Before I moved to Pune two years ago, I did a lot of research in trying to find the “best” ICSE school. I called so many people (many whom I didn’t even know….was referred to by someone who knew them), in order to find the right school for my kids. Based on all that information, we made a decision to go with the “best” school….(l’m not going to name it). However, when we finally got here I realised that all the “information” I had got was actually just “opinions”. There was very little factual information. As I found out, almost no one had just factual information…..they just had “stories” they had heard, things that they think happened, etc.. Enough to say, that I had to find another school for my kids, and I had to find it fast. I ended up visiting almost every school there was in Pune at the time (within a certain radius), in order to get the information I wanted. I met with every Principal (without any previous appointments), and took a tour of the school before making my choice. (I must say that many a receptionist and watchman were surprised by the concept that I wanted to interview the prinicipal and see the school before I decided to choose it. I guess they are more used to it being the other way around.)
Here are my recommended steps on how to choose the right school for your child:
- Decide the curriculum/board/affiliation that you want: ICSE, SSC, CBSE, IB, IGCSE (Only if this is important to you, and you are quite clear on what you want. Otherwise, skip this step for now).
- Decide what are the requirements you want in a school: Fees, Infrastructure, Student-Teacher Ratio, Philosophy of teaching, Structure of Homework and Exams, Medical Policies, Bus facilities, Distance from home, etc. Make a list of these in order of priorities. Many schools may automatically be ruled out based on your most important priority.
- Make a list of schools that meet your most important criteria.
- Call the school, and try to get an appointment to see the facilities as well as to meet with the principal. Make it very clear that you are not seeking admission, you just want to get information. Sometimes the principal will not meet with you if they think you are trying to get admission especially if admissions are closed. If you are not able to get an appointment don’t worry.
- Visit the schools. If you haven’t had any luck getting an appointment, don’t give up on the school. Don’t give up even if you have had a bad telephone experience with them (no one here believes in customer service….but that’s a topic for another day). If you haven’t got an appointment, convince the watchman into letting you in. Once you’re in the gate, convince the receptionist into letting you meet with either the principal or vice-principal or head mistress. Once again, emphasise that you don’t want admission, just information.
Basically, do your own research. Don’t listen to what other well-meaning friends/relatives have to say. Most of them do not have facts, even if their own kids go to that school. I had met a father who believed his son’s school to have maximum 20 kids to a classroom. When I visited that school, I counted 50 children in each classroom. Many other parents told me that a certain well-known school, gave admission only based on “donation”. I was able to get admission to that school without any donation, instead I had to give a letter stating that I had not asked for any donation. Yet another parent had a story about “improper touching” and other “bad stuff” that happened at another school….turned out it was some teacher who was concerned with one incident, and was asked to leave more than 15 years ago. The list goes on…. You really must do your own research. Good Luck. Feel free to email me or to post any questions you have.