly. There is an emphasis on money and status.

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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

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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?

C

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

A

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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

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

C

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

Yes

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

A

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

Yes

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

No

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10. 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?

No

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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, all students do unfortunately.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Its wealth

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2. Greatest challenge?

ASF places non-Spanish speakers in a Spanish as a second language class. Our child was the ONLY student in the classroom who had to leave and go to Spanish as a Second Language. We would have preferred to challenge our child and make the transition to the school easier by keeping her with her peers. It's not really an international school because expats make up such a small percentage of the students.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

No

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Mexico City, Mexico 01/17/16

Greengates

School Website

http://www.greengates.edu.mx


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?

Currently in 5th, 7th, 9th (British equivalent = J5, F2, F4)

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

2013-16

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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)?

US Gov

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

We wanted a smaller, more diverse school without bullying and where the kids could meet expats. We heard the competing school had bullying issues and catered to the super wealthy Mexicans.

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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?

B? Not really sure how this all works but all three of our kids got in without a problem. And even though our son was younger than the cutoff date, we were granted permission for him to continue on with the upper grade as he had already completed the previous grade at the previous post. We have heard where sometimes there is a family who doesn't get both kids in but this seems rare. There is always a Wait List and the headmaster is often telling us about this. Lots of kids who start off at the American school seem to transfer here after a term or two there or at least try to. Two different families I know transferred their kids to GG from other schools and were thrilled with the results.

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

B+. There are always kids transferring into the school at various times of the year so the kids are used to it and it is not so nerve-wracking for new, shy kids. Ours had no problem {at ages 8/10/12). The kids usually get a buddy in class to be shown around and there are always new family orientations. Might be nice if they had an orientation day with new families the day before school starts to walk around and meet their actual teachers and buddies.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

The campus is compact and very welcoming. It's easy to maneuver to classes and the sports field is in the center so kids can enjoy the greenery on breaks and afterschool. The air is better there than at home in their neighborhood. . There is a pool and basketball court. Whenever we visit the students always look very happy. My kids love their school. They have thrived in the last 2.5 years are sad to be leaving when we transfer out in the summer My kids have tons of friends, do well academically and take sports, drama and music.

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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-. Our family and kids have been treated very well. Haven't heard of any problems in this regard and we have friends of all sorts from all over the world.

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

B. This depends on the teacher. We receive emails from time to time from the teacher in primary about stuff going on, or trips or parent meetings or whatever but there is no regular correspondence from them. We also recieve a Unit letter from the Head of Primary about what to expect for the new unit they are starting. This is helpful. In upper we almost never hear from the kid's teachers but they have 8 or more of them. We meet with them a few times a year and discuss how our child is doing.

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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 available for sale at school and there is a snack bar with some good stuff for sale like quesadillas and even sushi! Uniforms are expensive so buy them big and make sure your kid doesn't lose them!! Maybe laptops for the seniors?

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

B. There are various levels in Secondary for students who excel academically, such as Extended or Advanced Math, English, etc. Kids with learning issues can get extra help or tutors.

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

A. As mentioned above there are loads of clubs for various sports, arts, music and academic help. My kids take at least three (free) clubs after school. The older kids have an opportunity to try out for varsity teams and they will have matches or competitions at least once a week after school. This school had the reputation when we arrived of not being very good with sports offerings however that seems to have changed tremendously since we arrived three years ago. Every afternoon there is either a boys or girls tournament in VB, BB, football etc. More for the secondary kids but every so often for the primary kids. There is plenty to do.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

A-. Our kids are challenged academically and are doing very well. They test the secondary students and if they are falling behind have a chance to maintain their level, for example in Math especially, but if they are having trouble they may be dropped to the lower math class or bumped up to the extended or advanced class. The primary kids have interesting units of inquiry in which they do hands on projects and studies which include trips.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

This varies at all grades. My 5th grader has a bit of English, spelling and Spanish every week. He has math assignment to be done on the computer. This was new to us but it is across primary that they do math on the computer. Of course the kids have no problem with this idea but need to remember to do it! The secondary students have more homework and it comes and goes. Sometimes there will be nothing and then a big project which is time consuming. Sometimes there's homework over the weekend or on a long holiday break for the eldest kid.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

B+. This has gotten MUCH better since we arrived a few years ago. We get all kinds of school updates and 'circulars' with info. Sometimes there's a last minute reminder about something like a play/concert or no activities after school or recycling day and there is very little notice which is frustrating but as a whole we are kept in the loop about most things well in advance. Now. I will add that for new prospective parents they should not give up if they don't hear back from GG right away. I had emailed and not heard back for awhile. It's best to call and try to get one of the many efficient English speaking secretaries like Tzuhua who is very helpful for new parents.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

B+. My kids say they usually know what's going on well in advance and have no issues to complain about. Sometimes if they get a grade they don't like they will discuss w/ their teachers and have it resolved or explained. We have our kids attend the PARENT TEACHER meetings with us so the teachers can speak directly to them and let them know what's going on for good or bad with their studies.

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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, not really. It of course depends on the teacher. My eldest son said he wishes the English class was a bit more interesting but that changes as the term goes on so not a big deal. Sometimes I wish the Spanish classes were more challenging and interactive, for example, take the class on a field trip and make them do all the transactions alone in Spanish!.

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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:

No, our kids don't but we know of one or two kids who get special tutoring and after school help for various reasons.

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

It's not applicable to us but some parents have said they wish it was better.

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

No, I think there could be more to offer those students needing/desiring it however we have never attended a school abroad with these offerings so it hasn't affected our children too much. They are challenged academically and are quite well-rounded with their education so far, especially at this school.

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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, as mentioned above. Lots.

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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!! There is a residential trip for grades J2 or J3 and up. They are several hundred dollars and students are expected to attend. They are camps at various haciendas around Mexico. They are safe and well planned and orchestrated however not all families can afford this I would guess. My kids have gone for several years and love them. Also: UNIFORMS are very costly!! We have been able to find similar cheaper slacks in the USA instead of the expensive school pants.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

They had rock climbing for a while and then stopped the last year for some reason. Also maybe a fun water sport like water VB or water polo since we have the pool. Also maybe an advanced cooking class with Mexican specialties!!

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

yes, lots every term and every year. They are all free.

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

They do the buddy system. Maybe the school could do an orientation day the day prior so kids can see their new school and meet the teachers and maybe their buddy. This is done in other schools abroad. But our kids fell into place pretty easily and met kids on the bus etc very quickly/

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

Nothing really. My kids are pretty outgoing.

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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?

B+. Haven't used this at all or much yet but as far as college stuff, there are lots of Colleges/universities of a very high standard that come and attend the school fairs and try to recruit the kids. They have a career/college advisor. There are also therapists/counselors at the school for various issues.

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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. There are a few libraries and students who have a high reading level can get permission to go into the upper/advanced library to take books from there.

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

B+. There are a several computer/IT labs. All three kids take IT and do various projects such as creating web pages and much of their research for their classes on the computers. Young kids use ipads for some subjects we are told.

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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-. PE, which includes swimming, is offered twice a week and there are sports days and a multitude of clubs offered after school including rugby, cricket, football, basketball etc.

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

B-. It's not as good as we'd like as most classes in Primary have like 25 kids to one teacher and an Aid that circulates the 4 classes. (There are 4 classes per grade level.) Secondary has fewer students; they rotate to their Spanish class or electives and there are around 15-20 kids. But the kids never complain and we've not found it an issue.

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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. The Secondary kids in grades F4 and up are part of the IGSCE program and then IB which are very academically challenging and varied. Kids can choose from certain electives like Art, Drama, various Sciences, Business studies, languages etc. We're very impressed with the course offerings and how our son is progressing with the program.

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

Yes.

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

A- There is orchestra for primary and secondary as well as private (free ) lessons offered one day a week during school hours (kids rotate out of a different class every week so they are not missing their major subjects. ). There is also group music instruction in violin, etc for a club after school. Drama and music theater are also on offer. My kids have participated in all of these.

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

yes, except for Spanish class I am guessing.

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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.

They have advanced classes for those who need it. We know of a few kids who were admitted at a higher grade level than their age because of their academics/testing/previous schooling. There is also a MATHCOUNTS program for the older kids [ages 11-14?) which is an intensive math completion program. Our son participated in this and did very well.

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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!! Mentioned above: various sports, swimming, music, drama, art, academic support, volunteer/charity type as well.

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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 kids have lots of friends. Mexico city is very big and sometimes that can be a huge issue. trying to attend bd parties or playdates when families are spread all over town and traffic is a pain. So I urge my kids to socialize at the clubs after school and occasionally playdates unless the kid lives in the neighborhood. Many people get drivers for this reason. Most of my kids' friends are international expats but they each do have a few good Mexican friends too.

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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 a huge issue for us and we chose GG for this reason. They have no bullying problems that we know of or that any of my kids have experienced. There will always be a few tough kids around but bullying is not tolerated. At times kids can get snarky on the soccer (football) field and only pass to their friends etc. I have told my kids to deal w/ this themselves and if they really feel the other kids are not sharing the ball or being unfair to tell the coach.

Early on when my middle kid tried to play BB some kid said he "sucked'. My son looked at him and said " you're right'. My son immediately got a basketball hoop at home and practiced and kept playing with the kids at lunchtime and is now very good. He said a lot of the local kids will always be better than him at football also since they were born playing it but he wasn't going to stop playing just because of that. And he got better because of it.

Also, the more Spanish your kid can learn the better because the local kids often speak Spanish on the sports field. It helps to know the terms. All in all it seems that the kids are always pretty happy at the school on the campus when we walk around. Kids rotate to different groups and are able to have freedom. It's a happy place... which we feel helps our kids learn better.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

I think that it's a friendly, warm place to go and although more than half are locals, the kids all seem to be very happy and are enjoying themselves. They put the kids to a high standard academically but there's plenty of sport and enjoyment mixed in.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Distance. The school is a bit further than we'd like and with traffic can be a pain to just pop in if you like to be involved. Many people use taxis or UBER or get a driver so not to deal with the driving although I have plenty of friends who drive there and volunteer or whatever. I am a wimp and don't drive. However the kids seem to have no problem with the bus ride which from Polanco is about 20 minutes.. On a Friday with traffic that can be doubled. SO kids bring books and ipads. This is life in Mexico however and everybody is pretty used to it, including the students!

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Definitely and we are sad to leave in 6 months. We debated extending here and the school was one of the main reasons. We recommend it all the time. I wish I went there as a kid!

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Mexico City, Mexico 06/05/14

Greengates

School Website

http://www.greengates.edu.mx


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?

J4 or 4th grade.

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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)?

U.S. government.

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

Out of all the English language schools in Mexico City, this school had the most positive reviews.

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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?

F - Not that I am aware. I had no idea my child was accepted until the day before school started when we sat down with the head of school for an interview and a placement test.

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

F - There isn't any. The Parent Organization, like the school, has no transparency in what it does with the money it raises. The school does not send out information or acceptance letters to families. Communication prior to the first day of school is lacking.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

There was a huge turnover in teachers at the school this year. There were upward of 25 new teachers across the lower and upper schools. All teachers in J4 were new, except for one who taught J3 the previous year. Teachers are personable and the school seems to recruit classroom teachers from England with some local teachers for specialist classes.

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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:

F - The administration's attitude is, "If you don't like it here, we have a waiting list, the door is right there."

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

C - There are two parent teacher conferences per year. The head of school requires any appointments with the classroom teacher to be made through him. Teachers are available through e-mail but there is no proactive teacher communication and the impression we had from discussing this with other parents is that the administration discouraged it.

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

F - There is no effort to accommodate children who are gifted and a no "if's-ands-or-but's" position in allowing your child to be academically challenged by moving up a grade. Children are kept with their chronological peer groups no matter their ability. There was no evidence of small group instruction to meet the needs of students who need academic challenges. The administration response was for me to provide greater academic challenges at home after the school day.

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

A - This is one of the positive aspects of the school. There is a wide range of activities for the elementary grades and they are included with the tuition. Children can take up to three classes per week.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

F - Academic standards are low. My child has never written more than a paragraph of text all year. My child has been taught little to nothing regarding the writing process. Reading is not taught and students in J4 read books whole class. My child read a book during math lessons due to boredom and was academically unchallenged. There seems to be no academic standards whatsoever. The school is tossing out the IB curriculum in the elementary school and bringing in the IPC program which is similarly deficient in core academic subjects.

The school views elementary education as a holding pattern. "Real learning" occurs in middle and upper school.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

D - Barely any at all really. Weekly spelling homework that was terribly inadequate and at a first or second grade level. There can also be project homework with little to no guidance or information from the teacher as to what is expected. There may also be handwriting homework assigned intermittently.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

B - There is a monthly newsletter from the school with information about policy changes, events, etc. If there are any health concerns ( ie. lice and a salmonella outbreak), separate e-mails are sent.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

B - It's a bit hard to say really. I think the communication is there. My child always seemed to provide the impression that all the teachers are approachable and friendly. There just is't very much teacher-student communication of academic instruction.

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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. There was no challenge in any subject and the core academic work (math, language arts, etc..) done in fourth grade was almost without exception something our child had done the previous year and sometimes two years back. Our child was only challenged in Spanish to which there was no prior exposure before coming to Mexico.

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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:

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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:

It is non-existent. When we asked to meet to discuss the lack of any challenge for or learning by our child, I was actually asked if I had brought my concerns about my child's advanced ability to the head of school at the time of admission and if I attended the back to school meeting for parents. What this had to do with meeting my child's academic needs within the first six weeks of school, I do not know. Nothing came of our requests and we were advised that we might find some challenging activities on the internet for her at home.

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

No. While there is some music, it is singing only, not instruments and is only offered during the school day once a week. All other classes are after school in the elementary school.

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

Weekly art specialist class and instrument instruction as part of music are two areas where I feel the school has room for improvement. Well, I suppose you could add math, literature, and writing to that list as they are practically non-existent but I already mentioned that.

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

There is a yearly excursion at a fee of about US$500. There is no parent orientation/presentation before the trip and the expectation, clearly and repeatedly stated, is that all students attend. My child loved the experience but it is only later that I learned from her that there was a shooting range available to the children. While I have nothing against firearms in a safe controlled environment, I think the parents should have been at least advised of this.

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

None that I can think of at the moment.

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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?

Generally speaking there wasn't any new student orientation or guidance that I am aware of. That being said, they did have what they called a "friends corner," I believe, where a teacher and students would meet to introduce themselves to new children and those who hadn't found a group of friends yet.

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

None that we know of. This is, honestly, one area where the school excels. For example, students are free to sit and eat and play anywhere on the upper field and lower patio. This has an inclusive feeling when multi-grade levels are out at the same time and broadens the pool of available friends.

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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?

B - While there is no family support to speak of, I will say that one of the positive aspects of the school is that my child says the weekly meetings in her year group with the deputy head of school who navigates the personal, social, health education program and well being of students has been a plus. There is an "incident book" where students who have transgressed the rules, especially at recess, have their names written. It is a big deterrent for most students. Generally speaking, they do a good job of creating a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for the children. I am unaware of any counseling etc in the middle and high schools.

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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 is average in comparison to any U.S. public school.

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

C - My child has used a Macbook and the classroom has a SMARTboard but there is no organized curriculum.

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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 - There is a PE program with classes twice a week. This also includes swimming in two/twice yearly, six week blocks of time. They cover gymnastics, basketball, track and field and other games and activities - all-in-all pretty good.

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

F - Very high. The facilities are small and cramped inside the classrooms. The physical size of the classrooms can not accommodate the 26:1 ratio in my child's class. For a private school, these are high numbers. I expected a smaller teacher to student ratio. Let's face it though, this is a money making institution, lining the owner's pockets.

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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?

B - There is an IB program in the high school. I feel the IB program in the elementary grades (PYP) is very rarely implemented well. Greengates is moving away from the PYP, so I see the future lack of IB as a plus, though unfortunately their chosen replacement appears to be similarly flawed.

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

No, not at all. That said, I am not a big fan of homework, unless it is given to help my child if my child is struggling in a subject area. It is great that my child's Spanish teacher gives regular homework, once or twice a week, which includes reading.

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

F - There is a weekly music class however it includes no instrument instruction. There is after-school though, in band.

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

Yes, but if the teacher is a local hire, Spanish will creep into instructional time, especially due to the fact that better than 60% of the students are local or Spanish speaking.

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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.

No. This is one of our main concerns, the lack of academically challenging instruction and lack of curriculum, materials, and standards for teaching and learning. There was a laissez-faire attitude in meeting my child's needs. Repeated efforts to remedy this has lead us moving our child to a new school next year - not a decision we take lightly as, due to a transfer to Mexico last year, this will be the third school in three years.

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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. Each trimester there are many from which to choose. Students in the elementary school can choose up to three and they are included with the tuition and this was one of the highlights for my child. There is bus service home afterward as long as your child already has daily bus service.

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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?

It depends upon where you live. This is a huge city with horrible traffic so children tend to socialize with others in their neighborhoods or on weekends.

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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.

Our child indicated that some of the local children could be rude and generally unpleasant but this was not a uniform occurrence by any means and probably is a reflection of the apparent sense of superiority and entitlement among some of the wealthy in this city as much as anything else. Generally speaking, my child feels that this is a non-issue at this school and has made friends of all stripes.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

After-school activities, and the personal, social, and well-being of students. Holiday celebrations organized by the parent organization. Behavior expectations of students.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Lack of transparency. Low academic expectations. Lack of leadership. Attitude and inflexibility of administration. Not meeting individual learning needs of students in the classroom/no differentiation/one size fits all education.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Not a chance! All schools here cater to the local population and each has its own problems. There are no true international schools here and most are businesses focused on the bottom line, not the educational welfare of the children they "serve." If I had known then what I know now about schools in el D.F., I would not have chosen this as a post. There is no perfect school and schools everywhere will have their share of shortcomings and teachers that you don't want your child to have, but when it's endemic in an entire city, especially one of this size, there is a bigger problem at hand.

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Mexico City, Mexico 07/30/11

Liceo Franco-Mexicano / Lycée Franco-Mexicain

School Website

http://www.lfm.edu.mx


Background Information:

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

Parent (used to be a teacher in another school)

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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?

8th and 10th grade

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

2010-2011

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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)?

Diplomats

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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 clear and not always following your wishes.

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

F - Who cares if you are new? You are 10% of their worries, the others are locals, permanent residents.

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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 to F with comments:

C - no effort to integrate kids (no sponsoring program) and sometimes only 1 French kid per class, all other kids speaking Spanish among themselves.

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

Despite its name of French-Mexican highschool it is mostly a Mexican school with a majority of French teachers (but not all). All international schools here are more Mexican than American or British despite their names. 4 to 5 families from the US mission place their kids there (not all with ties to France). I believe it is better for primary school than high school.

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3. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:

B - Treatment seems to be the same but it highly depends on the teacher. Some teachers don't speak French and it was my son's first year in Spanish (8th grade) - can be tough.

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

B - It could get an A because the system in place (intranet) is very well done to follow online grades, activities, homework, etc. but some teachers don't fill it and some teachers don't respond to emails because they are not all computer savy. The referent teacher always answered promptly to my emails.

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

Nothing planned. Will depend on willingness and openness of teacher in Primary school and don't count on it 6-12 grade.

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

A - Many: sports, art, circus, theater, chess, fencing, ... Cheap price, about $80 per semester for 1 to 2 hours per week.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

Very variable depending on each teacher but teachers NEVER coordinate among themselves so your kid can be swamped 1 night and have nothing the next or have 3 exams the same day.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

With accounting very good, with principal sometimes a bit slow. It depended on the subject.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

With 10 to 12 different teachers per kid, it really depended on the teacher and some teachers had openly stated that they liked girls better so my son was always in the back of the class. My son had 2 teachers that didn't speak any French and my daughter also (she was in her 3rd year of Spanish but that is not sufficient)

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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?

English. In 10 to 12th grade they have a level system which is good (from learner to bilingual) but in 8th grade they were all mixed up. Mexican students from good families are increasingly bilingual Spanish-English. Despite the good number of bilingual kids in 8th grade, they were mixed up with French kids that barely spoke. Very detrimental. We had to take a tutor to challenge our kid because what they did in class was at about 4th grade level English in the US.

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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:

NA

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

NA

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

NA

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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

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

Computer science.

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

No.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

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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?

No.

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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?

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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 - Fairly good library

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

C - Good equipment but less than 1 machine per student and not too many classes on the subject.

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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?

C - The facilities are amazing: large gymnasium, new equipment, lots of space despite being in the heart of the city in Polanco. BUT - there is a but: the fact that PE teachers are Mexican without an ounce of French language has me worried. If your kid gets injured, he won't understand what the kid says and will have to rely on other kids to translate ... If your kid has a personal problem impeding him/her to perform a certain gym activity, it is impossible to convey to the teacher which in turn gives him/her a failing grade ...

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

In 8th and 10th grades about 25 students per class.

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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?

French Baccalaureat is sort of the ancester of IB.

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

Depends on teacher.

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

A - Many extra-curricular activities, sometimes proposed at lunch time so that the kid doesn't need to leave school too late. Very cheap. Some classes almost private: 2 to 20 students.

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

Since it is a French school they should be required to speak French fluently. Some did not speak ANY French.

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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.

NA

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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?

Eventually they do but it takes time - language barrier.

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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.

No bullying but exclusion de facto by language.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Location, Polanco: kids can walk to school. Size and equipment.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Forcing Mexican subjects (Mexican constitution in Spanish in 8th grade) that do not belong to the French curriculum on French kids.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes with younger kids because it is modern, well equipped, very active socially and you can establish a better communication with the single teacher they have in Primary school.Not after 7th grade because you have 10 teachers to deal with and they all have different ways, there is not a specific school style.

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