While I saw online mixed reviews (€˜each to their own€™) about the school (HIS Guindy), I thought as a father of a 9+ years old who is studying in the school since 2015 (as far as I remember, they started this school back in 2014 and hence my child was in the 2nd batch), let me share my feedback too.
If I have to sum up our overall experience and put it in one sentence, the same would be: €œwe are really happy with the way the school is turning out to be and we believe that there is going to be a future for our daughter as long as she continues with the school, while we also admit that the school took some time to bring in the required competencies and develop necessary infrastructure€.
What we liked so far:
1. parent-teacher meetings take place regularly.
2. approachability of principal and teachers; while it is true that some of the faculty members (including Principals) resigned in last few years, however on overall basis we had observed that most of the faculty members were/are extremely approachable, ready to spend time with parents outside PTMs (as long as patents are ready to spend time with teachers inquiring and sharing their thoughts about their child (ren) on proactive manner) .
3. physical infrastructure is good; They had started operating from the 2nd building recently (next to the original one) for the higher Grades. Classrooms and school transport are air-conditioned. School buses always have lady attendants (from security perspective), are GPS-enabled, and Speed Barrier enabled.
4. lots of interactions happen between all the 3 schools under HIS management in Chennai. Students attend programs being conducted by others.
5. being an International Board and considering the infrastructure available, fees-wise, I found them in mid-segment (after comparing with other international schools in Chennai). But, if we compare with Indian Boards, definitely expensive.
6. students from the school take part in external exams, like, SpellBee, Olympiad, NELSA etc.
7. continued focus towards knowledge based project work with a global outlook (very much in line with other well-known international schools) that develops a child€™s overall potential, which got seriously accentuated after current Principal Ms Sunmita Shinde Arun joined the school during the current academic year. Apart from being extremely approachable, some of the things that she had already done within a very short time are as follows:
a. shifting the focus completely from €˜book-based rote learning€™ to €˜knowledge-based learning process€™ by concentrating on pre-defined specific topics across various grades under each subject so that the knowledge gathering could become completely seamless (teachers are indeed spending time in interlinking different subjects for the pre-defined topics within a particular grade, so students are learning to correlate whatever they are learning say, in English with say, in Science.) while students at each class is expected to research about the topic chosen and expand their knowledge as they grow older.
While it is true that, it is a major €˜change€™ from students€™ and parents€™ perspective, however we have already observed the positive changes in our child in the way she approaches a problem or a question (both in real life and in school curriculum). Our child too is taking time to get accustomed to the new learning approach, but we feel it is better she learns it now, rather than pushing herself at later stages of her educational career.
In the beginning, it is imperative that parents have to spend some extra
time with their child (ren) so that they are ready to face these changes, but
over a period of time, we feel they would be ready to study on their own
without looking for external support including help from private tutors. Another important aspect is, if due to
whatsoever reason, we need to leave Chennai again, it would be easier for our
child to get admitted in other International schools relatively easily,
especially to IB schools.
brought in the concept where students have
started writing stories, poems on their own (could not believe my eyes when I
saw some of the riddles and kennings 4th grade students had written; or the other day when some classmates
of my child planned to €˜write stories€™ as a €˜game€™!!). We had definitely seen
the interest level of our child in language classes have gone up a lot. We too
feel happy when she writes something and feels so happy about it.
arranging a €œStudent-led Conference€ (yes, the child(ren),
as small as 5 / 6 years old were part of it) where they not only prepared
different models and exhibited the same, they also took initiative to explain
the same to their parents as well as parents of other children and all this was
done under an out and out professional atmosphere. We found the same being a
big motivating factor for our child as well as €˜a confidence booster€™, and the child
(ren) also realized how to schedule, and run a program as big as this while
coordinating with their partner(s), and also learnt to manage real-life
challenges that we as parent, face while we work within our professional sphere.
We hope, this conference is going to be a precursor to many such programs which
will help the child (ren) to communicate efficiently and effectively.
acquainting students to senior executives from
well-known corporate who, apart from visiting the school, are also spending
time with the child (ren) talking about different career options available and
skill sets that one requires to face the €˜new world€™ where technology would be
the deciding factor. These sessions also help them to improve their body
language and communication skills.
introducing a subject like, €˜Global Perspective€™
(without an accompanying book) where child (ren) are obtaining knowledge about
how real life issues that we face in the world are affecting (or going to affect)
us, and what needs to be done to prevent the same, and learning about how
different organizations across the world are working towards preventing the
same and negating the impact.
getting child (ren) ready to be part of €˜Model
United Nations€™ which will surely foster better leadership, critical thinking,
negotiation, writing, and communication skills.
continued focus towards music, and dance
and the impact of the above is being seen when
the school was being awarded at International School Award by British Council, Best
International Day Boarding School from Education Today at India School Merit Awards
and similar award from Education World amongst others.
What we look forward to see:
a. beginning with XI-XII (possibly with IBDP)
b. involving interested parents to be part of developing the evolving curriculum while the child (ren) goes/go through the €˜transformational changes€™, so parents become aware and part of whatever changes are happening €" in fact creating a Google Group and/or setting up a Council might help dispelling doubts/reservations about the changes. Additionally, different topics, based on which faculty is planning to evolve the curriculum across different Grades, could be shared with parents.
c. a full-fledged in-premises Science Lab in the school where students could experiment (be it Robotics, be it something else). This would eventually take the loads of the parents while ensuring that proper models are getting prepared by students for future conferences and exhibitions.
d. bringing in a €˜Student Counselor€™
e. focus on leadership development skills and life-saving skills from early stages of academics
f. a proper sports ground (in-premises space is too little, too less)
g. more interactions with industry executives, especially for students from senior Grades, arranging TED-Ed sessions in the school.
h. arranging interactions with child achievers from different spheres of life so that students could relate to them
i. organizing visits to different support organizations (e.g., police station, fire station, post office, municipal offices etc) in smaller batches so that child (ren) could understand nuances of each occupation and each of them get opportunity to interact with concerned officers
j. additional serious focus on Theatre, Literary Club, and Arts & Crafts as part of MAG activities. Students, who are interested, could be encouraged further to take part in different programs outside school with technical support from school teachers.k. proper water drainage system outside school premises
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