Unfortunately I must agree with previous posters. This school is good in the lower years - and when kids are young and at varying stages of reading readiness, the differentiation is great. As kids get older, the cracks appear. The peer group isn't great. Lots of social issues. Authoritarian leadership. And what disturbs me the most, really a lack of teaching of critical thinking skills. They accelerate the kids, but the teaching is fast and narrow instead of broad and deep.
The bullying problem at BSC has reached a tipping point. We left the lower school when the admin. refused to address it, and I just heard a public talk by an educational consultant who offered up BSC as the poster child for a school that has social problems. The headmaster s response to bullying victims is to suggest that the victim leave the school ( perhaps this isn t the right school for your family ). Of course, it s not all bad at BSC. There are some young and well-meaning teachers. But be aware that student-teacher ratios balloon in the 2nd grade: ours went from 8:1 to 22:1 - no assistant after 1st grade. And let s be real about the school s academic differentiation claims: if your child is in top or bottom 10%, you will be frustrated. Classroom material is pitched right at the median student. Kids who struggle initially will continue to struggle; kids at the top may get an extra sheet of homework, but no ability-based instruction. Too bad, because it doesn t have to be this way. I know because our daughter is thriving at her new school where she is now safe and academically challenged in a warm environment.
I have children in both the high school and lower school. In both cases the teachers my children have are outstanding and my children are excelling. The school is still young and growing and with that does come some pains, so comparing BSC to Latin, Parker, Lab, etc or any other institution that has been around for more then 20 years is not comparing apples to apples. British Schools have been educating children all over the world successfully for years. The IB program is outstanding and for the kids who want to do well they have an amazing opportunity to be leaders in the school. It is not true that the children in the high school couldn t get in to other high schools. Many of them stayed because the environment works for them and they are excelling and because the school is still smallish their programs are more tailored. The ones who did leave got into the selective high schools. The school also offers degree options for the high school, so not all of the students will be fighting their way into an Ivy. They can go for college prep high school degree, IB certificate, or full IB diploma.
I am one of the previous posters who had a fabulous experience in the younger years. I still think this is a great school for nursery - 2nd grade. But we moved our older daughter this year, and couldn't be happier that we did. I no longer trust the administration to do what is in the best interest of my child. They are indeed hostile to parents. Pretty much everyone gets in now, including problem kids who had trouble in other schools. There is a bullying problem that is swept under the carpet. Some ( not all!) of the parents are truly entitled and terrible. The mostly wonderful teachers have to deal with all of this without support ( and I get the sense most dislike the administration). They tell you that if you leave your kid will be way ahead and bored at another school, but we have found this to be untrue. Instead, we are loving being part of a real community. It makes me sad to write this, because I used to love this school, but I just can't recommend it anymore.
Our experience at the elementary school has been fabulous. My son loves learning and is above grade level. I think the problems noted in the prior post pertain mostly to the high school. It is probably true that many of the high school students did not get into Lab, Parker, Latin, St. I, or SES... This is because the high school is really small, caters mostly to international students, and does not offer the full range of extracurriculars that most American students are used to. I don't think this is true for elementary school. I have met many families admitted to other privates -- CCD, Catherine Cook, Parker, Near North Montessori -- but chose British for its rigorous curriculum. The new high school has taken longer to build because of zoning issues, etc... and therefore there is attrition at the 7th and 8th grade classes. Once the high school is built, families will stay and the high school will develop internally.
How I wish I had seen the negative reviews on this board before choosing BSC. The prior comments capture both the positive features and serious problems with this school. BSC has some good teachers, but they are mostly in the preschool classrooms. The curricular emphasis on early reading is commendable, but the foreign language instruction is weak from the start. Don't bother talking to anyone at BSC about such issues: the administration no longer even pretends to be interested in what parents think. We are leaving after this year because we've lost hope that the high school is ever going to be a success. Nearly everyone in both the upper and lower schools is here because they did not have a better option (i.e., they did not get into Latin, Lab, Parker, St. Ignatius, CPS SE schools, etc.). BSC does attract some good students for the lower school grades because there are few good options for elementary schools in Chicago. But the talented students tend to leave BSC before high school. We will miss some of the wonderful families we came to know at this school in recent years. But, overall, this is not the peer group for our child that we had hoped for.
My daughter joined BSC last year when she was exactly 4 years old ( Aug born) and I amazed at her progress in learning. Within a month of joining the school, she was able to read words! The teachers are very cordial and ever smiling. I was always up to date with my daughter's progress and the class teacher was available on email or in person to talk about any concerns I may have. We are very happy with the school so far.
After 6 years, we pulled our child out. The teachers are adequate for the lower years, though the staffing model ensures plenty of turnover. (About 30% of the early and lower school faculty left this year alone.) We had mostly positive experiences with the teachers, though one year we had a really horrible teacher. The administration is indifferent and/or hostile to parents, refusing to meet on matters ranging from the curriculum to safety. The administration has consistently misrepresented the prospect of a new high school. The administration also brings a "big brother" approach to teacher/parent communication. There is extremely limited communication between parents and teachers without the mandatory involvement of the administration. This quite limits a productive dialogue. This special...environment also contributes to the high faculty turnover.
i had to pull 2 kids out of this school! One in high school and one in elementary school. Both now go to American schools and were behind in their learning at first because of the dramatic differences between the British and American system. We had to get tutors for both and I know that about half of the 8th grade class left last year. We, as parents were also extremely disappointed with the school's lack of parent support. I do not recommend this school to anybody.
Our daughter is half way through her first year (she started at BSC in 4th grade). While I believed the school to be one of the best, I did not think that it could live up to its PR. But it is as good as everyone says, and better. The teachers are exceptional, bright, enthusiastic, energetic. They are all recruited from the UK to teach at this school and what they do seems to be more than just a job to them. There actually IS individual learning, and our daughter has benefited enornously. What we wanted for our daughter was to learn "a love of learning" and she is getting that. At our our parent conference after the first term, the teacher seemed to understand our child and what motivates her to learn, almost as well as we do. The curriculum is quite advanced, there is caring discipline. I agree that children are not assessed in the U.S. conventional way (A,B,C..). A child is measured in terms of his or her own progress in particular suject over the course of the year. We have found it helpful, but as importantly, our daughter finds it helpful in determining what she needs to work on. The international atmosphere can not be found in any other school in chicago.
Our child goes to BSC and is 4 yrs old. He has been writing and reading (at length) for quite some time now. He has private music lessons at the academy and is flourishing in his foreign language skills. He has weekly (appropriate yet challenging) homework as a Pre K age student. The math, analytical, language, phonics and science exercises etc. are all superb. In Reception, age 4, these kids are being taught from a curriculum similar to what other children are learning a year or two older in other schools. Our child is excelling and soaking up all that he is being exposed to at this young age. BSC understands that very young children are primed to learn and these educators create a top-notch learning environment with exposure to a high level of academia, which in turn gives these children great confidence from their abilities and knowledge. We chose BSC over other great Chi schools because of their advanced curriculum, discipline for learning and their professionalism in education. The teachers are beyond nurturing and we feel so lucky to have found this gem. We know this school will positively influence the outcome of our child s future and his opportunities in life.
I went to this school for years 8 and 9, to say that this school was awful would be an understatement. True there was two or three very good teachers, but the rest didn't really care much for the students. My grades dropped in the two years I was there. Don't send your students here, they wont benefit at all.
The school starts out well, and I recommend for K-6 education. The atmosphere is generally safe and welcoming, and we eventually came around to understanding how the children are assessed. However, as the school is already 10 years old but still has no real plan for Middle and High School education, you will be left in a lurch if you wait until 9th grade to figure this out. Our kids left at 7th grade, after years of being told the "high school would be built." The high school is not retaining kids because year after year the Private Equity guys that really run the school keep delaying the new facility. As for challenging academics, that is what they tell you, but you have no way of comparing because their grading system is based on UK norms (forget GPA or even knowing where they are vs peers). Individualized learning? Not really. It's fine in the lower school, but as they reach the upper school this becomes problematic. And the administration wants absolutely nothing to do with parents, who are seen as nothing more than "angry customers" if they dare to question what is going on. THey know they have 100 more nursery students lined up to take your place.
Our experience for both of our children has been excellent. I read a comment about the school being "soulless" and I don't think that's true. The comparisons to Lab, Latin and Parker are ridiculous. Lab gives most spots to professors of The University of Chicago. The school is run down and depressing. Parker and Latin give most spaces to children of alumni, that is why they are "selective", they don't have any space. Those children aren't "special", they're connected to the schools already. You should focus on the quality of the education for your child.
This school is truly outstanding. I have two children a boy and a girl at very different ages with very needs. The school is able to recognize the needs and interests of each child so that there is individual attention and teaching. The staff are so enthusiastic that these children learn without even knowing how much they are actually absorbing. I have heard rumors that this school is too academic - since when has striving for the best been a negative quality in school - is this not what we pay for and want for our children? My daughter is going into her 6th year and my son his 3rd year at the school and in those combined 7 years of being at this school, not once has either child told me that they did not want to go to school. I am so grateful to have this school in Chicago which has nurtured my children in all aspects of a true education. It is not just about books but a love of learning. The school has been criticized for not enough parental involvement. I totally disagree. There is ample opportunity for parents to be involved however there always needs to be balance. I do not want a few loud, pushy parents running the school.
We came to the British School four years ago. I had my reservations about the school because I did not know much about it, but I had heard such wonderful word of mouth that we gave it a try. Four years and two kids later, I cannot say enough good things about this place. I have been won over time and time again. The teachers are exceptional, firm and kind. The academics are challenging, but taught in a way that the kids don't even realize they are being taught. Teachers teach to individual students at their own pace. Teachers are accessible in person and via email. There are entire days dedicated to literature, science, math, even at the nursery level - and the children love it. They teach kids to be thinkers - this isn't the place for wrote memorization. Our older students are doing phenomenally on high school entrance exams - most scoring perfect scores. BSC is building a high school and it sounds phenomenal. It would be foolish not to consider this school when applying to other private schools. I realize the other private schools in the city have established reputations, but it shouldn't be long before BSC joins them.
Our daughter has excelled and is learning at a great pace. I like the structure and the caliber of teacher.
My children are excelling at this school; they do not teach to the lowest common denominator, but differentiate the work in every subject, at every level. Although we have found a lovely house in the suburbs I simply can't find a school that comes even close to BSC in terms of curriculum or teacher involvement. These teachers and the teaching assistants are extremely dedicated to the children, class preparation and creating an engaging, fun learning environment.
We have been at BSC for 4 years. My son started in the nursery program at age 3 1/2. We have been extremely happy. He loves going to school every day which I think is so important at this age. His teachers have been loving but firm and what he has learned has been very impressive. I see steady progress and challenge all the time. It is hard to compare with other schools as we have only had this experience but we don't plan to change. It is expensive but I suspect once you add up the fundraising/extra expectations at other private schools, it is on par. Some parents have left to go into CPS gifted programs and I am not surprised their kids tested well given what they have learned. But frankly, seeing so much turmoil in the news everyday for CPS, seeing they get out at 1:45 every day and often only have a 4 day week, I think we are getting at least a couple added years of instruction over the course of elementary school if you project out that time. The leadership can be a bit tough to deal with if you have an issue but that is often the case at schools. They have a tough job growing a school from nothing and trying to balance many demands. I just see my son is happy.
We could not be happier with the teachers and nurturing environment at this school. Our daughter is in the pre-k or reception level and has done great! The curriculum is well organized and tailored to each child.
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