Evaluating the Curriculum Standards at School

My last post on researching International Schools in Kuala Lumpur has generated quite a number of comments on the quality and standards of the teaching curriculum at certain International Schools. One in particular that caught my attention was by Susie who expressed her dissatisfaction with Tenby International School because they were teaching the IPC (International Primary Curriculum) which she says is substandard. She wrote:

“GIS, TIS, Nexus even the new school in Desa Park City are all “teaching” the IPC curriculum. IPC stands for “International Primary Curriculum”. The schools will tell you that they use the National Strategies (as perscribed by the UK government) for literacy and numeracy (google national literacy and numeracy framework and it will pop up to understand what the framework is all about) and everything else comes under IPC. Let me tell you after having my children in TIS for 3 years I have had to resort to teaching my children history by myself, I have employed a science tutor as science isn’t taught as a subject, a maths tutor to tutor them in maths, my mother (former teacher) teaches my children english grammar, vocabulary, comprehension, creative writing and geography. You might think I am crazy to have to resort to this but as I find the curriculum (IPC) in TIS completely lacking and I know what the standards expected are for secondary students in a “true british curriculum school” I have to do this to save my children from starting from scratch in any secondary school when I move them.”

As she included GIS (Garden International School) in her list, I decided to look it up since we are planning to send the kids there. Based on their curriculum outline, everything appears to be in order. Then again, what’s written on a website isn’t necessarily what goes on at the school. Unfortunately, the only way to really know if the school is teaching what they are supposed to be teaching is to send your child there and monitor what they are learning at school.

If you want to know what the subjects the school is supposed to cover, the National Curriculum for 5 to 11 year olds is outlined on Directgov. Directgov also offers some useful advice on how to help your children develop literacy skills and math skills. They also offer learning aids that you can download. And if that isn’t enough, you can try Primary Resources which is a free resource site for Primary and Elementary teachers. Further information detailing exactly what the curriculum at your child’s school should cover can be found on National Curriculum (this is for British international schools). The National Curriculum website is very informative and is very specific on everything that your children should be taught outlined by subject.

So now at least we have a way of keeping tabs on the school. If there is anything amiss with the curriculum, we’ll be able to spot the problems before it’s too late.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

40 thoughts on “Evaluating the Curriculum Standards at School

  1. Gosh, did not realise there were so many comments! Ben registered for Tenby since it was the cheapest. Sigh….so now how??! But thankful for your blog which received so many opinions…that helped a lot!

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    1. I was pretty surprised by all the feedback, too. But it’s great to hear from so many parents. Maybe consider a back-up school for Ben? When was he supposed to start? You could send him to Tenby as planned but apply for another school in the meantime. Then if you are happy with how things are going in Tenby, you can let him stay there, but if, while you’re waiting on another school, things are bad, then pull him out.

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  2. Ben is on waiting list at Tenby which I do not have much confident of getting a place. So we shall see what happens. The other international schools are quite expensive. Was thinking of trying ELC but that is in Sg Buloh which is so far away then. We may move to Setia Alam which is nearby Tenby, you see.

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  3. Irene, if you would like more opinions re: Tenby, please browse the ‘allo Expat forum. There is a section on Education if you look in Malaysia forum. There is a thread discussing Tenby and it will be of great interest to you.

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  4. Ex parent from Tenby International School. DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE BY ENROLLING YOUR CHILD IN THAT SCHOOL. It is NOT an international School. It is overcrowded and teachers are mostly locals. Yes it is one of the cheapest but it is basically a money making syndicate which does not practice what it advertises. Yes other schools like Nexus and Garden are expensive but they deliver what the promise and furthermore they actually CARE for the children.

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    1. Thanks for your input Daljit. Tenby is one of the cheaper international schools which makes it more appealing than the other international schools. But if it comes at a compromise to our children’s education, then it is simply not worth it.

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  5. Our choice on which school we place our children and more importantly our trust in educating our children to be smart, good, considerate citizens of the world is a never ending headache for all us parents.
    When it was time for me to go to school, all that my parents had to do was to ensure that I went to a “mission” school. By ensuring this they didn’t have to worry about the teachers, curriculum, professionalism of teachers and senior administrators…. They knew that ” Mrs.Lee who taught Maths, Mrs.Shanti who taught English” were bona fide teachers who knew their subject in-depth and were able to answer all questions posed to them by their students….
    DO NOT EXPECT THIS IN TENBY SETIA ECO PARK!!!… As a fee paying parent who trust the principal and senior management of the school to employ qualified teachers, what do we fee paying parents get… A Year 1 class assistant who gets promoted to post of “teacher” of a Y2 class simply because the Y1 teacher that she had assisted was the “buddy” of the principal… Or as a fee paying parent they give you a reception class assistant who get “promoted” to the post of a Year 10 Economics Teacher just because she got an “MBA” online!!!… Please correct me if I am wrong but since when did obtaining an MBA online warrant this “class assistant” a qualified teacher? A Y10 Economics Teacher at that???
    Parents, please don’t get hoodwinked by the “teaching methods” of TENBY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL… There isn’t any!!! Almost every parent I have spoken to in the past few months have told me the same thing…it’s tuition, tuition, tuition for English, Modern Maths, Add Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology to mention the core science subjects… The students doing economics, history, geography, english lit are mostly left on their own as it’s hard to find tutors for those subjects….if they come across any tutors they cling on to them for dear life!!!
    All I can say is please choose the school carefully and wisely…

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Susie. I never considered Tenby because they were just so far away, but I do know other parents who read this blog have put their children on waiting lists. I’m sure they will be glad to have this first hand insight into what the school is really like.

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  6. Nobel Int’l school is terrible. The quality of teachers are so substandard. The same batch of teachers from the KBSR syllabus were suddenly thrust into teaching the cambridge syllabus. No wonder just 3 wks into schooling, my child’s teacher taught them wrongly in math & an English teacher who couldn’t even pronounce right. I am already regretting & contemplating pulling out

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  7. May I add what I have forgotten to write earlier..Nobel Int’l practice points/reward system where each kid is rewarded with points ( older kids) & star(chop on a card) reward for younger kids, for good character. But points will be deducted for bad character & discipline issues. But the big problem is, when one wants to voice out, esp about a teacher’s mistake, many parents have to think twice for fear of offending the teacher so as to avoid their kid from being prejudiced by the teacher. Why? Bcos it would be a nightmare for your child to be discriminated by teacher whom he/she going to face the whole year & of course, the points & rewards which is solely at the discretion of the teacher, matter to many parents. So many would hush & do not bring up much matters to the management for they fear the revered teacher. That’s why the quality of teaching is bad. Imagine paying a pricey fee yet there’s a culture of fear among parents. I just couldn’t subscribe to this sort of system. Don’t be duped by the character building subject taught in this school..it’s their marketing strategy, their selling point but does the teachers or the management actually practice what they taught to the children? Don’t end up like me..Finding out the hard way & too late..

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  8. How about Beacon House PJ? Anyone has a good/bad testimonial about this school? I’m in the midst of getting information for my son’s pre-school next year. So far, I couldn’t find one which I have confident with. I heard SummerAcademy is good from my colleague but the environment did not give me a good impression.

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  9. I couldn’t agree more with Yvonne. I am currently an existing parent at Sri Nobel. Yes, they do not grade 100% on academic for their term exams. 20% marks is from class teacher for character, conduct & discipline. So, teacher’s recommendation plays a role in the yearly class placement. Since implemented last year, my wife & I resorted to not voice out even when there’s mistakes taught by teacher for fear of prejudice. The 20% marks does make a difference. As both of us are working, we end up teaching our kid after work at night, reminding him not to follow the error taught by teacher. The teachers’ quality are bad yet we pay high monthly fees. Just doesn’t make sense when we have to teach ourselves too. The principal claimed all were degree holders, yet when asked to see, it’s P&C. A friend who withdrew recently asked for a copy of agreement she signed with the school but was refused. This is too much, unlawful. Am searching around for a better & affordable int’l school but many are quite expensive. Sri Kl is good but waiting list. We may contemplate homeschool centers that offer IGCSE at secondary level

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  10. User Susie..Is BSKL implementing IPC for the primary years as well? Curious how effective is IPC in those real international school such as Nexus, Garden. As far as I know, subjects such as Science, Geo are never taught as a subject-specific in IPC, other than literacy, numeracy (and others like music, PE). Everything else is sort of bundled into the IPC exploration based on the given unit. The idea is to create an inquiry-based learning, as guided by the IPC program/teacher. How far more the child would inquire would and should continue at home…

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  11. Interesting topic as I was looking for int school for my son too. For nexus they have IPC for primary, IGCSE for yr11 and IB after that I wonder how can the child conect the learning from 3 different learning method. Anyone can give any light on this? Beside also consider REAL Internation cuz its cheaper any comments?

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  12. Hi. Have been reading with great interest the comments on various international schools in Msia. Hope someone can enlighten – what is the difference between IPC (International Primary Curriculum) and CIPP (Cambridge International Primary Programme)? Is one any higher or better than the other? TIA

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  13. I am trying to find an international school tat is nearby setia alam, had heard some negative comments for Tenby. Real is not bad, only its location make me feel quite uneasy. Had anyone heard about Maz international school ? It has a new branch in shah alam, where is about 10 minutes drive fr setia alam . I feel happy with the school environment as its very new and big, with mostly expat teacher . Can anyone give any advice btw tenby and maz? Thanks

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  14. Hi! Like Angie, I am also choosing between Tenby and Maz, but am open to suggestions on schools of similar price range. Read quite a few negative reviews on Tenby and am now unsure despite securing a place there for my child. Wld appreciate any info/review on Maz Intl on an urgent basis?

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  15. Hi Julia, i eventually enrolled my kids to Maz. I found out tat tenby is overcrowded, and lack of discipline ..(my personal view). U can have a talk to the principal of Maz ,he is very humble. This gives me more confidence to register my kids there .

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  16. Hi! Angie, a group of us parents were initially very interested in Maz, but after subsequent visits to meet with the principal and some other issues, I have opted for Tenby.

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  17. Never enroll your kids in Maz. Dont get mesmerize by the expat teachers as they are all college students in UK that needs intern abroad. I know coz I work in Maz.

    80% of teachers there have no teaching backgrounds. The expat students from Uk that need teaching experience abroad will basically practice with your children. Kids there have lowest grade ever because the principal is one of the owner of the school and just there to please you, so they will do whatever you suggest..not thinking about your child… because at the end of it, its all about business.

    The owner (principal) is an indian man (Mr Sekhon) who got partners who opened a learning shool in PJ, found there is money in it and apply for international business title and became international school.

    They are cheap because they are hiring teachers without working permit that is why its cheaper there, because they don’t really have expenses in other things. Even in the report card we need to edit all the grammars and phrases of each teacher just to make sure there is no mistake.

    Ask the expat teachers specially the young ones, how long they have been teaching and you’ll see. infact some of the students there are the classmates of Mr Sekhon’s children thats studying in UK.

    Oh please. Just don’t.

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  18. Hi, we are searching school for my 2 daughters. My wife is considering Nilai.. Any one have any idea about this school?
    Thank you.

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  19. Hi Everyone

    I would like to know your views about Sri Garden International School. Since we have just moved here, it’s the only school which has seats in Reception for January.
    Your sincere views will be highly appreciated.

    Thank you
    Deepti

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  20. Anyone has first hand experience with Cempaka International School @ Damansara? We’re considering sending our son there next year for reception. It’s a pretty last minute decision so we’re scrambling to find him a school. Every feedback will be much appreciated in helping with our research. Thanks!

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  21. I am also contemplating which school to send my son to. I was looking at Maz intl school but now after seeing negative feedback I’m thinking twice. Wat other schools of similar or not so expensive intl schools are good?

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  22. Well intl schools you say? I’m currently in Sri Nobel International School and the judgements made by some of the parents simply isn’t fair. Yes our marks are not solely based on exam results. So what? If you (or your children) are good ,no matter what your marks will be good.Well you have to treat the teachers well true, but if it earn favor or even friendship from them, isn’t it worth it? Truly you could speak your mind with restrictions obvi. Is your son in primary or secondary? One thing about Sri Nobel, they are very biased sometimes. The 1st class and 2nd class is hugely privileged . The secondary school is better ,(I’m year 9) the teachers are excellent and caring. The central theme is to instill leadership into us. Expect many competitions young entrepreneur challenge, loads of cca and activities. Theres even a CT class(character transformation) complusary for all students. Expect a lot of projects, group assignments, presentations,research and hands on work though. My mum and I had also gone through deciding which school to send me when I’m form 1, I have experience many types of education (traditional tadika, fungate kindy, Chinese primary, public secondary school and now international school. All i could say is you learn different things at different school. It depends on what you want your child to learn. To be a leader? To be smarter? To enjoy life as it comes? Don’t neglect your child’s opinion and choices too. (hint: if your child is truly good send him to Sri Nobel they WILL appreciate the good ones) Good luck and hope i have been of help!!!:D:D

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  23. Hi all,
    Just wanna say……Go GS! 🙂 🙂
    Totally agree with you. As a fellow year 9 student who transfer at year 6. I wholly agree that Sri Nobel is a fun , social yet academically excellent school. It will help children to become less shy and more outgoing and become leaders of tomorrow!!!
    ( the school shirts are hideous though……)

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  24. Hi Shen Li,

    I love your website! It has been interesting reading all these comments. We’ve been overseas for 3.5 years and my children are in the IPC curriculum. I must say that they trive in this curriculum and are eager learners. However, I think it’s mainly due to the teachers they have and have had as they make their lessons interesting. We will be moving back to KL soon and I’m scouting for schools for my boys. As we are staying in Subang, I was thinking of sending them to TIS. Any positive feedback on this school now? I have a friend who sends her children there and her feedback has been positive. I noticed the last comment was dated 29 July 2012 by Julia. Perhaps Julia could share her experience with TIS? Would like to know more. Thanks!

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  25. Hello everyone 🙂
    It was pretty interesting reading all the comments here, and i’ve got one of my own.
    I stated out like any normal person, studied in a kindergarten for 3 years then to a chinese primary school for 6 years. Chinese school was hell for me as I come from an english-speaking family. The teacher’s were rather useless and did wonders to my self esteem.
    Moving on, I then entered an all girls government high school located in PJ. I was placed in the last class because they reserved the front classes for those who started primary school with them. During my one year and 2 months in that school, i’ve made friends who did drugs, went preggers, skipped school and so on. By my second year, I caused enough trouble that I was so famous in school even the janitors knew me by name. My mom then pulled my out and put me in a private school. Of course the few months wasnt easy as i joined after the second term.
    During my few years there, i’ve met teachers who would go more than the extra mile for my friends and I. I even had 1 on 1 tutoring from my head master and teacher for my weakest subject. My point is that the school is only “bad” because you chose to see it from a certain point of view. YES, the facilities sucks balls and the point system is unfair. But mind you that all the teacher ARE degree and bachelor holders and they go through vigorous internal training to ensure that they are qualified. I went through the private system but was there to witness the change to international school. YES they used the private school teachers to teach the international school but trust me when I say the teachers are working twice as hard to learn new things everyday. They might make some mistakes here and there but if you point them out nicely, they will deff correct them.
    The school places a lot of emphasis on character building which I feel is more important than a school that worships good grades. The founder, aunty clarine also visits the school monthly to check on the teachers and students. To those parents who had bad experiences with Nobel, all i can say is… I hope you like your child’s new school. We cant please everyone and you are all entitled to your own opinion, so this is mine. Coming from a student who didnt score flying colours for exams, hated studying, loathed teachers. I think i’ve come a long way from who i use to be and I give credit to the teachers in nobel who helped raise me right.
    *p.s, anything you do, dont find trouble with ms.lim. even if you think she’s unreasonable, deep down inside …. she’s got a heart…. somewhere… haha..

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  26. I have 2 boys and currently my older one is in an international school that I regret sending him to. Most of the teachers are not of the standard that the school claimed to be when we enrolled our son. The class size has ballooned from the time he started in the school. The headmaster and the academic head are not someone whom you can consider “teacher” material. I am definitely taking my son out of this school. He was victimized by the school management and some teachers after we had meetings with the board of directors regarding the curriculum and the school in general. We were quite positive of the outcome of the meeting initially but later was rudely told to take our son out of the school if we still insist on having a parents-teachers forum or meeting. I can’t in my life think of any school which will reject a PTA or community. In short, the school experience has been a nightmare for the both of us. Please someone be kind enough to tell us of a good school to do Year 10 and Year 11. We are thinking of either Sri Cempaka or Taylor’s International. Any information from parents’ with children there now ? We really need help so that we don’t repeat our mistakes and ruin his future. Thanks

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  27. the quite number of international schools problems are management peoples.
    No double standards to the whole teachers.
    selling business in education but the quality is not achieved to international level especially some of the students are not meet of the
    standard of intern school requirements.
    U still can pursue n further study in oversea if u place ur child in government schools like all my relatives ,friends,niece and so on.

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  28. I’m still at the cross road. My son already had a place in SJKC next year. But i still looking at international school for him. We are moving to Setia Alam next year. Obviously Tenby was out of my radar after so many negative comments here and there, i got worry and lost

    Just happen there is a NEW international in Setia Alam opening in 2018, known as Peninsula at Edusentral…. Ok just happen so near to my new house too (hahaha). Peninsula is using Victoria Curriculum. Something really different. Well, the good things is new and 70% for the teachers are from overseas as claim.

    Have anyone already enroll your son or daughter in this international school?

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