frequently asked questions

Why should I choose an IB Education for my child?

While an "IB education" is often perceived as synonymous with a prestigious education, the benefits of an IB education extend beyond that. Here are some reasons for choosing an IB education:

  • It offers a world class standard with rigorous assessment where grades are compared to those of students all over the world.
  • It is recognized and portable between states and countries.
  • The IB provides a broad and balanced curriculum, and concurrency of learning that is relevant, engaging and challenging; delivered through learner driven participation and action, and Socratic dialogue between teachers and peers.
  • It provides a vehicle for the development of:
  • independent and critical thinking
  • problem solving
  • reflection
  • self-awareness
  • sound study habits
  • strong communication skills
  • inter-cultural understanding, knowledge and empathy
  • ability to successfully deal with real life issues

Specifically in the Diploma:

  • The acceptance rate of IB students into Ivy League institutions (Princeton, Yale, Brown, Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania) is between 3% and 13% higher compared to the total population acceptance rate.
  • Selective universities take more IB students than non IB students.
  • IB students, on average, earn higher GPAs as compared to non IB students.
  • Credits can be earned at many universities in the US upon successful completion of the IB Diploma.
  • IB students learn academic behaviours like work ethic, motivation, time management, and help-seeking that are sources of strength in the transition to college-level work
  • It prepares students for analytical writing and collegiate level academic research papers, through application
  • The CAS component of the programme gives students an opportunity to explore new projects and activities that are of personal interest to the student.


What does it mean to be an international school?

Being international means different things for schools. For us, being international is WHO we are. Beyond flags, food and fun; being international is engrained into every part of our concept of education:

  • Our values: Our core values promote the well-rounded development of ethical, global citizens. Our values give the students the personal skills needed to thrive in an ever-changing globalized society.
  • Our curriculum: The whole spectrum of our curriculum, ranging from the little ones to the not-so-little-ones, is based on international standards. Not only are we an IB World School, but our curriculum is also supplemented by looking at best practices from all over the world.
  • Our staff: Our international staff infuses our school culture with flair and different perspectives that help students perceive cultural differences differently and think for themselves.
  • Our families: Our families represent various countries from the different continents. Our school community is delighted to share and learn from their traditions and experiences.


Do you accept children with special needs?

As with all students, entry is based on a number of factors, including 'fit'. Cunae does not have the resources to provide appropriate services to children with severe special needs; however, we do accommodate students who have minimal special needs (e.g. dyslexia, dysgraphia) and require a little extra support and/or differentiation. Sometimes parents will also provide additional support if required.


What is your homework policy and why?

Homework is often the source of great debate. As Cunae always focuses on best practices, and with professional knowledge that there is no correlation between homework and improved grades, but rather often is a source of more stress, we manage our homework carefully. Additionally, as a small school, students accomplish a lot during the 7 hour day at school, so there is often no necessity for extra busy work. At times, reinforcement work may be required for individual students, but again, this would be carefully monitored. Essentially from PreK through 4th grade there is no homework, although reading at home is always encouraged, as is discussions around the topics being undertaken at school. From 5th grade up there is a gradual addition of homework so that students have the opportunity to finish items they did not complete in class, as well slowly preparing them for the rigour of upper school. By 11th grade students may be engaging into as much as 2-3 hours of homework, depending on their time management skills.


What is your assessment policy?

Cunae does not generally engage in standardised tests. Occasionally students may participate in a standardised test that is meaningful to the individual student (i.e. SAT); however we use a range of assessment tools including: teacher observations, projects, presentations, self-reflection, and peer grading. In upper school students sit exams 3 times per year which are a part of their term assessment. Click here if you wish to read our assessment policy.


What is your recess policy?

Preschool children have two 30 minutes outdoor recess (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) while lower and upper school children have a 45 minutes outdoor lunch/recess, as well as two 15 minute recesses/snack times throughout the day.  Our policy, due to the many benefits (health, imaginative play, collaborative play, fresh air etc), is that children will engage in outdoor play no matter what the weather is like as long as it is safe. If there is strong wind or a thunderstorm then children will have an indoor recess.


Why is our calendar different?

As with all of our policies we aim to engage in best practices. A 3 month break is not conducive to educational best practices, and therefore our calendar is longer but we have more breaks in between to allow refreshing downtime for students and teachers. Additionally our calendar is designed to enhance the requirements of our curriculum. Unfortunately this often translates to different 'off' times than other local schools so should you have one child in Cunae and one in another school the calendars will not necessarily align. However, we are cognizant that this can be problematic for some families and therefore we are flexible with time off, although not encouraged :)


Why do you have multi-age classrooms?

Multiage classrooms are composed of students who are more than one year apart. At Cunae our multi-age classrooms use a two year age/grade spread; and in lower school students often remain with the same teacher for two years. Multi-age classrooms reflect the natural groupings found in our neighborhoods, communities and in the world, and provide opportunities for the exchange of ideas, modeling of behaviors, practice of responsibility and nurturance, and development of leadership and social skills. There are a number of benefits to all parties, notwithstanding that it supports the differentiated model, IB inquiry model, and learner centered approach that Cunae offers. For more information on multi-age classrooms click here.

Benefits for students

  • Positive, nurturing environment
  • Peer support, mentoring
  • Opportunities for leadership
  • Individual pace for learning
  • Small group skill instruction
  • Longer time with teacher
  • Increased self-esteem, confidence

Benefits for educators

  • Stronger relationship with students and parents
  • Better able to address individual student needs
  • Longer time to monitor students to recognize effectiveness of teaching
  • More stimulating, creative work environment
  • More job satisfaction
  • “Pushes” teacher to use differentiated instruction and to perform at a high level of teaching
  • Allows staff more options for placement of high maintenance students and/or difficult combinations of students


Why do students learn two additional languages?

  • People who can speak two or more languages are more adept at learning a new foreign language than monolingual people.
  • After learning another language, individuals can transfer language learning strategies they've acquired to subsequent language learning and become better language learners in general.
  • Enhances confidence when travelling to other places.
  • In today’s global economy, knowing another language really gives you a competitive edge when applying for a job.
  • There is also a cultural advantage, as language and culture cannot be separated. Therefore, children are better equipped to be sensitive to differences in others, respond to different ways of social interactions, and carry traditional knowledge that is uniquely part of a particular culture.
  • Numerous studies support that children who study a foreign language receive a boost in overall cognitive development, do better on standardized tests, are more creative, and have better self-esteem and sense of achievement in school. Therefore, being multilingual improves cognitive skills and overall brain function.


What does differentiation in the classroom mean, and why is it good for my child?

Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction. It ensures your child has an educational plan that is suitable to their needs, skills and requirements, ensuring a greater level of success, confidence, and competence.

More information about differentiated instruction can be found here.


Why are projects central to your teaching?

Projects are a big part of inquiry and the Cunae environment. Project based learning allows students to gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem or challenge. It also allows for great development of student choice and voice, as well as the skills of critiquing, revising, analysing, and reflecting, all of which are central to the inquiry process.

Click here for a video that explains more about project based learning.

Note that project based learning is only one teaching method that we use. We do blend PBL with traditional methods, and sometimes it will depend on the content being taught as to HOW it will be taught. This is often left up to teacher discretion, although always encouraged as an option to support differentiated instruction.


Why don’t you push reading at an early age?

Reading is one of the most important foundations for all learning. At Cunae we believe strongly in developing good reading habits and skills, however as with all aspects of our educational environment, how reading is approached is often varied depending on the child. Our goal is always to challenge students but not to push them beyond their readiness.

Check out these resources for more understanding.


Does your programme actively push or accelerate children so they can be competitive in today's environment?

In today's society we feel that unless we push our children, often younger and younger, then they will not have a competitive edge in the world. We have all bought into this from time to time. However, longitudinal studies have proven that this just simply isn't the case. Additionally academic success is only one factor of the equation when it comes to life long success. 

Our goal is always about doing what is right for each individual child. What is right for another child may not be what is right for your child. At Cunae we set our bar high. The IB is one of the most rigorous and prestigious programmes globally, and yet we believe all students can benefit from undertaking this programme. However, there are times that adaptation is required so that students move through the programme at a comfortable, yet challenging pace that garners them individual success. The beauty of IB is that it is a framework that provides structure but allows flexibility in how you achieve outcomes for your students. Ultimately, students should graduate not from a cookie cutter competitive imperative, but from an individual, unique and leading imperative.

We do NOT compete with other schools; we are NOT about standardised measures; we are NOT about marketing our school based on what colleges our alumni went to. What we are about is ensuring your child's educational journey is tailored (where possible) to best outcomes for them. This may be college, it may be Ivy League, it may be community college; or it may be a great job. Ultimately it's about creating confident and competent students who can successfully move through their world and make their own decisions about where their life will take them, and have the tools to successfully navigate their journey and respond to challenges.

The current competitive environment also only allows for right and wrong answers, and are measured as such. There is no room for individuality, and there is no room for allowing students the time to critically think about a problem, experiment, FAIL, LEARN, and apply their knowledge. At Cunae we allow them time to explore, think, and grow, and that is the true definition of fostering a competitive student.

There is an immense library of information that supports the Cunae philosophy, located in the following links:

  • Article 1: Click here

  • A movement we support: Click here

  • Some great reads: Beyond Measure; The Gift of Failure; The Importance of Being Little.


But what about if my child is advanced?

A good number of parents who enter Cunae proclaim that their child is advanced or gifted. However, most children are gifted in some form or another. Adults are always amazed at what their child/ren can do. It is the great wonder of child development when we watch our child crawl, walk, or read. Some will do these things earlier than others, after all they are all individual. However, advancing students up a grade to cater to the wonder we have is not necessarily the appropriate response. Our differentiated teaching environment is often the best strategy used to accommodate any child's advanced skill development so that they remain challenged yet able to continue to develop their social skills with their peers. However, there are occasionally situations when a natural acceleration is obvious for a child, and will be considered if all aspects (social, emotional, and academic) are leaning towards that being the best outcome for the student. Early advancement is not a tool for competition or parent pride. It must be authentically of benefit.


What is the point of incorporating play into an academic environment?

In our early years play is an important foundation to our educational programme. Here are a few resources to explain why:

of course the list of such demonstrations goes on and on.....


How do you deal with bullying?

Bullying means different things to different people. Cunae considers bullying, a persistent, deliberate attempt to hurt or humiliate someone physically or psychologically over a period of time, to be unacceptable. This does not include the occasional 'mean' statement that a child may make. While this is still deemed unacceptable, and provides a teaching opportunity, children do have lapses in judgements and behaviours, as do adults. There are times when children simply will not get along. it is our duty as teachers, and parents, to help the children work through this together, objectively, and without disdain for other children. Remember they are all children with different experiences, personalities, and issues. All deserve our attention and understanding. Our goal is to teach and aid them in becoming more responsible for their actions, not persecute them.

A note on zero tolerance: Instinctively adults would like schools to move towards a policy of zero tolerance, however many studies have found this to have a greater negative effect on outcomes than positive. Click here for an article on the problems of zero tolerance.

At Cunae we strive to encourage students to make better choices, and we are intolerant to bullying, but we also take a common sense and compassionate approach to bullying, firstly through identifying whether a situation truly falls under the category of bullying, what was its genesis, and how we can best manage the offending students behaviours. Being a small school also allows us to have a better observation of what is going on with our students, and we have more time to help facilitate healthier relationships between students.


How do you deal with discipline?

 In general Cunae does not approach discipline through punitive means. Conversations with students to give them an opportunity to express themselves, reflect, and understand their actions and consequences is always our first step. However, while this approach generally is our most effective approach, at times students may be required to sit in with the Principal, take on extra chores, or go home. As with teaching, a child's actions are examined with respect to intent, personal issues or influences, and the general situation, in order to determine the best course of action. At Cunae we are a very open school and encourage dialogue between students when there are grievances, and how they might better resolve them. We help facilitate the student relationships and often take a step back, monitoring from a distance, stepping in when resolutions are not made.

For serious infractions we do have a 3 strike rule in that if a child's actions or behaviours have been deemed detrimental to others or themselves, they will be asked to leave.

Click here for a good article on zero tolerance.