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British School of Washington5
Posted June 28, 2014
- a parent
We have had a wonderful experience at BSW. I cannot vouch for the upper school but the Nursery is outstanding. Incredibly committed teachers, a very warm and friendly community, 3 and 4 year olds nurtured and guided through their learning and socialization. It is very structuted, which I think is a good thing. They think they are playing but they are learning every minute. The head of nursery is incredibly hard-working and devoted to her job. Children as young as 3 take part in incredibly poised assemblies and school productions. They are very much part of the wider school community whilst retaining their own special nursery identity. Behaviour is noticeably excellent. I have never once observed poor manners around the school, the older children are delightful.
We've had two very happy years so far at BSW, with 3 kids really enjoying going to school. The teaching staff are, by and large, excellent - caring, well qualified, and enthusiastic. Yes, the sports facilities are very poor, but the sports staff make up for that with great organization and energy, so our children haven't suffered at all in that department. On the contrary. Music and languages are mixed, but additional activities - school camp, musicals, a world-beating skiing trip by all accounts are out of this world. And a terrific school community. We've been made to feel very welcome. So why only 3 stars? It's a for-profit school, and that has implications. It's great in that the school never asks for additional money or fundraising. But it seems to lead to a one-dimensional focus on increasing school pupil numbers at all costs. And a constant drive to cut overheads (over burdened staff, never-ending promises about facilities that don't materialize, incredibly old computers that don't work). If they spent a little more money, they'd get 4 or 5 stars from me.
We have been very happy at BSW. Its a very small community of parents and students; which is great because it becomes a big family. The best part about BSW is how they teach the children, the kids don't simply memorize they analyze and understand a subject matter. For example they don't come home having to memorize the times table as I had to do as a child but they spend time explaining to the children the concept behind the times table and how one may use it for division, what it actually means to divide. Its a wonderful way to learn and this way it will stay with them forever. The smaller children in Nursery and PreK learn via play. My 4 year old is already reading and writing! I was shocked when I found him writing his name one day. He wants to learn and homework is not a chore its fun. BSW has some fault (such as lack of sport facilities , which they are working on) but one thing they do well is instill a love of learning in kids, and that to me is priceless. BSW unlike other private school is a for-profit school, which is great because they do not ask for any extra donation in addition to the tuition. There is lots of opportunities for parents to be involved at the school
My 3 year old son started at BSW in Sept and has made a smooth and worry free transition into his school life. The welcome from staff in both his class and those of others has been extended to all the family and has made him feel right at home. Some concerns over his speech development have been dealt with sensitively and in a supportive manner. He has so many opportunites to talk about his learning with peers, adults and older students, backed up by informative weekly newsletters that have enabled us to follow up at home as well as with extended family members around the world. It is clear that the ethos of this school is about pastoral care working hand in hand with individual academic progress and this is exactly what i am looking for in a school environment. We look forward to our continuing relationship with the school as we progress on our son's learning journey.
It is the best school my child has been to, we've been moving a lot and that means a lot of different schools. He tells me he hates being sick when it means missing school. The school's teachers are very good at encouraging kids to challenge themselves, especially Mr. Horton.
Think again before you send your child to this school and he or she intends to return to the UK for studies. They do not offer the IGCSE options that even most state schools offer in the UK, teachers set work from websites and teh choice of languages is very poor considering it is an international school with kids from all over the world. This school has hardly eany pupils in the upper years and the teacher turn around is alarming. Look in last year's yearbook and you will see that most teachers are no longer there. It is a huge disappointment. It professes to care for individual needs but it truly doesnt. All it really knows how to do is sell a false image in exchange for exhorbitant fees. It is worrying to see that it is a school accountable to no educational authority, such as Ofsted, unlike most British Schools outside the UK.
Our child has thoroughly enjoyed their time at BSW and loves going to school every day. The teachers are engaging, and set appropriate challenges. Based on the British curriculum, along with their normal studies of maths, literacy, PE, languages, every six weeks the children start a six week project based on the International Primary Curriculum; I have been thoroughly impressed as my now 10 year old has had to learn and explain the physics of rollercoasters and then design a functioning rollercoaster with a team of 3 other children, research the functionality of satellites and space travel, create their own mythology books using art, storytelling and science, study the US government and the constitution including performing mock elections with campaigning. The school is made up of 40% Americans and 60% International families. You will not find that type of mix in many private schools, let along the public school system.
This school does not do enough to promote the really great things that are happening in the High School. Last year from a class of 26 students who sat their Cambridge IGCSEs one student got the highest grade in the WORLD for Drama, another got the highest marks in America for both Geography and Design Technology and 3 more students were given Cambridge Scholar Awards for having combined scores for 3 subjects in the Top Ten in America. Last Year the IB results were 10% above the global average. Academically this is a great school. The managing company acknowledge that mistakes have been made and we now have a fantastic new Head Teacher who is working incredibly hard. It takes a village to raise a child and this school and the community it fosters is a village capable to raising amazing students who go to do fantastic things. So there is not as much homework as some American parents would like, that is because the students are not given homework for the sake of being giving homework, if they complete tasks in class there is no need for them to bring work home. The Drama, Music, Art and Design departments are exceptional.
As a new parent at NSW, I had high hopes but these were dashed almost in the first week when I saw parents haranguing the teachers about how poor the curriculum and homework was in early senior grades. The academic curriculum is very unambitious, and standards seem too low to make this a school to recommend. Homework is sporadic and more project oriented than academic. Overall, it seems to offer little value for the money.
We really like this school. The teachers at the elementary school are very passionate/committed and easily approachable. The curriculum is British, and most teachers are from the UK, but the school has a truly international feel to it. The teachers take the time to really get to know their students. Our child in pre-K can t wait to go to school each day. She and her classmates go on walks in the woods every week (rain or shine) and have taken numerous interesting/fun field trips to strengthen their learning/understanding. The school has gone through some management changes, but all seems steady now. Facilities are somewhat limited (e.g. sports fields/gym), but the school is working on expanding these.
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