Greenwood High is located off of Sarjapur Road near Whitefield on a sprawling campus with wide open spaces and lots of greenery around. It's close to the two international schools - The International School of Bangalore (TISB) and Indus International School - and to Inventure Academy, and is around a hour's drive from Jayanagar. There are only two access roads to the school, one via Sarjapur Road and the other via Airport-Varthur Road.
My son moved from Joshika Montessori in J.P. Nagar to Greenwood High last year for first grade. He had completed 3/4 of the LKG year (pre-K) and the entire UKG year at Joshika. Joshika does not have higher grades.
The most important characteristic I was looking for in his new school was a rounded education with equal emphasis on academics as well as extra-curricular activities. At Joshika, although it was a Montessori school, there was too much emphasis on academics because the kids were being prepared to face entrance tests for first grade in schools such as Kumaran's (note that some parents actually hound the school to pack the curriculum with matter that will help their kids do well in the entrance tests). There was too much emphasis on completing portions and not enough time for anything other than writing reams and reams of paper worth of alphabets, fruit names, animal names, paragraphs on school, friends, family, multiplication tables, number names, and doing subtraction and addition by the time the kids were done with UKG.
Although he was taking piano lessons outside of school while in LKG and UKG, once he moved to first grade there would be no time to drive 45 minutes each way as we did to his teacher's house twice a week. I was looking for a school that would provide ample opportunity for activities such as music within the school curriculum even if it meant him staying back at school a little longer once or twice a week.
Greenwood seemed perfect and it addressed all the concerns I had with traditional schools - class-strength was a maximum of 24 (18-20 was the norm), extra-curricular activities were worked into the school timetable (there was chess, Indian music, Western music, computers, art and sports), the campus had ample lung space and was great for the kids to run around in, the buildings were built with children in mind with child friendly bathrooms, cubby holes and lockers for their belongings and a nurse's station. And to top it all the fee was less than 1/10th of what the international schools charged.
The management seemed eager to help and we were promised that piano lessons would be arranged for him separately so he could continue at his level. We were also promised that since the class strength was low, the teachers would easily assess where he was and give him additional work as necessary so he would not repeat much of the work he had already completed in UKG.
As far as we were concerned, the only drawback was the distance (although we were told kids came to Greenwood from as far away as Kanakapura Road (at least a two-hour ride by the school bus each way) and were none the worse for it) and the condition of the roads (which is abysmal at best).
Based on the administration's assurances regarding the extra-curricular activities and individual attention, our son moved to Greenwood for first grade. School ended about a month ago and I can safely say that he had a far better experience in first grade at Greenwood than in kindergarten at his previous school. He loved his chess classes, the music classes and sports. He did very well in class with an intimate group of classmates and he loved going off in a bus with his schoolmates every morning.
As the school year wore on, I realized that the administration had promised many things at the initial interview that they perhaps had an intention of fulfilling, but were unable to or did not for reasons best known to them. The school is still a work in progress. Much of the facility is still under construction. The swimming pool, tennis courts and horse riding tracks, which were supposed to be functional by the start of the school year last year, are still not complete.
My son never got his piano lessons at school (which had me scrambling to find a piano teacher outside of school which in turn is another story in itself) although he had the general Western music class along with the rest of the students. Repeated following up only received further assurances and the excuse that the school was still in its teething stages and the facilities would improve in the coming year. Moreover, the teachers came from traditional school environments where class strength above 50 is the norm and they are not able to wrap their minds around the concept of individual attention. The teachers find it easier to offer the same lesson plans to each student no matter what levels the students are at.
My experience at Greenwood is only limited to this past year, but I understand that the promises about superior facilities and offerings at Greenwood have been made for the past two or three years with not much to show for them and fees are not discounted accordingly. In fact, parents are facing an almost 25% increase in fees for the coming academic year. I also understand that the Principal has left to join Indus International School and that a new Principal has been hired for the coming academic year.
If you are looking for a well-rounded curriculum and are coming back to India for good or plan to spend a few years here and are willing to give the school a year or two to get its act together, then Greenwood is a great place for kids. It's thrilling to drive up to the school and walk in through the huge entrance to the fields and class rooms beyond and see kids of all ages pouring out the school buses. My son and his schoolmates like the school and the teachers and the admin staff seem genuinely concerned for the kids and their well-being. The Principal is on hand every morning to greet the children as they get off their buses.
The school takes pride in helping children from other countries and other types of school systems (they are called "third culture kids" - mostly referring to children of R2I parents) integrate quickly and effortlessly (on the children's part at least) into the system here. The school is affiliated with ICSCE.
My take on the schools issue is that each school has its own unique set of problems. No school is going to be perfect. But if the school generally offers what you are looking for, then go with it and work with the school - make sure they know you are watching and press for what you want. All you need is an administration that is willing to listen to and work with the parents. On that front, although the school may be struggling in these initial years and may not fulfill all its promises right away, Greenwood cannot be faulted. Which is way more than I can say for some of the other schools in this city.
My earlier posts on Bangalore schools are here.