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saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

Old Jul 1st 2009, 8:27 pm
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Default saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

hi there!

Have posted a couple of times about things in the middle east.

we are now also looking for info about saudi?

a short synopsis!

basically we ARE moving away - my dh is a teacher and we had planned for him to take a one year secondment from his current job, giving us opportunity to come back if needed - however he has just turned down a job because they wanted him in august/septmeber an dhe couldnt go until october (long story complicated leaving rules for teachers in contract!!!?) however they have now decline his secondment so as for bridges not being burnt who cares anymore!!!!???? our plan is to travle for next 5 - 7 years by then we will have savings our debts paid and a huge amount of life experience and travel under our belts for us and our children - then we can settle for them for senior school - looking at several places - anyway we are now looking at my dh taking a job for september start as we figure we have one life and to be damned we want to experience it (long story as to how we got there!!! )

anyways - we had been looking into dubai, abu dhabi are - now a job has come up in saudi - riyadh - we are looking for some general info - safety etc - the school is the british international school - excellent rep and results etc - the compound would be the al hamra oasis viilage compound (AOVC) - i know i cant drive over there - we cant drink i would have to wear an abeya (sp!??) in public etc - i would embrace a change in culture - this is what we ant out of life - many experiences - as long as they are safe!!!!!!!!!!!! for our children more than us really!


so does anyone live there? work in the school? have children in the school?

we are looking for info all over really - a very big world and we have options so we want to make sure if we make choices on those options that they are ok and safe!

thanks in advance!

Ellie
xxx
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Old Jul 3rd 2009, 6:53 am
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Default Re: saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

OK I will try and remain reasonable here considering I am leaving the Kingdom in THREE DAYS - hurray, hurray bloody hurray.

Al Hamra is a really nice compound with all the faclities you would expect in a top end Western Compound in Riyadh. It's full of families, many of whose children go to BISR and many of the adults work at BISR, so a bit difficult to get away from work. There are many nationalities on the compound, but predominantly it is Brits, Lebansese and Egyptians.

BISR is not as good as other schools in the Gulf. There are some truly amazing teachers there, and some real dinosaurs. The management level is truly awful, but there is a new head master starting in September so hopefully he will be a new broom. Already there are changes and there will be a new Head of Senior Section, new head of sixth form, new Head of Languages and a few other 'new' postings where contracts have not been renewed or people have left. This is my view as a parent of teenagers who attended BISR for 2 years. Can't comment on the primnary section, I know parents who are happy with the school and parents who are truly not. The happy ones tend to be those who's children have only every schooled in Riyadh or came from some skanky school in UK. But as I said before some of the teachers are brilliant and lovely people. I think the new management could make a huge difference and really pull the school up to first class levels.

I would say if you have a child who is gifted/talented at something this is not the place to be, be it sport, art, music etc. as there are no facilities for that kind of thing. Also if you have a child with any sort of difficulty, be it medical, learning, etc. this is also not the place to be.

Saudi is safe at the moment. There are the odd 'warnings' re terrorist threats, but I feel as safe here as anywhere. Not being able to drive is a huge pain in the arse and wearing an abbaya hot in the summer.

if you have an offer in Dubai or Abi Dhabi I would say take that rather than the one in Saudi.

Saudi is doable if you have a goal in mind and the package will allow you to save while still having a good lifestyle. i thikn there is quite a good social scene amongst the teachers at BISR and you will find it easy to make friends on the compound and your children will never be bored as thier friends will all live close by.

Hope this helps
N
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Old Jul 3rd 2009, 11:00 am
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Default Re: saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

Hi apologies for jumping in on this thread, but I have just joined British Expats, as I am expecting a job offer to come that will involve coming out to Saudi for 2 years with wife and 3 year old son. Do you know approximate costs of the British School in Al Hamra per month, as still trying to work out if the offer is viable. We have asked Al Hamra for quotes on 3 bed villas, plus Cordoba, which also looks nice.

Many thanks for any info received from anyone.

Rob
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Old Jul 3rd 2009, 11:34 am
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Default Re: saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

hi there - here is a link to the fee structure for the school - http://www.britishschoolriyadh.com/home_Frameset.htm - this is the school my dh has applied to - does the company you will be working for provide and education package? ie placement into schools or fees partially or fully paid for?

hi nic - thanks for the info - it is good to get all round information from people - when we move we want to move with our eyes wide open!

a question about women covering up? i know we have to outside the compound but when we are inside are women allowed to dress how they please - as in shorts, vest tops etc - are there any restrictions inside the compund at all? also how would it work when you arrive getting from the airport to the compound - would i have to have an abeya with me to put on etc?

thankyou again for all the info!

ellie
xxx




rob - links to the compound and to the school

http://www.alhamra.com.sa/
http://www.britishschoolriyadh.com
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Old Jul 3rd 2009, 11:56 am
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Smile Re: saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

Hi Ellie,

Many thanks for the quick reply, I have not received the actual offer yet, and knowing how quickly things happen in Saudi, I am not expecting it tomorrow!

I have just started investigating and realise there is a lot of things I need to find out, i.e., not just the headline amount, but what else, if anything is included, accommodation allowance, school fees, health insurance, flights etc, which could make what seems like a good offer actually a very bad one!

Also, I did not appreciate that the compounds would be full, I did spent some time as a single guy in Riyadh back in 2001-2002, and then the compunds seemed empty, mind you, the fact that most people had left due to the Gulf war may have had some impact.

Anyway, many thanks for the very useful info, it gives me something to be able to bargain with when discussing the offer, I don't want us to move out and find we cannot afford to save, as that is the only reason I can think of for people working in Saudi, no cinema, disco, booze, (except for home brew) and no Sunday (Friday) pork out breakfast, (sausage, bacon, black pudding etc!!

Rgds,
Rob
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Old Jul 3rd 2009, 12:11 pm
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Default Re: saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

Hi, re travelling from the airport - some people don't wear abbayas but we always do - just in case we have an accident, break down, get stopped etc. Get your husband to buy a cheap one for you on your arrival and then you can go 'posh' abbaya shoppping when you arrive. Came back a few weeks ago from Cyprus - got on the plane and realised I'd left my abbaya in the hire car - was wearing shorts and t-shirt - got off the plane wearing my daughters sweatshirt and a Cyprus Airways blanket round my waist . . . No-one batted an eyelid, but would have if I'd been wearing shorts. . . . My kids couldn't stop laughing!!

On the Western compounds you can wear what you want, many of them having a no heads covered policy, and no scarves/abbays by the pool to prevent uncomfortablness for ex-pats. On our compound (Kingdom) abbayas are not allowed at all, and no head scarves either, so the women who do cover tend to wear baseball hats to get round it - which is fine.

N
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Old Jul 4th 2009, 8:51 am
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Default Re: saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

Originally Posted by Nic1 View Post
OK I will try and remain reasonable here considering I am leaving the Kingdom in THREE DAYS - hurray, hurray bloody hurray.

Al Hamra is a really nice compound with all the faclities you would expect in a top end Western Compound in Riyadh. It's full of families, many of whose children go to BISR and many of the adults work at BISR, so a bit difficult to get away from work. There are many nationalities on the compound, but predominantly it is Brits, Lebansese and Egyptians.

BISR is not as good as other schools in the Gulf. There are some truly amazing teachers there, and some real dinosaurs. The management level is truly awful, but there is a new head master starting in September so hopefully he will be a new broom. Already there are changes and there will be a new Head of Senior Section, new head of sixth form, new Head of Languages and a few other 'new' postings where contracts have not been renewed or people have left. This is my view as a parent of teenagers who attended BISR for 2 years. Can't comment on the primnary section, I know parents who are happy with the school and parents who are truly not. The happy ones tend to be those who's children have only every schooled in Riyadh or came from some skanky school in UK. But as I said before some of the teachers are brilliant and lovely people. I think the new management could make a huge difference and really pull the school up to first class levels.

I would say if you have a child who is gifted/talented at something this is not the place to be, be it sport, art, music etc. as there are no facilities for that kind of thing. Also if you have a child with any sort of difficulty, be it medical, learning, etc. this is also not the place to be.

Saudi is safe at the moment. There are the odd 'warnings' re terrorist threats, but I feel as safe here as anywhere. Not being able to drive is a huge pain in the arse and wearing an abbaya hot in the summer.

if you have an offer in Dubai or Abi Dhabi I would say take that rather than the one in Saudi.

Saudi is doable if you have a goal in mind and the package will allow you to save while still having a good lifestyle. i thikn there is quite a good social scene amongst the teachers at BISR and you will find it easy to make friends on the compound and your children will never be bored as thier friends will all live close by.

Hope this helps
N
I would like to differ on this bit. Sport in the school has been good in the past, and as far as I know, still is. There is a swimming pool, gym, large sports hall, outdoor all weather pitch, plus 200m running track. The slight hitch is the lack of other schools to compete against, but there is the multinational and the american school. There used to be an Inter Riyadh Sports League with tournaments and fixtures. I do not know if this still operates. The school swiming team is also well trained/organised and well regarded. They do GCSE PE and I believe are starting A level.

I also believe the Art Department has excellent results, they certainly used to, so I dont know where your comments come from in this regard.

I think with a good management team, it will probably be better. Up until 2004, there was an excellent Principal and the school was well run. I can't comment on the last 5 years, but believe there have been some hiccups of late. If you are living in Riyadh I wouldnt hesitate in recommending the school. If you have been offered a job in the school - take it!
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Old Jul 4th 2009, 9:06 am
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Default Re: saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

Yes, up to 2004 it was good apparently - but we are now talking 2009, five years later, when it isn't so good, particularly compared to like for like in the rest of the Gulf and elsewhere in the world. Yes, there is a strong swim team - but to know if your child is really good at a sport they need to be competing against strong teams from other schools (not just the American and the Multinat . . .). There just isn't enough good competition out here for children who are gifted/talented is what I am saying. There are very very few after-school activities available for the children, sporting or otherwise. Our children came from a school where all the teachers had to offer at least one hours after school activity a week - the choice was huge and covered everythiing from knitting to rock climbing, all the team sports, chess, bridge, and on and on. All the teachers had to be in school until 4pm, here the kids get pushed over by the teachers as they rush for the school buses to get home. Phone the school 5 minutes after the end of day bell and you can't speak to most of the teachers as they've already left.

The great art teacher for GCSE has left which is a huge shame. The head of sixth form has left after a year.

I wouldn't say don't take the job, but I would say think carefully before bringing your children here. We hope the new head will make changes but change is inevitably slow and for our two children too late. Perhaps in another 2-3 years it will be as good as other schools in the Gulf, but it isn't going to happen overnight.

N
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Old Jul 7th 2009, 10:38 am
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Default Re: saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

Originally Posted by Nic1 View Post
Yes, up to 2004 it was good apparently - but we are now talking 2009, five years later, when it isn't so good, particularly compared to like for like in the rest of the Gulf and elsewhere in the world. Yes, there is a strong swim team - but to know if your child is really good at a sport they need to be competing against strong teams from other schools (not just the American and the Multinat . . .). There just isn't enough good competition out here for children who are gifted/talented is what I am saying. There are very very few after-school activities available for the children, sporting or otherwise. Our children came from a school where all the teachers had to offer at least one hours after school activity a week - the choice was huge and covered everythiing from knitting to rock climbing, all the team sports, chess, bridge, and on and on. All the teachers had to be in school until 4pm, here the kids get pushed over by the teachers as they rush for the school buses to get home. Phone the school 5 minutes after the end of day bell and you can't speak to most of the teachers as they've already left.

The great art teacher for GCSE has left which is a huge shame. The head of sixth form has left after a year.

I wouldn't say don't take the job, but I would say think carefully before bringing your children here. We hope the new head will make changes but change is inevitably slow and for our two children too late. Perhaps in another 2-3 years it will be as good as other schools in the Gulf, but it isn't going to happen overnight.

N
It's sad to hear what you have to say about the commitment of the teachers to extra curricular activities. Again in the years leading up to 2004, the teachers there were queuing (sp?) up to take teams and sports practices. In addition, their commitment to Inter House competitions and whole school drama productions was exemplary.

Hopefully the new man on the block will be able to reinatate a more positive work ethos in the staff.
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Old Aug 19th 2009, 9:03 am
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Default Re: saudi - info - AOVC? british international school?

Of course it's not all bad, and some of the teachers were just fab. But overall it had lost its way I feel. Hopefully, as you say, the new chap will get things back on track, expecially as there seems to be a huge influx of newcomers to Riyadh who will need decent schooling.

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