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Where in Europe?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by SeekingAdvice, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. I posted this in Lifestyle Opinions - but was recommended to shift, so have rephrased & here goes ....

    Question is .... to which European International school would you send your errant sons aged 13 & 15, who've had 7 years "international"schooling in Singapore and 3 years state schooling in Australia. Neither very enthusiastic; neither with glowing school reports. Youngest very musical. English mother tongue. Cities I can choose from are listed below. I can start looking NOW, can visit schools in July (open?) and may be able to leave Australia for a Sep 2011 start, or if necessary a few months later. I reckon my boys might benefit from repeating a year anyway .... my homestay students attending a similiar government school here, tell me that the Australian students are waaaayy behind their own schools at home in Germany, Italy & Brazil :-(

    In priority order of where I THINK I might like to live!
    Milan, Vienna, Budapest, Madrid, Basel, Strasburg, The Netherlands, Frankfurt, Paris, Moscow, Warsaw
  2. So now I see " ..Sorry, we can't allow any references to individual schools, colleges or agencies - or their staff - whether by name, or identifiable by a pseudonym or any other means .." so realise you will need to be circumspect in any responses.
    Nevertheless, would really love to hear some thoughts on which CITY you might choose and why, and I can do the leg work after that. I just want to improve my kids' opportunites. I'd say, state school here is really not working for me. They'll grow up with social skills and confidence (irreplaceable qualities I'd agree), but in so far as qualifications go ...am not convinced either will do well enough for university entrance outside Australia. My eldest really wants to do the IB and tells me he definitely does NOT want to go to Uni in Australia.
    Thoughts and opinions much appreciated!

  3. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    There can be no 'hard currency' in an answer like this, but subjectively...
    Milan. Considering its sexy reputation, a rather grubby dispiriting city, although the football, the opera, the fashion are all there as seen on TV, and the place tries hard to function in Northern European style. Has a very good British-style school. Great base for edifying travel. Easy language.
    Vienna. My relative who is a diplomat there sends his daughter to the International place and is content with it. If you like your culture 'high', Vienna is glorious. The locals are a little chilly, and it's one of the few places left where you can meet absolutely unreconstructed Nazis and Communists. As a frequent visitor I find the city both gorgeous and creepy.
    Budapest. State-of-the-art Uncle Sam International school out in the leafy suburbs. Another place with a huge burden of history to enjoy or be alarmed by. No foreigner has ever learned the language. Beautiful unspoilt countyside nearby.
    Madrid. Royal school does a decent British job for mostly Spanish kids, and there's also a good outfit run by Uncle Sam. Fascinating city surrounded by vile 'urbanizaciones'. Same goes for the rest of this endlessly interesting country - so much splendour, so much trash. I wouldn't want to raise my teenager in Madrid. Easy language.
    Netherlands. Plenty of good schools, British, International, local-with-English-speaking-curriculum. In spite of recent soul-searching on the part of the Dutch, theirs remains a committedly decent and civilised society. My impression is that they expect a high degree of independence and maturity from their teenagers.
    Paris. A week in Paris every now and then is indispensable to civilised existence. Permanent residence there would be trying to the point of insupportable, for too many reasons to elaborate here. Once again, the Brits and the Yanks both have an acceptable outpost. You presumably have a very substantial income, m'sieur/madame?
    Moscow. You'll need all your aussie toughness to thrive in this city but if you have what it takes, there's a lot to enjoy. Foreigners can feel unwelcome. Everyone knows about the cold winters; the stifling summer is even less comfortable. 'High' culture as good as anywhere. Fine school run jointly by Bulldogs and Uncle Sam. Language easier than it looks (I'm told).
    Warsaw. Several current students here have done time at either at the school that flies the union jack or the one with the stars and stripes, and they speak affectionately of the schools but less so of the locals, a conundrum as all the Polish students I've ever met have been charming. Haven't been there myself and know nothing of the other places you mention.
    (knowing nothing about a subject never prevents an SMT person from talking about it, but that's enough subjectivity for now, even for me)

  4. SMT Dude you are brill, thanks for such an erudite reply. What is SMT (excuse the ignorance). Actually salary is middling, but we should make some money on selling our house and were wondering about using it to give the kids a bit of a leg up. Caught in that conundrum ... have always thought state school should be good enough ( I mean, I did OK, right?) .... but the reality of what I am seeing here terrifies me. Yet, the grass on the other side is just grass, and we're talking boys here whereas I am a girl, and they're completely different creatures in terms of drive and compliance, and the international (very expensive) Singapore school was no good for the eldest who has ADHD and was effectively asked to leave because he was a bit too much like hard work and they simply did not need to cater for him when they had several thousand well behaved children. And that was a very long sentence I know ... think "stream of consciousness"
  5. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Before anyone writes a reply full of asterisks - SMT stands for Senior Management Team, a rather dated term for those people in British schools who wear the black leather overcoats and jackboots. I chose the nickname so as to be immediately rebarbative to the majority of posters here.
    If you are visiting schools, tell them this at the outset and demand similar honesty in return, as to just exactly what they can and cannot do to help.
    Some have no provision at all for this kind of special need, (but it may not prevent them from pocketing your first term's fees on a "let's see" basis) - others have a dedicated and specialised SEN department, others (like us) are 'getting there'. Some schools may ask you to pay a supplement for certain kinds of special assistance.
    Most of these schools, however, will be non-selective and will aspire carefully to place their 24-point IB graduates in suitable higher education (often in the UK) with just as much pride as when they send the 44-point prize porkers off to glittery palces.
    Living anywhere near the International schools in the above cities will always be expensive, perhaps it was unfair to single out Paree.
    Yes, and this boy is now late for class... more later.
  6. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Jeez, where's everyone gone? Do you all ply the trade in Cairo, Bangkok and Lagos these days?
    Just back from a school day that went pear-shaped, no, that's a cliché understatement, this one went mammoth-turd-shaped, and I'd hoped for a morale-boosting run of blisteringly intelligent posts supporting or sledging my slideshow of Eurolandia... and nothing.
    C'mon, fellow Eurotrash - we owe the aussie lady, and our battered ole continent, a bit more respect than this.
  7. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Well since you raised the challenge, her are some "alternative" views of European cities - and their inhabitants, with tongue very firmly in cheek.
    Milano European city of fashion, style and casual fascism. Want a view of the real Milano? Pay a visit to a local football match and make yourself known to the local Ultras and ask their views on the Italian Balotelli.
    Vienna Rather like London with kebab shops and beer joints at every tram stop. Meant to be a city of culture and wonderfulness. In reality forever the snotty nosed, slightly *** little brother of Germany.
    Budapest Eastern Europe. Here there be dragons.
    Madrid There is the whole of Spain to visit. Why waste time here?
    The Netherlands They have drugs. And Tulips. Did I mention the drugs?
    Paris Any city that can be ruled for centuries by the French and still be wonderful has got to have something about it. Unfortunately that something is that they speak French. With a French accent.
    Moscow Rather like the Seventies revisited, but with much, much more money and much, much less taste and style.
    Warsaw War saw that here there be dragons. And Solidarity.
    Geneva Quite possibly the most boring city on the face of the earth. About as exciting as watching paint dry. In a dark room. In the middle of a Norwegian winter. When you are dead.

  8. mousethew

    mousethew New commenter

    I can't really comment on all the cities; the only schools I know are in Moscow and Amsterdam. Of the two, the British one in Amsterdam stands head and shoulders above those in Moscow. However, I think the advice to be honest about past performance and expectations is essential. Many schools, including my current one, would just take the money and hope for the best, but the better ones will be realistic, honest and clear in return. A change of school can re-inspire a student - although not always. In my previous school, one of the better ones in Asia, I had a 10 year old with aspeger's arrive from another school. His mother was refreshingly honest about his 'tendency to use violence if wronged' and lack of trust in school. He'd also been nudged towards the exit in his previous school. Armed with info about what did engage him - surreal humour and dinosaurs - I was able to get a wonderful year from him and he became one of my favourite success stories. Anyway, enough about me, honesty and information go a long way and the school's reaction and interest will help you determine if it's the right place.
  9. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    Two potential recruits to the roughGuide stable, methinks. I enjoyed both candid sets of snapshots. Immensely.

    (Interesting to see where you agree/ disagree.)

    Many thanks.
  10. thanks so much - keep it coming!!
    Can you translate the following for me:
    "Most of these schools, however, will be non-selective and will aspire carefully to place their 24-point IB graduates in suitable higher education (often in the UK) with just as much pride as when they send the 44-point prize porkers off to glittery palces."
  11. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Yes., sorry, that was an ugly one.
    The IB Diploma features six subjects, each graded on a score from 1 (wilfully miserable) through 4 (pass) to 7 (outstanding)
    Then you can earn 3 bonus points for good work in Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay.
    So a bare pass Diploma would be 6 x 4 + 0 = 24
    And a maximum is 6 x 7 + 3 = 45
    We had a 45-pointer last year. And a 24-pointer. And almost all the scores in between, as you might expect from 61 candidates. Oh, yes, and a 22-pointer, too. Weeell, what's the value of a Diploma that everyone passes ?
    Our average score was a reasonably healthy 34. How would we aim to improve that?
    By redoubling our efforts to be at the very cutting edge of 21st century developments in teaching and learning, of course.
    But another handy way would be to exclude from the IB course anyone likely to come in with fewer than 30 points, and declare our sixth form totally off-limits to SEN students like your son.
    A few selective schools in the UK do this, and good luck to them. Most International schools, in the kinds of city you have mentioned, will not carry out this Darwinian exercise, prevented by ideology, economics, or both.
    So that's why - to go back to my 'translation' - schools like ours celebrate with equal joy our 24 point laureates who go on to 'humble' centres of higher education and our 45 point paragons who secure a ticket to those universities still regarded as 'elite'.
  12. White man say: these schools will secure uni places the numpties as well as the Einsteins
  13. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

  14. Sparking pitiful behaviour from parents who lie, bye, bribe and cry to get around this...

  15. It is admirable that you are considering such drastic action to benefit your sons' education, but you should be aware that the IB Diploma is also available in Australia, if that's specifically what you're looking for. There are even some state schools that offer it. Have a look at www.ibo.org to find schools that offer the IB, whether in Australia, or in those cities that you are interested in.
  16. Panjang

    Panjang New commenter

    I'm a friend of the OP and it was me that suggested she posted on this site. I don't have much info on European schools but I am a teacher so maybe I can clarify exactly what she's looking for that teachers might be able to help her with - and avoid all sorts of responses that go off at a tangent.

    Firstly, she isn't Australian, but an expat in Australia. She wants to leave for a number of reasons, the school her children are at being one of them - rightly or wrongly, she has lost faith in the whole system there. She is possibly able to get a transfer to Europe and may be able to choose her city, as long as it has an international airport. She has the cash to pay for schooling but only if she leaves Australia and sells her house. It's not really drastic action. She is already an expat and doesn't feel Australia is 'home'. Her oldest boy is very bright but has ADD. She wants him challenged but feels a highly competitive environment might not suit him either. I think she really wants to know which European cities have good international schools that might suit her kids - preferably IB schools. I only know of Ecolint in Geneva and Munich International School. Had forgotten about Vienna Int School - as previous poster mentioned.

    Hope this helps to clarify the type of info she's after.
  17. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Even serious threads must have their frivolous underside, so just to say that I enjoyed Karvol's post too.
    Having mentioned the place early on, I spent yesterday in a reverie about Vienna, hankering for another visit, musing about Schubert and Haydn, the treasures of the Belvedere and the Kunsthistorisches museum... Walküre at the Staatsoper ..Fledermaus at the Volksoper... climbing the stairs to Freud's apartment wondering how many other seriously disturbed people had been before me... gazing up at the sinister Red Army soldier atop his 100-foot column round the corner from kid brother's house (Monument to the Unknown Rapist, the locals call him)...
    ...and after a Mahler-haunted evening, there was Karvol next day with a reminder that what I am really yearning for, is an night out cruising the tram-stop kebab stands...
  18. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Back to seriousness.
    If she hasn't been there already, the IBO web site allows you to find all its schools quickly:
    If these schools are also accredited by CIS/NEASC, or COBIS, they are definitely worth a look-see, but
    It cannot be stressed too much, that absolute honesty must be offered, and demanded, from the outset if a painful mis-match is not to occur.
    All the cities mentioned are great places to live if approached positively - it sounds to me as though the main concern should be, not Kebabs or Kultur, but finding a school that can do the job for the boys. Looks as if the OP has a lot of e-mails to write, and perhaps some travelling to do...
  19. LiveToWin

    LiveToWin Established commenter

    Worth noting that students with ADD and other learning/behavioural support needs are not necessarily well catered for in some countries, and this might be a consideration. For example, there are few teaching assistants in Dutch schools to support these students.

  20. Panjang

    Panjang New commenter

    I think what she needs is recommendations for individual schools (in coded form if necessary). I could tell someone the pros and cons of various schools in Singapore - the schools the get the best academic results, the schools that are just money making machines, those that are open to children with problems and offer support etc. She's already looked on the IB website but it's difficult to tell what schools are like, even from looking at their websites. Agree about accreditation but personal experience would be better. My Orchid - that is exactly the kind of info she needs.

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