Friday, 26 July 2019

The Former School versus The Big School

Salam my lovelies,

Many have asked us to compare and/or contrast between the two. This has to be one of the hardest blog post I have to write so far as both has served/is serving us differently at different points of time.

As Helen Prior had put it so aptly, it is about the best fit.

What works for us, may not work for you. 

Please bear in mind we were enrolled from January 2015 to April 2019 (Reception to Second Term of Year 4 for Girl, and Pre-Reception to Second Term of Reception for Bean) in The Former School.

We are enrolled since April 2019 at The Big School. Girl commenced at Term Three of Year 4 and Bean commenced at Term 3 of Year 1. Both have successfully accessed and completed Year 4 and 1 respectively. They are being promoted to Year 5 and 2 this September, alhamdulillah.

Two caveats:
1. I did not write this until I have truly let The Former School stay in our past with complete acceptance and forgiveness. I waited until Deposits for both children have been fully refunded because that was the administrative marker of end of our journey there.

2. I also did not pen this until the honeymood buzz at the The Big School had fizzled out. I let the hard work and amount of dedication required sink in (waking up and smelling the coffee, so to speak).

I will highlight the strengths of each school (limited to our personal experience only) here.

The Former School:
1. Malaysian establishment with strong Malaysian flavour and influence. My children learnt Malaysian national song, "Negaraku" and school song in Bahasa Melayu at commencement of every assembly. Patriotism to Malaysia in an international school. 

2. Performing Arts, almost second to none in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Practice makes perfect. Practice takes time. Dedicated teachers in this department. Sports is a recent revival with appointment of new coach. Most trophies and medals up till present are effort of parents and students outside of school, at private clubs, at own cost.

3. Damansara Heights location and proximity to the city. This point needs no elaboration for city folks.

The Big School:
1. Compliance and Quality Assurance
Member of Council of British International Schools (COBIS).

2. Global school
Educates over 250,000 students from 151 countries and employs 20,000 education professionals, specialists and staff from over 80 countries. Obviously if a group runs 250 schools in multiple jurisdictions, the systems and protocols are well established, since 1959.

3. Teaching
Academic, Sports, Performing Arts, Art, Extra Curricular departments have been most supportive of different learning styles of Girl and Bean. Girl and Bean BOTH had to put in a lot of effort to close the gap. The children have never been happier at school so that is a huge bonus!

4. GL Assessments
Progress Test Series are the norm. Written reports are clear. We do not guess where Girl and Bean are amongst 500,000 other peers. School assessments and teacher observations are stress-free. I know my children have swam during PE, gone for morning break and sat for assessments without any fuss. The is no culture of  "mugging" and "drilling" just before exams. The gaps are for Teachers to advise us on how we can help close those gaps at home. The results are tracked year-on-year.

5. Security
Safe and happy kids are successful learners. The school has good purpose-built traffic flow, designated parking (early years/parents and visitors/teachers and staff), reverse park rule for accident-prevention and better visibility, zebra crossings clearly marked and strongly implemented, security and facility lay out. We each have our access cards, including The Grandparents (at extra cost for their additional two cards). 

6. Health and Cleanliness
Every students is covered with insurance policy at the school at premium of RM25 per student per academic year. The School Nurse is always present and promptly issues Health Notices when there is an inevitable case. Immediate steps are always taken to contain any diseases or illnesses. So far, alhamdulillah, both Girl and Bean have not been ill even once throughout Term 3. They also did not bring home the fever or flu to be passed to us either. There was 1 case of HFMD and 1 case of chicken pox but the School Nurse and Team were commendably expedient in the health and safety steps.

7. Level of Engagement
My two children are excited to go to school to learn. They look forward to every Monday when school will resume. Now they look forward to the new term in September and wish the summer holidays were shorter. 

8. Communication
Official weekly newsletters, Parent Class Representative WhatsApp Group for each class, registered PTA, Special Events Parents Volunteers WhatsApp Group, email with ticket tracking system where the Principal himself has eyes on for dedicated purposes (for e.g.: General Support/IT/Transport/Disciplinary Issues). Every Friday, Senior Leadership Team meets with parents face-to-face over coffee to discuss any issues that may arise. Special topics of interest that affect the school and local community are presented weekly.

9. Inclusiveness
The Big School accepted and supported Bean with his team of therapists and supervisors. Teachers have been present in every fortnightly review meetings. Transition meeting with new Year 2 teacher was successfully held. In that short term, the Principal has allowed EAP Malaysia to work alongside them to present inclusiveness presentation during Kindness Week, held workshops for its teaching faculty, and set-up SENCO office with a qualified person-in-charge to support Bean (and other future students who may need support). There is also a counsellor for students to be able to reach out to for counselling services for mental wellbeing. IN moving forward, clinical psychologist(s) are welcomed for observations and discussions.

10. Optimism
The growth mindset is contagious. Every improvement is possible. Every parent and child is heard. Every concern has a remedy. Bless. 

Hope this helps in your understanding and search.
All the best!


Post a Comment