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German primary schools

(38 Posts)
rumbletum Fri 23-May-08 14:22:02

We are moving back to Germany from singapore and need to find a primary school for ds. Dh is German, and we'll be in the Mainz/Wiesbaden area. Please can anyone tell me about /recommend primary schools - are there catchment areas, league tables, church schools, private schools etc etc. We have no idea where to start. Thanks !

Nighbynight Sun 01-Jun-08 09:06:49

I echo everything finknottle and sandy say. Even some of my German, gymnasium educated colleagues had hell with their children in school.

You should get through it OK as long as you know what you are walking into and have a few advantages
- your child speaks fluent German
- you have few children, and can give each of them a lot of time
- you either don't work (and are free to teach your child in the afternoons), or you pay for nachhilfe.

Nighbynight Sun 01-Jun-08 09:08:51

another thought: what will you do to replace the encouragement of creativity that your children would get from an english school?

SSSandy2 Mon 02-Jun-08 13:47:39

very difficult to find a solution to the school problem rumbletum and I have more choice here than you would have in Wiesbaden/Mainz

I looked at the internationals first. One has nice facilities, one has bog standard facilities, the staff/heads very approachable, all very pleasant. As you say, very expensive for what you get. I felt I would have a nicer environment there for dd and one I personally would feel happier dealing with but I would not be getting value for money in terms of education which rankled and it meant a considerable commute either way or we'd have to move to be right next door. They do hardly any German so it's really just an English language education, very expensive and the equivalent of perhaps an ordinary state school in the UK with high fluctuation due to the mobility of families/staff. Difficult to justify the cost with 3dc

We have state bilinguals here which is what I went for in the end. I am dissatisfied with a lot but I am VERY MUCH happier with the style of teaching because it is more geared to the BNC and the English speaking staff have been trained overseas. There are families from many different English and non-English speaking countries in addition to the German families and I much prefer the whole ambience, the interaction of the dc, the creativity. I have another huge ongoing drama with it right now so no idea if I took her out of this one what we could do really.

We also have various private bilingual schools cropping up all over town and they are expensive too but less so. However they don't have normal facilities, no grounds or anything and I didn't feel attracted to any of them.

I can tell you I went half out of my mind with the whole thing. Having experienced this school after the last one, I would not send dd to another standard local German school personally. She needs the fun aspect and the creativity, project work, interesting art, good play grounds, big sunny rooms and pleasant socialising etc which the other school totally lacked.

In your shoes I would investigate every alternative to those schools that you have and only take a local German school (church or otherwise) if you have no other realistic choice.

Amongst the normal German schools there are quite a few exceptions. Your dh might know about that kind of thing. Here we have Waldschulen which are placed on the outskirts fo the forest and they seem popular, there are schools with additional focus on sport or music, there are the bilinguals and then if you like their philosophy - Waldorf and Steiner.

Don't want to be totally pessimistic and drag you down if you are making the move anyway but I have to say I have found the schooling stress factor number 1 over here. Make it as easy on yourself and your kids as you can afford to do.

rumbletum Tue 03-Jun-08 06:57:07

thanks sandy. I'll investigate the other alternatives as much as possible. We're going over soon for a while anyway so we might be able to look at a few places.

It's a bit daunting though. Thanks for your help.

SSSandy2 Tue 03-Jun-08 08:49:39

I'm afraid it is quite a daunting experience if you don't just register your address with the foreign police and take the school allocated to you. It's hard to know when you apply what you are going to get. At least the internationals show you around and take a lot of time for you, have trial periods etc to help you decide, the state options you just have to take as they are. I do think it is worth finding an alternative if you can though.

You could try calling the local allgemeinen Schulrat or the Schulamt and ask for recommendations. You will also have the problem that your dc are bilingual but in a mainstream school will be obliged to attend lessons in English as a foreign language which is not ideal.

Maybe you could ask for a list of schools which have English at least from year 1 as opposed to year 3 or have perhaps a special emphasis on languages or alternatively have French as foreign language. They should be able to give you that information, if they have those sort of options there - we do here. You should be able to get into any school with French as foreign language since they will be less popular than those teaching English generally, going by the situation here.

The Schulamt/-rat might be able to give you a list of international and private schools. Not sure about that though. Possibly the British Embassy could help with that or have some advice. Or even the British Council.

Are your dh's parents currently living in Mainz/Wiesbaden? Maybe they could go in and pick up a list of schools, get some advice on your behalf?

rumbletum Thu 05-Jun-08 10:30:25

we have got lists of schools now etc and there are a couple of private ones that aren't hugely expensive that look interesting. so we'll go and have a look at these when we're over plus a couple of state to compare. i guess i just have to keep looking and hope we'll find something eventually. at least we aren't too tied to mainz/wiesbaden - it's the rhein-main gebiet generally so this gives a bit more choice. thanks for all the advice!

admylin Thu 05-Jun-08 10:54:44

Hi rumbletum, good luck with the schools. Do you know where you will be living already? Hope the move goes smoothly too - will you be containering (!) everything back to Germany? I remember a friend of a friend came back to Germany with some lovely chests of drawers, beds and wooden furniture bought made in Singaporebut there was something to do with the climate change or something and she had problems with alot of her stuff. Not much help I know as I can't remember what exactly - but anyway!

One other point to remember when checking out schools - you could find a school that is OK but end up with the one rubbish teacher for your dc class. This happened to us , we have 2 dc and dd has had the greatest teacher, he understands her and doesn't get mad at her shyness, he's patient, teaches well and she loves him too. But ds has had such bad luck for 3 years running - his teacher is so scatty, she can't remember things, lessons are totally boring, she is always late, often sick leaving no work or instructions for the ersatz teacher and none of the dc like her. So if I'd only had dd at that school I would highly reccommend it.

SSSandy2 Sat 07-Jun-08 14:29:55

good luck rumbletum. Let us know how you get on. We haven't been balancing all the negative thoughts on schools with generally positive experiences on life in Germany since you know the country anyway from having lived here before but I suppose we should be dong that for the benefit of any silent readers we may have. I do think there is a lot that is good about life in Germany.

I was talking to a Korean mum the other day who told me one of her dc had flourished in the German system, the other had not; so perhaps too the dc's personality plays a role in how well a dc fits in. Her dd attended the local Evangelical primary (actually in my own district) and it was all plain sailing. The ds however was unhappy there. They moved back to Korea because of this but have since returned to Germany because the dd is able to attend the Evangelical Gymnasium here in the mornings and study violin at the conservatory in the afternoon and that kind of educational possibility was not available to her in Korea.

They feel the German system suits their dd perfectly. Their ds however they have sent to an international school to be educated in English with the IB curriculum.

rumbletum Tue 10-Jun-08 07:25:58

hi everyone, admylin - the problems with the furniture comes from the relative dryness in germany compared to the huge humidity in singapore...we're also hoping the stuff we've bought doesn't fall apart!

i've since found a state international school near darmstadt that has lessons in english and follows a combination of the british and german curriculums. this could be a real possibility for us, and to me it sounds like a good compromise. we now have to think about if we want to put the dc into such an english environment or not - there's always the possibility we may have to move on later within germany, what if they can't speak/write german then etc etc. it's always so complicated !!!

taipo Tue 10-Jun-08 08:10:27

We had that problem with our furniture when we moved back from Hong Kong. Luckily dh did a fantastic job restoring some of it.

I would imagine that German lessons would be pretty important at any international school but I don't know if it would be enough if you moved to a mainstream school. I think there are more and more international schools around though so as long as you're not out in the sticks you'd probably always find somewhere suitable.

In many ways the system here suits dd. She's bright but a bit scatty and not very confident about her abilities so the constant testing actually suits her because she can see from the marks she gets that she is doing well and is motivated to try to get a better mark in the next test. I think she probably would just drift along in the UK system.

I still think it's way too harsh though to put all this pressure on primary school children and I find the whole system incredibly old-fashioned and lacking in creativity. We're in BW though which I think is quite extreme. I saw a report yesterday on a primary school in the Saarland and was surprised to see that the classrooms looked just like any in the UK - groups of tables and lots of brightly coloured artwork around the room. Here they sit in rows facing the front and the classrooms are pretty drab looking.

SSSandy2 Tue 10-Jun-08 09:26:01

Found it:

yes definitely try to get in there if you can. It's a bilingual Europa school so they do both English and German. That sounds by far the best option. The dc can sit A levels, International Bac and/or Abitur. From the sound of it you will like the curriculum a lot better and it's from 8.45-3pm which is fine with the option to stay on till 5pm if need be. I would definitely apply from overseas though and not wait till I'm in Germany.

They are geared towards hoch-mobile families and if you are returning to Germany and settling there you are not hochmobil. If you apply from overseas, you should get a place but I would apply soon if you are returning for the next school year in September.

kazah72 Mon 12-Nov-12 22:47:34

this thread just ended in Jun 2008- what was the outcome rmbletum?
We're moving to Mainz in January with a 6 yr old ds and 2 year old dd and still don't know what school to put him in- should he go into kindergarten for the first few months and start year 1 in september? How far behind will he be on returning to England in 2-5 years time?

rumbletum Tue 13-Nov-12 20:26:05

In the end we put him in the local catholic primary and it all worked out fine! The mainz/wiesbaden area is a lovely place to live, btw.

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