German Swiss International School

The German Swiss International School (GSIS; German: Deutsch-Schweizerische Internationale Schule; Chinese: 德國瑞士國際學校 / 德瑞國際學校) is an international school in Hong Kong established in 1969 by German and Swiss families looking for a bilingual German-English education in an international setting. Beginning with 73 students in its inaugural year, GSIS now has approximately 1,250 students[1] from over 30 countries.

German Swiss International School
Deutsch-Schweizerische Internationale Schule
德國瑞士國際學校
Location
Primary/Secondary: 11 Guildford Road, The Peak
Kindergarten/Lower Primary: 162 Pok Fu Lam Road, Pok Fu Lam
Business College: 162 Pok Fu Lam Road, Pok Fu Lam
Information
TypePrivate, international, kindergarten, primary, secondary, vocational, co-educational.
Established1969
PrincipalUlrich Weghoff
Enrollmentapprox. 1300[1]
YearsKindergarten, Klasse 1–12,
Years 1–13, Wirtschaftskolleg
Websitemygsis.gsis.edu.hk
German Swiss International School
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese德國瑞士國際學校 / 德瑞國際學校
Simplified Chinese德国瑞士国际学校 / 德瑞国际学校
German name
GermanDeutsch-Schweizerische Internationale Schule

History

The school was established in 1969 by German and Swiss parents.[2]

Curriculum

GSIS enrolls students from Kindergarten to Secondary in two parallel streams known as the English International Stream and the German International Stream. Starting from the 2019/2020 school year, it has also offered German/Chinese bilingual kindergarten classes. It also has a Business College (German Wirtschaftskolleg), which offers Wholesale & Foreign Trade and Transport & Logistics Management training programmes.

English International Stream

Primary department

The official Primary curriculum of the English Stream offers English/Language, Mathematics, geography, General Studies, history, Library, Learning Technology, which is known as ICT to students, Music, Physical Education and Science. German language is taught from Year 2 and remains compulsory until after Year 11. Chinese (Mandarin) is introduced in Year 4 and Science is introduced in Year 5.

Secondary department

In 2013, the English Stream adopted the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma programme for Year 12 and 13, replacing the GCE A-level programme. Many students also take the SAT I/II or the Sprachdiplom for applications to universities in the United States or Germany respectively.

In the past, the English Stream followed the British education system, completing GCSE and I/GCSE examinations at the end of Year 11. Exams will be taken at the end of Year 11. The examining boards are Cambridge and Edexcel, depending on what subject is being taken.

At GCSE/IGCSE level, compulsory subjects include English Language, English Literature, German, Mathematics and Physical Education (not examined). Students also choose electives from the following subject pools:

  • Languages (French and Mandarin)
  • Humanities (Economics, History and Geography)
  • Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science)
  • Arts (Art, Music, Drama)

The same subjects above were available at AS-Level and A-Level, with the exception of English Language and Music, which are only offered at AS-Level. There were no compulsory AS- or A-Level subjects, only that a minimum of three A-Levels were taken. For the IB programme, students are only allowed a maximum of 6 subjects in total, with English and Mathematics being compulsory. Students are required to choose one subject each from the GCSE/IGCSE categories (with the addition of Anthropology as an option in Humanities). However, students are allowed to pursue a second Humanities or Science subject if they decide not to take a subject from the Arts.

German International Stream

In line with most German states, the German Secondary Department offers an eight-year Gymnasium course. The curriculum is based on the core curriculum of German schools in Southeast and East Asia, which in turn is based on the curricula of the state of Thuringia.

The school offers English, French, Latin and Mandarin programmes. GSIS is one of the first German Schools Abroad to offer the bilingual Deutsche Internationale Abiturprüfung (DIAP, German International Abitur Examination). As much as 50 percent of the Abitur exams can be taken in English. To prepare students for these exams, Geography is taught bilingually from K07 to K09 and in English from K10; history is taught bilingually in all years from K08.

The Business College is based in the Pok Fu Lam Campus.

Facilities

Campuses

In 1969, GSIS first opened to 73 students in a house at 1 Barker Road, The Peak. Due to growing student numbers, the school relocated some or all of its classes multiple times until 1975 when the school was able to open its first school building on Guildford Road. Today the Peak campus comprises three buildings, including the Upper Building, Middle Building and Lower Building. The Upper Building is taken up by the Primary School, while the Middle and Lower Buildings are for Secondary School. The cafeteria is operated by Compass, the catering company contracted by GSIS.

In 2007, the Hong Kong Government awarded GSIS a second campus at 162 Pok Fu Lam Road, Pok Fu Lam, which in 2010 became the new home for the Kindergarten and Lower Primary: Y01 in the English stream, and Deutsche Vorschule (German Preschool) in the German stream.

The Peak
Pok Fu Lam
Campuses on Hong Kong Island
The Peak
Pok Fu Lam
Campuses in Hong Kong

Peak Campus

The school consists of 3 buildings: the Upper Building, the Middle Building and the Lower Building. All buildings were renovated during the Campus Development Plan, 2012–2016.

Upper Building

The Upper Building houses Upper Primary Departments (GPD & EPD). The building is four levels high and consists of a glass covered courtyard, in the centre of the building. Older students and staff are also free to go to the Wellcome supermarket, located directly across the road at 2–4 Watford Road, during breaks, free lessons and lunchtime.

Middle Building

The Middle Building houses ESD and GSD subject cluster classrooms, the library, Three Mackerels Cafeteria as well as the black box drama theatre. This building also includes the Ingrid Buchholtz Hall, known commonly as the IB Hall, which is the main multi-purpose hall/theatre in the school. The building used to house the school's outdoor swimming pool, which sat at the very top of the building. It went under renovation as part of Phase III of the Campus Development Plan from June 2012 to August 2014. In November 2014, when the building's renovations were complete, an opening ceremony was held in the newly refurbished IB Hall.

Lower Building

The Lower Building is situated at the lower end of Guildford Road. It used to house the Primary sections of both streams. As for the meantime, the Primary students have been relocated to the Wan Chai Campus while renovations are still ongoing. This was done in order to minimise the dangers and distractions of a construction site. Most of the building, from the basement to the fourth floor, was closed due to renovation, a part of Phase IV of the Campus Development Plan. Level 4 of the building, which used to be a playground, was converted to temporary classrooms when the Middle Building was closed down. The Lower Building also houses a sports hall and a new year-round heated swimming pool that replaced the one in the Middle Building. It now houses the exam room, reception, administrative offices, the staff room, German, English and Economics subject classrooms, science laboratories and the Sports Hall, along with the swimming pool mentioned above.

Campus Development Plan 2012–2016

In 2008, the Board of GSIS developed a Campus Development Plan aimed at making better use of the space available for the current number of students and facilitate future curricular requirements. It was intended for the Upper Building to house the Primary Departments, while the Lower and Middle Buildings would house the Secondary Departments.

The plan consisted of five phases, as follows:

  • Phase I (completed in 2008): Art Studios on a newly built sixth floor of the Middle Building
  • Phase II (completed in 2010): refurbishment of the Pok Fu Lam campus; relocation and enlargement of the senior library at the Peak campus (an intermediate step towards library plans in Phase III); an additional science room; and refurbishment of the cafeteria.
  • Phase III (completed in 2014): renovation and refurbishment of the Middle Building; the addition of a new gymnasium, cafeteria, black-box theatre, music classrooms, IT facilities, classrooms and senior library, as well as the relocation and conversion of the swimming pool for year-round use
  • Phase IV (completed in 2015): Lower Building
  • Phase V (completed in 2016): Upper Building

To minimise disturbance to classes over Phases III to V, GSIS secured a private campus in Wan Chai which temporarily housed both streams of the Upper Primary (K02-K04 in the German stream and Y03-Y06 in the English stream) from 2012 to 2016. This decanting site was originally owned and operated by the Wan Chai Kai Fong Welfare Association. The decanting site was originally proposed in Ma On Shan, until opposition came from parents.[3]

Upon completion of Phase V, Y02-Y06 and K01-K04 moved into the Upper Building.[4]

School Buses

Similar to other international schools in Hong Kong, GSIS has outsourced its transportation services to reputable bus companies who specialise in providing student bus services. The companies that provide bus services to GSIS are Kwoon Chung Motors Co. Ltd and Mr Lau Hon Por who provide service to destinations to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon (KCM) and Clearwater Bay (Mr Lau Hon Por). The seating capacity offered on the various routes is sufficient for students holding multi-trip passes. Prior to the 2019-2020 school year, Kingsview Bus Service Company provided service for destinations in Kowloon but was replaced by the expanded Kwoon Chung network.

School Shop

The GSIS school shop, which was run by the GSIS Parents Committee, was shut down on 12th April 2019. While a temporary pop-up style shop will be set up at the start of the 2019-2020 school year, the school shop will be transitioning to an online system for greater convenience. It will be offering stationery items and optional physical education uniforms, the same items as the previous physical shop.

Dress code and school rules

Like most schools in Germany, GSIS students are not required to wear uniforms. However, for students in Year 11 or below (equivalent to K08), they must wear the school PE kit during PE lessons. For students in Year 12 and above (equivalent to K09), the rule is that students can wear anything that is suitable for PE lessons; however, it is still suggested and enforced that students wear the School PE kit.

Student body

As of 2018, there are approximately 1300 students from 30 countries attending the school. Of students who were not German, Austrian, nor Swiss, most of them were from Hong Kong families. Others were children of mixed marriages, mainly with German, Swiss, or Austrian fathers and spouses who held passports of other countries.

Student Council

Every year, students elect the next year's head students and deputies. A head student is chosen from each stream.

Prefects

Teachers elect 10–20 students each year from Year 11–12 to serve as the next year's prefects. Two head prefects are chosen to lead the team.

Debentures and fees

Debenture

Once the student has been offered a spot at GSIS, a debenture has to be paid. The refundable debenture for the school term 2017/2018 is HKD$500,000. Alternatively one can opt for the Development Debenture (Non-Refundable) of HKD$432,250.[5]

Fees

  • Application fees (non-refundable): HK$2,350 per student (Kindergarten); HK$3,700 per student (Primary and Secondary)
  • Assessment fee: HK$4,300 per student (non-refundable)
Tuition fees (annual)[6]
KindergartenHK$156,110
Primary
(German Preschool, K01–K05, Y01–Y06)
HK$161,450
Secondary
(K06–K10, Y07–Y11)
HK$192,450
Secondary
(K11–K12+, Y12–Y13)
HK$203,420

Controversy

In December 2013, the South China Morning Post reported that GSIS, among at least four other international schools in Hong Kong, was significantly overcharging kindergarten application fees without the government's authorization. While the limit imposed by the government was HK$30, the school was charging HK$3,700.[7]

On 11 November 2018, the Post reported that the school had been accused by a parent of mishandling incidents of sexual harassment in which her 15-year-old daughter had been the victim. The harasser, a 16-year-old boy, was arrested in October 2018 for indecent assault and released on bail. The mother stated that the school had discouraged her daughter from reporting the incidents to police (the school denied that this had occurred), and that the school had initially refused to discuss the matter with the boy until after his exams to avoid affecting his scores. She said that the school's response, which eventually comprised suspending the boy until the end of the school year (despite the term being close to ending) and organizing a sexual consent programme for year 12 students, was "not acknowledging the seriousness of the incidents".[8]

References

  1. Student Numbers | GSIS. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  2. McCormick, Christy. "German language is an educational spur." South China Morning Post. Tuesday 1 August 2006. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  3. Lau, Mimi (14 May 2009). "Parents celebrate relocation victory". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  4. German Swiss International School, German Swiss International School. "Wan Chai Campus". German Swiss International School. German Swiss International School. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  5. "GSIS Debentures".
  6. "GSIS School Fees".
  7. Tam, Johnny (23 December 2013). "Schools breaking the rules on fees". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  8. Siu, Phila (11 November 2018). "Mother hits out at 'victim blaming' school after daughter's alleged assault". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 11 November 2018.

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