This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
British School of Chicago5
Posted October 15, 2014
- a parent
I have seen this school grow from 150 students to over 800. There is a reason for this extraordinary success - plain and simple - it is an excellent school built solely on its reputation, not on who knows who, whether you are an alumni or pledged money for a new gymnasium. My eldest daughter has been at the school for 8 years and is now in Year 6 and my son is entering his fifth year in Year 3. I have seen my children grow and flourish with the school. I believe the negative comments reflect "you can't please all the people all the time" as many of the negative comments contradict each other. We are thrilled the new high school is opening with its incredible facilities and opportunities for all. It is true the children are streamed but they are not conscious of it in the younger years and since when has individualized education been considered a negative? Surely this is what we want as parents? The small class sizes continue throughout the school and my children have always had between 16-20 in a class. . The exceptional and enthusiastic teaching staff provide a truly global prospective which is invaluable. I am extremely grateful the BSC is here to stay.
Many previous reviewers have mentioned the reading at BSC. I'd like to offer a different viewpoint. The entire reading program centers around moving up "stages". For the younger kids the books are equivalent to "Sally Dick and Jane" . Once the kids are past that, the books are boring and frequently inappropriate.Teachers and parents RACE through these books just to get to the next level. So I suppose if you are a parent who likes the bragging rights about what stage you are on, it works well. And it IS neat to see the young kids reading. I much prefer what all the other schools do ( after 3 years at BSC we went back to look at all the private schools) - moving slowly with depth. Emphasis on reading age appropriate great literature and both understanding and enjoying it. There are many great things about BSC, and there are many not great things. The other thing I absolutely disliked about this school is how much control the very vocal group of parents have. For instance, class mixes are determined solely by the lists that parents provide of who their child can or cannot be with. What else about my child's education will the parents be able to control?
This school genuinely cares about its students. Our daughter is just finishing 5th grade, year 6. This is her second year at BSC. I wrote an earlier review (24 January 2013) and with the benefit of another year and a half I can confirm that our initial positve view of BSC was totally justified. Every teacher she has had has been superb - enthusiastic, knowledgable, dedicated, child focused; the curriculum is challenging, the feel of the school is cheerful and encouraging. We are very happy with her progress. And as important to us, she is very happy. I would like to take issue with a complaint made in other earlier reviews - that the school - teachers or administration - were unresponsive to parent requests and concerns. An question arose concerning our daughter this year. i sat down with her classroom teachers twice for long discussions. They answered every email inquiry within hours. Initially the school, after consideration, declined our request. However, the teachers and Headmaster remained open to our concerns. They never stopped listening to us and eventually arrived at a solution. I believe the school made extraordinary efforts for her.
We chose this school because of the differentiation and because we loved the philosophy that all children can and should be educated together within the classroom ( no pulling out). But after a few years, this is what we hate. Our youngest has internalized the fact that other kids are sitting at "higher" tables and she now refers to herself as "not smart" at the age of 6. It doesn't help that the parents are so competitive that it is a constant source of conversation which kids are on which reading levels. Our older child was at a standstill for two years because, without a learning assistant in the older year groups, he had very little teacher attention. He was in the "highest" group this year but i feel he has actually learned very little and that the teachers sugarcoat where he is at the conferences. Also of concern are all the behavior problems in the classroom, lack of consistent and effective discipline and an atmosphere where there is no respect between administration and parents, and no respect among the parents for one another. We look forward to our new school next year.
Our daughter's experience with British School of Chicago was dreadful. She attended BSC for three years. Her teachers were good but our daughter didn't benefit from their expertise because they spent 90% of their time working with the lowest math and reading groups; the higher math and reading groups were expected to work on their own. We repeatedly expressed concerns that our daughter was not receiving instruction appropriate to her ability level (her class was doing math that she had been able to do for several years already). Our concerns were met with promises to do better that never materialized. But as disappointing as the academics were at BSC, the social environment and administration were even worse. I don't know if BSC attracts more problem kids than other schools or if they are just unusually inept at managing them. My daughter had a bully in her class, who terrorized her and several others on a daily basis. The school was aware of the bully's behavior but did nothing to stop her. We finally left BSC last year, and my daughter is flourishing both academically and socially at her new school. I feel terrible guilt about entrusting my child to BSC for as long as I did.
The British School of Chicago has done an exceptional job educating my two grade school children academically and socially. My wife and I chose BSC because of its academic focus and small class sizes. The curriculum focuses on basics - reading, writing and arithmetic - but includes classes one or more times a week in Social Studies, French, Spanish, Music, Information Technology, Art, PE. The school says kids are taught to a level at least a year ahead of their peers. Its true. I have been blown away seeing both of my kids testing consistently in the high 90th percentile on the Terra Nova tests. Almost every teacher my children have had were exceptional. Teachers are warm, encouraging and accessible. Our emails to teachers are answered quickly. The few concerns we raised to the administration over 5 years were taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. The school is more diverse than I expected. I would estimate that 20-25% of the students are foreign or have foreign parents. Class size remains small - 20 kids or fewer. Overall, BSC has met our expectations and we look forward to sending our kids to the school through High School.
My children attend the British School. We purposely chose it based on the academics, structure and integrity that the school has to offer. It has provided a threshold by which ordinary standards are raised too. We had a choice of which school to send our children too. The tuition (all inclusive) cost effective and in line even less then other private schools. What they give you in return is education on a global level. Homework is given not in quantities of hours but in quality of the subject matter not as a substitution for what was not taught in class. The curriculum provides necessary tools for a well rounded student. Foreign language is part of their curriculum beginning at age 5 and continues throughout high school. Math; the foundation of major components that are taught continues to become the basis of another. A child doesn't learn a section and moves onto another chapter instead children are taught all of Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Trigonometry because they have common components with one another. This is just a quick reference to the school subjects. So, to state facts, begin with facts...otherwise they no more than mere opinions..
The British school sets the utmost standard of education. It offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). The only other schools in Chicago offering the IBDP is Lincoln Park and Ogden (1st year). Currently, there is no other private school offering the IBDP. Lycee Francais de Chicago offers the French Baccalaureate Diploma. The British school is part of the Nord Anglia Education. So to discuss the British School, you need to take into account the various: Over 90% of Nord Anglia Education students continue their academic careers at university, with one in five going onto one of the top 30 universities worldwide, including the University of Cambridge, Harvard University, the University of Oxford and Stanford University. 91% of Nord Anglia Education students who sat the IB Diploma passed, and twice as many students scored over 40 points, out of a maximum of 45, than the global average. A great asset to the City of Chicago
My children receive personal attention from highly qualified teachers. BSC instructors are highly educated, motivated, youthful, and generally very happy teachers ! Small class size, strong teacher- student ratio, and an emphasis on "The Joy of Learning" to become "a student for life" is the difference here. My children migrated from a CPS magnet school to BSC. The kids are now happy and excited to attend school ! The homework is not so overbearing as the teachers actually instruct in class, leaving homework as a secondary, not primary, mode of learning. My kid's intellectual curiosity is greatly stimulated by such classes as "design technology" wherein they construct useful objects on CAD programs- and they're doing this in grammar school ! The new campus in South Loop is exciting, as well as the new partnership with UIC for large gym and field use. Most importantly is the International Baccalaureate program available for High School students. The presence of IB- certified teachers means your average student also receives instruction from these highly-qualified professors. As far as complaints about administration ? We have found them responsive and exacting. We LOVE this school.
If I had to summarize the attitude of the school administration towards parents at the British School of Chicago, it would be "pay up and shut up." I don't know if it's the British upper lip that we're dealing with but the handful of times I ever raised an issue at the school during the four years we've been there, I could not get anyone to respond (not even a cursory "we've received your email), or agree to meet in person. They are cold and aloof, can't take any criticism, and resort to stonewalling rather than ever admit to any mistakes. But let me tell you they are happy to help you part with $25Gs per pupil. I had thought that a for-profit school would actually would be more responsive to the parent community, but clearly I was wrong. Academics is fairly strong for now (still in elementary). The teachers are mostly personable, until they feel a parent challenge coming, then it's all about cc'ing everyone and their aunts and uncles for coverage and back to stonewalling. I've been surprised by how down-to-earth the parent community is given how expensive the school is. There are quite a lot of squeaky wheels though, even as a parent I can't take some of the complaints.