German Swiss International School offers a German and English education in two parallel streams from primary through to secondary at its modern and well-equipped campus in The Peak.
The German Swiss International School (GSIS) offers education in two streams from kindergarten to secondary school, following the German and British school systems. In line with most German states, the German stream offers an eight-year Gymnasium curriculum that prepares students to take the German International Abitur. The English stream follows the UK national curriculum and prepares students for the IGCSE exams and the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP).
There’s roughly one third in the German stream and two thirds of students in the English stream. Although there’s a clear distinction between the two streams, there’s a concerted effort by the school to bring students together through GSIS’ programme of extra-curricular activities, community-based initiatives and overseas trips. There are also school-wide polices that uphold German tradition; for example, there’s no uniform code apart from a PE uniform, the academic year is divided into two semesters (August to February and March to June), and students are grouped into homerooms with a particular teacher or Klassenlehrer. Also, the school’s admissions policy for both the German and the English streams gives priority to German, Swiss or Austrian nationals.
Founded in 1969 by German and Swiss families looking for a bilingual education, GSIS is home to more than 1,300 students. Today, the Peak campus for primary and secondary students comprises three buildings, including the Upper Building, Middle Building and Lower Building, while the Pok Fu Lam campus is home to the kindergarten and a Business College offering two management training programmes. In 2016, the school celebrated the end of an eight-year-long refurbishment of its Peak campus. The result is a modern campus that boasts first-rate science labs, professional music and art rooms, and a black box theatre for student productions, as well as a year-round indoor swimming pool, a rooftop sports pitch, and two large multi-purpose gymnasiums.
Part of the German Schools Abroad and supported by the German government, GSIS is more than just an outpost of Germany. Anyone familiar with the German education system will appreciate its strict adherence to the Gymnasium curriculum. The German primary department is made up of classes K01 to K04, and the curriculum is based on Thuringia and includes the Antolin reading programme.
Moving up to the German secondary department, students in K05 to K09 continue with subjects taught in primary – German, English, Maths, computer studies, art (drawing/design and technology), music, RE/ethics and PE. In K06 they start a second foreign language, which can be Mandarin, French or Latin, and study history; students are also given the option to pursue either an academic or a vocational learning path. During senior high school, year groups K10 to K12 study for their Arbitur exams.
If bilingualism and a German education are a top priority for your child’s education, then GSIS has a lot to offer. Students here are learning German and its everyday use in an immersive environment from an early age.
Far from being an exclusively German school, GSIS also offers an English stream at both primary and secondary level. Here you’ll find a more international education with teachers coming from the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; classes being taught in English; and lessons structured around the UK curriculum. That said, there is a strong emphasis on the learning of German from Year 2, with students working towards the German Sprachdiplom I and II exams.
In the English secondary department, which the school describes as “a traditional English grammar school”, students work towards the IGCSE in eight to 10 subjects, and then the IBDP.
In recent years, more than 99% of IGCSE grades were grade C or above and 70% were awarded an A* in 2016.
In the IBDP, the average score in 2018 was 39.84, there was a 100% pass rate, and more than 92% of students received a score of 35 points or above. Three GSIS students achieved the maximum score of 45 points.
An holistic education
GSIS seems to live up to its promise of a holistic education. The school day doesn’t end when the bell rings. Teacher-led extra-curricular activities include choir, orchestra and big band in the field of music, a wide variety of sports including climbing and horse-riding, and social activities such as debating, the Model United Nations and the Hong Kong Award for Young People. There is also a programme of paid-for afternoon activities.
Student participation is encouraged in all year groups. The student-run Community Involvement Group organises fundraising and volunteer projects, students have the opportunity to perform in a variety of shows, and a house system encourages competition and friendship. All lessons are put on hold during the annual Discovery Week, when students attend residential camps in Hong Kong, China and Germany, and try out new skills and sports.
The school takes full advantage of its new state-of-the-art sporting facilities. As well as offering PE as part of the curriculum in both the German and English streams, GSIS gives upper primary students the opportunity to represent their school in sports including swimming, athletics, football, hockey, rounders, baseball, cricket, netball, biathlon and cross-country. We’ve heard that the tennis and swimming teams are particularly good!
Parents are expected to play an active role not only in their child’s education, but also in the running of the school. Far from taking a back seat, parents sit on the school board and engage in various committees; for example, you’ll find mums and dads running the school shop and organising fundraisers. There are also plenty of opportunities for parents to socialise with the Connect GSIS group organising monthly walks, coffee mornings and events.
Annual fees at GSIS start at HKD 148,960. Although these are among the highest tuition fees for an international school in Hong Kong, bear in mind that there is no annual levy to pay – as there is at many other schools in the city-state. Scholarships are available in the German stream.
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