Germans opt for British public schools

By Julie Henry and Tony Paterson, Sunday Telegraph


Germans are looking to have their children educated at British public schools. Their attractions are the uniforms, the traditions - and the fact that British children are better-eductated than their German counterparts. For literacy, Germany ranks only 21st in the world, whereas Britain ranks way up in 7th. The same study also showed that British independent schools are the highest performers in the WORLD.
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German families are increasingly looking to Britain's best public schools to provide the "well rounded", disciplined education they fear is being eroded in their own country.

Early returns to this year's Independent Schools Council census reveal significant numbers of German pupils are being enrolled in British boarding schools, where fees average 20,000 a year.

Malvern College, in Worcestershire, has nearly 80 German students this year, Oakham School, in Rutland, has 50, while Ardingly College, in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, and Bedford School have more than 30 each. Sevenoaks School, one of the first in the sector to offer the International Baccalaureate, accepted about a dozen pupils at sixth-form level but received applications from more than 50.

The figures build on last year's data, which showed that 1,097 pupils from Germany obtained places at the council's 1,300 member schools, compared with 868 in 2005 - an increase of more than 25 per cent. Agencies which help German parents find places have reported record numbers of inquiries this year. Philip Evans, the headmaster of Bedford School, said: "The British system is so well regarded because it has historical legitimacy.

"We do the International Baccalaureate, which is attractive for German students because it is accepted at home. Pupils also learn English to a very high standard and come away with a bilingual diploma."

The trend coincides with a growing perception that Germany's predominantly state-run school system, once the envy of Europe, is losing its way.

In recent years, the country's performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) study of literacy levels has been lacklustre. In the 2001 study, the most recent with full figures for the UK, Germany trailed in at 21, while England was ranked seventh. The same study found independent schools in England were the highest performers in the world.

According to German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche, poor discipline, large classes of up to 35, indifferent teachers who are difficult to fire, and minimal sports facilities are turning German parents off their schools.

A growing number seem to prefer British private schools, with their tradition, uniforms and promise of fluency in English, to the German private sector, where only one - Salem, in Baden - is modelled along British lines.

Axel Espe, a German lawyer whose son spent a year at Cheltenham College and whose daughter completed her A-levels at Rugby, said he valued the all-round education offered at UK public schools. "My children were challenged at all levels," he said. "At the same time they learned about respect, manners, trust and how to be easy-going."

Julian Franken, 17, joined Tony Blair's Alma Mater, Fettes College, in Edinburgh, in September to spend a year in the sixth form. Two terms into his one-year stint at the 137-year-old school, the pupil is enjoying his time so much he has persuaded his parents to let him stay until he has completed his studies.

"The class sizes are small by comparison and the teaching staff is highly educated and committed," he said.

Pupils in other parts of Europe are also signing up for the British experience. As well as German boarders, the French and Spanish intake is on the increase, attracted by the rise in the number of private schools offering the International Baccalaureate. Hong Kong and China, which have traditionally provided a large number of students to the UK, supplied more than 3,000 new pupils last year. In total, the number of overseas students at British schools rose by 11 per cent to 23,056.

Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment research at Buckingham University, said: "Overseas parents are helping to sustain an expensive private school system in the UK. It is not so clear how such a system would survive without that great interest."

Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 18th, 2007 at 07:08 AM..