REVIEW OF Cambridge International Academy BY parent, Lanny Simmonds
- Date of Review
August 29, 2022
- Child 1
Gr. 7 - Gr. 9 (Female, Current Day Student)
- Child 2
Gr. 6 - Gr. 8 (Male, Current Day Student)
(4) Student Experience
The experience at this school has been very positive. There is plenty of extra help available to the students during class time, breaks and during the after-school homework club. There is plenty of opportunity to get all the work done in the school environment so once my kids are home, they are free to engage in their passions without the worry of school work being an issue. This is nothing like public school. Please note that none of this help will be forced on your child but it is offered and readily available so they have to advocate for themselves or you will have to work with your child to pursue it. There are small class sizes (5 or 6 to 1) and the classes are blended grades. Some may see this as an issue but it has been a positive for us as our kids experience multiple curriculums and benefit from the ability to work up or down at their pace while getting the support to move ahead faster than you would in a public school. Overall I believe this is the best environment for my children and they are progressing much better than they were prior to coming to Cambridge International Academy with significantly better grades in all classes.
(5) School Leadership
The leadership at Cambridge International Academy is second to none. From Lynn the owner and Sandra the principal the leadership is engaged, accommodating and open to anything that is beneficial to the students, their families and the school as a whole. They work with the students to mold the curriculum to best leverage the students' skills and learning styles. They work with the parents to gauge the overall experience and then take swift action to address concerns or areas of improvement while building on the positives. It is evident that the leadership cares about each and every individual they come in contact with and they value the opinions of everyone. They are not afraid to pivot as needed to ensure that whatever they are doing works. I am unwavering in my support and admiration for the leadership team at Cambridge International Academy as they have shown time and time again during the good and the bad with our children, the other students or just the challenges posed by world factors like COVID they have all our best interests in mind and will do what needs to be done to make give the students a great overall experience and help them to become successful.
The teachers are wonderful. There is a great mix of experience and youth. They regularly employ or bring in as assistants newly graduated teachers or individuals that are in the process of getting their certification in order for them to get live experience. I find my kids love this as they get to work with knowledgeable experienced teachers for their core learning experience, while also getting extra or separate tutelage with teachers closer to their age that may be better able to relate to their current interests, life experiences and challenges. Like the leadership in the school, the teachers are also agile in their teaching. We have worked closely with them over the years our children have been enrolled to develop and revise on the fly ways to enhance learning. We worked with the teachers last year to create a work schedule for the whole year that was saved to a google calendar. This allowed us to see the dates when work was assigned and when it was due so we could ensure that we knew what was on our kids' plates. With this information, we could help our children be proactive in getting assignments and homework done on time by leveraging the lead time given instead of leaving everything to the last minute.
At Cambridge International Academy all the standard courses and classes are available and they have qualified staff teaching the students. Due to the international nature of the school's roots and the recent changes needed to accommodate learning during COVID, they have a very well-run Remote Learning program if that is something you need to or would like to take advantage of. During school assemblies, it is so interesting to see remote presentations from students from other parts of the world. Seeing a slide show being run by a student in Hungary, a piano recital from a student in China followed by the local children putting on a play about diversity. It is quite amazing. Cambridge International Academy takes advantage of several teaching methods to accommodate to different learning styles. They use several media types and internet learning tools/sites. They provide hands-on work during class time as well as during their after-school programs like cooking classes, Coding, Robotics, And Violin. Homework can be completed digitally or handwritten whenever available. My son hates to do work on his computer yet my daughter prefers working on the laptop and enhancing her work visually using images and videos. Each style is embraced as we were able to work with the teachers to incorporate these differences into how they were allowed to produce and submit their work. Hey, if your kids hate the work less, they are more likely to do it. If they get to incorporate their passion into it, they are more likely to try harder and do it better. It really works!
There are several options for extracurriculars at Cambridge International Academy. Because there is not a large student body official sports teams are not yet possible but they have in the past run sports clubs if there is an interest. Basketball and TKD clubs have been run in the past as examples. There are several favorites like the weekly Cooking class, Robotics and Coding that are ongoing. There are several others as well but the best part is that the school is flexible and accommodating. We have monthly meetings where we meet and there is an opportunity to suggest new items. All items are taken into consideration and most are implemented. Someone mentioned that their child loved skiing and a month later the school embarked on a full-day ski trip. Request a Lego Club. They implemented one. These are not forced onto anyone, they are based on student interest and if there will be reasonable participation they are more than not willing to accommodate.
To my knowledge, Cambridge International Academy has a low student could from an elementary school level perspective. There are 3 to 5 students at most for each grade level and for the most part, everyone from all age groups seems to get along. I am not familiar with the High school student count. Due to the smaller student count, there is more of an opportunity to create closer bonds among the students there but there is the possibility that your child may not click with the other kids their age which may make the transition and daily school difficult. There is the same thing with Group activities and assignments. There is the possibility with a strong group that they will work off each other's strengths and achieve great results but if all the kids are struggling or do not have a great relationship things can suffer. These examples can happen in regular schools but I feel they are amplified with the small student count. The teachers seem to be able to cope with these potential issues well by knowing the students and doing their best to pair kids up with complementary partners or teams. My children have friends and they get along well one thing to note is the small school size also means that teachers interact with the students more. The conversations students have in public schools and how they interact when the teachers are not there are limited so your child will have to adjust. The teachers are much more aware of what is going on with and between the students and will correct behaviour that may go unnoticed and feel normal to them in a larger school environment. This may be a shock to your child at first but they will adjust.
(4) School Life
There is an adjustment for students and parents as you transition from a larger school to a smaller school. As mentioned, the student interactions are different as they have fewer opportunities to make a group of friends but there is potential for a very close bond with an individual or smaller group. Teachers are present even during free times so there is a different relationship that they have with the students, especially on a social level. This can be a challenge as students have to tone down some of the behaviors that they may exhibit in the school environment when there are no teachers around. Some take longer than others to adjust. This is a great thing though when it comes to the teachers being able to know your child and work with them effectively. It is also great for a student that may not feel comfortable working with teachers normally but has that closer personal relationship and comfort level to be able to ask for assistance with an assignment or lesson they are struggling with.
There is a great community at Cambridge International Academy. There are monthly parent council meetings and there is great participation. the school provides relevant information and invites the parents to participate in all aspects of school decision-making. Most all parents participate provide their feedback and share the child's feedback with all so that we can learn from their experiences and celebrate their achievements. Parents are given the opportunity to participate in field trips. If they have sufficient credentials host extracurricular activities and suggest or vote on upcoming events, field trips and group activities. Even the curriculum is up for discussion as they look to inject new life into subjects and class time that students do not enjoy. Not only can we help chose what is being done but in that monthly forum we review new and ongoing items and if there is an issue it is reviewed and if need be cancelled if it is in the best interest of the students. The system works great. All suggestions and comments are considered. I have never heard of anyone speaking ill of or minimizing any other person's experiences, comments or suggestions. As parents of our two students, we feel empowered to contribute to the continual growth of our school experience for the better.
(3) School Location
The school is located in the middle of a mini-industrial area. It is not on a major street but is not located in a residential area. There is no park or playground on the premises so all outside time for the students is accompanied by teachers for children that are not of an age that they are able to venture out on their own. There is a park that the students are taken to multiple times a week. There are several fast food and sit-down restaurants in close proximity for those interested in going out during their break and lunch times.
Transitioning from a public school is a big decision. Adding another monthly payment to your current stack of bills is not something that anyone would be looking forward to. Ultimately for us, it was clear that public school was not working for our children and the onset of COVID and remote learning exacerbated these issues we were having even further. In looking for alternative options we found Cambridge International Academy and decided to take advantage of their Homework Club to introduce them to the environment. From there, we built a relationship with the leadership and faculty and they learned about us and our children. It didn't take long for us to see the benefits that Cambridge International Academy could offer. We worked with the administrative team and leaders to agree upon goals we had set to bring our children back up to grade level over the coming years. It was easy once the decision was made to get enrolled. After a few forms, a meeting between us, our children and their assigned teachers went over everything, and we were good to go.