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China in Asia (School): Shenzhen American International School (SAIS) - International School - China

Shenzhen American International School (SAIS) is an American international school in Shenzhen, China.


Address: 80 Gongyuan Road, Shekou, Shenzhen, China.

Website: Shenzhen American International School (SAIS)

1 customer review

2.0 out of 5 stars
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  • 1
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  • Experience
  • Professionalism
  • Work location
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  • Pay & benefits
  • Support & facilities
  • Health & safety
1 rating
2 comment(s).
1 helpful voted.
High Teacher Turnover Is a Company Motto
1 year ago
Institute Review

Review 6) (Name removed by admin) 2017 - 2019

Academic integrity of school
Effectiveness of administration
Academic and disciplinary support provided
Director's involvement in academics
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
School has adequate educational materials on hand
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
Cost of living in relation to salary (10 = most favorable)
Yearly salary range for teachers in US dollars$30K - $75K
Satisfaction with housing
Community offers a variety of activities
Availability and quality of local health care
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
Extra curricular load is reasonable
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
Average Score for Review

I've debated sending this review for quite some time. However, I believe it's my ethical duty to my global colleagues to inform them of my recent previous experience at this "school".

To sum up my experience, SAIS is nothing more than a Montessori-style, glorified Arts and Crafts Day Care Center for Students with Special Needs.

SAIS claims on its website that they are “Shenzhen’s premier Project-Based Learning school, providing a 21st Century education for students in grades PK-9.”

What lies. I don’t even know where to begin.

SAIS claims to have been “a school” for over 14 years, but was not accredited until 2018-2019.

Grade 9 is not even established yet (as of June, 2019, there's no teachers, no students, no curriculum.)

And SAIS is NOT providing students with 21st century skills: Students are NOT learning information liter*c* (SAIS doesn’t have a library, only a collection of books in bookshelves on the 3rd floor), students are NOT learning Media liter*c*, and students are NOT learning Technology liter*c*. (Go ahead, contact SAIS and ask them the probing questions you need to related to 21st Century Skills: ask if students are being taught how to use a library, like the Dewey Decimal System, or a library cataloging system; ask if students can define and explain CPU, RAM, ROM; ask if students can summarize the relevant aspects of copyright, intellectual property, trademark, and patent laws, and practice ethical and legal practices. I guarantee you won’t be satisfied with SAIS’ answers.)

Here's some other SAIS highlights....and just occurring between the years of 2018-2019:

One teacher was physically attacked by another teacher. And the school board’s decision? Due to an enormous amount of parental support and advocacy (for whatever reason), the aggressor was allowed to complete his contract for the 2018-2019 school year. (And this was not his first offense; over a dozen teachers signed a pet*t*on to have him fired, with several providing evidence of repeated offenses of verbal aggression towards them.) As a result, the director, (Name removed by admin), resigned after the board overturned his decision to fire that teacher for physically assaulting another teacher. (Another staff member, who was verbally assaulted before by this teacher, also resigned her position as front desk receptionist.)

SAIS will employ teachers without appropriate work visas, in direct violation of Chinese law. Three teachers during the 2018-2019 school year did not have appropriate work visas.

Despite several grievances from students, parents, and staff, two teachers had both their work visas renewed and their contracts renewed……and then were given letters of resignation the last week in May, one week before school ended.

Students are NOT engaged in Project-Based Learning. There’s no alignment to key standards, there’s no established Critical Friends Team, there’s no proficiency matrix…the list goes on. SAIS’ understanding of PBL is basically learning something through arts and crafts.

One middle school teacher, who taught veteran SAIS students, said he was teaching 6th and 8th graders who couldn’t read an analogue clock, who couldn’t add fractions, who couldn’t divide decimals, and who wouldn’t complete personal science projects.

If SAIS were a real school, wouldn’t there and shouldn’t there be a student handbook? There’s no such thing at SAIS.

Teachers were told at the end of May (and given a 13-day deadline) to make “a collection of memories” of their grade level, which were then all compiled to make one yearbook for students.

No graduation ceremony for 8th graders was planned until middle school teachers were asked by the administration to plan one.....two days before the last day of school on Wednesday (June 5). The former principal at SAIS--who was hired as a "Consultant" after former director Darin Schmidt resigned--has always been against graduation ceremonies, so students were given a pizza party instead.

Report cards (only in its second year of implementation) had numerous mistakes on them as well. For example, on every report card this school year (2018-2019): Days of school? 46. Days your child was absent? 46. Hahahah! And grades on report cards are only on a 1-4 scale.

When one teacher asked administrators for verification that student grades would not be changed over the summer, he was confronted by two administrators in the hallway and asked, "why are you making this a big deal?" He was then ordered not to engage in any further correspondence about grades.

Regarding Field Trips: one teacher asked if she could plan a field trip and someone in administration told her: “Why do you want to go there? It’s a waste of time and we have many other effective ways to work out your project.”

Every foreign parent and teacher with kids withdrew from SAIS at the end of June, 2019. SAIS is not an international school anymore! Only Chinese nationals with passports from Ghana. Only the children of the recently hired Principal and the Assistant Principal now provide the foreign faces for the school.

This information is true and accurate.
The pros
You are near Hong Kong and its a nice day trip.
The cons
High staff turnover,low morale.
Advice to Management
Value your teachers,pay the teachers taxes so they do not have to transfer funds abroad through Hong Kong and lose on the exchange rate.
Institution Location
Location: 80 Gongyuan Rd., Shekou, Shenzhen, China

I am a former teacher at this dodgy school.
  • Experience
  • Professionalism
  • Work location
  • Living situation
  • Pay & benefits
  • Support & facilities
  • Health & safety
Show more
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
  • SZAIS 1 year ago
    SAIS, despite its small size and dilapidated facilities, previously had a reputation as a good place to start for teachers new to the international school circuit. It was the ‘little pbl school with the big heart’, and marketed as a premier project based learning school. If you are considering SAIS due to a China experience, I would encourage you to make contact with someone who has worked there more recently as many things have changed again this year for the worse.

    This school is a business and the board from Hong Kong who own it, who were well respected once in the school community, have now delegated management responsibility to (Name removed by Admin) a board member. Money is extremely tight and the business office employees and (Name removed by Admin) have no decision-making autonomy. Classroom budgets are almost non-existent and the stories about running out of soap and toilet paper are, unfortunately, true. When salaries and other payments are delayed there is no communication from the owners, and this lack of courtesy has led to considerable frustration among faculty. As a result, staff turnover is very high and morale and goodwill towards the school low. The effects have been felt in the school community, and enrollments continue to decline on a yearly basis. SAIS does not pay teachers taxes, and has some staff on the wrong visa or a tourist visa.

    As the school has a tendency to hire administrators from similarly under-performing schools, there is a distinct lack of informed educational leadership. Management is very much top-down. If you’re looking for adventure and don’t feel guilty working in a school that cheats and charges gullible families way too much money for a mediocre education then this might be the place for you, but if you’re a genuine educator then my advice is look elsewhere.

    The above comments are not just my opinion but actual facts.
    • SZAIS 1 year ago
      SAIS has likely the highest rate of teacher and student turnover I have ever seen in a school, anywhere, ever. I am one of few remaining teachers, but this is my final year only due to financial obligations back home. Other teachers last year were let go by the school because they asked too many questions (apparently), that the board, (Name removed by Admin) and student admissions (Name removed by Admin) (who has less of a voice this year) took as criticism of the school. We wanted to make the school a better place for our students and we offered ideas as to how to do this a library for example, however it was not appreciated and with little discussion many teachers were told to leave in June only after they signed contracts for the following school year.

      I had great hopes after reviewing the SAIS website, however I realize now that the majority of "good" things were based on outright lies and didn't reflect the way SAIS is really operated. There still is no curriculum or learning materials at all for grade one and above. No Library, or IT teacher. When we asked if we could get supplies such as resources for our class, we were told that we could and would get reimbursed if we had a receipt. After, if we did Not have an official Chinese Fapio with a red chop we were not reimbursed.

      Unfortunately many things that are agreed upon verbally never materialized and the school kept all of the supplies that I purchased out of my own pocket and did not reimburse me for any of them, many supplies simply disappeared or went missing over this past summer. The students often come into my classroom after school and take things off of my desk and from inside my desk drawers they keep them. We do not have locks on our doors, so anyone can freely come into our classroom after hours or weekends and they do which includes parents.

      I was asked to sign a statement saying that my conduct (which was never explained at the meeting) was unprofessional, at first I refused to do so, therefore the school threatened to withhold my summer pay and charge me a fee for doing something wrong (but never told me what it was). I later found out that a student reported to his mother that I was showing movies in class. I am still trying to forget the nasty e-mails I received from, (Name removed by Admin), h.r. and the boys mother.

      I later admitted to showing a segment of "Brain Pop" on Thanksgiving Day on our class tv, hooked up to our personal laptop, we do not have whiteboards, let alone smart boards

      Although being a so called American School we still had a normal school day on an American Holiday, I simply wanted to enlighten my learners about Thanksgiving using "Brain Pop" as a tool, hoping they would learn a little more about an Important Holiday In America. Surprisingly, most students and veteran students at SAIS had never heard of Thanksgiving?

      SAIS is basically an Arts and Crafts Day Care Center for Students, having Special Needs. We do not have a SEN teacher only (Name removed by Admin), admissions director, without a background in education let alone a degree in special needs. SAIS does not have an entrance exam, most students have little or no English skills, who were not excepted at real International Schools in Shenzhen or Hong Kong, these pupils should be given English support in school, however parents have the final word about that, and most do not attend much needed Eal/Esl classes leaving many students completely behind lost in all of our core subjects including Art, PE and Music.

      I am only writing this to warn others who may think of working at SAIS because they will most likely have to replace teachers at any given moment throughout the school year. The salary might tempt you but if you understand the bad working environment and working conditions, no salary would be high enough. Bank of China, will not transfer your funds abroad, because it's illegal since your Not paying taxes and are not given a tax receipt.

      Every single foreign parent and teacher with kids withdrew from SAIS at the end of June, 2019. SAIS is not an international school. It's a school for Chinese nationals with passports from Africa, or other third world countries, bought for them by there parents knowing they could not hack it in a public school.

      Only the children of the recently hired Principal and the Assistant Principal now provide the foreign faces for the school

      I have worked for many other schools that value their foreign teachers but you will not feel valued at this school at all. None of the staff trusts the foreign teachers so you will have to put everything in writing and confirm your understanding of every little piece of information. The parents have way too much power at SAIS, and get you fired without any given warning.

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