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Education in Germany
Degrees at International Schools
There is a wealth of international schools in Germany. They usually offer an international diploma, the German Abitur or both. But international schools in Germany may also provide learning conditions very different from those at your average public school – sometimes, this may not help them settle.
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If you opt for an international school, the most important question is what kind of degrees this school offers, whether they are accredited, and if they are compatible to those of other schools and universities, both in Germany and abroad. No matter whether you are planning to stay or to move again, this will have a significant influence on your child’s educational prospects. Most international schools in Germany belong to one or more associations that share degrees and even curricula. The most widespread international degree is the so-called International Baccalaureate (IB).
As an international university-entrance diploma, the IB was created by a non-profit organization located in Switzerland in 1968. Originally, it was aimed exclusively at families in the diplomatic service, but it is now open to everyone. Thanks to its global outlook, the IB has become increasingly popular. Today, more than 2,300 schools worldwide offer the IB, and 50 of them are located in Germany. The IB has a very good reputation when it comes to preparing students for university, and universities in over 140 countries accept it as an entrance requirement.
Obtaining the International Baccalaureate is equivalent to twelve years of full-time education. However, only the last two years need to be completed at an international school. Besides their secondary education program, the International Baccalaureate Organization also designed a “Middle Years Programme” (MYP) for children aged between 11 and 16 as well as a “Primary Years Programme” (PYP) for children from 3 to 11 years of age. Many international schools offer the PYP and/or MYP too, although they are not necessary to obtain the International Baccalaureate.
IB subjects are divided into six groups: Students have to take three of them at a standard level and focus on another three at a higher level of academic achievement. Mandatory subjects include math, one natural science option, one social science option, and two languages. Keep in mind, though, that if you are to relocate again, your child needs to study a combination of languages offered by other international schools as well.
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Choosing an International School
Choosing a school abroad will get more complicated if you haven’t moved there yet. However, if possible, do try to visit the school together with your child to get an impression of the location and its general atmosphere. If there are several schools near your future home, take note of their differences, and speak to the dean or the person in charge of admissions. The following list might serve you as a basis for these conversations and as an inspiration for further questions:
- What are the admission requirements?
- Is there a waiting list?
- Are the credits transferable to other international or local schools?
- Which diplomas will my children graduate with?
- Is the school public or private? If it is private, is it run by a non-profit or a profit-oriented organization? How much does it cost?
- Does the school offer special courses for German as a second language? At which language level do these classes start?
- Which after-school activities does the school offer?
- What about parental involvement? What opportunities to meet other parents do I have?
How to Find an International School
One possibility to find and evaluate international schools is to approach them via associations they are members of. These associations can answer your questions about admission requirements, fees, waiting lists etc. Moreover, international schools may be accredited by an association from your home country or by the European Council of International Schools. Also see the Association of German International Schools or the International Baccalaureate Organization.