Is there going to be a bus service from the Heights to the new school? Signing a new school contract is very difficult without this information.
Will BISH provide a bus service from the Inner Loop? If yes, where could the possible bus stops be on I10: Bissonnet/Edloe?
Can you tell us more about the bus service on offer for next academic year? We need locations and approximate cost from the Heights/Inner Loop to school. The school needs to give us this information before we can commit to enroll for next year as it makes a very material and practical difference to where we choose to educate our children.
When will we find out more details about the Inner Loop bus proposed for next year: i.e. pick-up location, time, cost? Can they be made available before the deadline for re-enrollment?
Do you, and how often do you audit Signature Buses? Do you audit their driver training, vehicle safety and exhaust emissions? Which other companies are you looking at for travel to and from the new school.
Will BISH ever look at purchasing their own buses?
We are in the process of organizing our new bus contracts and routes for next year. Our intention is that this will be a more extensive and flexible service, with more options and more routes. The recent survey parents were asked to complete gave us very valuable information to help guide the bidding process. We are guaranteeing that we will meet the needs of all of our parents.
It is unlikely that we would purchase our own buses for transport to and from school. However, we have already started researching having or own buses for trips and events
Please can the schools policy on ‘healthy eating’ and lunch box content be clarified? I personally am not a fan of being told I cannot include a small cake or muffin or crisps occasionally in my child’s packed lunch as part of a balanced diet. Our family has an inclusive attitude to all types of food in moderation so that children can learn how to control their own diets in the future. If the school is clear on this policy, then it needs to be enforced. If no cake or sweet treats are advised in lunch boxes then this should be carried over the hot lunch menus. Currently small cake and ice cream etc. are given as pudding.
Similar to above, but are bake sales going to continue to be possible at school? Of course the number of these per term must be sensible, but they are so popular. There was apparently some confusion about policy when year 6 were planning their upcoming charity day.
I know that currently the children eat their snacks whilst in the playground at break time. I strongly disagree with this as I feel it limits the type of snack that can be sent in and doesn't encourage a calm and healthy eating environment. I can go into detail further on this if you would like. I would really like a provision to be made within the new timetable for the children to eat their snack before or after playtime in the classrooms. Again, thoughts on this would be much appreciated. I would also like to know if storage of the children's food can be thought about as currently the way it is stored in the open snack tray is not the most hygienic. This is also not practical in the hot summer months.
Healthy eating is important for learning. We are keen to work in partnership with our parents to develop an approach to food in school. We believe that our job as parents and teachers is to educate children to make good choices in life. The choices around a healthy lifestyle are important to us. The points about clarifying a nutrition policy and snack time are duly noted and we will make them part of our leadership discussions.
When Dine were awarded the contract for the school lunches, it was on the understanding that ALL food would be home made - it is widely acknowledged that this is not the case. The portion sizes shown in the original pitch do not match up to what is served. What does the school do to make sure that the details of such a contract with an outside company are adhered to? Where is the quality control and who is in charge of this within BISH? What are the catering plans for the new school?
What are the plans for the school lunches at the new school? Will Dine Schools be providing the menu and what is the expectation in terms of cost and value for money?
We are currently in the process of identifying our food service provider for the new building. Letters of Intent will be sent out soon and from there a small number of prospective vendors will be invited to present to the school. As part of this process, we intend to ask parents, students and staff to be part of a tasting committee.
Will the new facility provide a shaded playground from the start in September?
Yes. We are currently working with students, teachers and expert consultants to design all play areas. These will include shaded and non-shaded areas.
Will the school be relying heavily on parent’s volunteering in the new school or has money been allocated for the start up costs of the new school and all the extras that will be needed? One would hope volunteers will not be a necessity considering the expensive fees.
While parent volunteers will not be a necessity as we move to the new building, we will continue to strongly promote and encourage parent volunteers in a variety of areas. This is based on clear research, which points to the fact that the more a community works together for the benefit of the students, the better the learning outcomes.
Have ‘school zone’ signs been applied for, for outside the new site, there does not seem to be any there at present?
Yes, but contractually we need to wait a little longer for the signage to be erected. We are also working on the new entrances for the school from Westgreen – these are being created right now.
I am concerned that the first day of school is going to be a mix of emotions for everyone. We have 2 children in primary and I am keen to know where they will be based within the school. Will there be a day before the beginning of term that families can familiarize themselves with classrooms, parking etc.?
We are planning on a staggered start for all year groups through the 1st week of the new year. This will allow us to orientate students and parents to the new building. More information will be sent home on this in the coming weeks.
After hearing that BISH is going to house the Village School's Pre-K French Immersion Programme for a while, I was wondering if the British School had ever considered opening a Spanish Immersion Programme? Katy is crying out for a Spanish Immersion School, it is being desperately pursued by many American and Hispanic families in the area. I feel it could be a huge business opportunity for Nord Anglia as at the moment there is only one school in Katy offering this but you have to live in the catchment area and pass and entrance test to attend.
The short answer to this is “yes.” We had already identified both the educational and business opportunity of such a programme, but this is still in the early stages of discussion.
Staffing the swimming pool at the new school: Might it be possible to look for parent volunteers to train as teachers/helpers in advance? Is the school looking to make links with an outside swim school?
We have already been contacted by Katy swim club and our intention with all the facilities is to ensure we are an integral part of the community – this benefits both our students as well as the local community. We have already researched Texas requirements for swim teachers and lifeguards and will ensure all safety and learning needs are met. As in all areas, there may be opportunities for parents to help in the pool.
Why does the school not provide tutoring for students related to the school curriculum? This is an essential service provided by most schools, why not BISH? We are forced to use external American tutors that don’t understand the UK curriculum.
What is the school policy on tutoring, in the past this has been offered at a big cost?
‘Tutoring’ in the traditional sense, an hour after school paid for by parents, was phased out at the end of the 2014/15 school year, parents were paying a great deal on top of school fees for extra ‘tutoring’. The school’s position on this is that if students need extra support from their teachers then it is part of our role to provide this during normal school hours, without charging parents extra.
This year, exam prep will be organized through the exams office for 11+ and common entrance exams, etc.
The only forms of additional ‘tutoring’ that take place during the school day is ‘specialist’ support, dyslexia therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. for children with identified needs. This is accommodated for during the school day as part of individual student learning plans.
If parents are concerned about their child’s progress, the first point of contact should be the class/subject teacher/Leader of Learning in that subject area. If this route does not have a satisfactory outcome, or parents are concerned about progress in a number of areas, the Form Tutor and Head of Year/Phase Leader can coordinate a response. If it is a specific concern regarding learning differences, parents can contact Mrs. Averette directly.
Will BISH continue to use the British Curriculum?
As the National Curriculum moves away from Levels for assessment, schools are encouraged to set their own framework for assessment. I feel that the current assessment varies by subject and is not clearly communicated to parents. What is the school doing to develop a consistent framework across all subjects and years, and that is also easily accessible for parents and students?
We will continue to provide an international curriculum that challenges students and provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to prepare for a return to their home country, or a successful move to another international school in a different country. Our curriculum also enables them to access the world’s best universities. We currently offer, and have offered for many years, the following curriculums:
The International Primary Curriculum (Early years - Year 6)
The English National Curriculum ( Years 7 - 9 / Middle School)
The International General Certificate of Education / IGCSE ( Years 10/11 - Junior High)
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and Careers Programme.
Will teachers still be British native speakers?
We will continue to recruit the world’s best teachers. For a world language like French, Spanish or Mandarin etc., this may mean that the teacher is not a native English speaker, however they will always have an excellent standard of English to work at our school.
If/how does the school plan to increase the numbers of children who are able to take part in school productions both in the junior and senior school? Both junior and senior productions this year had/have a small cast. Last year there was no dedicated junior school show and this year the usual year 6 production is not going ahead. Historically, lack of space has been blamed, but obviously this will soon not be an issue. It is extremely disappointing that children who select themselves as interested by auditioning are not able to be involved in some way.
As we embark on our collaboration with Julliard we intend to offer a wide and varied range of performing and creative arts education for all our students. It is our aim to make performance opportunities available to as many students as possible.
Are you now aware of ALL the teachers that will be leaving? Have they all been replaced? If numbers in the school are lower than anticipated due to families leaving, will you still maintain the same staffing level?
We ask staff to let us know of their intentions before the winter break. This gives us enough notice to recruit early and find the very best teachers. We have already been through that process for this year and have sent home details of all colleagues leaving us as well as new teachers joining us for next year. While we are always sad when teachers leave us, we are very excited with the quality of new teachers joining us for next year.
That said, there are always unexpected things that happen between now and the summer. We will always strive to find the very best teachers we possibly can.
Staffing levels for us are set on Student-Teacher ratios. We currently work at around 11:1. We do not expect that to rise.
How is the school progressing with the ‘student visa’ application? This is incredibly urgent for some parents, like ourselves, who are in a state of uncertainty, only made worse by the lack of progress in this area.
We submitted the completed application a few months ago. This was then followed by an official visit from the visa department. All went very well and we expect to hear the result of our application very soon.
Enjoying the new leadership but I am becoming increasing concerned about the lack of discipline especially in the middle years. What is your policy for this and how do you intend to get this back on track?
Please explain your policy on discipline within the school, it would seem standards have slipped.
Our policy on behavior has not been changed. We will continue to focus our efforts towards ‘behavior for learning’. We consistently receive very positive feedback from a number of sources about the polite and respectful behavior from our students. Most recently this has come from new parents being shown around the school and various visitors. When our students visited Tanzania, the feedback we received was that they were the most respectful, positive students they had seen. However, students of all ages sometimes make poor decisions. We will continue to deal with these in an individual manner, with a focus on making good decisions and positive learning environments.
As a parent of a year 11 student, who wishes to apply to Oxbridge, what are you going to be doing to prepare the students? How many students have been accepted into Cambridge or Oxford over recent years? What is on offer at present for the year 12 and 13 students in relation to applying to top universities and preparing them? If extra tuition is needed for Oxbridge entrance will this come at an extra cost to the already very expensive fees?
As an International school our students achieve places all over the world. Of those applying to the UK last year, 100% achieved their first choice. 64% applied to and gained places at Russell Group universities including Oxford, Kings College, Durham and Warwick. Equally in the US the school has had success in students gaining places at Cornell, UT Austin and West Point, amongst others.
We are fortunate to have highly experienced US and UK college counsellors. They work very closely and early with students and families to ascertain those who may be considering Oxbridge, and other highly selective institutions, and then support and help them prepare. Interview practice and feedback are provided for all those asked to attend for interview.
All students and parents are guided through the application process for university and it is also part of the Personal Social Health Education programme. There are many regular college events held at the school and parents are encouraged along with their sons and daughters to attend these information evenings to empower themselves with relevant knowledge to help make informed decisions.
Please could you provide more detail on the student lead method of teaching that seems to be being introduced and how it integrates with taught courses such as GCSE and the IB?
Will teachers be trained in these new methods/styles of teaching?
As you might imagine, this would be a very lengthy response as we address modern pedagogy and educational research. I would propose that we set aside one of the PTSA lecture series to discuss this in greater detail. But, in short, we are a very successful school with high standards and examination results at all levels. We must uphold and continually improve these since they provide the vital pathway to further educational opportunities for our students. At the same time, we must prepare our students for their fast-changing, globally connected, technology-rich future. We must help our children develop the contemporary skills, attributes and concepts that prepare them to be successful in this world.
With this in mind, most of our Professional Learning with teachers has been and will continue to be focused on exactly this. As you might expect, teachers should be at the center of their own professional learning in the same way as the students.
Although there are many improvements from last year to this, communication from the school is very poor. When we ask a question we may get an answer but getting answers to emails has been an issue with your system at the school often being blamed. When can one expect a reply from an email and how do you intend to improve communication in general? This has been most apparent with teachers off for a long time and no communication sent to parents, etc.
There seems to be a lack of communication regarding the teaching methods to be introduced. A lot of parents are hearing things on the 'grapevine' rather than formally from the school. Are you going to address this issue?
As a parent of a secondary school child, I feel there is very little feedback from the school on how my child is progressing academically. Two learning conferences by mid-year do not support timely intervention for course correction or improvements. Is there a plan to improve the frequency and nature of communication with teaching staff?
It is our intention to develop communication platforms that will enable all parents to see what their children have been learning on a daily basis. We recognise that different families have different needs in terms of communication about progress. Therefore we will continue to offer the formal opportunities for parents, students and teachers to discuss learning and progress though our learning conferences. We also currently provide an academic report every term that provides an overview of students' achievements. We would like to stress we have an open door policy and we are happy to welcome parents into school to meet with teachers about their children's progress.
Generally, the point about communication is well noted. It forms a very important part of our strategic plan and as such, we will set out to create a broader communication strategy that ensures better communication with students, staff and parents more of the time.