Year 11 students Emily Brabbs and Alexandra Allport experienced the German education system during a recent trip to the country. The duo stayed with friends of Emily’s parents in Velbert near Dusseldorf and in addition to attending the local secondary school they visited the zoo and travelled on the famous Wuppertal Schwebebahn, which is a historic tram system which is suspended from hanging rails.
During their time at the school in Germany Emily and Alexandra had to do a presentation on English politics and talk about life at Brooke Weston. Emily said: ‘My dad really wanted me to go to Germany and have this experience and stay with some family friends. On the first day we visited the school and had a tour. It was really different. They didn’t have any uniform. They had house shoes, which was like wearing slippers at school and had trainers or something to go outside with. It was really relaxing. Our school is more disciplined than their school. The teachers weren’t really controlling in the class, the students would talk back to them.
‘We didn’t know anyone when we first went so we were put into a class of people our age. We made some friends. They were interested in what our school was like and were really surprised at how different it was. All the students in our class spoke really good English so they would talk to us in English and we would reply and have a good conversation.
‘They have learning plans in all of their lessons. They have a check list and once they finish one lesson plan they move on. At the end of each lesson plan there is a test on the topic they have been doing for that subject. I thought that was a better way of learning because they were really independent and they would ask a partner for help. They would work at their own pace.
‘We attended four days of school which started at 08:05 and finished at 15:45, although we finished much earlier on Wednesday. We were staying with my dad’s friend Rolf and his wife. They spoke really good English but Rolf spoke to us in German most of the time so that we would get a feel of how it sounded and they spoke really fast. We learned a lot more vocabulary and learned a lot more words and meanings. It was quite confusing to begin with, but if we struggled we asked for help. We would definitely do it again. I want to go back after GCSEs and meet all our friends again. We have them on Facebook. My highlight was probably just seeing the city and town and actually having the chance to go was a big thing because I never thought I would have the confidence to go.’
Alexandra added: ‘We did a presentation in the middle of the week about school and it sparked quite a debate about what was different about our schools. The school is quite similar to how it started to ours. The land is owned by nuns and the school was only opened at the end of 2010. At the moment it is a bit of an experimental school and they have a unique way of learning.’