Charles Dickens or Nelson Mandela school?

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Believe it or not but  we have been offered a place at both, Nelson Mandela and Charles Dickens school for my son.

 

I now do not know which one to choose. I do not really have a personal preference and distance-wise it is about the same.

 

There a quite a few bad things posted in this forum about Nelson Mandela school, namely it being chaotic and not very strict. We already had a chaotic nursery so I am a litle weary. I prefer a school that is strict with high academic standards.There were some bad things said about the sports facilities at Nelson Mandela. Can someone elaborate on that?  I mean I have been to the school and know space is tight there. Where do they do PE?

 

 

There are some advantages from a practical point but I want the best for my child.

 

Nelson Mandela has a school bus which would help me a lot in the mornings as I am a single parent working full-time. I know it is expensive but I would be wiling to swallow this bitter pill.

Nelson Mandela also offers the choice of Spanish AND French from year 5. Once at Nelson Mandela I am secured a place at a bilingual school for the entire school life for my son.

I also heard that the new site at Babelsberger Str. is quite chaotic but I do not know yet which site we were allocated.

 

 

Charles Dickens only offer French from year 5 but the school is said to have a high academic standard. I also heard it is not guaranteed that pupils transfer to Schiller Gymnasium after they finished primary school at Charles Dickens. I also read that a few years back Charles Dickens school did not have enough English native speaker pupils at some point. I cannot believe that this is still true.

 

I would also like to know if Nelson Mandela is full of arrogant parents (I am only asking I am not saying there are). The secretary was quite arrogant to me once but I think she has left now.

 

One other thing I need to know if there is a big difference between being schooled in the German or English stream? I understand there is only a difference in the first 2 years when the children learn to read and write.

My son has one German and one English-speaking parent but he was chosen for the English stream at Charles Dickens and the German stream at Nelson Mandela. I am not too concerned if he learns to read and write in English or German first. If later on he would learn more English in the English stream I would be happy but as I understand Charles Dickens school mixes the classes 50/50.

 

 

I am happy to hear from parents who can give me some objective facts. I understand that you may vote for the school your children attend.

 

Thanks a lot for your comments

 

 

 

 

 

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I have my first kid in CD, in general I think it is a very good primary school and for now we are satisfied with it.   They try to balance English/German kids in every class and as far as I know there are no problems of "not enough English kids.   Maybe they had that problem many years ago, because it used to be not the first choice for English speaking families because it is not a hip school and because it is not really meant for kids who do not speak German at all.    Our daughter class has 11 English speaking kids and 13 German speaking kids, the unbalance is because they have to keep 2 places for people who move into the city last minute and they can be assigned to any side.

 

The school becomes very difficult by grade 5 so be prepared to work hard and you have to know that in the German schooling system the parents support is a big piece of the puzzle.

 

About going to Gymnasium, of course not every kid will make it, that's not the schools fault, not every kid is an academic kid.  But the choice for the kids who do not make is going to Usinov, which is a pretty good school as well and nowadays you can even do the Abitur there as well.   I can understand that NMS sounds easier because you settle the school problem completely, but I do not see major issues going the CD way.

 

Another important thing, is CD does not have that "English" feeling other English schools have, most kids speak German among themselves, but there is a parents association club (you are expected to support it $$$) which hires English speaking tutors who organize cool extra activities all in English and done during school hours but after the real classes.

 

The only issue we had in the school was that our kid does not join the religious class, so she was supposed to join the humanistics class but the teacher quit the school the second month and it was not replaced because funny enough there are not enough teachers in Berlin for that.  She taught half of the school so half of the kids who were supposed to take that class were affected.   The class was replaced with more free play time.

 

And finally, I understand your issue with the snobbish people, while shopping for a school I could not stand most of the other schools environments and parents and CD was the only school that felt normal.   Until now we do not regret our decision.

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Hi there,

 

I chose NMS in the end. Of course, I cannot compare with CD as I do not know CD and it would not be fair to make assumptions.

My reasons for choosing NMS were the following:

-It seems more like a truly international school and also my solcitor told me it was compared to CD

-One big aspect was actually the school bus NMS have as I am a single parent working full-time

-NMS goes up to A level and I heard (not sure if it is true) that after attending CD which is only primary you are not guaranteed a place at the bilingual Schiller Gymnasium

-It was more likeley to be able to move closer to NMS (both B24 and P23) as close to CD there are either very very expensive

areas like the Grunewald or further towards Spandau I did not want to live (however, I still have not moved closer to NMS)

 

There are 3 NMS campus:

P23: main primary campus year 1-6

B24: additional campus year 1-10

P30 main secondary campus including A-level/IB): year 7-13

 

Feedback about NMS (We are at the B24 campus.

-it does seem a little chaotic, yes, especially the new campus B24

-B24 is not all snobbish as P23 is supposed to be (one teacher said to me that P23 is very much like that and that therefore also the children are "nicer" at B24 either (I would like to stress this is the teacher's opinion and obviously I do not want to offend anyone here)e

-Today, I would always choose P23 over B24 (but unfortunately, you do not get the choice. It is poor luck or as I personally believe sometimes depends on connections). Actually, even then I would have chosen P23 over B24 as it is closer to our house and more central from a "city West" perspective. My solicitor said then if you get Reasons are:

      -B24 always feels like 2nd best

      -B24 often has to beg for things that are normal at P23 (like in the first year our classroom did not even have a clock etc)

      -B24 being so small there is a smaller choice of extracurricular activites and almost every activity takes place over lunch timewhich is not the case for P23. So children have to rush to have lunch and then have their extra C's

       -Also as there is only one class (form) per year (grade) I think it can get a bit boring in terms of choice of friends etc., especially when they are in secondary (there is only one year 3, 4, 5 and so on)

-Also what I have now heard is that for secondary level B24 does not have proper science labs and need to carry materials from P30 (main secondary NMS campus)

 

Summary

-I can say our class teacher is absolutely top and a lot of people say often the school does not matter too much as a lot depends on the class teacher. Our "educator" (Erzieherin) is also great!

-NMS has a subject called social learning which apparently other schools do not have and other schools apparently envy NMS for that. The children learn different kinds of social skills there, like about politeness and friendship.

-NMS has a parents' cafe on Thursdays from 8-10 am . In a way this is great but I usually have to work during that time. Not sure if CD has something like that.

-NMS always has emergency care (e.g. when the teachers have a study day). Not sure if CD has this but I suppose so. I think  I remember CD even have emergency care in a different primary school between Christmas and NY which NMS does not have. This is worth checking.

-NMS does not allow earlier pick than 15:50 from Mon-Thurs so if your children have hobbies outside school it will be a problem. But I assume it is the same at CD. On Fridays, school finishes at 1 pm at NMS but free care is included until 4 pm. So worth comparing with CD as I love the option going away early on Friday.

-As far as I can gather there is no early morning care at NMS (at least I have never heard about it), i.e. from 6-7:30 if one should need this. But please check if you need it as I am not sure. NMS opens the doors at 7:45.

- From secondary parents I heard that children do not use German enough when in secondary so this is an advanage the Schiller Gymasium wil definitely have after you completed CD. Though I heard, NMS are trying to improve this.

-I think all in all NMS is a unique school with very engaged parents (in a positive way. So they do not complain or moan for the sake of it or anything like that) but a little chaotic.

 

What I think is definitely better at CD the "Charles Dickens friends" ensure that there are some extracurricular activites that are offered for free. NMS does not have this at all. I think this is very annoying even though we have a Förderverein at NMS.I was not aware of it when I joined NMS.

 

 

Be aware, that the senate founded a new International school (which I suppose is good news). The children of this new international school will start at B24 and then move to a new building in a few years time (a school building currently housing refugees is in talks but things can always change). This means if you get allocated a place at B24 from now on your children will be part of this new international school and not NMS.

 

I definitely do not regret my choice but could be equally happy at CD and equally dissatisfied with the things that I do not like but no school is perfect.  I think I really do prefer the very Internaional atmosphere of NMS.

 

Hope this gives everyone an insight but is of course only one person's opinion and experience

 

 

 

 

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On 6/23/2017, 11:28:04, solange2009 said:

-NMS goes up to A level and I heard (not sure if it is true) that after attending CD which is only primary you are not guaranteed a place at the bilingual Schiller Gymnasium

 

 

Our elder kid is now starting class 6 (and the younger one class 4), so I can answer this.  Every kid in Charles Dickens Primary School who receives the gymnasium recommendation has a guaranteed place in Schiller Gymnasium.     And kids who do not receive it can go to Peter Ustinov School.

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On 7/16/2015, 7:21:38, Krieg said:

I have my first kid in CD, in general I think it is a very good primary school and for now we are satisfied with it.   They try to balance English/German kids in every class and as far as I know there are no problems of "not enough English kids.   Maybe they had that problem many years ago, because it used to be not the first choice for English speaking families because it is not a hip school and because it is not really meant for kids who do not speak German at all.    Our daughter class has 11 English speaking kids and 13 German speaking kids, the unbalance is because they have to keep 2 places for people who move into the city last minute and they can be assigned to any side.

 

The school becomes very difficult by grade 5 so be prepared to work hard and you have to know that in the German schooling system the parents support is a big piece of the puzzle.

 

About going to Gymnasium, of course not every kid will make it, that's not the schools fault, not every kid is an academic kid.  But the choice for the kids who do not make is going to Usinov, which is a pretty good school as well and nowadays you can even do the Abitur there as well.   I can understand that NMS sounds easier because you settle the school problem completely, but I do not see major issues going the CD way.

 

Another important thing, is CD does not have that "English" feeling other English schools have, most kids speak German among themselves, but there is a parents association club (you are expected to support it $$$) which hires English speaking tutors who organize cool extra activities all in English and done during school hours but after the real classes.

 

The only issue we had in the school was that our kid does not join the religious class, so she was supposed to join the humanistics class but the teacher quit the school the second month and it was not replaced because funny enough there are not enough teachers in Berlin for that.  She taught half of the school so half of the kids who were supposed to take that class were affected.   The class was replaced with more free play time.

 

And finally, I understand your issue with the snobbish people, while shopping for a school I could not stand most of the other schools environments and parents and CD was the only school that felt normal.   Until now we do not regret our decision.

Hi Krieg,

I just was wondering, about the two places extra who move in the city last minute; will that include in the middle of the school year? And also about the "is not for kids that do not speak German at all", which German level the kids should have? If my husband gets an offer my kids will start with private German lessons. My son spoke German until he was 4 and half (when we moved to Argentina) and then had lessons once a week until he was 8, which is when we moved to Ireland. I stopped with the German in Ireland, because my husband was worried about confusing him. My daughter was too small when we moved out from Germany to speak, so I trust that her being young will help her. And since both are learning Irish and doing great (I can not help on that so is all them and their teachers), I assume that German will be much easier for her.  From reading the forum threads I think CD will be the best option for him and my daughter, I also checked the CD web page and I really liked it.

 

Many thanks!

 

Ceci

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44 minutes ago, Cecibio said:

Hi Krieg,

I just was wondering, about the two places extra who move in the city last minute; will that include in the middle of the school year? And also about the "is not for kids that do not speak German at all", which German level the kids should have? If my husband gets an offer my kids will start with private German lessons. My son spoke German until he was 4 and half (when we moved to Argentina) and then had lessons once a week until he was 8, which is when we moved to Ireland. I stopped with the German in Ireland, because my husband was worried about confusing him. My daughter was too small when we moved out from Germany to speak, so I trust that her being young will help her. And since both are learning Irish and doing great (I can not help on that so is all them and their teachers), I assume that German will be much easier for her.  From reading the forum threads I think CD will be the best option for him and my daughter, I also checked the CD web page and I really liked it.

 

Many thanks!

 

Ceci

 

 

Hi, some time has passed since the message you quoted, so some things are a bit different now, but I still can't answer all the questions.   The refugee crisis happened, so nowadays there is an integration class for kids who do not speak any German at all, so if the kid is going to first class it can be put in the integration class.  Depending on the age it might be better to spend one year in a kindergarten instead.     And I've seen as well kids coming to Germany with very little German or no German who start in class 2, 3 or 4 in Charles Dickens, it is tough for them but they manage, at least from what I've seen.  

 

I have no idea how to handle the thing that you will move here during the winter, most probably you should contact the school and ask them directly.

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1 hour ago, Krieg said:

 

 

Hi, some time has passed since the message you quoted, so some things are a bit different now, but I still can't answer all the questions.   The refugee crisis happened, so nowadays there is an integration class for kids who do not speak any German at all, so if the kid is going to first class it can be put in the integration class.  Depending on the age it might be better to spend one year in a kindergarten instead.     And I've seen as well kids coming to Germany with very little German or no German who start in class 2, 3 or 4 in Charles Dickens, it is tough for them but they manage, at least from what I've seen.  

 

I have no idea how to handle the thing that you will move here during the winter, most probably you should contact the school and ask them directly.

Yes, I will contact the school once my husband gets an answer. Thanks a lot!

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