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How reliable is an ISR review?

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by the hippo, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    It's the recruiting season and so some of us are busy reading the school reviews on the ISR's website. As a percentage or maybe as a mark out of ten, how reliable is the average review on the ISR? Are they all spiteful outpourings from bitter and twisted individuals or rather they, on the whole, informative, accurate and reliable? (Perhaps I should at this point mention that I have written some ISR reviews myself!) Has anyone had the experience of reading an ISR review, taking up the post and discovering that the ISR review was very wide of the mark? Or spot on?
     
  2. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    It's the recruiting season and so some of us are busy reading the school reviews on the ISR's website. As a percentage or maybe as a mark out of ten, how reliable is the average review on the ISR? Are they all spiteful outpourings from bitter and twisted individuals or rather they, on the whole, informative, accurate and reliable? (Perhaps I should at this point mention that I have written some ISR reviews myself!) Has anyone had the experience of reading an ISR review, taking up the post and discovering that the ISR review was very wide of the mark? Or spot on?
     
  3. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit New commenter

    A couple of very good schools in Cairo have had sustained attacks against them on ISR. When you read the 'reviews', it is easy to spot that they were written by the same person (even when they try to disguise it!) I'm sure that the SLT at each school could easily work out who the authors were
    ISR's biggest problem is that anyone can write anything about anyone without comeback. My own school received a review that libeled nearly every member of SLT (including myself). The review said more about the author than the school. My, how we chuckled when she put as down as references for her next job [​IMG]

     
  4. Syria1

    Syria1 New commenter

    I would say that the small number of reviews I have seen (and where I know the actual circumstances) are wide of the mark. The first difficulty is that if Schools respond (as some do) it may add credence to the original post. Another problem is that of confidentiality. Posters are not identified wheras Schools (and often Heads) are. If you do not renew a contract you might want to keep the reasons confidential between the teacher and the Head - but of course then the teacher can fire off a vitriolic message on ISR. Not really a level playing field in my book. Best taken with a large pinch of.
     
  5. I have found ISR to be a tool I use as an indicator of what a school is like. There is no smoke without fire, so if there are a huge amount of negative reviews and 1 or 2 positivie ones there is possibly a need to be wary of the school. I know one in the garden city of the Emirates where this is the case. However I have also worked in a school where there was an equal number of negative and positive reviews and found it to be a great place personally to work and live. All positive reviews it is eaither a great school or really onto it management. I am now at a school that had only one review and it was positive and I think the review was not positive enough! So really it is up to you, I agree with the pinch of salt comment but there can also be some truth in the comments.

     
  6. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit New commenter

    Really?
    How about this for a scenario?
    Teacher applies to school and is given the job. School finds out that the teacher has supplied falsified documents and false referees have backed up her application.
    Teacher is dismissed
    Teacher then spends the next few months writing endless lies about the school and members of staff on ISR
    Would you write to ISR and refute the claims or treat them with the contempt they deserve?
    (This is a true case by the way!)
     
  7. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Accuracy ranges from 'Not at all' to 'Completely spot on'.
    Very hard to tell the difference from afar.
    Instead of using ISR, I strongly recommend contacting some teachers who currently work at the school, and speaking with them directly. Use the phone, even if you have to first initiate contact by e-mail, so no worries about writing it down. Good schools will respond to your request for people to contact (if they're interested in hiring you, anyway). Many schools have websites with contact details for all staff, so you don't even need to ask. And if a school doesn't provide you some way of contacting people, big red flag.
    I regard ISR as a source of amusement. I certainly wouldn't make life decisions based on it, no more than I would make them based on other sources of amusement, e.g. Terry Wogan.
     
  8. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Never looked at ISR, for two reasons of fundamental principle.
    1. The site allows anonymous writers to calumniate identified professionals, with no guaranteed right of reply or rebuttal. (The kind of thing many people on here implore the TES to allow)
    2.: Thirty bucks, or whatever it costs, will buy (or at least, kick-start) a night out on the booze, a much better use of the money.
    Last year a colleague returned from a conference in a state of outrage and shock, brandishing a printout of something written about our school, kindly given her by a fellow delegate who frequents the ISR. It said that I was 'weak', which was one of only two truths in what was otherwise an evil-smelling cocktail of lies, with spiteful falsehood particularly directed at my deputy.
    It was clearly the work of a person who had left us in disgrace not too long ago - for one thing, his dates of employment were the only other true fact in the document, and for another, the prose 'style' was unmistakeable.
    Several colleagues who saw this wanted us to 'do something about it', believing that it would harm the school's good name. The deputy, chief target of the nastiness, shared my opinion that it could do us no damage and that on the contrary any prospective teacher or parent deterred by such snivelling slander would be someone we'd be better off without. The same goes for anyone whose reaction to any form of slander is, 'there's no smoke without fire'
    (In a much more serious case, I was glad to see recently that a gentleman who taught me English in the 70s grabbed six-figure compensation from the gutter press, who tried and convicted him of murder around this time last year. Good for him, shame on them.)
    The only action I have taken, is that when a school asked me for a reference for the writer of the ISR squib, I sent, along with a fair and thorough reference, a copy, without comment, of his venomous little essay, so that they would know what sort of applicant they were dealing with (or, what kind of school he had worked at, depending on whom they chose to believe).
    I can imagine. Do you recommend it as fun worth the money? Doesn't the amusement pall rather quickly?
     
  9. happygreenfrog

    happygreenfrog Occasional commenter

    Recently responded to an ad in TES and after persuing the website contacted members of their staff via Facebook (easy to track down really). Got it straight from the horses mouth that though the teacher enjoyed teaching at the school, salary payments were unreliable. My interest stopped there since it confirmed comments from another ex-staff member on here who'd responded to my post before it was removed (another bad sign when a school is monitoring the board).
    I note then when posting about individual schools, it is wise to time your post so they stay around longer, guessing the board is monitored during UK work hours.
     
  10. happygreenfrog

    happygreenfrog Occasional commenter

    My respects to the Dude at his 'weak' but clever approach to dealing the ISR review.
     
  11. If Terry says Norway are cr4p, then Norway ar cr4p.
     
  12. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    I'll return the compliment, for the Frog's earlier post reminded us that the OP wanted to know how reliable ISR might be, for a prospective teacher - and gave us some useful tips on extracting 'horse's mouth' information via facebook searches.
    Next time we get vilified (ah, but that won't happen, I hear you cry), I'll give each of twenty teachers €50 from school funds - enough to buy into ISR and then have a pint or three - on condition that they write a glowing review of the school with particular reference to the fact that the head is a resolute, firm, tough, decisive and ruggedly handsome young man.
    Do you think the naive idealistic philanthropists at ISR would smell a rat? Or would it be a grands-worth of great PR ?
     
  13. A grand´s worth of free but VERY DUBIOUS PR..no one would believe it! Overwhelmingly positive reports are few and far between.Been reading ISR recently and sadly, if you believe all that is on there, your field of choice in terms of International Schools would be limited.....a number of established Middle East Schools are not represented on there at all, positive or negative, which makes me v suspicious
     
  14. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Of course. That suggestion was not to be taken seriously.
    But nor, in my opinion, is ISR - and teachers who decide to apply (or not) based on what they read there are in danger of doing themselves and the school(s) a disservice.
    Perhaps I should earn the right to further opinions by paying up tonight and spending tomorrow, a public holiday here, feasting on the vengeful lucubrations of the disaffected, the dismissed, the demented and the down-and-out.
     
  15. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    I enjoy reading ISR, sometimes for amusement, sometimes for research purposes. When making life changing decisions such as choosing a new overseas school and/or country, I always believe that more information is better than less. I certainly wouldn't base a decision solely on an ISR review, but it is one factor to consider.
    I'm certain that there are spiteful, fictitious reviews that have been written, but ISR remains one of the few places that teachers have to safely (relatively) express their concerns and report their experiences. Speaking to teachers at the school is obviously a good idea, but their input must also be taken with a grain of salt in some instances.
    School owners and administration have the power to blackball and/or badmouth teachers without their knowledge (some deseerved, some not) and I do think that ISR can act as a valuable, yet admittedly flawed, check and balance on unscrupulous schools.
     
  16. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Ah, the mythical (mystical?) blackball. I've very rarely known of its use, and in those few cases, knowing the 'victim' as I did, I cheered at the long overdue recognition of the poison that they would have brought to any school. (And then I flogged myself for the sin of schadenfreude.)
    And I do dispute the notion that teachers have no forum to speak their personal truths. Just yesterday I heard the story that a recently dismissed teacher had been spreading about the reason they left. Admin, morally bound to protect confidentiality, know the truth to be that the teacher was absolutely incompetent, incapable of teaching a baby to suckle, and with a tendency to anger and shouting at students. And their story? That she had discovered an administrator skimming from the pot, had taken that knowledge up the chain, and had been fired for being a whistleblower while the corrupt administrator continued to rule. Teachers don't need ISR to get creative with their venom.
     
  17. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Now that I reflect, I let my subscription lapse a couple years ago, thinking at the time that I'd wait until I was motivated to renew. Never happened, so I guess that's your answer. Used to think it was worth the money, no longer do.
     
  18. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit New commenter



    "ISR seems to be a punchbag for bitter teachers who feel cheated in some way. These people are often the problem, not the school"
    That's a quote from a recent review - pretty much sums it up for me!
     
  19. Syria1

    Syria1 New commenter

    Nowt wrong with a nice bit of schadenfreude after some of the antics fairly dismissed staff get up to.[​IMG]
     
  20. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    No, I am not talking about a mythical or mystical blackballing (wonder if that will get through the censors). I am talking about teachers getting slagged off to potential employers or recruiting agencies. Obviously some teachers make their own problems for themselves and deserve the hardships they encounter. Other teachers come to a school in good faith and find contracts changed or not honored, late pay, sub-standard housing, unprofessional treatment etc.
    If I read a review of a school where the majority of posters, over a few years, cite these types of issues, then I am likely to give them some credence. If not on a site like ISR, where or how are these types of schools to be held accountable and where and how are other teachers to be warned?
    For the record, I have never been slagged off (to my knowledge) other than in the occasional TES post. I have written one review for ISR for my first international school that was fair and contained good and bad points that I felt would be valuable to potential teachers at that school. I pay for my membership and it is worth it to me.
     

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