Freetown, Sierra Leone Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Freetown, Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone 04/15/14

The American International School of Freetown

School Website

http://www.ais-freetown.org


Background Information:

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

Parent who is involved in the 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?

Elementary.

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

2009-2014.

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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)?

Corporate.

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

Basically, AISF is the only school good international school in the city.

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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?

Yes, there is no wait list and this year, the new director has not let students advance to grades they have not yet completed. I understand many parent always request this.

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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- this is a very difficult area to grade with the situation in Freetown.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

Excellent. The classes are small; although during our time they have fluctuated from a low of 7 to a high of 15 per class; at one time it was a mixed class in the lower elementary.

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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:

Definitely an A now, in the past this probably would have been lower.

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

The teachers are very available and easy to talk to.

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

There are students of all ranges and learning styles in each class. Classes are very mixed.

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

Typically there are about 20 offerings, each day of the week. Our child, like most, stays almost every day.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

The school uses the American curriculum and standards from AERO. I have looked over my child's work and spoken with the teacher about the program. I think they have high standards; not all students are yet able to be high achieving. In the past, the school has not been as good and some students who have been here for a long time have been under-served.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

My child has homework frequently. After there was a teacher change- two actually- in December. Things in the school got a lot better and there seems to be a focus on academics and things like good homework.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

There is a weekly newsletter. The director is very visible and present on campus and very approachable. He seems to enjoy working with parents. This is something that has changed in past years.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

I love my child's teacher now, especially since my child likes the teacher; this has not always been the case.

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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?

Not that I know of. In this area, education might not be as valued as other places. Certainly in past schools there has been more emphasis on academic excellence. That does not seem to exist in this community but the school does well with classes.

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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:

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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, they are a strength of the school. The specials classes have been more present in the school this year. My child loves his specials teachers and classes.

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

Buses and transportation help.

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

Yes, there are some good field trips and activities that sometimes cost more.

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

More sports with other schools.

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

Yes, and they really like them.

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

I think they do. I have been helping via the school with new parents and families who come to Freetown. It is difficult here for some families.

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

I do not know if there are any, between parents perhaps but not among the children.

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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 they have a program in the middle school. In the elementary school, everything is handled by the classroom teachers. There is college advising now, the HS students have a program already through the University of Nebraska in the United States. I hear it is pretty 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?

There is a pretty good but small library here. Parents can also use it. I think it is probably the best English library in the country.

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

This is an area for improvement although I think the new director and teachers are aiming to improve the computer and technology. There is some integration and the computer rooms was expanded in anticipation of new equipment.

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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?

The school has a small field for football. This year the new director created a full-sized basketball court that has been good for the older kids to play. They have a good PE teacher and they have also started weekend activities such as basketball, footbol, and karate.

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

I think it is about 8:1 for the whole school, not including a lot of Assistant teachers.

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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?

No, I don't think so.

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

I think so; I am happy with my child's class and work.

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

They exist in each grade and class; there are afterschool programs and also events such as talent shows and festivals.

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

Yes, I think and they all do. It is a huge benefit of the school in this city.

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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 a higher level math enrichment program, Math Counts. They also allow students to go to a higher grade for math instruction and some do.

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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, I think so for its size.

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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, I think so. But the parent social scene is small.

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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 used to be a big problem at the school. With the new director this year I have not heard of any situations. I think this has changed a lot for the better.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

It is nice to have a god school in Freetown with good teachers. This has improved greatly this year. Parents feel that their children are safe and well-cared for during the day; this has not always been the case in the past.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Living in Freetown and West Africa.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes, it is by far the best school in town.

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