Private schools in Germany

The top 3 benefits of international schools in Germany

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When moving to Germany as a family, one of the most important considerations is the quality and availability of local schools. Due to the country’s high standards of education, expat parents in Germany have the freedom to choose between equally high-quality public and private schools.

But this freedom doesn’t make the debate between public vs. private schools any easier: education in Germany has, in the past decade, vastly improved. Germany’s less-than-stellar performance in OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2000 elicited countrywide concern, and various state-run education reforms launched quickly in response.

In the latest assessment in 2015, the results of the efforts were clear. Students in German schools not only moved from below average performance in reading to above average, they now score above average across science and mathematics.

Though all schools in Germany fall under the state education regulations, there has been a shift in interest from public to private schools. In PISA 2009, around 5 percent of students in Germany attended private schools, but by 2015 that number had climbed to 10 percent—and it’s still growing.

International School on the Rhine explains why international schools, a type of private school, have become a popular option for expats as well as German families who want their children to excel in school and in life.

1. International schools foster bilingual education.

One of the largest issues in Germany’s former education system was a lack of language preparation for internationals. Students who did not speak German fluently lagged behind, simply because they could not follow the lessons. Though Germany has since introduced a number of language programmes to assist expats in learning German—and learning a foreign language in Germany is compulsory at the age of eight—children of expats often do not have enough time to learn enough German before they must attend school.

International schools often provide instruction in two languages: German and, most commonly, English. Other languages are available, but it is the emphasis on fluent English—an increasingly important language to learn—that helps expat children become true international students.

Learning to speak English fluently at a young age brings immediate benefits—expat students who already speak English can more easily socialise with their peers—as well as long-term benefits. More and more companies require English as a skill, or go a step further and proclaim it as the official language of business. Students who leave international schools already equipped with an advanced level of English receive an immediate advantage over students who speak only rudimentary or no English, especially when planning to attend university abroad.  

2. International schools provide focused, one-on-one education.

At an international school in Germany, students can get far more individual attention from teachers simply because there are more of them. In German public schools, there are about 12 students per teacher; in international schools, that ratio is generally cut in half. At the International School on the Rhine, for example, the ratio is just five students per teacher; at the International School of Hamburg, the ratio is eight students per teacher.

Smaller class sizes make a difference. Teachers are more effective, and student are less likely to be overlooked. Research has even shown that small classes, even in the younger grades, can lead to a lifetime of benefits, including higher wages in the future.

In addition to the smaller class sizes, international schools often offer more frequent testing to ensure that students are advancing at a normal pace. While national assessments in Germany are carried out at regular intervals to monitor education on a state-wide level, international schools—with their individual focus—often administer frequent testing to ensure students are not left behind, and knowledge gaps are immediately identified and closed.

Public and private schools in Germany

3. IB accreditation gives students a boost.

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is a renowned educational programme offered across Europe at qualified institutions. The IB diploma prepares students for a more globalised world and provides access to top universities in Germany and all over the world. In Germany, the IB Diploma Programme is offered at both state and private schools, although there are far more international schools that offer it: only 27 state schools in Germany offer the IB Diploma Programme, while 45 private schools in Germany offer it.

Expat families considering the public vs. private school debate may find it easier to make the decision with the knowledge that international private schools in Germany often go beyond when creating well-rounded curricula to ensure they produce true global citizens.


International School on the Rhine / Expatica

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