Planning a move to Berlin? Great news for your child's education! Berlin has lots of schools where kids can learn from all around the world. This guide will show you some of the best schools and help you with the application process. Let's make your child's school journey in Berlin a smooth and exciting experience!
In Germany, particularly in Berlin, the difference between international schools and bilingual schools is primarily in their curricular focus, language of instruction, and target student population. Understanding these differences can help you decide which type of school is most suited for your child.
In Berlin, you have three main options...
These schools follow curricula like the International Baccalaureate (IB), American, or British curriculum, allowing students to access prestigious universities worldwide. While the primary language of instruction is English, German lessons are also included. They uphold global education standards, making them ideal for families who may relocate again or want a consistent education system for their children. It’s important to note that many of these schools have fees and are located in specific areas of Berlin.
In Berlin, bilingual schools usually incorporate a combination of German and another language (often English) into their curriculum, enabling the integration of local culture into education. These schools are well-suited for families planning a longer stay in Germany, aspiring to have their children become fluent in German and seamlessly integrate into the local culture. They also cater to children with existing proficiency in German or parents seeking a global educational perspective, with the foresight of their children continuing their education or pursuing careers in English-speaking countries.
These are public schools that offer Welcome Classes designed for non-native German speakers. Students join these classes after the third grade to receive intensive German lessons, facilitating their integration into both the German education system and culture. Following this initial period, the classes transition to a regular German curriculum as per the German education system. These schools may be interesting for families who want to stay in Germany long term.
Choosing between an international, bilingual or public school in Berlin largely depends on your family’s specific circumstances, your child's language proficiency, and your future plans. International schools are typically better for those seeking a consistent, globally-recognized educational path in English, while bilingual schools are ideal for families looking to integrate more deeply into German culture and language.
In this article we’re focusing on international schools in Berlin, but for a general overview of the German school system check out this short video from DW summarizing the structure of German education.
When you're figuring out where to live, especially if you want to enroll your child in an international or bilingual school, it's a good idea to go through this process before hunting for a flat. Not every district in Berlin has these schools, so it's a crucial consideration. The South-West area, like Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf or Steglitz-Zehlendorf, is where you'll find most of them. These areas are not only family-friendly and green but also offer a cozy vibe. If you're looking for a bit more hustle and bustle, Pankow or Mitte in the northern part of Berlin have vibrant communities, parks and plenty of school options too.
In Berlin, every school has its own special mix of curriculum, languages, and unique features. It's like they each have their own personality, offering a bunch of choices for us expat families who just want the absolute best for our kids in this new city.
Each school has it's unique application process, but some of the required documents will be consistent for all international or billingual schools. In order to get your applications started you will usually need to follow the same basic steps.
Research and Choose Schools: Visit school websites for information about curricula, fees, and application dates.
School Visits: Schedule visits to understand each school's environment and ethos.
Document Collection: Typically, you'll need:
The application form, filled and signed.
Recent report cards.
Birth certificate of the child.
Proof of custody (if applicable).
Passports / ID Cards of child and parents
Apply to Multiple Schools: Increase your chances by applying to several schools. Be prepared to join waiting lists.
Interviews and Assessments: Some schools may require interviews or entrance tests, especially for higher grades.
Choosing the right international school in Berlin is about finding the perfect fit for your child's educational needs and aspirations. With a range of options, from exclusive bilingual environments to schools with a global curriculum, Berlin's educational landscape is rich and diverse. Start early, research thoroughly, and prepare for a fulfilling educational journey in one of Europe's most dynamic cities.
While most private international schools will process applications from your home country you will at some point be required to show a valid residency permit for your family to show that you have the right ot reside in Germany.
For help with your residency permit contact Expats In Wonderland and book an appointment with our German visa package team.