International schools in Berlin

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you call this bickering? I think the discussion here is very interesting and helpful.

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I have one daughter in the Charles Dickens school and another daughter starting in September. The class is mixed both racially and in language, a definite plus. She receives classes in both English and German and we are very happy with the teachers and their teaching techniques..

I have to admit that her English is almost perfect now and she seems to be enjoying herself. My only problem is that I find the system here in Germany starts children far to late in learning. Many children of my friends back in Canada are at least 1-2 years ahead of their German counterparts in reading, math and spelling abilities (I was told that at some point they catch up through more intensive learning). Also, if a child is experiencing difficulties in learning (restless or bored children) they immediately suggest that the child be taken for ADD tests .

All I did was adjust the way I taught my restless daughter at home and now she is acing every test, whereas a friend of mine took the advice of their (German) school and her daughter now has ADD in her permanent record.

I also wish the extra curricular activities were better organized.

So, like everything else in this world, some pluses and some negatives.

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My 9 year daughter is at Nelson Mandela, and as mentioned earlier we are really happy with that school. I was also a bit concerned that they start reading and writing so late in Germany, but now at 9 years old she has caught up and passed the kids of similar age I know in the UK and Ireland - and even better she is doing this on English and German. So don't worry, the catch up does really happen, and fairly quicky.

 

Colin

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Hello--I'm new to this discussion, but am deeply interested in it. I am just about to move to Berlin for a year with my two children, ages 15 and 10. Both are native English speakers, but both have studied German. While they are naturally leery about attending monolingual German public school, we are very interested in their learning as much German as possible (without, of course, being traumatized). They have been admitted to both the Kennedy and Mandela Schools. I'd be interested in any thoughts about which of these two options (or others?) might be best for them. Thanks!

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As I've said earlier, my daughter is in Nelson Mandela and I find it excellent, both from an education and social perspective. My take on your choice would be that if you want your kids to grow up in a very American environment here in Berlin, and do all things in a very American way, then you can got got JKF. However I'd hope you'd want your kids to experience the wide variety of cultures and people who live here in Berlin, and go to a school that is fundamentally based around a multi-cultural experience, then you can't beat Nelson Mandela school.

 

Welcome to Berlin, and I hope you enjoy living in this great city.

 

Colin

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Hello--I'm new to this discussion, but am deeply interested in it. I am just about to move to Berlin for a year with my two children, ages 15 and 10. Both are native English speakers, but both have studied German. While they are naturally leery about attending monolingual German public school, we are very interested in their learning as much German as possible (without, of course, being traumatized). They have been admitted to both the Kennedy and Mandela Schools. I'd be interested in any thoughts about which of these two options (or others?) might be best for them. Thanks!

I know more about the Mandela School than the Kennedy, but I think that some of the posts so far in this thread have been very one-sided.

 

The Mandela School has many good things going for it -- nice kids, active parents and an excellent Director -- but it's by no means perfect. The teachers are quite variable in ability and commitment and there is an endemic problem with the way in which non-German teachers are treated which has led to some very good ones leaving. I don't know about how well the Kennedy does in placing its students at U.S. colleges but I do know that I had an excellent ex-Kennedy pupil when I taught at Oxford -- just a one-off, of course.

 

My guess is that, if they are just going to be in Berlin for a year, your children would get more out of the Mandela School, but it's no more than a guess.

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The teachers are quite variable in ability and commitment and there is an endemic problem with the way in which non-German teachers are treated which has led to some very good ones leaving.

Your comment on teacher ability and commitment is true of pretty much every school in the world.

 

The issue with non-German teachers is not to do with the Nelson Mandela school - it is due to the fact that the German education system unfairly treats them differently - they are paid less. It is a scandal and clearly discriminatory that if you have a non-German teaching qualification, you can be employed in the system, but you are not paid the same as someone with a German qualification. The problem is the German government's attitude, and there is a campaign to try to change it - thought it is not having much success. I have no idea how this situation can arise in a EU country - however we should all try to do what we can to help rectify the problem.

 

My daughter has one great teacher, and one average teacher. When I was in school in Ireland, I would have been happy with that - the quality of teachers we had in Synge Street school in Dublin in the 1970s was for the most part abysmal. I think parents place too much emphasis on this - it is up to us to encourage our kids to enjoy learning, and then in my opinion if the kids have average ability, they will do well.

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You should check out the newly opened International Primary school based in Prenzlauer Berg/Friedrichshain, Berlin kids International. Its already getting a good reputation and seems to have a great concept, and I heard they may have some spaces free this year if anyone is still looking. The web address is http://www.berlin-kids-international.de/school

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You will need to visit Berlin Kids to see if you like the area it's in or the condition of the building.

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The principal of Berlin Kids is staying on as a teacher and he is supposed to be very good, also it's near the park, the inside of the school is great, they have a good concept and plans and there are a lot of enthusiastic parents. You will have to pay between 200 and 400 Euros a month for school, Hort and food unless you qualify for a reduction. They also need parents to work 6 hours a month or pay 40 Euros a month instead.

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To the author:

 

We were also choosing the school and also between Berlin International and Brandenburg. Initially we decided to go for Berlin International school and even applied for it for our 3 kids. But then we heard some worrying stories about it. One case was really shockingly unbelievable. And finally we were advised by the company my husband is working for not to go there (as a number of employees had some kind of problems there).

As for Brandenburg school, we have not heard any negative feedback. Plus the school is really well equipped, has great development potential. And in the end we decided to stay with Brandenburg school.

There is also a British school in Berlin. It seems to be fine. But all their 3 schools (foundation, junior and senior) are in different locations and 2 are really isolated.

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BBIS has the best reputation, but its a long way away and quite expensive-exclusive. Nelson Mandela is a good option if you live in Berlin city. Its like a state school you would get in your home country. It has a bilingual program, so your kids will be with other English speakers during language lessons, and then with German speakers for the other lessons (but these lessons are in English, apart from maths, I think?? This is what I understand anyway). Its free. Other schools to check out are Phorms (growing quickly, but perhaps lacking curriculum direction), Cosmopolitan School (new school that will be good by the time you arrive), British School (has a good reputation, popular with diplomatic crowd), and Charles Dickens School (very similar, but smaller, to Nelson Mandela school). I wouldnt go for the other small schools, as I have heard they have a lot of problems.

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At Nelson Mandela there are two streams - based on what is considered the child's mother tongue. They maintain as close to 50-50 as they can in the size of the streams. So if your mother tongue is deemed to be English, then there is a different emphasis on the lessons to the kids with German mother tongue - obviously the key difference is in the teaching of the two languages.

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Hi, this here is very interesting! After living in the New York City area for almost 10 years we will be moving back to Germany after the summer. My here born second grader also got into the JFK and the Nelson Mandela school and now we have to choose. We also have a 5 year old...

 

We are planning to stay in Berlin for a while if not for good. So this is a tough decision. I have visited both schools a couple of weeks ago and I liked them both.

 

The JFK very much reminded me of the schools here in upper middle class suburbia Montclair, NJ which I like. I think it would be a very easy transition and would help to keep and teach the kids the American culture. However, is it too American and old fashioned or conservative?

 

The Nelson Mandela School also made a very good impression! At least the people I met there. However, the location of the school is more center and that would mean living in an apartment instead of a house with yard. After 6 years Manhattan I can hardly imagine that... :o) Also the day is very long. 8-4. So I think that would leave no room for after school activities like soccer or music class...

 

Any thoughts on my concerns?

 

Is there someone here who has kids in the JFKS?

 

Thanks a lot!

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The school day at Nelson Mandela is normal for Berlin. It is 8am to 3pm, wit a latest collection time of 4pm, and I think on Friday's you can pick the kids up after 1pm. There is plenty of time for after school activities. At the moment, my 9 year old daughter does step dancing one day, an art class another day, and a computer class another day - which is plenty. The school also organises class trips, there is weekly swimming, so there is no shortage of extra curricular activities.

 

As always, I highly recommend this school if you want you kids to be educated in an easy going multi-cultural environment.

 

Colin

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Can you visit Nelson Mandela to looks round? Or do you have to wait for the Sept/Oct/Nov open day? I want to go and look now but have been patiently waiting.

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. It is 8am to 3pm, wit a latest collection time of 4pm, and I think on Friday's you can pick the kids up after 1pm.

Thanks Colin!

 

I thought that the day is 8-4. But I can pick my son up at 3? Is that correct?

 

Thanks!

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