Whilst working with the grade 5s during the final weeks of my time here in Stuttgart, I have discovered the startling fact that over 11 of the children are not moving onto the middle school with the rest of their peers in the next year. However, I have been told by my fellow practitioners that this is somewhat normal in international schools. Children and staff come and go for when they are needed…
Although 11 is a bigger number than normal, it is very common for students to move on at different stages in their learning whilst being at ISS. This might be due to the types of contracts that big companies in Stuttgart offer their employees. A staff member at ISS told me that they have friends and family that are hired on a 2 to 3 year contract basis and are offered the incentives of accommodation, a car for transport and of course education at an International school for their children coming with them.
It gives me a real representation of the point we were told in university; schools are communities themselves but they also serve communities beyond itself. Big companies in Stuttgart (such as Bosch, Daimler – parent company to Mercedes Benz and Smart, and Porsche) need to have schools that their staff member’s children can go to for formal education and that education needs to be able to be conducted across the world in similar manners. This is what the International Baccalaureate emphasises when it says that it is an international stage for learning. Although interpretation is unique, the majority of international schools will have similar frameworks and outlooks to learning which will allow companies to house families that can gain a similar education anywhere that they find themselves to be working. It links back to the idea of the International Schools themselves being businesses (although the majority being non-profit they still need to meet guidelines in order to call themselves international schools).
Therefore, a network of international systems needed to be established for businesspeople to be accommodated for a few years at a time depending on their contract before being moved – taking their families with them. Companies can send people away and they can also bring people into the country – interlinking with the overall concept that a school is more than just a place where people learn, it becomes part of a wider community that it needs to represent.
So, students at ISS may be moving for parental job opportunities whilst others may even be going back to their home country. A common theme amongst the Japanese community at ISS is that the students are put into an English school setting to improve their language and then they return to the Japanese system to gain their qualifications, which is also quite an interesting concept. It shows once again that ISS needs to be providing what their “clients” want and need. There are many students that live locally to Stuttgart and they will continue their time in education completely at ISS, whilst there will be other students that have experience a wide array of educational settings and facilitation of learning has to be seen in both scenarios.
I felt that this particular topic required further analysis through a blog post because it has given me a real-life context to see why International schools exist and why there is a real need for them. Consistency for those children of military families, footballers playing for teams abroad and workers of global companies need to have a system that can provide learning no matter where they are placed in the world, but also consistency for those students that call Stuttgart their forever home. It emphasises the mixture of backgrounds that international schools bring, just as the global workspace does in a similar fashion.