Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ Guide to International Schools in the Rhine-Ruhr

(Editor’s note: Cameron Aubernon also contributed to this post.)

It’s a fundamental reality of being an expat: One of the biggest challenges for English-speaking expat families – even for well-paid corporate nomads – is finding satisfactory, English-language international schools.

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, Dispatches Europe has a primer for your convenience.

Wherever you’re headed, do not wait to get there before starting the application process with your preferred international school, which can be lengthy.

The Rhine-Ruhr is Germany’s only megalopolis, comprised of the core cities of Bochum, Bonn, Cologne, Dortmund, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Essen, and Wuppertal. It’s one of the most heavily industrialized regions of Europe.

Rhine-Ruhr has a significant expat population due to the presence of at least 900 companies including the international headquarters of auto companies and suppliers such as Ford of Europe.

So, with an internationalized workforce, there are a number of international schools from which parents can choose.

BONN

Bonn International School: About 700 students from more than 75 nations attend Bonn International School, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

BIS is an English-language International Baccalaureate school delivering the three comprehensive IB programs: Primary Years (PYP), Middle Years (MYP) and Diploma Program (DP). Students are from three years to 19 years old.

Bonn International is heavily focused on tech in the classroom. From the website:

More than 350 computers and 600 iPads are used in classrooms from Early Learning 3/4 to Grade 8. Two computer labs, two laptop carts, a Media Centre full of computers, laptops and iPads, internet resources and interactive whiteboards or AppleTV/Beamer setups in every classroom; all Apple platform. A  BYOD program in Grades 9 – 12 is in place so that students bring their own laptops, preparing them for the laptop maintenance, responsibility and organization needed for university and beyond. An ICT Systems Manager, ICT Database Coordinator and the ICT Technician collaborate with students and staff to optimize and support learning.

The school has small class sizes (average of 18 students and a maximum of 22) and a variety of extracurricular activities including tech, theater, music, sports, and languages.

  • Fees (2017-18 academic year): Fees start at 10,112 euros per year for EL 3 – 4 and go to 19,148 euros for Grades 11 – 12.
  • Requirements: You can see them all here.
  • Application Deadline: You can apply anytime
  • Contact: admissions@bonn-is.de
  • Website: www.bonn-is.de

Independent Bonn International School: IBIS is a member of the Council of British Independent Schools, which sets standards for teaching, among other functions.

The school operates on the English National Curriculum, a curriculum which is used in a large number of international schools throughout the world. So, the system would be familiar to most people from the United Kingdom. And unlike many international schools, IBIS has uniforms, albeit informal ones: a school sweatshirt and other clothes in blue, white, grey or beige. Jeans are not permitted.

The school year begins in late August or early September and is divided into three terms, according to the IBIS website.

1. Autumn Term: August/September – December
2. Spring Term: January – March/April
3. Summer Term: April – June/July

Extracurricular activities include sports, music, gardening and self-defense.

Fees (2017-18 academic year): N/A; contact school for information

  • Requirements: The Head of IBIS applies the regulations on admissions fairly and equally to all those who wish to attend this school. The rules for admission are agreed upon by the Board and set out in the application forms and parent handbook.
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: ibis@ibis-school.com
  • Website: http://ibis-school.com/

Cologne

Cologne International School: About 550 students from more than 40 nations attend Cologne International School annually.

CIS was founded in 2007 “by a small group of educational idealists” who saw an opportunity “to build a school campus on a sunny, green meadow; a campus which could ideally complement and support our pedagogical framework,” where the student is at “the centre of academic endeavours.” The bilingual school offers the IB Diploma and the University of Cambridge International Certificate of Secondary Education.

Extracurricular activities include class trips, sports and languages. Class sizes are limited to 23 students.

  • Fees (2017-18 academic year): N/A; contact school for information
  • Requirements: Complete and submit application with required documentation
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: info@if-koeln.de
  • Website: www.if-koeln.de/en/

St. George’s, Cologne: From your youngest to those set to move on to university, St. George’s, Cologne offers “a safe, nurturing environment built upon mutual respect and a love of learning.”

(This is part of a group of international schools, which includes Munich, Cologne and Duisberg/Düsseldorf.)

Small classes and a 8:1 student-to-teacher ratio help the student to “achieve more than grades,” “unlock their potential and develop their talents.” Years 1 through 9 follow the National Curriculum for England, Wales and Northern Ireland; years 10 and 11 obtain the Cambridge IGCSE; and years 12 and 13 graduate with the IB Diploma.

About 60 countries are represented in the student body.

  • Fees (2017-18 academic year): N/A; contact school for information. The website states that school administrations don’t want fees to be an obstacle to admission, with some financial assistance available. Parents are invited to inquire about fees in confidence.
  • Requirements: Complete and submit application with fee and required documentation; student must take a placement exam before final confirmation based on results and space available
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: Via contact form
  • Website: www.stgeorgesschool.de/cologne

Dortmund

International Montessori School – Barbara House: Barbara House is celebrating its 10th year.

It’s an international, bilingual Montessori education for children aged one to six years old. Montessori refers to the principles and methods developed by the Association Montessori International,” founded by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator.

The Montessori system stresses self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. Children make creative choices in their learning while teachers offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process.

  • Fees (2017-18 academic year): N/A; contact school for information
  • Requirements: Complete and submit application with required documentation
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: info@if-koeln.de
  • Website: www.ime-do.de/?lang=en

Leibniz Gymnasium Dortmund International School: Leibniz Gymnasium is a bilingual school, with classes in English and German. It’s also an IB school with international baccalaureate beginning in the 10th grade.

Natural sciences are the main focus at Leibniz Gymnasium. In addition to classic science biology, chemistry, and physics, the school offers STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.)

  • Fees (2017-18 academic year): N/A; contact school for information
  • Requirements: Complete and submit application with required documentation
  • Application Deadline: Applications have closed for 2017/2018, but opens again in February 2018. You can see more information here.
  • Contact: Foerderverein-LG@gmx.de
  • Website: http://leibniz-gym.de/wordpress/

Duisburg/Düsseldorf

St. George’s, Duisburg – Düsseldorf: This is the same group as St. George’s Cologne above.Years 1 through 9 follow the National Curriculum for England, Wales and Northern Ireland; years 10 and 11 obtain the Cambridge IGCSE; and years 12 and 13 graduate with the IB Diploma.

Years 1 through 9 follow the National Curriculum for England, Wales and Northern Ireland; years 10 and 11 obtain the Cambridge IGCSE; and years 12 and 13 graduate with the IB Diploma.

  • Fees (2017-18 academic year): N/A; contact school for information
  • Requirements: Complete and submit application with fee and required documentation; student must take a placement exam before final confirmation based on results and space available
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: Via contact form
  • Website: www.stgeorgesschool.de/duisburg-duesseldorf

Dusseldorf

International School on the Rhine: ISR uses the Sabis System and is part of the Sabis network of schools.

The Sabis approach is to “provide an outstanding education at a reasonable cost and help all students achieve their full potential,” according to the school website.

It blends quality education with traditional values of hard work and responsibility for self and others, with a demanding curriculum, an intense, disciplined, and interactive approach to deliver the intellectual material, and rigorous homework expectations.

The school offers both IB and Advanced Placement programs.

There’s a lot of information about various academics paths including for German university, so check out the ISR website.

  • Fees (2017-18 academic year): N/A; contact school for information
  • Requirements: Complete and submit application with required documentation
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact:Dagmar.Rubino@isr-school.de
  • Website: www.isr-school.de

Essen

SBW International School Ruhr:

  • SWBISR is an English language school with IB programs. The SWB concept includes self-directed, goal-oriented learning tailored to individual abilities, interests, and needs, according to the school website.

The school offers:

  • An English-language nursery school with a full-day program and after-school care with periods that are aligned to working parents.
  • An English language primary school program, which is qualified as IBO World School and pursues the IB Primary Years program.
  • Flowing internal transfers and admission of children to the basic level, as well as to the higher classes (6-12 to the Diploma Program) as the basic principle. 
  • Parents who are looking for an academically equivalent – but different path – to the German grammar school also are welcome.

The details:

  • Fees (2017-18 academic year): There is a one-time 500 euro registration fee and a 250 euro development fee. Tuition starts at 5,460 euros per year for kindergarten and goes to 15,680 euros for the final year of IB. There are various scholarship programs.
  • Requirements: Complete and submit application with required documentation
  • Application Deadline: There is no deadline: the process is multi-step, and you can see it here.
  • Contact: info@is-ruhr.de
  • Website: http://www.is-ruhr.de/deutsch/willkommen/index.html
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