Berlin is one of Germany’s most cosmopolitan cities. The country’s capital attracts families from around the world, and a variety of options have arisen to serve the children of these internationally minded arrivals. As a result, choosing the best educational opportunity for one’s children can prove to be a daunting task.
The Berlin Brandenburg International School, housed on 353,000-square-metre forested campus on the shore of the Teltowkanal and the Machnower See, strives to bring families the very best on all levels, offering both an English-language day and boarding school.
An IB World School, BBIS is fully authorised by the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization in Geneva to teach all three IB programmes. In addition, it is the only international school in Berlin-Brandenburg fully accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA).
Founded in 1990, the school employs 100 full-time teachers and 21 teacher assistants, ensuring that class sizes are no larger than 18 students so that teachers can focus on the questions, needs and achievement of each individual student. It also guarantees a 7:1 student-teacher ratio.
Located just to the southwest of Berlin in the village of Kleinmachnow, the school currently educates 700 students from the ages of three to 19. BBIS teachers hail from 20 different countries; the students represent 60 nationalities. Having moved to this new campus in 2001, the school has ambitious plans for its future and capacity to increase enrollment to 1,000 students in the coming years.
“Our ideology, if you will, is our international orientation, in that we offer and teach our children the skills they will need to survive and succeed in a globalised world,” says school director Thomas Schädler.
Although the language of instruction is English, Schädler explains, “students at the school will naturally learn German and another language, in addition to having daily exposure to a variety of cultures. This steady exposure to and sharing with a diverse community inevitably means a tremendous enrichment for the students, a chance to prepare for future careers.”
In addition to diplomatic families, the school also educates young people whose parents may be managers posted overseas by international companies, as well as students from the local area.
Schädler is well aware of the challenges that a growing school like BBIS faces, but is keen to take them on with his highly motivated staff.
“It is indeed true that our student body changes annually. Many parents relocate with their positions. Consequently, like other international schools, we see many new faces every year. Since we also have increased in size by 20 percent in recent years, there is enormous change going on,” he says.
“This can, of course, create logistical problems, but it also leads to institutional – and personal – growth as we are constantly challenged and confronted with things new to us; this dynamic community keeps us really fit and alive and does not allow us to become rusty in any way,” he adds.
The school prides itself on giving students a feeling of continuity despite the ever-transforming environment, through its strong staff, student support and consistant committment to the programmes of the IB. Recognising that not all of its students come from an English-speaking background, BBIS ensures that it meets all their needs, no matter how diverse.
“The pedagogical concept is based on putting the individual student at the centre. We try to fulfill the needs of every single student. These students from all over the world are, of course, at totally different stages in their school careers and we work to meet them where they are,” says Schädler.
He highlights the school’s inquiry-based curriculum, which strives to centre around the students’ personal interests.
Reflecting the international atmosphere of the school, in addition to English and German, the school teaches French and Spanish and on parental request, Hebrew, Arabic, Dutch, Russian, Finnish, Korean and Japanese.
Students enjoy extensive facilities in addition to the four large school buildings connected by walkways. These include a newly installed full-size artificial-turf sports field with a six-lane running track, a new multifunctional sports hall, a pavilion, two playgrounds and the forested campus itself.
Extracurricular activities offered from 3pm to 4.30 pm include over 50 different sporting and non-sporting activities, including sailing, archery, ballet, karate, climbing, web design, Maths Club, yoga, calligraphy, Human Rights Club, choir, photography and French film.
Nine bus routes shuttle students from Berlin and nearby Potsdam to the school, in addition to two late bus routes for students participating in extracurricular activities.
In August 2008, the BBIS Boarding School opened its doors to international students from 6th to 12th grades. The school caters to internationally minded families outside of Berlin who want an international English-language education in the heart of Europe for their children.
The institution is the first international English-language IB World Boarding School in Germany. The boarding facility offers newly renovated single and double rooms with private showers for 25 international students from around the world, including Kuwait, Canada, Brazil and China.
A comfortable dining room, two kitchens, laundry room, large recreation room, fitness room and private courtyard enable boarders to truly feel at home and enjoy and learn from each other as a group. Adult mentors live in apartments adjacent to the students’ quarters and are responsible for the students’ well being during their time at the school.
Morning and evening routines are supervised, as well as weekend time, which regularly includes outings and activities.
BBIS is equipped with all the necessary resources to nurture students to achieve their full potential as global citizens whether they are in Berlin long- or short-term. For more information, please visit www.bbis.de