How's 'The School KFI'

683 replies, Page 3

Srihamsa 2011-03-23 11:55:27


Hi Sangeetha,

Like in any school, in The School KFI too, some teachers speak good English - when I say 'good' I mean easily comprehensible, maybe with some regional accent or the other, but perfectly understandable nevertheless.

KFI Teachers, in general, use words rather carefully when dealing with children. Children, again like in any school, have their own lingo which keeps evolving by the day. I presume no school has any control over that. However, many children know how to use the appropriate language for an occasion and I presume some of this has come from The School KFI - maybe from interactions with other children, teachers, non-teaching staff, etc.

If you meant Etonian or Queen's English with perfectly acceptable accent in Buckinham Palace ceremonies (or White House Dinner Parties), don't expect KFI campus to play any role.  If you meant the fake call center, fake accented English that many kids in the city are strutting about, expect KFI children, generally, to do better.



Srihamsa 2011-03-23 12:14:43


Hi Oliver,

The School KFI has played a major role in refining the ALM for Tamil Nadu government schools. They are still refining the methodologies, presumably after feedback.

Constructivist approach is broadly what they tend to follow. However, they do a lot of mixing and matching based on their experience - for instance, there are passages that children are made to memorize. This may not fit in a hardcore constructivist model. But KFI has reasons to do so, based on their collective experience.

There are quite a few differences between Montessorian and Constructivist approaches, though similarities abound. For eg, constructivism focuses on creating a need for the child to learn anything. M does not. In C approach, abstraction in fields like Maths comes in pretty soon - aids are dispensed with quickly. M approach goes with aids for considerable period. Constructivists argue that M approach increases dependance on aids and objects and leads to delay of understanding abstract principles.

So don't worry on the approach. If your child gets admitted to The School KFI, there would be gaps that you may need to fill at home - like in any school, I suppose. You can, however, expect the teachers to be friendly to students and the learning exercise to be relatively stree-free.



DESIHAWK 2012-01-04 03:35:11


Dear Srihamsa, Sathya or anyone else that knows ...

Is there any update on the situation with KFI? I see that admissions have been announced for the 2012 year. In particular:

- Does anyone have an update regarding the 2016 move?

- Will KFI be admitting students for 1st standard in 2012?

For what it's worth, my older son (sept. 2008) is only eligible for admission in 2014 (is that correct?), from what I'm reading on here. But, we are planning a move from the US to Chennai and are INCREDIBLY nervous about the school situation.

Srihamsa: Also, could you kindly provide me with some guidance on what kids need to know to join 1st standard in India these days (any special insight applicable to The School would also be appreciated)? As you may know, school in the US really starts only with 1st standard. While my son can count to 20 and can do very very simple addition, and can read the alphabet (and we're working on really small words ... cat, bat etc.) ... I don't have much of a sense of how he's faring relative to kids his age in India. If he's to get admission to KFI, would you recommend that he go to LKG/UKG elsewhere first (I'd rather not, if not required ... I'm a big believer in not pressuring kids too soon)?

Thanks in advance!


Srihamsa 2012-01-04 09:07:33



The School-KFI will have to shift out of the present campus by 2016. The General Council of the Theosophical Society (TS), the landlord for the premises where the school functions now, has recently upheld the decision taken last year by the Executive Committee of the TS to ask to the school to vacate. Actually, the school has to vacate by 2014 and if it is seen to be acting on relocation, it may be allowed 2 years extension.

Admission procedures will be clearer by February. Besides the relocation move, there is also a law called the Right to Education Act, which the school has to implement. Under this, 25% of seats will have to be given to economically disadvantaged sections of the society. The school will take in new students after considering both relocation and RTE Act norm.

While you may have reason to be nervous, you might want to wait till the end of next month for the KFI announcement. If the present campus is a big factor in looking at KFI as an option, well, that goes. If pedagogy is the criterion, you should try.

The School screens parents for some understanding or parallel thinking on the school's methods and ideas on education. The child is not tested for performance. There is, however, some basic screening to check for special needs. So no preparation is necessary for the child to face any test for the school.

As for other schools, criteria vary. Some insist on high academic abilities. Some don't. Some go only by financial strength of parents to pay admission fees, non-refundable deposits, etc. This year, all the existing criteria will have to be re-written since all schools have to follow RTE norms by admitting children who cannot pay fees. This applies to the so called elite schools too. So how much schools will charge paying parents, what the admission criteria will be, etc are all in realm of speculation now.

Do call up / connect with schools that have their websites listed in reviews section of I would think you should try HLC International, Omega International, Good Earth School, Navdisha and some others if you want a good mainstream / alternative education for your child. 










Niviea 2012-01-04 15:08:53


Hi Srihamsa,

I appreciate your effort on giving immediate & proper response to the questions.

My kid was born on July 2009 and thought of getting admission in Navadisha Montessori school in velachery. we are a parents want my kid should be good human being able to do\get what he want in both personal & professional rather being a scientist in NASA or writing coding in some MNC software company. I had raised my eyebrow when I saw your wish list of school included my preference school. Though there some short comment\review about Navadisha I could not found a good discussion thread about this school. Where I can get it?  

DESIHAWK 2012-01-04 22:04:10


Dear Srihamsa,

Thank you for the comprehensive response. It appears that the eviction from DG is a done deal ... it is very unfortunate that The School will no longer operate out of the Theosophical Society. I am appalled at the shortsightedness of TS in doing this. How do they not realize that - looking from the outside - JK and TS support and strengthen each other? Interest in JK directly led me to reading about Mme. Blavatsky, Olcott and others ... pity that TS is in such a hurry to sever such links. I have to believe TS suffers from a leadership deficiency at the top ... sad to see such a venerable institution falling to disuse.

While the pedagogy is/was paramount (JK's 'Education and the Significance of Life' should be required reading for anyone interested in this topic), but also as we will move to G'Nagar - if we end up in Chennai - and I have fond memories of TS ... location was the second draw. I suppose if they're able to relocate to the KFI location at Greenways road (another very nice location), that may not be bad either (though, not sure if there's enough room there for a full-blown school with sports facilities etc.) ... fingers crossed.

Also, thanks for the other school suggestions. If my wife comes by Chennai next month, I will request her to visit those school as well.

@Niviea ... scientist at NASA is a great career option too! My son is the biggest fan of Dr. Seuss' "There's no place like space"! His current career choices (granted at 3 years of age)? Race car driver or astronaut! Not everyone's cut out to be a poet / artist / philosopher either. ;o) ... has some discussion on the school you're interested in. Hope that helps.


mykidsdad 2012-01-04 23:32:14



Am a chennai based parent. I have been reading your posts regarding queries posted by parents in many forums. I have also read an article that you wrote in parent circle.

I had shortlisted the following schools KFI,Abacus,Navadisha and HLC for my kid's LKG admission.

I am quite clear about IGCSE and ICSE syllabus and it is not a point of concern. Relocating near any of these schools is also not a concern.

Of these I  feel getting admission in HLC seems to be quite feasible as of now.

I feel it is wise to go for HLC as admission is not guarenteed in other schools mentioned.

I value your inputs very much and would like to get your guidance in this regard.



Niviea 2012-01-05 10:04:22



Thanks for the link.


Lavanya 2012-01-07 19:51:28


Hello Srihamsa,

I make it a point to read your posts in parentree about schools, education etc :). I find them very valuable. But this is the first time I am writing to you.

I noticed your mention about Omega international school in this thread. I am considering this school(CBSE)  for my daughter and would like to know more about this school.

How is the school in your opinion? We are looking for overall development both in personality and other extra curricular activities and not just academics. How is the school in this regard ?  And whats the work load/pressure from the school on the students at both the lower and higher grades? We believe in strong foundation, good learning (with minimal stress ) rather than just scoring high marks/grades.

Do you know much about this school  and their methodologies? Your inputs on this school will be very helpful to us.

Thank you



Srihamsa 2012-01-08 06:50:59



This is what I know about Omega School.

1. Good leadership: Dr Bhavani Shankar, Senior Principal, is a well-known school administrator. He was earlier the principal of Chettinad Vidhyashram. Has decent reputation within the sector. One caveat: the reasons for his sudden removal from Chettinad a few years ago are still shrouded in mystery. 

2. I have met a couple of teachers who seemed good and enthusiastic.

3. Infrastructure and facilities seemed good. Some of the management team members could articulate their vision for the school.

I do not have any more specific information. So I am unable to judge.

Since one could trust good leadership in a school to take care of any deficiencies over a period of time, I guess Omega scores in this regard. 




mykidsdad 2012-01-08 20:53:47



Am a chennai based parent. I have been reading your posts regarding queries posted by parents in many forums. I have also read an article that you wrote in parent circle.

I had shortlisted the following schools KFI,Abacus,Navadisha and HLC for my kid's LKG admission.

I am quite clear about IGCSE and ICSE syllabus and it is not a point of concern. Relocating near any of these schools is also not a concern.

Of these I  feel getting admission in HLC seems to be quite feasible as of now.

I feel it is wise to go for HLC as admission is not guarenteed in other schools mentioned.

I value your inputs very much and would like to get your guidance in this regard.


Lavanya 2012-01-09 08:30:11


Thank you very much for the immediate response, Srihamsa.




Niviea 2012-01-09 14:22:01


Hi Srihamsa,

Can you share your perspective about Navadisha at velachery?


Niviea 2012-01-11 14:52:51


Though my question is in wrong thread i still hope i'll get atleast single reply.


Srihamsa 2012-01-11 21:16:25



Re Navadisha - this is what I know about the school - from friends who have put in their children:


1. Montessori method - no text books for even middle school (I don't know about senior school).

2. Project based learning. Teachers and students discuss projects the latter will take up, fix deadlines, decide on resources, etc. And students go about completing them. For students who are self-motivated, it works very well. May not work so well for those who need a lot of prodding and pushing.

3. Many children seem to like the school and its methods since it is relatively easy on the mind, and comes with a certain autonomy for children to do things at their own chosen pace.

4. Progressive management, ICSE affiliation. 



Niviea 2012-01-12 09:51:35


Thanks srihamsa.


bhuvanad 2012-01-29 01:17:09


hi srihamsa,

thanks for your valuable inputs about the school.any idea of.. where 'the school' is getting relocated.




DESIHAWK 2012-02-11 03:03:16


Dear Srihamsa,

To bhuvanad's question above, any update on the new location (or if it will even get relocated)?

Also, if you will kindly indulge me:

- Could you comment on the extracurricular activities at KFI? Is there much by way of culturals / sports? I understand that they encourage activities outside school (through latitude re: attendance etc.) but do they have facilities on campus?

- What is the level of 'difficulty' in getting into KFI? Namely, since there are only 25 seats per class, what percentage of applicants get admitted / turned away?

- In your opinion as an educator, since they don't have classes until 1st std., would it be preferrable for children to go to LKG / UKG elsewhere before joining there? It seems odd, but even as the emphasis on 'early childhood education' is increasing elsewhere (read: here in the US), educators seem to be going the opposite direction in India. I am confused!

Thanks much!


Srihamsa 2012-02-11 06:48:22



1. On relocation: the process for identifying a place has begun. It may take many months to know details, perhaps after shortlisting a few properties. Chances of the school continuing in the present premises are extremely slim.

2. KFI does not define learning into 'curricular' and 'extracurricular'. Children in middle and senior school can choose to participate in art classes, games such as basketball, football, etc after the school hours. No separate fee is charged for this and these activities also happen within the school hours, as part of the regular classes. Junior school children don't stay back after the school hours, but have lots of exposure to arts & crafts, games, etc during the school hours. In fact, academics is pretty light (quite appropriately) in junior school. You should not apply incomprehensible, but widely used, words like 'culturals'  to KFI setting. Whatever happens is in sync with a certain progressive culture.

3. As for admissions: usually, few get in and many are turned away. This may or may not hold good this year given the relocation factor. Younger siblings of those children already in school do have a brighter chance of making it, though it is not automatic. Remember, at the junior school level, parents are interviewed but children are not really tested. 

4. You may consider homeschooling the child at KG level. There are a few pre-primary schools in Chennai that are run as alternative schools of some kind - Montessori, Steiner, etc. These may help to prepare the child better for KFI-kind of schooling rather than a mainstream kindergarten. As for move towards early education, am not sure if there are dominant global trends. The country that tops PISA tests year after year, Finland, sends children to any school only at the age f 7. There is a certain benefit of late maturity!


DESIHAWK 2012-02-11 20:51:11


Thanks for taking the time, Srihamsa.

I was talking about 'culturals' in the conventional sense they're used, so thanks for clarifying.

Yes, I did read about the Finnish story and was very impressed! I was referring to the emphasis on early education by the Obama administration in the US. Of course, one of the drivers for us to move to India is the level of dysfunction in schooling in the US (though I only recently learnt that on the PISA tests, we are only one removed from the bottom of the table! - while reaffirming my preference for ICSE education).

I guess, the logistical issue with 'homeschooling' appears to be that given KFI's late start (only 1st std. onwards), kids have to be willing to risk not getting in and being left with fewer schooling options (it appears most other schools 'test' kids prior to admission?).

How do parents handle this? Sorry if my questions come across as silly, as I've been out of country for some time now, and am not really familiar with the system anymore.


WHOAMI 2012-02-14 04:15:20


@Srihamsa and @Desihawk:

I have been reading the posts here for some time now. Thanks a lot for your valuable thoughts and exchanges.

Do you know if there is a maximum age limit for classes at KFI ? If we decide to hold back our son in Kindergarten for an extra year in which case he would be 6 yrs and 10 months to be admitted for Grade 1. The minimum age for Grade 2 is 6 yrs and 6 months as mentioned in the KFI website. It is not clear what their policy is with the upper limit.

We are currently living the US and plan to apply for KFI. Do you know if they are flexible with the school visit dates for those travelling from outside India ? The website says first two weeks in March and that could be a logistical challenge for us. Moreover, we would have to travel just for this purpose.

Is there an applicant to acceptance ratio available ? This would help to gauge the chance of being admitted among other things. I am not aware of how many seats are availabe for Grade 1 and if there is more than one section in each grade.

Any light you can shed on these would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.




Srihamsa 2012-02-14 09:30:10



Yes, there is a certain risk one takes in waiting for admission in KFI and hence not putting the child through the regular 'test' prep mode for mainstream schools. But a child that is being groomed (or not groomed!) for KFI need not necessarily 'fail' in a mainstream school test. Many mainstream schools, in fact, prefer not to test the child in the old fashioned way of asking him or her to recite nursery rhymes, etc. Some simply need a handsome donation - all tests are waived!

Sure, there is a huge risk  in being pushed into a mainstream school just because KFI declines and there being no other choice. However, parents do count on schools like HLC International, Abacus, Navdisha, etc in Chennai or even relocate to find a good alternative for KFI. Good Earth School in Tambaram near Chennai is as good as a KFI-run school, though its location could be a negative.



Srihamsa 2012-02-14 10:43:06



As for a I know, KFI does not prescribe any ceiling on age in a class. We do find children, typically of the US-returned parents, who are a few months' older than the rest of the class. KFI sticks to the minimum age strictly.  

Again, as far as I know, KFI does not make exceptions for those applying from abroad. There are many such applicants and it would be a logistical nightmare if KFI were to accommodate their preferred dates. Having said this, I guess there is no harm in trying your luck by asking them for a date when it will be convenient for you to travel. Be prepared to take a 'no' for an answer. That's all.

As for applicants to admitted ratio, it usually varies (hearsay) from 1:5 to 1:10. But this ratio is deceptive and does not take into account factors like sibling, KFI teacher's child, etc. And KFI's criteria for admission are not apparent. Self-professed Krishnamurti followers have been declined admission in the past while those who confessed to have had no clue on K have been taken in. CEOs have been declined admission while those who cannot even afford the base fee have been taken in. So one does not know, really.

It is a single section school from Class 1 to 12 and there are about 25 students in each class.




DESIHAWK 2012-02-16 20:21:25



LOL! "Some simply need a handsome donation - all tests are waived!" Thank you for the morning chuckles!

I suppose there is that route ... though that is would be one of the reasons to go to KFI in the first place. Wouldn't a capitation fee be the education equivalent of the 'original sin'?

Thanks for your time (and for the list of alternate schools).


WHOAMI 2012-02-17 17:40:29




" Donations" aren't necessarily bad as it is commonly looked at. None of those schools claim to be not-for-profit and hence revenue and profit maximization ought to be in their business model. None of them claim to be centers of learning with the sole objective of imparting knowledge.

What bothers me is the fact that tests are waived in lieu of monetary payments. The admission process or policy is questionable (if one exists) in such cases.

Fees in any form (donation, capitation, deposit, development fee etc) is a way the institution is compensated for the service it provides.

Just my 2 cents.


DESIHAWK 2012-02-17 19:56:24



Didn't mean to insinuate that all donations are bad.

But when the request is that it be paid in cash with no receipt forthcoming, it does leave one to question whether it was all 'above the table'. While not all schools do that, I believe enough do for it to be the norm. We talk about corruption at high places (think 2G) and dream about Anna cleaning out the place, but ignore the obvious ... that Mr. Raja's first exposure to the power to corrupt was probably when dad walked in with a wad of cash to pay HIS school principal for Raja's admission. From that moment on, his mind was for sale ... hence my allusion to the 'original sin' and 'fruit of the poisonous tree'.

If schools included a published capitation fee (even more, earmark it towards specific school improvements) in their application and suggested that if I cut them a check for Rs. X, that would increase my chances ... I'd be all for that (there are no socialists when it comes to getting THEIR child a leg up!). So, don't get me wrong ... while I chuckle and pontificate about SriHamsa's tongue-in-cheek comment, when my time comes ... will I succumb to the temptation? I sure hope not, but I ain't a saint.

So, I agree in principle, not all 'donations' are created equal. Good luck with your move, let us know how it goes!


Srihamsa 2012-02-17 22:47:35


Well, the system forces schools to be 'not for profit' entities while education has become the most attractive sector for PE and VC investments! Schools are run by trusts and management takes the money out through what is popularly called 'suppliers' route' and consulting assignments, purchase commissions, etc. School managements are service providers and not exactly educationists. Some actually auction seats - by asking parents to jot down an amount on a piece of paper which they will they organise later in descending order and offer seats to the top X number of applicants in terms of sum offered as refundable or non-refundable deposits. A number of innovative ways to collect funds exist.



Vasukiraj 2012-03-02 17:32:29


Hi Srihamsa,

   We are called for the registration process on monday for my daugter for Class1.Can you give us any tip on what kind of questions will be asked and the mangments expectation.We had waited to put our daughter here  and have not taken up admission anywhere else .We have zeroed on this school as we like the principles and their approach towards education .The current school my daugter is going also has only till class 3 :) We are taking a big risk.

Your guindance would be of great help .


Srihamsa 2012-03-02 20:10:32


@Vasukiraj: Congrats! Am sure you, your spouse and the child will do well in the interaction with KFI management. 

My suggestion: just be yourselves. Hope you don't have to 'remember' what you wrote in the application form and what you wrote there is what you always felt. KFI screens for major conflicts in views between spouses, contradictions between what is stated in the form and what parents say in the interaction, etc. rather than 'alignment' with any particular view. If you don't agree with a view of the KFI panel, it is ok, as long as you don't look confused, anxious to subscribe any view to get admission. If you don't know JK's views or have not read his books, that is fine too. Just say as much and don't ever pretend you subscribe to JK's views without knowing what they are. 

I am a parent of the school and don't know anything about JK. They know it too. 

In short, just be yourselves. And it will work out very well! All the best.


saigee 2012-03-03 12:17:12


Hi Srihamsa,

We've applied for our son for the 1st std and not yet heard from the school?

We got the mail that his app is registered. Just wanted to know what the procedure is like?

Whether they send the mail for the meeting to the parents the week before or they send the mails in batches?

I'ld appreciate your response.






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