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Comments on CNIS-Chinese International School

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annegg
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Comments on CNIS-Chinese International School

Postby annegg » Sat, 05 Jul 2008 8:57 pm

For those looking for an International School offering a strong Chinese Curriculum, I would advise against the Chinese International School on Dunearn Road (CNIS).

At first glance, the school seems to promise what many expatriate families are seeking - an IB curriculum taught by native English speakers and a strong Chinese curriculum taught by native Chinese speakers. Unfortunately, the school is not what it appears. We enrolled our children there last Fall, and will not return in Fall of 2008.

First, although the school was established two years ago, they lack even basic essentials, such as a coordinated curriculum and a discipline policy. While it is true that the school is an IB school at the Diploma level (Grades 11 and 12), as of June 2008 they are not an IB school at the Primary or Middle school. Presently, nothing ensures the children in Primary 2 are prepared for Primary 3, or P3 for P4, and so on. In addition, the school told us to purchase textbooks, many of which were never used. (This is just as well, since many of the books were far too simplistic.)

Furthermore, the school's commitment to their students' safety is questionable. They operated for most of the second semester this year without a school nurse. I suspect they would, in fact still be without a school nurse, had it not been for a group of parents that presented a petition to the school principal demanding a school nurse. They also failed to maintain the playground equipment, which lead to several serious injuries, including broken bones.

It's unfortunate. They have a wonderful concept and some outstanding faculty. Sadly, many of the faculty are leaving because of the way the school is run.

In short, this school might be worth considering in the future, but for the time being, I would recommend against it.
Last edited by annegg on Tue, 09 Sep 2008 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Mary D » Sun, 06 Jul 2008 2:27 pm

See the OFS post earlier in this forum for a link to another site where there is a lot more details about whats happening at CNIS, I think it might be a lot worse than it appears to parents, in fact I think it might be very serious as some of the things listed there make what you have listed seem minor by comparison.

What kind of school is this? :shock:

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Postby Mary D » Sun, 06 Jul 2008 2:29 pm

Link is here, OFS post is too far back.

http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=62926

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Postby ScoobyDoes » Mon, 07 Jul 2008 6:22 pm

Is this perfectly serious?

If so it gives me something new to think about because i was looking to put my son into there next year because i liked the idea of studies being in both English and Mandarin.

We'd not gone round for a look yet as that would be in a month or two's time but this is news to me obviously.

What are the alternatives then?

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Postby annegg » Mon, 07 Jul 2008 8:27 pm

Unfortunately, it's all too serious. We were also attracted to the school because of the opportunity for our children to study English and Chinese. We toured the school and thought things were acceptable. As the year wore on however, we discovered there were a number of things lacking.

We are still looking for alternatives ourselves, so I'm sorry I can't offer much help - other than to say that we are considering inviting someone into the home to help the children learn Chinese outside of school.

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CNIS

Postby abserf » Tue, 08 Jul 2008 9:47 pm

I had a look around CNIS 3 months back - I honestly felt that something was not quite right for me. I think they attract students as they are about 25% cheaper than most other Intl schools and there is no waitlist. However, their mission was not clear to me - are they aiming for Chinese students, western expats or who? I didn't understand what teaching system or syllabus they were following in Primary - I got the impression that IB PYP was just an aspiration at this stage. Also they had a long xmas holiday followed by a very short term at school (a couple of weeks I recall) followed by another several weeks holiday for Chinese New Year - this gave me the impression they were trying to cater for both Chinese and Western holiday requirements resulting in an unbalanced school calendar.

I concluded that if you want your children to learn a lot of chinese then better send them to a local school - they're nearly free of charge, they'll pick it up from other kids and they have a proper syllabus and a defined learning system (although it isn't everyone's ideal). The only problem I then found is that many of the schools were either full (or said they were full) or seemed positively disinterested in taking foreigners.

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Postby Mary D » Wed, 09 Jul 2008 8:59 am

The academic concerns are important but there are other things said to have happened at CNIS that worry far more.
Last edited by Mary D on Wed, 09 Jul 2008 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 09 Jul 2008 2:40 pm

"there are other things said to have happened"

How old was the student? How young was the teacher? Was it illegal. If the guy was of legal age I would guess it was not illegal. Was it wrong? Guess that also depends on the POV. From theirs, I guessing the answer was not. From the schools POV probably very much so. Or at least it should have been. :wink:

Is there proof of this or it is one of those "they say" type of things that, by you repeating it here on the open media, could land you in court for libel? It could very well be just a disgruntled parent of a kid who is no longer in the school being vindictive and just posting garbage all over the internet out of spite.

However, one student and one teacher do not, a school, make . Don't reckon it's ever happened anywhere else either......... :roll:

I reckon if one teacher and one student were involved that automatically, by default, makes all the teachers and students the same right? :wink:

Parents with those thought processes worry me more than the going-ons at the school. Somebody should have given those parents a Darwin Award BEFORE they had children.

Anyway, apparently there are some problem with CNIS. Having said that I think maybe we should just leave it as is unless anybody has documented proof of allegations as you may well put our hosts at legal risk if it were proven that your comments are/were unfounded.

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Re: CNIS

Postby ScoobyDoes » Wed, 09 Jul 2008 3:43 pm

abserf wrote:I concluded that if you want your children to learn a lot of chinese then better send them to a local school - they're nearly free of charge, they'll pick it up from other kids and they have a proper syllabus and a defined learning system (although it isn't everyone's ideal). The only problem I then found is that many of the schools were either full (or said they were full) or seemed positively disinterested in taking foreigners.



THIS is the problem. I wouldn't mind putting my son into a local school but as a non-PR we are at the very end of the pecking order.

I will not apply for PR status for him because i will not be held responsible for him having to do National Service here, when he doesn't even have to do it for his home coutnry.

People say NS is a way of "giving back" to society but as a foreigner i believe my paying more taxes than many others is already pay-back enough....... but that's a whole other conversation.

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CNIS (Chinese International School, Dunearn Road, Singapore)

Postby delia2 » Mon, 04 Aug 2008 4:06 pm

Our child attends CNIS (the Chinese International School) in
the primary/kindergarten section and we have a very favorable
impression of the teachers, the students, and the classroom
environments. The central administration of the school needs
improvement, but we're willing to give them time to improve
because of the great education our child is getting.

Talking to old-timers at "brand name" International Schools,
I've heard their horror stories about trying to organize a
new institution. I'm not sure the situation at CNIS is any worse
than other schools' start-ups and growing pains. If the situation
at CNIS is any harder, it may be because CNIS is doing a
lot of extremely novel programs and because their staff come
from radically different educational systems. This east-meets-west
situation gives the school strength and not just problems. A lot
of the staff have moved far from home to participate in the
vision of this school, and you shouldn't underestimate the impact
of dedicated and passionate teachers.

If good teachers are leaving, that would be horrible, but I
don't think that's true. Rumors about staff departures have gone
around before, but the only departures I know about are
3 teachers, 2 support, and 2 administrators, in almost 2 years.
5/7 of them were not accomplishing as much in their jobs as I'd
expect. 2/7 will be sorely missed.

Although I think very highly of the teachers at CNIS, what I like
most about this school is that it has attracted parents who care
enough about bilingual education and intercultural understanding
that they've made it a priority for their childern. Some really
remarkable parents have chosen this school, and these
remarkable parents are raising some remarkable children---
who are now the peer group for our child. I credit that peer
group as much as I credit the teachers for creating a good
educational environment. We've tried other schools and other
Mandarin programs, but this is the best we've found so far
for our child.

Don't make an important decision based on internet gossip
unless you want your children to make their important life
decisions based on internet gossip.

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CNIS parent

Postby 5gypsies » Sat, 06 Sep 2008 6:11 pm

Hi - my three children are all students of CNIS primary section. After almost two years in Singapore - CNIS is our preferred school - following stints at both Overseas Family School and Avondale Grammar. I have read with some dismay the gossip printed in previous posts about the school - wondering what the motives of the author really were. Seemed a little vindictive, angry - but an unsuccessful school experience can make for a negative reaction.

If you are new to the Singapore International School system - there are a few recommendations that I would like to make:
1. Assume that you will be totally ripped off. It is hard to imagine what a $25000 a year primary school education should look like - but I would guess that at least one of my kids should make it into Harvard by the age of 10 -on those school fees. Unfortunately our experience is that at least one third of the teachers we have had allocated to teach our kids in the past two years have been lacking in skills, international experience, and the ability to spell. Bus services are a wonderful example of the exploitation of expats. The last quote I received for return journeys to school for 3 kids was $800 per month. It takes 40minutes to walk this journey.
2. All schools have their good and bad points. Listen to the stories but make up your own mind. Whatever you do, never believe a thing the recruitment officers tell you .... it is 90% rubbish. (eg I have been promised swimming pools; Jamie Oliver style canteens; weekly art/it/music lessons; etc)
3. Consider what you really want to give your child out of their Singapore experience. Some families want for their child to be able to return to their home country without having any disruption to their education - and hence will enrol the child in a school offering the education program similar to that from the school they left. Other families hope for their kids to have a totally different experience by being immersed in a different culture, system and language. Lots of theories and ideas on both these approaches - and it is a decision that will give your search for an educational institution direction.
4. If possible get the company to pay for 100% of the schooling including buses - with the bills being sent directly to the company. Saves much anguish on the realization of what is really going on (see pt 1).

So - we are at CNIS. The kids love it. Yes there are some teething and culturally related problems, but the school offers small classes; dedicated teachers offering a good basic academic program (which will hopefully become PYP sometime in the next 3 years); 10 hours of Mandarin a week (which is the only way a child will get to learn mandarin in an International School); and an amazing mix of kids and staff from many different cultures. The school may not have pools and tennis courts - but our kids have been at a school with all the facilities and not had access to them due to student population of 3000. What we hope to get out of our CNIS experience for our kids is an understanding of Chinese and Singaporean cultures; a headstart in attaining fluency in Mandarin; and a healthy interest in other cultures that opens their worlds.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 07 Sep 2008 1:13 pm

Thank you for an unbiased post. It's sad when a new school that does have some teething problems (don't we all when in new surroundings/startups) is attacked with malice over and over by the same poster with what seems to be a vendetta.

Seems to me, two years ago, we had a rash of similar posts from another poster regarding Tanglin Trust as well. If there are problems, fine, but let's not go on a continual rant as that, to me, indicates not so much a problem with the school but with the poster.

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Postby Forks » Sun, 07 Sep 2008 1:51 pm

I doubt that CNIS is a total disaster school but to ascribe all the posts about CNIS (of which there have been a lot lately) to "rumor" only or "totaly true" is avoiding the issues raised by the people posting. I agree that people might post because they have an axe to grind but seeing that no other International School of late has been drawing such comment I would like to point out a few things.

A. most of the posts about CNIS seem to have a fair degree of detail about the problems, they list specific incidents and while they dont name names you get the idea that these people are more in the variety of concerned parents rather than trouble makers.

B. I have herd stories about other International School but in most cases these seem to concern the management of the school in regards to its staff/teachers and not the students. CNIS seems to have problems which do in fact relate to issues of safety, and organization of the school not just disgruntled teachers posting angry rants.

C. CNIS has featured on this forum more than any other International School in Singapore of late and in most of the posts are negative so even if we were to remove half as being false we are still left with a substantial amount of posts by various individuals about a school which after being in business for 3 years sounds like its still in first gear.

D. The most detailed posts are by parents (or seem to be) and not teachers or other individuals so I think that the level of concern by a parent to post about the school must be enough to warrant not just dismissing these posts as 'rumor', sure we cant check these facts but given the detail and amount of comment and being a parent with children in an International School (paying those incredible fees) I want more than just my moneys worth but I want to know that what I have paid (specifically safety concerns) for is going to provide my children with what it says it will and while we can always dismiss what is posted as an isolated incident or rumor I tent to go with the adage about where there is smoke there is fire (of one sort or another).

Most parents with children in International Schools seem to be happy by what the school provides and there are always some who are not but I do pay attention when such posts come up.

SMS, why is a poster who has never posted before, posting against the general opinions of other posters on this thread (and others) "unbiased" and the others automatically biased? If it was a regular to this forum I would be more inclined to agree with you but given that this is the first time that poster has been here it could just as much as be the schools PR dept doing some spin control/damage control as much as anyone else might be grinding their axe.

Schools defiantly have their teething problems but the level of International Schools in Singapore is very high (prices included I might add) but this one doesn't seem to be very high up in the public opinion of things here and I do wonder why more than just dismiss it as fabricated or malicious posts.

I have two kids in an International School and take the time to know what the school is doing and how my kids are, and in the course of meeting other parents I do hear about other schools and if I herd what I have read about CNIS I would want some answers.
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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 08 Sep 2008 2:17 pm

Forks wrote:SMS, why is a poster who has never posted before, posting against the general opinions of other posters on this thread (and others) "unbiased" and the others automatically biased? If it was a regular to this forum I would be more inclined to agree with you but given that this is the first time that poster has been here it could just as much as be the schools PR dept doing some spin control/damage control as much as anyone else might be grinding their axe.

Schools defiantly have their teething problems but the level of International Schools in Singapore is very high (prices included I might add) but this one doesn't seem to be very high up in the public opinion of things here and I do wonder why more than just dismiss it as fabricated or malicious posts.


You have spend a bit of time typing your message above. And, while well thought out, misses a very relevant point. There were only 2 posters with axes to grind against this school. They both registered around the same time just to grind those axes and to link to another site (with a solitary poster with an axe to grind there - may well have been one of the same people that registered here for all I know). So the last two posters are just as relevant as the first two are from my point of view. You should have looked at the profiles of the other two who were ranting in the beginning as they also registered ONLY to post about this in two threads and have never posted again. So there is no difference with the exception that one of the original posters was spamming across multiple forums. That tells me something.

So, I'm more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the school rather than someone who possible 'thought' that they had a raw deal. We don't know, but the two posters could have been a husband & wife team. So I would have to give the benefit of the doubt to the latest poster as I don't think the school would still be running if it was as bad as the two original ranters made it out to be. You assessment of parents venting is somewhat skewed though. A parent who thinks they have been done by, are usually not calm and tend to rant as the two here had done (and it's only been two).

While there are, apparently, some teething problems to be sure, at the moment the score stands as even to me. So, I would have to say the first two should be taken with a grain of salt as should the last two, while admitting there are teething problems, also find it isn't as bad as the first to tried to indicate in their rants. And, you also indicated yourself:

I have two kids in an International School and take the time to know what the school is doing and how my kids are, and in the course of meeting other parents I do hear about other schools and if I herd what I have read about CNIS I would want some answers.


So are you actually saying you only know about this through two posters the forum?

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Postby Forks » Mon, 08 Sep 2008 3:40 pm

ok, so I didnt look at the other posters details, I will admit that but most of the posts on this forum (as there are others posts about the school) were parents making comment about the school, so yes maybe they did have axes to grind as well, but it was mostly the comment by you about "unbiased". so if we tally up three potential axe grinders and for the moment assume that its not a husband and wife conspiracy as one claimed they had removed their kids and the other says they still have them there, add in the links to others posts about the school on other sites, most of which dont seem to mention much good about it then its seems to be 2 to 1 in the count of first post axe grinders, but I take your point although i dont think any school would officially address such commentary on this forum.

As I mentioned being a parent with kids in an International School I get to talk to other parents (who at least seem more informed about the scene than I) and who more than once have mentioned the school in less than glowing terms so when I read the forums and the name comes up I have already herd about the school from other parents, so in most incidents the school gets bad press, and yes all schools get a bit, but how many times can a school get labeled before people look at it and wonder?

If your own children s school was receiving such commentary (im assuming you have children for the sake of the argument) then would you assume the school was more likely to be correct? Or any business for that matter, Im more commenting on two points.

A. how much negative press (be it axe grinders or otherwise) can be delivered before its not seen as axe grinding and possibly based on something?

and

B. being that we dont know who any of the posters really are and baring conspiracy how else are we to know what is real and not? I go by the amount of detail in the posts about the school and the negative ones are in depth, indicating someone who has had contact with the school, while the one in defence of its relies on cheerful generalities like "well it didnt seem that way to me" kind of stuff, in such circumstances which testimony would you be more likely to go with?

As a caveat to that from what I have herd it seems that the primary school is a lot better than the middle and high schools as the comments from the links to other sites seemed to address more problems there than the primary and given that other International Schools run their schools as separate departments maybe this is more than one problem.

I do add that the parents I meet do love to gossip and I quite happily lap it up so maybe its all just one big rumor that got started and is now out of control, a rouge meme, all smoke and no fire but if I was to take what is written as having some grains of truth Id still go with the biased negative than the biased positive.
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