Why do you want to send your children to private school in Germany?

84 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, sos-the-rope said:

 

There's also no bilingual English-German state schools that I've come across. You might get Arabic or Turkish, which are great, but actually I'd like my kids to continue speaking both English and German, not just get completely used to German plus bad English ;-)

 

Goethe Gymnasium in Frankfurt has a bilingual class.

 

http://www.gg-ffm.de/index.php/englisch-bilingual

 

Arabic/German bilingual  state school?  Really?  

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3 hours ago, sos-the-rope said:

No school is perfect. My dad (a teacher who picked up a few battle scars in "internationals" back in the day) always hammered home the distinction between schooling and education.

 

Following on from sos-the-rope's post, I'd like to add my perspective. I am not a parent, so I am writing only about my own experience. I used to go to an excellent innovative European bilingual state gymnasium where most of us were weekly boarders, though we lived on a campus belonging to a different school. I left when I received a scholarship to attend an expensive private boarding school in Asia to do the IB Diploma (so I had to become a full boarder). My IB score was very high and obviously if someone does not feel well supported and does not do that well at school, their experience must differ from mine. Nothing here should be seen as an advert for anything. 

 

Did I gain academically by making the change? No. I would have been just as happy at the state school in this respect. I did not lose one bit though and had excellent support from amazing teachers. But this is surely not all that matters! You can feel the difference between state and private in teachers' attitudes and the extra-curricular programmes schools offer. Better facilities do not hurt either. Yes, there were extra-curricular activities at the state school, and the students do well in some international competitions too, particularly debating, but the offering was not a structured, well thought out programme. The IB itself is also not all about academic grades; you have the Theory of Knowledge, a small research project, and the Creativity, Action, Service element, which my school was stricter about than what the IBO requires. The IB is about various aspects of personal development and I find good state schools often too focused on the academics. Because this was something I always did well in, nobody cared about the other aspects. I really only realized this when I did have it in the end (which mattered since my parents expected pure perfection in academics at the time [they are shaking their head now and apologized for some things and we have a very good relationship, thank you very much :)]). The IBO says that

 

Quote

The programme aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically.

 

and in my experience these are not just empty words. Having said that, the culture of the school matters a lot. I occasionally check the private school's website to see how things have changed, but I have not been back for a visit. They have developed some 'academies', which are obviously aimed at a certain kind of parent (e.g. golf). I met some of my school friends in London two years ago and one who did visit the school shortly before that told me 'you really would not like it now' -- I am not snobbish enough :)

 

I am not trying to say students and parents should choose either one system. School cultures vary too much for that. They should be aware, however, what it is they are paying for and why. It can be worth it.     

 

34.5 is not a bad average score. Sure, there are 'better' schools, but I don't think this score can be compared as like-for-like with those of German Gymnasiums. Some well-known prep schools do reach 40+, but I assume the admissions process is more rigorous. 40+ is what a student needs to score to enter world's best universities. If you have that, the world is your oyster. 

 

Also, when I did the IB Diploma (2003-2005), I was considering studying medicine. In some countries, you would indeed need three science subjects to gain admission to the courses, but the standard IB curriculum allowed me to do 2 + Maths. If you do your research on entry requirements and present your case, your school can apply for an exemption for you (at least it was possible at the time, although I decided against this). 

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Here in Bad Muenstereifel (NRW) we've got a Gymnasium which teaches subjects in English as part of a bi-lingual Abitur too. As far as I can tell, there aren't many other Brits or Americans here, it just seems to be responding to a demand that Germans are more comfortable/confident using English.

When we make the choice to live in a non-English speaking country we have to acknowledge that our kids won't have the same level of comfort with English unless we do something about it (a previous poster referred to them as "heritage" rather than "native" speakers, which I think is a good description). That said, sending them into a school in Germany where English is the only language strikes me as missing a trick too. Surely, giving them the advantage of learning a second language in a country with a decent state education set-up (and the Abitur is recognised in foreign universities, not just DACH), doesn't inherently mean the kids will only speak English as a foreign language. There are so many sources (educational and cultural) which allow and encourage an ongoing English influence, as well as maintaining English as a "home" language. 

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2 hours ago, LenkaG said:

34.5 is not a bad average score. Sure, there are 'better' schools, but I don't think this score can be compared as like-for-like with those of German Gymnasiums.  Some well-known prep schools do reach 40+, but I assume the admissions process is more rigorous. 40+ is what a student needs to score to enter world's best universities. If you have that, the world is your oyster. 

 

And here we have the problem: the IB score will be judged by German standards, a pupil who does the IB in Germany will not profit from the extra places in a university course that are reserved for pupils with a non-German education.

This pupil will be in direct competition for numerus clauses places at university with pupils who have the Abitur.

 

If you look on page 4 of the official document that I linked to before, you will see that according to the German Ministers of Culture, only an IB score of between 42 and 45 is equivalent to a 1.0 in the German Abitur (which means that a German pupil had to have at least 95% in all subjects).

 

If we look at the formula they have for calculating what an IB score would be in the German system:

German_mark = 1 + 3*(42 - IB_score)/(42-24)

then an IB score of 34.5 is:

German_mark = 1 + 3*(42 - 34.5)/(42-24) = 2.25 which is not a very special mark in an German Abitur.

 

An IB score of 40 points, which you say is a not-to-be-bettered dream score, would correspond to:

German_mark = 1 + 3*(42 - 40)/(42-24) = 1.33, which sorry, is not good enough to study medicine in Germany, see here, nor, for example, psychology at any of the desirable German universities, like Munich, see here.

 

***************************************************************

 

By the way, since you did the IB: is the IB score 42 equivalent to at having gotten at least 95% in all subjects?

Because in the end, the percentage of points you got from the maximum possible points in an exam is the only way we have to fairly compare different systems.

 

 

 

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My take on the advantages and disadvantages of German vs. International Schools

 

German Schools:

  • Focus mostly on German and Germany.
  • Teacher diversity is zero: 100% of the teachers are Germans trained in Germany. Yes, even foreign language teachers.
  • Student body diversity is of the kind you'll see near the Hauptbahnhof.
  • Oriented towards the German University system where admission is based exclusively on meeting formal criteria (basically, having the Abitur and a high-enough GPA to make it past the Numerus Clausus cutoff for the intended field of study).
  • In any given year, hardly any of the students apply for admission to universities outside of Germany, with the possible exception of some who go to ... Austria.
  • Advantage: tax-payer funded.

International schools:

  • More international focus with English being the main language of instruction. German is taught at whichever level would match the student's needs.
  • High teacher diversity. Some teachers are German. Most are expats themselves, who were trained in many different countries and who have lived and taught in several more.
  • Student body is very diverse. Many Germans, lots of expats. Having a "Migrationshintergrund" carries no negative associations.
  • The school provides the formal qualifications for university admission (IB) but also possesses the necessary expertise to enable students to successfully apply to top universities in English-speaking countries where there's an admissions committee that looks at many factors beyond the formal high school certificate, such as letters of recommendation, extra-curricular activities, participation in various projects, etc.
  • In each class there is a healthy mix of students who go on to German universities and students who go abroad, mostly to English-speaking countries.
  • Disadvantage: Expensive.
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1 hour ago, PandaMunich said:

An IB score of 40 points, which you say is an excellent score would correspond to:

German_mark = 1 + 3*(42 - 40)/(42-24) = 1.33, which sorry, is not good enough to study medicine in Germany.

 

Medicine is a bad comparison. Medicine is hard to get in everywhere. In Portugal you need around 19 out of 20 to get into Medicine.

But Engineering is much more accessible and with less assholes.

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12 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

2.25 which is nothing special in the German Abitur

 

Sure, but I assume that this is the average score because there are pupils who would not be at a Gymnasium in the German system, whilst the prep schools that reach the high average scores are a lot more selective and could be compared to a Gymnasium. Somebody correct me if I am mistaken, please, because I have no inside knowledge of MIS. 

 

20 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

An IB score of 40 points, which you say is an excellent score would correspond to:

German_mark = 1 + 3*(42 - 40)/(42-24) = 1.33, which sorry, is not enough to study medicine in Germany.

 

Fair enough, however, the issue of free education becomes less relevant as with this score you can find a scholarship at a fee paying institution. (I have no statistics here, but can say that with my >40 score I was indeed promised a full scholarship if I applied [chemistry] to an instituition whose students do go on to do postgraduate studies at world's 'best' universities [I don't like saying it like that, I am not the greatest fan of rankings]. I did not look for a full scholarship and do not have comprehensive info though as I went to the UK and the old fee system was in place so I did not end up paying any fees.)

 

Another question is, do the students care? As @MikeMelga mentioned, they can't really use German outside of DACH. Looking at booklets of ISD and MIS, they do not care much indeed (on the list of HE institutions where their students study, MIS has all of 5[!] German ones, and I suspect that students are attending German language programmes at three of those, but that's just an educated guess; ISD has only 14 on their list, if I counted correctly).

 

1 hour ago, PandaMunich said:

the percentage of points you get in an exam is the only way we have to fairly compare different systems

 

I disagree because the difficulty of the exam matters. (I look at it in the same way as I would at uni results -- getting a 2.1 from one university does not equal getting a 2.1 at another, which is why some graduate recruiters have finally removed the requirement from their application process. So having a 1 in Germany might not be the same as having an A or whatever elsewhere.) 

 

1 hour ago, PandaMunich said:

is the IB score 42 equivalent to at having gotten at least 95% in all subjects?

 

This is not how it works. You will have to excuse me here because I do not have a link even though I looked for a source. I am assuming this information is only in internal IBO documents. I can only tell you what I know from teachers involved in IB coordination at international level, and that information is from 2005. We have to consider that marking IB exams is a world wide humunguos task. Students and teachers from all sorts of cultures are involved so this business is very standardised. Even when it comes to work assessed internally, samples from every class are always double checked, and potentially adjusted, by an external examiner (usually an IB qualified teacher-examiner at another school). (A great teacher of mine, who happened to teach for a number of years at the International School of Düsseldorf as well, was annoyed with himself because once in his career his grades in a class were adjusted downwards :D) There is a lot of post involved in IB assessment! Now imagine the exams. Thousands of students do this at the same time -- for example, and I am making the date and times up, Biology 1st exam on Tuesday morning 03 May 09:00 and Biology 2nd exam Tuesday afternoon 03 May 14:30 CET. External invigilators present in the room at all times. Papers collected and sent to an examiner probably half way across the world. How do you ensure standard corrections if you do not want to rely on multiple choice questions only? All of the examiners have a sample of their work double checked by yet another examiner. All of this is happening to very tight deadlines, especially when it comes to essays. And to the point here, how do you ensure questions are asked fairly? However much you try, you cannot be 100% fair (and my experience with sample exams from several years would suggest so), so you need to use the normal distribution to adjust the results. What happens in the end is that the top 7% of students get a 7 and >50% of students get 4-5, and for that I do have a source (2010). 

 

1 hour ago, dstanners said:

maintaining English as a "home" language

 

Which can be a problem when they need it as a professional language. What is technically my first language is not my professional language, I have never used it at work and when I translated business documents for my mother's company, she used to laugh and correct the texts, but I honestly did not see/feel the problems (like word choice and order). Somebody regularly hiring people to work in Germany at a place with English as the working language told me they have issues because Germans have trouble interacting with people speaking with various accents on a daily basis. I have seen that at my workplace too. 

 

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1 hour ago, MikeMelga said:

 

Medicine is a bad comparison. Medicine is hard to get in everywhere. In Portugal you need around 19 out of 20 to get into Medicine.

But Engineering is much more accessible and with less assholes.

 

You don't have to convince me of the merit of engineering ;)

I had an 1.0 Abitur and could have studied anything I wanted and still chose engineering :D

 

The problem is that @LenkaG seems to assume that an IB score of 40 which corresponds to a German mark of 1.33 gets you into any subject you want, at any university you want, worldwide.

Well, that isn't the case, it won't get you into the high numerus clausus subjects in Germany (there are more than just medicine), for example here's a list of subjects that had a NC of 1.0, among them being maths and biotechnology.

 

1 hour ago, LenkaG said:

top 7% of students get a 7

Ok, now we have a comparison criterium.

 

So the top 7% of students get the highest possible IB mark, a 7.

In Bavaria, only the top 2% of students get the highest possible mark, a 1.0 in the Abitur, see here (in the good old days, it was less than 1% ;)).

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Panda, I don't really understand your point. Getting 1.0 will be very hard either on IB or on state schools.

You are implying one of the following:

 

a) IB systems is worst, so you will get bad grades

b ) IB system is more demanding, so you get bad grades

 

If you chose engineering, how come you are interested in finance statements stuff? :)

 

 

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10 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

The problem is that @LenkaG seems to assume that an IB score of 40 gets you into any subject you want, at any university you want, worldwide.

 

If that's how it comes across, I did not express myself well. What I mean is that if you have a good score, you have plenty of options and not being able to study subject X at an institution Y in a country Z will not need to bother you. You should be able to find a way into the field you are interested in in a reasonably affordable way. 

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18 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

So the top 7% of students get the highest possible IB mark, a 7.

In Bavaria, only the top 2% of students get the highest possible mark, a 1.0 in the Abitur, see here (in the good old days, it was less than 1% ;)).

 

Well, we would first have to agree whether standard school grades are a fair way of assessing inteligence, ability or whatever, and whether the systems are in fact comparable (what does each actually assess and what are the goals of an education system?) and I guess we would have a lengthy discussion right there :D

That's like when people say that German universities are not good because Germany does not do that well in rankings :D

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Taxes are my hobby.

 

What I'm saying is that the IB system seems to prepare pupils for things that German universities do not value as much as parents, who are faced with the decision whether

  • to send their child to a private fee-paying IB-path school, or
  • to an Abitur-path free state school,

might think.

 

In Germany, grades and having the Grundwissen that the state curriculum contains, count for getting into university.

The stuff the IB seems to put an emphasis on, like research, happens later in Germany: in university, not in school.

 

So it's not a question of good or bad, but more a question of which school leaving certificate is more "fit for purpose".

The purpose here being helping your child get into any subject at a German university your child may want to study.

I assume Germany, since German university is free, which is a desirable trait.

 

And if your child wants to study elsewhere - well, the Abitur is recognised worldwide, and as was mentioned, an excellent pupil will get offered a scholarship anywhere he/she goes.

For example, we have such an example right here on Toytown, @kiplette's daughter did the Abitur here in Germany at a state school and she went right on to Oxford University (and if I remember correctly, she also has a scholarship).

 

I see it like this:

  • best case (in case of "good" private school) with the IB you waste money and effort on something that doesn't bring you brownie points for admittance to a German university.
  • worst case (in case of a "bad" private school, usually new schools) you spend a lot of money for a goal that won't be attained, since neither the school nor the teachers have the experience or the knowledge to be able to get your child to the IB. Your child becomes a guinea pig for their teaching methods.
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25 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

The purpose here being helping your child get into any subject at a German university your child may want to study.

 

Fair enough. Clearly, that is not how I (and, guessing form several other responses, some other posters as well) interpreted the question 'Why do you want to send your children to private school in Germany?'.

 

28 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

neither the school nor the teachers have the experience or the knowledge to be able to get your child to the IB

 

True, one should always check which programmes at a school are accredited by the IBO/how further training of teachers works at a school, similarly to checking anerkannt/genehmigt.

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Worst case: the kid is ostracized by colleagues and teachers in state school, falls behind and we do not recognize on time because of the poor feedback from school teachers.

Worst case: the castrating German system tells us at the age of 10 that our son is not good enough for Gymnasium, or tells us that he should follow a certain profession and expect us to follow the blind advice like the rest of the herd.

 

Haven't you noticed that Germans and even foreign that went through the German educational system are all sheep that don't question a thing? Everybody, even the Bangladesh salesman at Media Markt says that I need to learn German, when they are perfectly capable of speaking English. And why? Why do they assume that I need to speak German? They all seem to think I will be here forever because they think this is the greatest country on Earth. I don't know when I will leave, but for sure I won't spend my retirement here.

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14 minutes ago, MikeMelga said:

 

Worst case: the castrating German system tells us at the age of 10 that our son is not good enough for Gymnasium, or tells us that he should follow a certain profession and expect us to follow the blind advice like the rest of the herd.

 

Which is what happened to my half German half Turkish relative: He was denied access to Gymnasium by his teachers because "the Turk brat doesn't need that, he'll just work in construction anyway". Which he was forced to do for years for lack of education.

 

He has by now taken his US GED, meaning he can go to college there.*thumbs nose at German system* :D

 

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Up here, it would be absolutely normal to go to Hauptschule, carry on to class 10 for the Realschulabschluss, and if that went well enough, go on to do either an Allgemeine Abitur, or a Fachabitur. The flexibility is amazing.

 

Is it not possible to do that down in Bayern? Actual question.

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4 hours ago, PandaMunich said:

I had an 1.0 Abitur and could have studied anything I wanted and still chose engineering

 

 

A student with similar academic aptitude attending an IB school would probably have made it to one of the top engineering schools (MIT, Stanford, Caltech, ..), possibly with a very generous financial aid package. A degree from one of those universities opens way more doors than a degree from a regular German university.

 

An excellent student at a German Gymnasium would tend to put all his energy into getting that 1.0, which is of course enough to pass the Numerus Clausus hurdle for any field of study at German universities, but a perfect GPA on its own would not be enough to satisfy the admissions committees of the top universities in the English speaking world. In any case, the German Gymnasium would not have brought to such a student's attention any information about opportunties at such top universities abroad, would not have encouraged him to apply, and would not have provided the necessary support for a successful application.

 

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This is all a bit of bollocks tbh. In terms of intelligence I am in the top one percentile of the population. I scored the best possible test results at eleven and eighteen, and I was sent to a private boarding school for my secondary education.

 

My girlfriend and I got pregnant and I worked as a labourer in a factory for five years rather than going to university.

 

I work in a multinational company that employs the best graduates from all over the world, where English is the supposed working language, but it may as well be Swahili or our own internal language. Germans and others, whether from a state background or private schooling simply cannot speak English...If I magically dropped them in Manchester they would not survive.

 

I can empathise, despite being here ten years, and trying to speak German I am always answered in pigeon English. I acquiesce, speak English and then they cannot understand me.

 

The reality for me is that those from private schools in Germany have much weaker English speaking skills than those that have gone through the state system. 

 

I am not sure why that is the case but that is why I advocate the state system. 

 

At the end of the day though you can have the smartest child but without common sense it is worth nothing.

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