The Frankfurt International School in Oberursel is one of the largest and best international schools. This is where many a career was launched.
A small Lego robot drives with a slight buzz through the classroom – carefully monitored by Joe. The young American built and programmed it herself. She is one of the countless participants in the Summer Camp at the Frankfurt International School (FIS) in Oberursel. “Programming robots is really cool,” declares next year’s fifth grader.
In the FIS Summer Camp the children learn while coding and programming that science can be really exciting. Robotics is only one of the many summer offerings. The children, whose parents tend to be expats, can also go for sports, crafts, or try their hand at acting. Normal lessons tend to be just as varied. In addition to math, physics, chemistry and history, the international school also teaches subjects such as fine arts, music, theater, design and sports science. Then there is language instruction in English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.
Sometimes classes are held outdoors, too, because the FIS is located directly on the edge of the Taunus forests. Outdoors the students learn how important a sustainable approach to the environment is, which is why the school grounds include its own pond and beehive.
The curriculum also includes social involvement. What shape it takes is something the students themselves decide. The FIS offers them a choice from countless different programs, which include helping set up schools in the Kalahari Desert, repairing bicycles for refugees, or maintaining a section of the Roman Limes wall in the Taunus hills.
Alongside the curriculum, the FIS also scores highly with a great range of sports extending from baseball and swimming to rugby and football. And there’s something for parents, too. For example, they can relax during yoga classes or improve their German language skills.
Teaching at the FIS focuses on students who only stay a few years in Germany and will then attend an international school in another country. “That’s how I grew up, too. My dad was at the UN and I went to international schools in Afghanistan, the Ivory Coast, Geneva, and Vienna,” comments Constantin Loebus, Director of Finance and Operations at the FIS.
Since 1961 the FIS has been teaching international pupils and students from 1st through 12th grade at its Taunus campus. In 1992, a second school opened in Wiesbaden that offers 1st – 8th grade. Some 1,600 children from 60 different countries attend the campus in Oberursel, and a further 200 go to school in Wiesbaden. In addition to its elementary, middle and high schools, FIS in Oberursel also features a primary school for children aged three and upwards.
All classes are held only in English, as the staff members also have an international background. The teachers come from a total of 30 different countries – primarily from English-speaking countries such as the USA, Canada, Great Britain or Australia. That said, an increasing number of teachers from the Asian-Pacific region are signing on at the FIS. “We want the teaching staff to match the composition of the students,” explains Loebus. Many of the students are from the USA and Germany, but also from Asian countries such as China or South Korea. This reflects the large Asian business community in Frankfurt RheinMain.
The FIS is not the only international school in the Frankfurt catchment area. There are in total about 20 international schools in Frankfurt RheinMain, many of which teach the curriculum for the International Baccalaureate diploma (IB). This diploma of general education is recognized the world over as a university entrance qualification. All schools that offer an IB have the same structure and hold the same examinations, meaning that children do not have any catching up to do if they change schools.
“The FIS is one of the seven schools that founded the International Baccalaureate,” Loebus says. Moreover, the school scores highly with good IB pass-out grades. The average FIS grade is 36 out of 45 points, well above the world-wide norm of 30 points. Alongside the IB, FIS students can also acquire a US high school diploma that is then recognized in the United States.
Even after completing their IB, alumni benefit from their time at the FIS. Because be it authors, educators, filmmakers, musicians, or politicians, the FIS alumni network covers the entire globe. They include such greats as film producer Wendy Sax or New York architect Gilles Depardon. Alumni meets and networking events forge permanent links that endure well after graduation. “We want to be one of the world’s leading international schools,” says Loebus, “that’s the benchmark we have set ourselves.” And good foundations are laid: It is already one of the oldest and largest.