Stuttgart, Germany Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Stuttgart, Germany

Stuttgart, Germany 01/11/21

Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent of a child

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

2019-2021

grade 10 and grade 11

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3. What years did you live here?

2019-2021

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Husband was employed at the school

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

yes. We really had no other choice as we were on a very small salary and we could not afford tuition at another school.

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

The admission and its communication was very poor. Fortunately, as we are both educators, we knew what courses to select and were well aware of MYP and DP philosophy and curriculum. Otherwise, we would have been in the dark.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

Zero. We attended the back to school picnic for families. We sat at a table, ate our food, and not a single person talked to us or introduced themselves. I began a conversation with a family and after a few minutes, they stood up and left. After two years at the school, I have not met a single person, nor been invited to any parent events. It is a very isolating experience. We were shown nothing about the community. Zero help with establishment of utilities, doctors, shopping. A real estate person was provided to assist in finding a home, but she was not helpful. I found an apartment on my own.

My son is accustomed to moving and quickly located a few mates who were also new to the school; however, he spends most of his time at home alone (prior to lockdown). Students do not seem to hang out and mingle. There have been a few parties; otherwise nothing. Not the international setting and warm community of which we are accustomed.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

We receive loads of emails, but they are not helpful or pertain to issues we really need to know. The communication is the worst I have seen in 9 international schools. My son struggled in math and I had no awareness that he was failing until I contacted the math teacher. In grade 10, he received multiple angry emails regarding his personal project, yet no support when he asked for it. He was significantly behind in the PP, as he was not at the school when the process started. Teachers assumed he knew what to do. Frequently, he was told to just look online. I found the administration to not be supportive of parents and while my emails are answered, it sometimes took 10 days or more.

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

There is a counselor at the school, and he appears knowledgeable.

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2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

yes. Very few books that appeal to the high school reader. Students can borrow books. Students are expected to obtain a local library card. The main library in town has fiction in English. The other libraries don't. Students who cannot read German are limited on research materials.

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3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

Students work on a 1 to 1 laptop program. There are so many different programs they need to use to access materials that much information is lost. It took me a whole day meeting with the head of tech to just figure out how to log onto the parent portal. If I want any feedback on my son, I have to log on.

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4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?

Students are required to purchase a specific computer model. He also was required to purchase a calculator. Both of these items were a considerable expense.

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5. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

a gym where basketball is played. Seating for viewing games is terrible.

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6. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

DP and MYP is offered. The full diploma is not required. MYP assessments are at the end of grade 10.

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7. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?

Teachers are not always trained in the full models of IB. I found that for some teachers, this was their first position overseas and they were teaching IB with little understanding. In my opinion, coordinators and supervisors are not highly qualified in the IB philosophy.

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8. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

The homework is appropriate. However, before breaks, reports, parent-conferences, and semester end, it is extremely test-heavy. I am appalled at the limited number of texts/books studied in grade 10 and grade 11. Online teaching consisted of students reading Macbeth out loud via Teams.

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9. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

My son is an avid athlete. He played basketball for the school and had two excellent coaches. He learned and the playing time was always fair. He also played volleyball, which was a disappointment. Students did not take it seriously and many came to practice as they wished. Due to Covid, all activities were halted. The athletic department encouraged healthy behaviours by sending out exercise videos, etc. Overall, with the exception of basketball, activities were slim. In Germany, many students are involved in community sports teams outside of the school; however, if you don't speak German, or don't have the knowledge, they are difficult to join and find.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

The school is mostly comprised of native German speakers. Some students may hold dual passports, but it is not an international as it claims to be. There is little to no socialisation with local German speakers. Students are not integrated into the school culture.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?

D Retrospect is always very clear, but if we had a different option, we would not have attended this school.

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2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.

The basketball program was a strength.

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3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

Many teachers are tenured and live locally. We found that it can and often does take weeks for students to receive grades. Prior to the Christmas holiday in 2020, my son still had no grades posted in one class. Kids are friendly, but not very social. The majority of the students are local to Stuttgart.

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