Thursday, November 29, 2007

First month and beyond

This community blog has survived the crucial first month !

We have mixed feelings though. For this to survive and grow, it is critical to have more parents who can divide the work, write and post, and keep making progress. See how to join. You will get help with minor editing etc, so what are you waiting for ?

Meanwhile, spread the word to others, email the blog pages (to Parents/School/PSG), and vote on surveys !

We are slowly making a positive impact on GIIS, even if small (for instance, the crowding in the canteen area has been reduced by systematic queueing). We want to see the more critical areas improved too !

Do your bit. Join us today!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

3rd Campus for GIIS Singapore - Issues

On 30/08/2007 the 3rd campus was announced. We had a previous post on 3rd campus.

Parents' important queries on this topic are:

1. Will we be forced to shift children to the new campus through a unilateral order (as was done at the time of East Coast launch) ?

2. We want an an open forum where we are called and our consent should be taken regarding any move.

3. We are worried about further quality drop in existing (QT/EC) campus as a result of the 3rd campus.

4. Re: rumours that fee collection from GIIS QT and EC are diverted out to fund the new campus. Principals of QT and EC, kindly clarify on this. Parents desire that at least 90% of what they are paying will go towards their own child's campus. QT and EC Principals should give us assurances on this matter.

5. There should be no cost escalation due to 3rd campus.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Results of Poll#1. Academic Quality

Thanks to parents for voting and spreading the word. The results are shown here. We did not notice any surges or "vote stuffing" so we trust the data. Also, having 136 votes makes it a valid Gallup poll (for a few thousand people).

But the results are a wake up call for all of us. Call for action:
  • To parents: Engage more with your child, PTM, PSG, this blog, teachers, GIIS management. You cannot afford to be passive.
  • To teachers: We will appreciate your help in this. Tell us how we can support you better.
  • To GIIS Principals: Please keep at your efforts, we know that you have noticed the parents' desire for quality. Tell us how we can support you better.
  • To GIIS Management: Please support this as it is very important for the future of our children. Tell us what you need from us.
Target we want to see: By mid 2008, the "bad" ratings (currently 75%) should become 25% or less.

How to reach there ? See the above action items for a start. Your ideas are welcome...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Important e-mail addresses, how to send e-mail

[Updated August 2008: Sending emails to Principal, Chairman may get no replies but do not lose heart. PSG email would be the same. Even the PSG web page has been removed from the school website. This is to restrict parents to use MYGIIS only so that you cannot ever have email records or feedback or responses under your own custody. As MYGIIS is self-hosted by the school IT department they are able to delete your emails and erase the communication record at will. So if you have unresolved issues which are not of a private nature, feel free to use this blog].
Please support other parents and visit our HOME PAGE.

Additional direct email addresses we have collected are:
1. Atul Temurnikar, Chairman GIIS and GIF: atul@sg.globalindianschool.org
2. Finance Dept GIIS: finance@giissingapore.org.


Dear parents, most of you do not like the GIIS policy of encouraging only myGIIS for communication. We want to use proper email from your own normal email IDs. With myGIIS, your hands are tied, as you cannot CC: or BCC: to any normal (public) email ID (like gmail, hotmail, or your company email ID etc). myGIIS is also "cleaned" up by GIIS by deleting certain sensitive mails, which happened in the past. But GIIS fears that openness. We can only advise all parents to keep their own email records.

To initiate any improvement, a large number of parents emails must reach the school authorities. These are the e-mail addresses to write to (source: school web site):

Queenstown
:

Principal: principal.qt@sg.globalindianschool.org
Copy to PSG: qtpsg@sg.globalindianschool.org
East Coast:
Principal: principal.ec@sg.globalindianschool.org
Copy to PSG: ecpsg@sg.globalindianschool.org
Balestier:
????

How to send a blog page as e-mail: Go to the page you want to send. Click on the e-mail icon (this: ). Fill the 'TO' Address taken from above. Fill your own ('FROM') address. Write your covering letter body. Click send.

Suggestions:
  • Sending a copy to PSG is a good idea though they tend to ignore the really important issues.
  • Leave a comment in the blog after you have sent, saying "sent to so-and-so.." so that we avoid flooding them with too many copies (I think 2 or 3 for serious matters is not an issue).
Happy e-mailing folks!

E-mailing a page from this blog - In pictures


Step1. Click on the envelope icon


Step2. Fill form, click Send

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Surveys

We have extended the first survey by 1 week as we want to have 100 or more people voting.
Please vote if you haven't voted !
(results 14/11/07)->


Another issue going around is the price of books/notebooks. We want to know where the community stands on this issue. So please take that poll as well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Some general process issues

Thanks for putting in the effort ! I feel whatever issues are raised with the school should aslo be
posted here - if they are generic - so that all parents can know the progress.

1. English teaching : The students need to be given more grammar practise and worksheets. Compared to other schools where my kids studied, I find not enough practise/repetition.

2. Notebooks need to be checked regularly - not consistent, and varies from teacher to teacher.

3. Speech and Drama : This is not meant to be another class on teaching writing skills ! It should be about diction, presentation and building the speaker's confidence.

4. Appreciate and retain good educators/teachers - of whom there are quite a number.

Friday, November 9, 2007

School Feedback process

Shown below is the MYGIIS mail sent by GIIS SMC to discourage parents from participating in this blog, or discuss school issues among each other. The Management wants parents to report issues only to them, and that too, only through MYGIIS. With MYGIIS, parents cannot CC or BCC: to an external email address !
We encourage you to use this blog! Visit our HOME PAGE

The following mail was sent by GIIS SMC to all parents:
From    :    GIIS Announcement
Date : 8/11/2007 [dd/mm/yyyy]
Subject : FEEDBACK process for GIIS schools
Message :

Dear Parents,

This is to inform you that any feedback or information that you wish to provide to GIIS,
on its systems & processes, academic matters & suggestions and improvements, should ONLY
be SENT via the FEEDBACK feature available on MYGIIS intranet parent login. Only such
feedback will be considered official and authentic. This will also help school to track
all feedbacks and take appropriate action where necessary. The feedback is monitored by
the Principal directly.

We wish to highlight that some fake websites or unofficial PSG email ids are in
circulation which are soliciting parents to join them and send feedback. The school has
not given any authorization to these external sources to collect any feedback on behalf
of school. Each and every parent has access to mygiis and can share feedback
confidentially with the school. Parents are advised not to send feedback on emails and
instead use the FEEDBACK feature as listed above on mygiis intranet.

Regards

SMC
GIIS
In the past we parents have used various channels :-
  • the above said "feedbacks" (sic) link on mygiis
  • email to PSG
  • email to Principal (for all urgent matters, we are of the opinion that Principals should be allowed to respond to these emails!)
  • mail to T & G (routine transport issues)
  • pick up the phone (for very urgent matters or special situations)
    (We have a few parents who are more comfortable with Hindi/Tamil, we request the school must consider this factor too as a special situatiion and support them).
The above mail from school assures that the Principal will be monitoring the feedback. We welcome that.

This forum is not just to send feedback. Our goal is to allow parents to share and discuss issues of common interest, comment on them and decide on course of action which will involve sending communication to school / PSG / any such authorities who are willing to listen and tracking the responses and status of issues.

Previously there was another parents forum which seems now dead (GIIS Parents Forum). So it appears that this is the only such forum in existance.

Of course, this is not a forum "blessed" by the school (obvious from the above mail).

We encourage parents to join us without fear. The school cannot prevent us parents from discussing common issues with other parents. Parents can still use the "feedbacks" link or email to PSG at our own choice for very individual specific issues. There is nothing new about that.

Our goal is the betterment of the school and quality education for our kids. This is an uphill task, but together we can succeed.

[Some parents mistakenly assume that this blog was the subject of the previous, more strongly worded, email on 3/11/2007. To clarify, please also read our post on that topic. -Ed 22/11/2007]

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Comments now open to all parents and others in GIIS community

(For current actions see BLOG MAIN PAGE)

Based on your feedback, we have made some changes. We now allow you to comment on a post (without Blogger ID/Google Account). As before, only members (signed in with Blogger ID/Google Account) are allowed to post to the blog.

However, please observe decorum in your comments ! Here are some tips from GIIS Malaysia Parent Forum's Ground Rules (thanks to GIIS Malaysia Parents Action Group) :
The aim is to improve the schooling environment and quality of education. This Blog shall not be used for personal attacks, unsubstantiated claims, malicious comments and other forms of unconstructive usage.
Everyone should remember that all rules and courtesies that we apply in normal life apply in the virtual world as well and every person who publishes his/her comments is responsible for their own words, not the Blog owner.
Further it is important to highlight that posting anonymously does not provide any protection as the IT world is not really "anonymous"
.

What you can do: If you find a certain comment objectionable, please open a new comment under the same post, pointing out the objection (if possible the phrases or specific words).

What we can do: An editor will scan through comments from time to time and try to moderate or remove oobjectionable comments.

How to comment on a post: Click on the link which says (for example) '2 comments' (at the bottom of each post). (If you can't see it, click on the post headline (bold text) first to expand the post).

Thank you for your cooperation !

This is not the "blog" mentioned in the school's email dated 3 Nov 2007 !

(Please also visit our: [MAIN PAGE] [Recent Posts] [Sixty Recent Comments] )

Please refer to the email sent by the school on 3/11/2007 which mentions a "GIIS blog". The school is apparently referring to a certain online petition site (which is not a blog !).

As far as blogs go, we are certain that the blog you are reading is the only GIIS community blog currently active for Singapore. (GIIS Malaysia Parents have a GIIS Malaysia Parent Forum).

[Update 22/11/2007, to clarify to some parents who have misunderstood this matter.
  1. Please refer to the said email. You can view screenshots of this email, at two links taken from the petition site: SCREEN1 and SCREEN2.
    This blog was only launched in October 2007 after the GIH event .
    So if you read the email, it will be very clear to you this blog is NOT the one they were worried about. Clearly, the target was the online petition.
  2. Also, note that the school is confused about the word 'blog'. They were using the word 'blog' to refer to the petition site.
  3. However, a subsequent email dated 8/11/2007 did react to this blog, calling it a "fake website". Please also read our response to that email.
From the above, you can see that we are NOT an "official forum" under the control of the school, directly or indirectly. Our goal is get parents' concerns addressed by working with the school, PSG, or any channel available to us. We know the tactic of misleading parents into a false "good feeling" by taking feedback and doing nothing more: and we are not party to that.

Parents DO NOT NEED TO BE AFRAID to use any medium, blog or e-mail to discuss matters of interest to them, form opinions, analyze, exchange ideas, take a stance....and do not forget to STAND UP FOR YOUR CUSTOMER RIGHTS !
- Ed 22/11/2007]

Friday, November 2, 2007

Teaching of Mathematics

[A small number of parents have this as their 'pet' issue and one has particularly been vocal about it, so we have included this topic here. However, we are open to your ideas and opinions. Do you think this is a big issue for you, a small issue, or not an issue ? Please add your comment below by clicking on the comment link. But first, read on...and see what they have to say! - Ed].

Mathematics teaching needs improvement. The following is a summary (and we have avoided exposing the class/division and the names of the teachers involved). The HOD of Mathematics should take initiative to correct these problems:
  • Teaching methods are antique, especially if we compare with MOE schools or International Schools.
  • Concepts are not taught properly in many lower classes. In some classes this is not a problem, with certain teachers (sorry, names removed!) being reported as very good. Quality of teaching seems to vary a lot, from teacher to teacher.
  • Most teachers are teaching "methods" blindly: e.g. when simplifying a division, cancelling of a 0 in denominator against a 0 in the numerator, without explaining why such cancelling "works".
  • Some parents (who may know from MOE system) have asked for "Maths Olympiad" but it is not taken up. In MOE schools (and some International schools) kids get a chance and are actually being encouraged to take part in it.
  • Frequent changing of teachers is a problem. Maths teacher was changed 4 times in a certain class this year.
  • Compared to other subjects, parents want better teachers for Maths (and Science).
  • Parents have asked for more worksheets for Maths. (Feedback apparently given through PSG twice, PSG said they have passed this item on to the school, but there is no change in the matter yet).
  • Parents are comparing with same class, CBSE syllabus in schools in India where more practise work and worksheets are done regulary and with high expectation on writing correct steps.
[Late Comments will be added below here - Ed]
  1. Parent #1: Prof Ashok Ganguly of CBSE has said: "CBSE-affiliated schools must become global in their outlook and upgrade their curriculum to international standards". Is 80% of the problems curriculum related ? I feel there are no similar problems with IB Maths. So is CBSE to blame, or teaching ? Or both ???? Where exactly is the problem ?
  2. Parent #2:

third campus

Any news on where exactly is the third campus going to be located?

[Note: Please see some info added as a 'comment' to this post.
(Expand the post + comments by clicking on the title of the post).
We will soon be able to send this page to GIIS for answers.
To send a page, click on the email icon and type in the email addresses of the recepients.
If you have any comments on this topic, please add them asap.
I have also tagged ("Label") this as "3rd campus" --Ed]

Need more parents...

Dear Parents,

We need the support of a larger number of parents who can post issues by themselves. We have planned to sort through, type in and post some of the issues that are with us already... but soon, we are counting on a larger community to pitch in and take over. We will also need help to send these posts out to the Principals (as easy as clicking the email icon below the post!). Then we all have to track the status, update the status, verify implementation etc. We already have a mountain of issues about Academics, Transport, Discipline, ECA/CCA, Worksheets (or lack of worksheets), Exam preparedness etc etc.

Please help, spread the word to your friends (send it to five others today!) and sign up yourself. And don't forget to vote on the Surveys ! As soon as we have some spare time, we will have more surveys !

So, watch this space ! But please help yourself by becoming active participants !