The Hague, The Netherlands Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from The Hague, The Netherlands

The Hague, The Netherlands 06/13/16

The British School of The Netherlands

School Website

http://www.britishschool.nl/


Background Information:

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

I'm a parent of a 7th grader (year 8).

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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?

5th through 8th (years 6-9).

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

There are many schools available to expats here. ASH (The American School of The Hague) is the most popular choice, BSN which has multiple lower school campuses and one large one for middle and high school, and ISH (The International School of The Hague).



We originally wanted our son to go to ASH but the waiting list was very long and he was not guaranteed a spot so we added him to the waitlist, asked the Embassy CLO office if there were other options and they gave us a list. We reviewed the options carefully and decided to go with BSN because we felt that the structure and curriculum was more in line with what we thought was appropriate for his age. When he was accepted to BSN we removed him from the waitlist so another child could have the spot. Some families use BSN as a placeholder until they can get into ASH but we absolutely did not want to do that as we felt it would be disruptive and we ended up preferring the curriculum and structure to ASH.

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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?

I am not sure, I haven't checked recently. Best to register at least a year in advance for ASH.

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

Excellent. BSN has 20+ nationalities throughout multiple campuses and an amazing family association with committee members from each country to welcome new families. I'm the USA rep so I can say for certain that any Americans coming in while I am here will be well taken care of ;)

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

Excellent.There is a common misconception that BSN doesn't communicate well but I have not seen it. Any time I have a concern I can bring it up to the teacher or the head of year via email or phone and have always been very satisfied. BSN has an interactive website for all parents and students and highlights are sent home via email every Friday.



One of the reasons people feel like BSN doesn't communicate well is that they don't overdo it. They let the kids be kids, so you won't be receiving constant updates or calls and if you child gets in trouble they don't phone the parents unless it is really major. I like it that way because it allows my son to operate with a bit of autonomy, and he doesn't have to be concerned that his mom will hear about every little slip.

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2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

Uniforms and iPads are not covered although the iPads are offered through the school at a slight discount. There are a LOT of field trips and they are quite expensive. They used to be out of pocket but they've started to add it to the tuition bill.

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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?

The school has several counselors, both personal and academic. They are extremely familiar with worldwide universities and offer both GCSE and IB programs so they are aware of how that affects transcripts, etc.

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2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?

Not sure.

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

They all have libraries, can't speak to the quality of the junior schools libraries but the one at SSV (middle and high school) is large and very well stocked and the kids can check out whatever they like. I believe they are renovating it right now to make it even bigger.

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

Technology is crazy here. Nearly everything the kids do is on the iPad AND they have both IT and DT (design technology) classes. There are computers all over the place here.

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

The senior school has a very nice pitch for Rugby or flag football, they have tennis courts, not sure about a pool but it must be there somewhere because swimming is part of PE.

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

The 7th grade class is quite large but the kids are divided into "houses" which are all <20 kids and they each have a form tutor which is basically their homeroom teacher.

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7. 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?

IP and GCSE students can do either.

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8. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?

YES! Definitely. There are a dizzying array of electives to choose from and even the core classes are quite hard. There are four levels of difficulty in Maths (yes, Maths) and your child will test into whichever class seems the most appropriate for their skill level.

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

I think so. Don't know about the junior schools but SSV seems to assign homework quite fairly. I've never felt my son received too much, and he always has ample notice to complete assignments.

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

Too many to list. All of those and more.

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

Yes, and they do, albeit most with a British accent.

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

Classes are incredibly challenging and students can be pushed to take on more difficult assignments if need be.

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13. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

I don't personally have any but BSN does seem to be really well equipped to handle children with special needs. I know of several ADHD students with "helpers" that help them keep track of their workload, etc.

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14. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

I am not sure.

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15. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Lots. There are many mother tongue classes and the staff also works hard to get the non-native speakers up to speed and well integrated.

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16. 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?

Lots of extra curricular activities but none of them are very good except Rugby. My son joined the "tennis team" but he was the only one on it so it got cancelled.



Despite the lack of sports (other than Rugby, they are CRAZY at Rugby and GOOD at it) there are several local clubs that have soccer, basketball, baseball, etc.

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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?

Sort of. There are not too many native Dutch kids at BSN but all the kids seem to get along 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.

I haven't noticed any. The British sense of humor is a bit more dry and sarcastic than my son was used to so at first he thought people were being mean to him but when he realized they were just "taking the piss" out of him, he was OK with it.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?

A+, absolutely.

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2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

Take a look at all the school options before enrolling you child.

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The Hague, The Netherlands 08/17/15

American School of The Hague

School Website

http://www.ash.nl


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?

8, 6, 3

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

2013-2016

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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?

American curriculum

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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 - ASH relies too heavily on placement tests instead of past performance and teacher recommendations, particularly in math. This can result in a child who is jet lagged and does not perform well being misplaced, with significant repercussions for the child's future.

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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

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

My children love the school and have made many friends.

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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

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

B - Teachers are great. But they are often only available during the school day, which is problematic if both parents (or a single parent family) work full-time.

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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?

Lunch isn't provided - you buy or you bring your own. No uniforms. Laptops are provided free of charge (unless you break/lose it). You do have to get a graphing calculator in advanced math classes. And school supplies are provided in Elementary, but not all in MS and HS.

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

C - ASH has not been as open to accepting students with some learning challenges in the past. The school is changing, but it's still sometimes an issue.

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

B - There are a lot of options, but not always consistent across grade levels.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

A

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

A

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9. Administration-parent communication:

C - The school relies on a website for all communication. The website is not hard to use, but finding information on it can be tricky. The school also doesn't always solicit parental input when making big changes, such as deciding that Middle School children now must choose between choir and instrument and can no longer do both. They just announced it with no discussion, and this really upset a lot of people.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

B

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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

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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

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

N/A

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

N/A

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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:

Happy with the selection, just would like to actually be able to choose electives in Middle School instead of having to take all of them.

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

There are trips, but they don't generally cost extra.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

Recreational sports. Students must try out for all sports teams, and if one don't make the team there are relatively few options to get better to make it the following year.

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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.

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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?

C

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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

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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?

A

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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

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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

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

Yes

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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

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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 - but not as many for the younger children.

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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.

No.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

It's a great school. Every school has issues, but we've been very pleased overall.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Working full-time and supporting the school. All parent interaction occurs during the work day. The school assumes there is always a parent home full-time.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Definitely. Our kids are so happy here!

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