Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ guide to international schools in Berlin, Part 1

One of the bigger challenges for English-speaking expat families – even for well-paid corporate nomads – is finding a satisfactory, English-language international school.

Such schools cater to expat students, with curricula tied to the host nation in question, or an international education organization such as Edexcel, Cambridge International Examinations, and International Baccalaureate; if you’re curious about the International Baccalaureate program, by the by, Dispatches Europe has a primer for your convenience.

bis-46-36100826Wherever you’re headed, do not wait to get there before starting the application process with your preferred international school, which can be lengthy. With business growing ever more global, many international schools have more applications than spaces. You might also want to check out the schools in person and interview parents in case the reality fails to live up to the promotional literature and beautiful photos of campus life at a given international school.

Our first stop of our tour of international schools in Germany begins with a two-part visit to Berlin. And yes, there are that many quality international schools to choose from that we have to do two installments. Our first series on international schools focused on the Netherlands, which is headquarters for so many U.S. companies. While Berlin has more choices, in aggregate, tuitions are higher in Germany than in Holland.

The formerly divided Berlin– reflective a formerly divided nation during the Cold War – is Germany’s capital, home to about 3.5 million people. Founded in the 13th century along two important trade routes, Berlin was also the capital of several historic nations, including the Kingdom of Prussia, the Weimar Republic, and the Third Reich.

Berlin is a major cultural center for Germany and all of Europe, from its collection of landmarks such as the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, to the many creative arts and entertainment companies involved in fashion, music, performing arts, and film production. Several corporations call Berlin home, including Deutsche Telekom (the parent company of T-Mobile), media giant Axel Springer and Air Berlin.

Almost every major American multinational corporation including digital giants such as Google and Microsoft has some sort of operations here.

imgresBerlin Bilingual School: The first international school on our list is Berlin Bilingual School, an “English-German school for families from around the globe who have settled in the German capital.” Established in 2007 by parents seeking a place for a kindergarten for their bilingual children, BBS now has a primary and secondary school in operation, with Grade 11 students set to begin their bilingual studies August 2016; 342 students are in Grades 1 through 10 as of the 2015-16 academic year. The primary focus of BBS is for bilingual students to be bi-literate on the level of an educated native speaker of English and German.

  • Fees (2015-16 academic year): Primary school: one-time €100 admissions testing fee; non-refundable €525 deposit upon contract signing; annual tuition of €175 for incomes below €40,000/year, €200 for incomes above €40,000/year. Secondary school: income-based annual tuition of €100 for incomes under €30,000/year to €513 for incomes above €150,000/year
  • Requirements: “A good command of German and English is a prerequisite for admission”; complete application form; submit two recent report cards (Grade 2 forward)
  • Application Deadline: August 1 of the year prior to admission
  • Contact: michelle.krapf@gmx.de (Grade 1); vivien.hartwig@berlin-bilingual.de (Grade 2-6); gemma.jones@berlin-bilingual.de, Nicole.lenhart@berlin-bilingual.de (Grade 7-10)
  • Website: www.berlin-bilingual-school.de

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 1.37.23 AMBerlin Brandenburg International School: Located between Berlin and its former home of Potsdam, Berlin Brandenburg International School is an inclusive school, empowering and guiding their students toward their unique potential on the path to becoming “responsible, compassionate global citizens.” BBIS is also the first English-language boarding school in Germany, open to international students in grades 9 through 12. The school is fully authorized to teach the entire International Baccalaureate program, and is in the process of completing a master plan to add 120 boarding school students and 1,200 students overall attend BBIS in the next few years.

  • Fees (2015-16 academic year): Annual tuition ranging from €11,400 (early education) to €18,200 (Grade 12)
  • Requirements: Complete application process with required documentation
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: teresa.reichelt@bbis.de or romy.poenisch@bbis.de
  • Website: www.bbis.de

e97cc4f15f96e3c3b27b6847dd704122Berlin British School: Flying the Union Jack alongside the Bundesflagge, Berlin British School welcomes students aged 2 through 18 from all over the world “to explore issues from multiple perspectives” in preparation for “the challenges they face in a rapidly changing and ever-more competitive world.” Established in 1994 as a way to “root British traditions” in Berlin following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, BBS entered its 20th year of operation as an Ersatzschule (German alternative school) in Berlin’s school system. Like so many other international schools, BBS is an IB school, and also offers the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, administered by the University of Cambridge International Examinations Board.

  • Fees (2016-17 academic year): €2,600 registration fee (€515 fee for siblings); annual tuition fee ranging from €5,680 to €14,820, depending on grade level; exam fee of €1,575 (IGCSE) or €2,625 (IB Diploma)
  • Requirements: Complete online application form; visit school for three-day visit, enrollment meeting
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: helen.page@berlinbritishschool.de or hpage@berlinbritishschool.de
  • Website: www.berlinbritishschool.de

logo_10956Berlin Cosmopolitan School: Founded in stages in 2004, 2007 and 2009, Berlin Cosmopolitan School is a non-profit international school “with a focus on the sciences, music and dance in the heart of Berlin.” BCS covers your children’s education from preschool to secondary, is an International Baccalaureate World School, offers the Berlin State Curriculum alongside the IB PYP and Diploma programs, and boasts over 50 extracurricular clubs. Over 700 students were enrolled BCS in the 2015-16 school year, attending classes in groups of 18 to 22 students per class per grade level.

  • Fees (2015-16 academic year): Free to €680 for all-day Kindergarten students ages 1 through 5 (see schedule here); €135 to €765 monthly tuition fee for primary and secondary students (2016-17 academic year), based on family’s gross income; one-time registration, admission, and prepayment fees of €50, €1,200, and €1,350 for primary and secondary students, respectively (see full schedule here)
  • Requirements: Submit completed application with all relevant information per child, plus report cards/progress reports from the past two years (previous four years for grade 7 and above)
  • Application Deadline: 4 October 2016 (for 2017-18 academic year)
  • Contact: admissions@cosmopolitanschool.de
  • Website: www.cosmopolitanschool.de

BerlinInternationalSchoolBerlin International School: Berlin International School in nearby Dahlem is home to more than 820 students from 60 countries, each student learning in a multicultural environment through play, study and friendship on their way to becoming successful global citizens. BIS is an International Baccalaureate World School, offers Cambridge University and Collegeboard exams, and is accredited by the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. More than 90 percent of graduating students who pass through BIS go on to institutions of higher learning all over the world.

  • Fees (2016-17 academic year): €800 registration fee (all primary and secondary grades); resource fee ranging from €100 for all primary grades, to €300 for secondary grades 11 and 12; tuition fee ranging from €915/month (€10,980/year) for all primary grades, to €1,150/month (€13,800/year) for secondary grades 11 and 12; reduced fees for siblings and low-income families, alongside scholarships, are available
  • Requirements: Submit completed application with all relevant information per child; Grade 1 students must be six years of age by 31 December; Grade 2 through 8 students placed in grade compatible with their age “on evidence of successful completion of the preceding grade or year”; Grade 9 and 11 students placed through the same procedure as Grade 2 through 8 students, must also complete a written exam to prove they will pass Grade 10/12 exams
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: office@berlin-international-school.de
  • Website: www.berlin-international-school.de
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