Modern schools provide new knowledge: Moscow prepares for 1 September

Modern schools provide new knowledge: Moscow prepares for 1 September
Moscow’s schools and colleges are ready for the new academic year. They have been renovated, new equipment has been purchased and students are able to sign up for various hobby groups and clubs.

In all, 630 city schools, including three brand-new ones, are ready to receive students. The city has renovated 2,300 buildings and has overhauled 18 more.

A safe environment for children, including security details working round the clock and video surveillance systems, has been created at every local school. And school cafeterias offer high-quality food. Representatives of law enforcement agencies, the Association of Administrative and Technical Inspection Offices and Moscow’s Directorate of Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) are checking the buildings in the run-up to the new academic year.

Although the number of students has soared by 200,000 compared to 2010, there is room for everyone. City schools and colleges will receive 1.35 million students, with over 400,000 children attending preschool.

Over 100,000 first-grade students have enrolled to date , with those who had attended  pre-schooler groups of same schools accounting for over 50 percent of their total number. In all, 88 percent of parents have chosen neighbourhood schools for their children.

New students to study at modern schools and preschools

Since early 2016, the city has built five new schools, with private investors financing the construction of two schools. Ten new kindergartens have also been built, and there are plans to open nine more facilities during the new academic year. In all, the city has opened 238 new schools and preschools since 2011.

Modern school buildings are one and a half to two times larger than previously completed facilities. Each school can accommodate about 2,000 students, with kindergartens receiving 300 children each. New schools are being built along with housing in districts where there is a shortage of school accommodation.

Apart from classrooms, a gym, a cafeteria and administrative offices, most schools also have a swimming pool and an assembly hall with multimedia equipment. Stadiums with rubber-coated surfaces, street workout and sport facilities are being built in school courtyards. The new schools are also adapted for children with disabilities and feature wider corridors, ramps and improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

From 1 January 2017, all school cafeterias will serve low-calorie food. This will help promote healthy food habits and will also support students who have special dietary requirements.

In 2011–2013, the city replaced most equipment at local schools, which currently use 224,000 stationary computers, 129,000 desktops and tablet computers, 28,000 multimedia projectors and 17,000 interactive whiteboards. 

Since 2013, major Russian and foreign IT companies have been involved in upgrading Moscow’s schools. Under the School of New Technologies project, over 200 schools have received interactive planetariums, television studios, printing offices, 3D studios and language laboratories. Broadband Internet speeds can be expanded to 100 megabytes per second, and intranet traffic can merge into inter-school networks.

Specialised classes: training doctors and engineers at schools

The establishment of specialised classes for training experts in highly popular careers is another innovation. Medical classes are on top of the list, followed by engineering and cadet classes.

In all, the city has opened 209 classes for future engineers, involving 4,477 children from 91 schools. Professors from 16 universities and experts from over 100 high-tech companies, including Rosatom, the Kurchatov Institute, the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Centre of Photo Chemistry, Rushydro, the MiG Russian Aircraft Corporation and others, conduct extracurricular classes.

The Medical Class project involves 62 schools. Since early 2016, they have received 90 types of special equipment, including digital laboratories, simulators for administering emetics and for conducting minor surgery, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid training mannequins, blood pressure kits and kits for monitoring breathing frequency and body moisture levels.

Medical class equipment will allow school students to complete over 20 courses in microbiology, biochemistry, anatomy, medical nano-technologies and others. University professors and doctors, including from the Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and experts from the Department of Healthcare, train school students.

All city schools currently implement extracurricular projects involving over 700,000 children in various hobby groups and clubs. Additional education projects, including Professional Environment and University Saturdays, and more, are also continuing to develop.

Online services help school students, teachers and parents

The city continues to upgrade online educational services all the time, with teachers and parents using the Active Citizen online referendum network to suggest new apps to be introduced. This makes it possible to provide schools with new interactive equipment, and studies become more convenient, more understandable and safer.

Online record books and registers

Online registers and record books now rank among the most popular online services here, with over 2.5 million people using them every three months.

From 1 September, upgraded services will notify parents if their children are absent from school. Parents and teachers will also be able to decide what items their children can carry inside their school bags. Teachers will announce homework deadlines and email online independent assignments. Students will be able to compile their own online portfolios. And teachers will formulate lesson plans, tests and set up online laboratories, depending on their subjects, to make the academic process more compelling and dynamic.

Enrolling school students online

Enrollment for first-grade students will take place on the city’s government services website from 15 December through 5 September. Their parents can list three schools: one near their registered address, and two of their choosing.

Children registered in districts under the school’s jurisdiction are registered first, and all others are registered if there is space remaining.

Parents are notified on their personal website accounts, by email or SMS within 30 days of registering. They are also invited to visit the school and are briefed on specific deadlines for submitting the required student enrolment documents.

Children are enrolled seven days after their parents have submitted the following documents:

  • A request to enroll a first-grade student, which can be downloaded from the school’s website or filled out at the school;
  • A document certifying that its bearer is the child’s parent/legal representative;
  • The child’s birth certificate;
  • The child’s registration certificate (Form No. 8 at the place of residence; Form No. 3 at the current residential address);
  • A guardian's ID card, if necessary.

Foreign citizens and stateless persons must submit foreign documents with their Russian language translations that have been witnessed by a notary. Parents wishing to enroll their child at a school whose preschool he or she now attends need only write a request to the school’s headmaster.

For more details about enrolling first-grade students or transferring children to another school, go to the City Adviser (Городской советник) section of the website. Parents also can enroll children at specialised schools.

Enrolling children at hobby groups and sport clubs

Parents can enroll their children online at hobby groups and clubs of local schools using the city’s government services website. The catalogue lists data on over 72,000 additional sections and hobby groups, and just over 50 percent of them have already started enrolling students. The website has all the necessary information about deadlines, content and prices. Parents can pay for clubs right away. Last year alone, over 535,000 requests for signing children up for hobby groups were submitted using the city’s government services website.

Modern online services also help parents find out what their children eat and whether they attend classes. This can be done by adding the Entrance and Eating service to the list.

New school quality standards and initial results

In the past few years, city schools have experienced some major changes, making it possible to boost education quality and framing the need for teachers’ permanent self-improvement.

School headmasters are now being certified; they must have a specialised education and be evaluated by members of a special commission. In all, 15 percent of school headmasters underwent mandatory certification last year.

City teachers receive competitive salaries that attract prospective educators. More and more young people apply for school positions, with the number of applicants wishing to enroll at Moscow’s City Pedagogical University increasing from 5.7 per vacancy in 2011 to 12.3 in 2015. To date, city teachers receive over 74,000 roubles per month. Young professionals draft new interactive curricula of interest to children and make work easier for teachers who are nearing retirement age.

The system for enrolling school students and financing schools has become more transparent. The city allocates funding for each student in an effort to boost competition between schools and to improve the quality of their education services. The best schools also receive the Moscow Mayor’s grants.Thus, Moscow’s education system remains the best in Russia, with 25 percent of city schools ranking among the top 500 schools in the nation. In the past few years, the number of finalists of the All-Russian Olympiad of School Students and Graduates scoring 220 points and more during the Unified State Exam in three different subjects has doubled.