Hidden in the lush forests of Lake Machnow and located just a few kilometres south of Germany’s capital of Berlin, lies BBIS (Berlin-Brandenburg International School). This institution is a real gem for parents who are looking for a school focussing on internationality as well as on a holistic approach towards the academic and personal education of its students.
When an area next to Lake Machnow and the Hakeburg, a castle dating back to the 14th century, with grounds of 400,000 square metres went for sale in 2005, the board of BBIS realised the advantages of this beautiful location. While BBIS had already been one of the leading international schools in the Berlin region for many years, this new location offered a whole new range of possibilities: here, the school would be able to offer an inspiring academic surrounding and combine it with the space needed for a variety of encouraging non-academic activities.
Truly international flair
BBIS’ boarding house completes the school’s wide-ranging offers. Students in the grades 9-12 (minimum age for admission is 14) live in the recently refurbished double rooms, each with their own bathroom. Mentors who are looking after the boarders’ academic as well as pastoral well-being are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. They are aware of these students’ particular situation away from home and their families and live in closeness to their protégés in apartments adjacent to the boarders’ quarters. A cosy dining room and a recreation area for the boarders only give the students the reassuring feeling of being ‘home away from home’.
Currently students from over 65 countries attend Berlin Brandenburg International School, giving the school a truly international flair. Next to a small percentage of locals from the capital’s area who are keen on an excellent international education, the students’ mothers and fathers are diplomats or high-ranking managers who need to change their country of residence for professional reasons on a regular basis. These families in particular choose BBIS for its unique approach as well as for the compatibility of curricula within the international schools system, which grants a certain degree of consistence in the education of their child.
An atmosphere of mutual respect and empathy
BBIS promotes the holistic education of its students. The academic curriculum is balanced, with stimulating mandatory courses like design, drama, music, sports, or art. Sport activities take place in the newly built sports hall with its own climbing wall or in the equally newly built sports field, which offers seats for more than 800 spectators. The arts are represented in the ‘Heizhaus’, which regularly houses exhibitions of the students’ own art projects or student-staged drama performances. Everyone at BBIS believes in the uniqueness of each human being with equally unique and individual strengths and needs. “Intercultural understanding and to respect human rights are fundamental to BBIS’ concept,” stresses Peter Kotrc, director at BBIS since 2012. A body of 100 highly motivated teaching staff from over 25 different countries ensures the compliance to these values. By creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and empathy, they help the students to fulfil and even exceed their true academic and personal potential.
On an academic level, BBIS is the only school in the Berlin region that is able to offer all four International Baccalaureate programmes to its students. Particularly the highly challenging IB Diploma programme provides the students with access to top universities in the United States and Europe. Kotrc points out that over the last couple of years the BBIS’ average exam grades have always exceeded the worldwide average – proof that BBIS’s concept of caring for its students on an academic as well as on a personal level works very well and brings out the best in each of its students.
The spirit of community does not end at the school’s gate
A typical day at BBIS starts at 8am, when approximately 700 students from the Berlin and Potsdam area arrive on BBIS’ own school busses, and ends at 3pm. About half of the students participate in after-school activities until 4:30 pm.
Classrooms are bright and spacious and the class sizes are kept small: there are less than 18 students in nearly all of BBIS’ classes. The belief that no one should be left alone is palpable: provision of help to improve is important at BBIS. Special support is given to those whose mother tongue is not English (BBIS’ language of instruction is English). Further assistance is offered to those who need help in particular subjects or in reaching their full potential.
The spirit of community does not end at the school’s gate or at the end of each school day. Weekend sports tournaments, outdoor team-building projects at the beginning of each new school year, skiing holidays or a students’ exchange with a Chinese school are but a small selection of BBIS’ challenging and mind-broadening projects.
For those looking for a school that combines internationality with care for the individual, BBIS is certainly a great choice.