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Q+A: The International School of Hamburg

Q+A: The International School of Hamburg

The International School of Hamburg (ISH), the first international school in Germany, has been providing education for children of the international community for almost 60 years. Here the school answers our questions and takes us on a guided tour...

What happens when interested parents visit the school?

Our Admissions officer, Ms. Catherine Bissonnet, welcomes parents visiting the school. Ms. Bissonnet introduces parents to the school by giving them a tour, showing them our facilities, classrooms, libraries, cafeteria, etc. She answers any questions parents may have, and is the main contact for anyone interested in the school. 

What accreditations do you have?

ISH is proud to be an IPC School and an IB World School that runs an accredited Middle Years Programme (MYP) and IB Diploma Programme (DP). We also feel honoured to be accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS).

In addition, ISH is an active member of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and the Northwest European Council of International Schools (NECIS). Not least, ISH is also a member of the Association of German International Schools (AGIS).

How many students do you have?

ISH has around 760 students, with 56 different nationalities among our student body. Our students start in the Early Childhood Centre (three to five years) and finish with the IB in grade 12.

How old is the school?

In 2017, The International School of Hamburg is celebrating its 60th birthday. ISH was the very first international school to open its doors in Germany. We have been gathering experience in international education, and in addressing the needs and concerns of internationally minded families, since 1957.

What curriculum do you follow?

Our curricula, the International Primary Curriculum and the IB MYP and DP, serve our students well, and enable them to become the kind of inquiring, ethical and risk-taking thinkers the world will need in the 21st century. Our diversity of perspectives, values, ideas and beliefs make ISH a special place to teach and learn.

How do you support pupils who are struggling?

Student Learning Support services are focused on strengthening academic skills within the context of a student’s emotional, social and cognitive development. Our students are encouraged to take control of their learning and grow in independence and self-advocacy.  

The level of support varies as a student matures and the curriculum demands change. Our approach is assessment driven. We begin with a thorough investigation of the student’s strengths and weaknesses and then build an individualised programme. For younger children with specific learning difficulties, direct remedial instruction is offered, using structured, systematic lessons that include multi-sensory techniques. Gifted students are supported through the development of breadth and depth of their classroom curriculum.

For students that struggle with the English language, there is an EAL (English as an Additional Language) Department that supports the students in that matter.

What additional help do you provide for children with learning difficulties?

Our Learning Support services assess special educational needs, develop an appropriate educational plan to provide remedial and academic support, consult with both parents and teachers, monitor and report on student progress, observe students in a learning environment, recommend effective teaching techniques, coordinate with outside academic programmes, facilitate referrals for outside medical screening, facilitate referrals for outside speech and occupational therapy, apply for inclusive arrangements for external exams for identified SEN students, and screen prospective students with suspected learning difficulties. 

How are pupils with English as an additional language supported?

For many of our students English is another language and not their native language. Therefore we place a strong emphasis on our EAL (English as an Additional Language) programme throughout the grade levels, addressing the needs of non-native English speakers in accordance with their social, emotional and academic development.

At all levels, the programme aims to provide continuity of instruction and develop communicative competence. Every effort is made to coordinate with classroom teachers, and to integrate class content areas into the EAL programme.

To adequately address the different needs of Junior and Secondary School students, an EAL department exists in both sections of the school. The departments work closely together to ensure continuity and progression from P3 up to Grade 10. 


How can parents get involved?

We have a very strong Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Its goal is to contribute in developing the best possible environment within the school community, building around the core values of internationalism, diversity, sharing and caring. Every parent who enrols a student at ISH automatically becomes a member of the PTA, and is encouraged to play a part in the organisation of its various projects.

What kind of parent activities do you offer?

ISH offers a lot of activities for parents, such as German classes, ladies' tennis, Lunch Bunch, coffee mornings, cooking classes, book club, basketball, football and much more.

What performing arts opportunities do students have?

ISH lays claim to a fantastic Performing Arts Programme, which provides students with the opportunity to showcase their dramatic, musical and dance talents, both in and outside of the classroom.

The ISH Music Enrichment Programme (MEP), founded in 2004, offers music instruction, both individual and ensemble, on the school premises to students in Grades 1 to 12. ISH also offers tuition in music theory, leading to examinations offered by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in the UK. We also offer a range of dance lessons for our students, taught by a recognised instructor.

What musical instruments can children learn at your school?

Weekly individual and group instruction is currently available on the following instruments: violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French horn, trombone, guitar, bass, piano, drums/percussion and voice.

Do you have an annual production?

Two major productions are performed each school year: 1) the Theatre and Music departments work co-operatively to produce a musical in the autumn with students from Grades 6 to 12 making up the cast; and 2) a drama production, open to students in Grades 6 to 11, is performed in the spring.

There is a Tech Crew consisting of students from Grades 9 to 12 who apply for a position. The Tech Crew is responsible for all sound, lights, sets and backstage management for the musicals, drama productions, talent shows, dances and assemblies.

Is there a school bus service?

ISH offers a voluntary transportation service to its students. Two school buses, run by the local Hamburg Transportation Department (HVV), go around the outer Alster region of Hamburg. They stop at regular bus stops but are only available to our students.

Do you have a cafeteria?

ISH has a modern, bright and roomy cafeteria that serves breakfast, lunch and snacks, all providing delicious sustenance.

All images: The International School of Hamburg

Please go to this link to view the Winter's profile for The International School of Hamburg. 


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