One of the most important factors parents need to consider when sending their children to ISB is the fundamental difference in the methods we use to teach Mathematics.
Mathematics is a subject close to the hearts of most parents. It is the subject we have most discussions and concerns about during parent evenings and open days. When we have Maths related workshops for parents, they are always well attended. It is a subject we prioritise at our new parent interviews.
So why are parents so concerned, especially Romanian parents? It is true that at first sight, when we compare our Maths books in each year group in the primary school with the Romanian equivalents, there appears to more Maths in the latter – more computation and more calculations, more repetition and more complexity in certain concepts at an earlier age. This can be a little disconcerting for our parents at first glance.
So what benefits are there to following the ISB Maths curriculum, or the English National Curriculum? Our children learn Mathematics at a slightly slower pace and follow a different methodology. They unpick the processes that are involved in calculations and are taught a number of strategies to compute. They are taught why numbers behave in a certain way and identify patterns. They also learn to apply the skills they are learning in a practical way: measuring the perimeter of the table, the school football pitch or weighing ingredients to bake a cake.
Each area of Maths we cover, whether it be number- place value, addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, fractions (including decimals and percentages), ratio and proportion: Algebra and Geometry, or statistics, it has a carefully designed list of objectives which follow the mathematical development of the child from Year 1 to Year 6.
Teachers plan using these objectives, but also using their knowledge and understanding of the individual children. Each new Maths unit includes the teaching of new concepts which build upon the children’s previous learning and the opportunity to practice and consolidate new learning in both written and practical applications, including real life problem solving.
All of this means that children are learning Maths in a broader and more in-depth way. We feel this prepares our children well for the secondary curriculum, including IGCSE and IB examinations, but also for life.
It is true to say our pathways may be different, but they both lead to the same outcome. Our curriculum and methodology may be different, but the end results are the same. Our students in primary enjoy their Maths very much and in secondary school they go on to excel in Maths at IGCSE and A levels, surpassing pass rates of UK schools.
The decision to send your children to an international school is never an easy one and I am sure that the teaching of Maths will continue to be an important deciding factor in this. However, it is my hope that we can agree that there is no better or worse, or right or wrong between the Romanian system and the English System; there is simply the curriculum and methodology which best suits your child, and this should be the deciding factor.
Mrs. Kerry Harris
Head of Primary School
International School of Bucharest