In all grades, the rhythmic timetable of the GSIS-Accra all-day school leaves plenty of room in the fields of music, arts and crafts subjects, sports and ICT, as well as for activities based on inclinations in these areas (TfT - Time for talents and extracurricular on Wednesday afternoon), in addition to the core subjects in which method-oriented learning is the main focus. The After School Care (daily from 1p.m. to 4 p.m / Friday to 3 p.m.) provides afternoon care for all children with motivating activities, interaction with children of different ages and cultures. "Homework" is replaced by more in-depth, independent tasks, which are given as assignments for the children deal during the Study Time integrated within the school timetable.
On Wednesday afternoons, pupils have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities groups. We offer a variety of activities, e.g. in the musical field the instruments, violin, piano, guitar and drum lessons, in the field of sports, taekwondo, dance and movement, football and chess, in the technical field, LEGO Robotics and in the art and craft pottery and painting. For all these activities, the GSIS has well-equipped facilities (including a soundproof music room and a modern science laboratory), resources and materials (such as musical instruments for class music lessons). There is a display of pupils' work around the school building, and there are notices and information boards informing parents and children about projects and activities at GSIS.
The school also has a modern multimedia room with tablets and computers that have network access to a central server and controlled access to the Internet. The computers can use a laser printer and a scanner in the room. A combined video / DVD system with a connected sound system enables professional presentations, illustrations and demonstrations to be integrated into the classroom via a data projector.
Our kitchen and lunch hall can be used for teaching projects.
The family-like school atmosphere and the mixed-year and multicultural learning groups promote an open and respectful approach to learning.
GSIS already has very good equipment for various learning areas. The school association is thinking about the extent to which our school grounds will allow us to expand the facilities on our premises (i.e., material room or a climbing wall). Planned renovations to the library are underway.
The German Swiss International School - Accra teaches on the basis of the Thuringian education plan for mainstream schools and follows the timetable provided for this purpose in the German stream. In the English stream, the Cambridge Programme is taught. The acquisition of knowledge and education at the GSIS is supported in the timetable with firmly anchored Study Times/Learning Times, as well as on a broad subject basis with open forms of teaching, such as projects within as well as across classes, weekly work plans and learning courses.
The bilingual teaching concept of the GSIS supports all pupils in learning German and English - from Nursery onwards in the Early Childhood Department and in school from class 1. The ability to express oneself confidently in at least two languages is beneficial for successful personal and professional development. The earlier children start learning a foreign language, the more confident they will be in expressing themselves in it.
In the ICT lessons, pupils from class 3 upwards take part in the annual “Biber“-competition.
Our mixed-year learning groups and our school's own method curriculum enable our pupils to acquire the techniques of independent and responsible learning. In the 2014/2015 academic year, the teaching team developed work plans for primary and secondary school, among other things, within the framework of a further training course on the subject of 'cross-curricular teaching'. In the main subjects German, Mathematics and English, the pupils work independently and to a large extent are responsible for their own learning on the content of the lessons. An evaluation of the work plans was carried out in March 2016, with all pupils from Year 3 upwards. The evaluation was assessed and the handling of the work plans optimised. Our folder system, which we already introduce to pupils in grade 3, focuses on promoting a systematic and planned approach to learning. The work with the work plans was slightly changed at the beginning of the 2017/18 school year. The work plans are a type of methodological approach in teaching and not the generally applied method.
In addition to imparting knowledge, we promote the talents of our students through the extracurricular activities (see guiding principles 1 and 6).
The Thuringian benchmark tests are carried out annually in grades 3, 6 and 8.
In grades 9 and 10, students in the English stream have the opportunity to take the IGCSE examinations.
It should be considered to what extent the well-equipped music room, as well as the science laboratory, could be integrated more effectively into everyday teaching. In the 2018/19 academic year, our pupils will for the first time be taking the MSA, the German equivalent of the O-Levels at the German School Abroad in Addis Ababa.
In the nursery and kindergarten, German and English teachers and pedagogical assistants work with the children who follow the principle of "one face - one language". In addition, there are targeted language support programmes.
From preschool onwards, the pupils are divided into the English or German stream following the advice from the teachers. Here the subjects German or English and mathematics are taught in the corresponding stream language, as well as German as a foreign language (DaF) or English as a foreign language (EaF). From class 1 onwards, the teacher is changed for the respective "foreign language" and the lessons take place on an hourly basis to approximately the same extent as the stream language. The other subjects are taught in roughly equal proportions in German or English in the class group of both streams. The German stream follows the Thuringian curriculum and the English stream is based on the Cambridge Programme. The GSIS is one of the 42 Cambridge Associate Schools in Ghana. In the English stream(Cambridge Checkpoints), our students who learn German as a foreign or second language take the A1 and A2 language tests based on the European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Since not all pupils are sufficiently proficient in both languages, the lessons are particularly focused on visual aids. A lot of content is conveyed through experience and action, so that everyone understands it.
Partner and group work are adapted to the teaching situation, either specifically separated by language or deliberately mixed.
Teachers need to regularly take part in DFU (German as the language of instruction) further training courses
At the GSIS there is a unique learning atmosphere which is characterised by tolerance and a sense of togetherness. Our school rules, our conflict resolution policy, the dispute mediators and the open communication of all members of our school community, as well as the harmonious cooperation between the school management and the board members contribute to this. The respectful behaviour of the entire school staff within and outside the classroom has a positive effect on the way the pupils interact with each other, as well as with teachers and Ghanaian employees. In January 2015, we won the special prize in the "Living and Learning Together" competition for our support concept for the inclusion of all students. This shows that everyone feels at home at the GSIS.
The class and school representatives to have a say in school decisions and their rights are taken seriously.
Institutionalisation of a counsellor
Throughout the school year, numerous events take place at the GSIS which are closely related to the lessons or serve the cultural exchange within the school community. In addition to the sports lessons, we organize a cross-class sports day at the beginning of the academic year, which focuses on team spirit rather than competition. The groups are formed across classes, from primary to secondary 1 level, in order to give young and old the same opportunities and to encourage consideration for other participants in the competition.
It offers new pupils the opportunity to feel at home in our school community more quickly.
In addition, sports lessons prepare our students for participation in the Accra International Marathon in September and, if possible, for the biennial School Olympics of the German Schools Abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Within the framework of Time for Talents activities, pupils of the GSIS cooperate over specific aspects with the 'Chance for Children' organisation.
Towards the end of the first semester, our traditional swimming day takes place in a sports centre in Accra. Here, too, all pupils from primary and secondary school take part.
In our annual school project week, the pupils devote themselves to various topics.
During the academic year, students practice for musical events that often take place at the end of a school semester.
Learning groups regularly take part in the Cultural Day, prepared by the Goethe-Institute and the DAAD.
From class 3 upwards, our pupils travel once a year on a class trip lasting several days.
Since the 2013/2014 academic year, the Monday ritual has been held regularly, in which children from the Early Childhood Department, pupils, teachers and a large proportion of the parents take part. During this ritual, activities from the Early Childhood department as well as results from the lessons are presented.
The celebration of traditional German festivities such as the Lantern Procession/St Martin, St. Nicholas, Christmas, Easter and Carnival serves as a cultural exchange.
The German Swiss International School - Accra is distinguished by the number of and variety of our school events.
In the future we want to use the potential of the different cultures represented by our pupils, their parents, colleagues and local employees to intensify the cultural dialogue.
Pupils are taught at the GSIS-Accra learning groups across classes. In all classes, the lessons are structured in such a way that the older pupils explain the lesson contents, tasks and work instructions to the younger pupils as experts. In this way, they learn to show consideration for others and their learning progress is improved. The Occupational Therapist at the GSIS helps students with special challenges to be integrated into their respective learning groups, enabling these students to be taught most of the time alongside their student colleagues. All age groups have the opportunity to play together on the school compound.
The GSIS-Accra received a special prize for its work with children with special challenges, awarded by the Deputy Minister of the Bundestag, Ulla Schmidt, in January 2015.
There are also many opportunities for participation. The Monday ritual is organized by pupils; they are involved in the area of pupil co-responsibility and help to organize performances and events. The "no fists" programme introduced in the 2016/17 school year promotes the social competence of children as early as the Early Childhood Department stage, and pupils from class 6 upwards can be trained as mediators in the school.
In extracurricular working groups, all pupils can choose from a wide range of activities according to their inclinations and thus develop their self-confidence and willingness to perform.
The programmes "no fists" and "mediation" are to be further expanded and implemented in everyday school life.
The conference culture at the GSIS consists of regular meetings between school management and staff, all of which are documented. All other important information is communicated via email.
The school management and teachers are in close contact with the parents. The school management communicates via regular parents’ information letters from the Headmaster distributed by email.
Learning development discussions take place twice each academic year.
Regular invitations to parents, to our Monday ritual and other school events, give an insight into school life. The programme points designed by the pupils demonstrate what has been worked out in class (see guiding principle No. 5).
Our notice board and our movable pin wall at the entrance area provide information about upcoming events and other important information.
In addition, the size of the school allows parents to have daily personal contact with the school management and teachers in order to exchange important information.
A special aspect of the German Swiss International School - Accra is the parents' group, which is open to all parents. It meets once a month together with a teachers' representative to ensure the flow of important information between school and parents.
The Facebook page of the German Swiss International School - Accra is a highly valued information and communication tool for parents, pupils, alumni and other interested parties, providing up-to-date information on current events and happenings.
The website is another information source for parents and the general public
The increased use of the school's own email platform is intended to facilitate communication for parents and teachers and guarantee continuity in case of changes within the teaching team.
In the first days of the academic year, the parents are invited by the class teachers and informed about the timetable, teaching contents, teachers, performance evaluation as well as events and other organizational issues. For each class, a parents’ representative is elected who acts as a contact person and represents the interests of the parents. In the course of the academic year, further meetings between parents and teachers take place to discuss upcoming events. In order to support and enrich the school's programme, parents are organized on a voluntary basis in a parents’ group. For example, it organizes a welcome brunch where new parents can get to know the school community and exchange ideas with local experts. The parents' group meets regularly to support school events and plan additional activities such as handicraft activities and flea markets. Independent of the parents' group, parents are also involved in the school library, organize the borrowing of books and supervise the pupils during opening hours. If parents are experts in a particular subject that fits the subject, they are invited to the class to talk about the topic. During special events, such as class sleepovers or project days, the parents help with the setting-up, cooking, handicraft activities and other activities. Notices and information boards keep parents informed about lesson-related matters and other activities. On the open day, they can have a look into the classrooms. The Monday ritual, to which all parents are invited, takes place regularly. There children from the Early Childhood Department, pupils and/or teachers present briefly topics related to their lessons or activities from the Early Childhood Department.
The possibilities for parents to get involved in everyday school life and school activities are many and varied at the GSIS.
Our bilingual structure with the languages German and English supports and facilitates national and international encounters in the Ghanaian environment. Supplementary educational and leisure activities such as project days with a country-specific focus, work experience, extracurricular working groups (in the field of music, sports and crafts - see also Principle 1), class trips and excursions, encounters with well-known Ghanaian personalities, reading meetings in the school library, exhibitions of pupils’ works, pupils’ concerts and fundraisers bring the culture of Ghana and the natural wealth of the country closer to our international pupils. In the project "Folk music connects", which was launched in the 2014/15 academic year, the pupils could experience Ghanaian cultural treasures in particular. The cooperation with 'Chance for Children' enables an accompanied encounter with children and young people of other social and cultural backgrounds, with the aim of learning from each other, but also of recognising similarities.
To make Ghanaian and other cultures and traditions even more tangible and understandable for our school community in the future, Ghanaian literature and songs as well as local food (e.g. cooking courses) should have a place in our everyday school life.
Our teachers regularly inform the parents about the learning status of their children and advise the parents in case of learning difficulties.
If there is a need for support among pupils, the children receive support lessons after consultation with their parents. The specialist teacher draws up an individual support plan which forms the basis of the remedial teaching. There is a regular exchange between the specialist teacher, the remedial teacher and the parents on the basis of our promotion and inclusion concept.
Children with learning difficulties can be supported on an hourly basis by an inclusion specialist. Children with reading difficulties can be supported by reading mentors.
Many students are already benefiting from our support programme.
Care must be taken to ensure that children with pronounced talents are more challenged, e.g. by taking part in competitions.
Due to the lack of facilities for the diagnosis of learning disabilities for German-speaking pupils in Ghana, the school will in future have to make increasing use of standardised diagnostic tests such as the “Hamburger Schreibprobe”.