What is the ISS?

Are tuition fees charged?

What are the benefits of the IB Diploma?

How is the school day organised?

You ask, we answer

ISS knowledge compact

What are the requirements and benefits of the IB, what challenges do students and parents face, or what does a class schedule look like?


Browse through our FAQ to find the answer. Of course, we are always happy to answer your questions in person.


Frequently Asked Questions

International School Southwestphalia

Frequently asked questions about the ISS

As an integral part of the SGO , the ISS enables both SGO students and international students to acquire the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB Diploma) during the upper secondary school qualification phase.

Any student who is qualified to attend a German Gymnasium [grammar school] or its international equivalent.

Yes, provided that your child is required to attend school.

We would be pleased to advise parents in a personal consultation. Appointments can be made through the secretary’s office (phone +49 (0) 2761 96500 or email letsgo@gymnasium-olpe.de). Please bring your child’s latest school reports with you to the consultation as well as documentation required under the Masernschutzgesetz [German measles protection act].

Personal development:

  • The IB offers a broader range of disciplines thanks to new subjects.
  • The IB stands for the teaching of advanced foreign language skills.
  • The IB empowers students to pursue self-directed learning.
  • The IB promotes methodological skills and collaborative work.
  • The IB enables alumni to develop strong social skills.
  • The IB stands for intercultural understanding in a globalised world.
  • The IB combines the content of all disciplines ranging from languages to social and natural sciences.

Better career prospects:

  • The IB is recognised as an admission requirement for a place at university in almost every country in the world.
  • The IB is regarded as a benchmark for degree programmes with selection procedures and scholarships.
  • The IB prepares students for academia in a unique way.
  • The IB prepares students for the working world by means of multi-layered performance review formats
  • The IB is highly valued as an additional qualification in application procedures.

The number of students is based on the class size guidelines for schools in North Rhine-Westphalia. The IB programmes in the upper school tend to be much smaller so as to ensure the individual attention given to students is very good.

No, the Internationale School of South Westphalia is part of the SGO and is a public school. The school authority is the county seat of Olpe. The IB Diploma's educational programme is largely funded by a sponsoring association established by the business community, so that no tuition fees are charged at the ISS.

The grammar school offers traditional qualifications ranging from the intermediate school-leaving certificate to the higher education entrance qualification. The additional IB branch culminates in the internationally recognised IB DP.

All teachers who teach in the international branch have a teaching qualification for the IB DP in addition to the teaching qualification of the North Rhine-Westphalian school system.

Besides the very well connected subject material, theory of knowledge (ToK) is taught and the Group4 Project offered in the IB DP. Theory of knowledge is a subject that offers students the opportunity to take a critical look at various fields of knowledge and subjects and reflect on these in class so as to develop a deeper understanding of how knowledge is generated across subjects. Rather than as a special subject, a Group4 Project is carried out as a beneficial activity holding special significance. It involves temporary and interdisciplinary collaboration between the scientific subjects.

Students are prepared for their final exams during the qualification phase. There are subject-specific assessments that students have to complete within a certain period of time. For example, the language subjects involve oral exams during which subject-specific content is presented in an oral presentation. A field study is an empirical research method used to collect data on the basis of observation and survey in the subject of geography.

In the biology or physics practicals, students carry out and analyse experiments independently. In contrast to the Abitur, Germany’s standard university entry qualification, the results do not count toward the assessment of the IB qualification but can be accredited as special performance for the Abitur in the respective subject. Unlike the Abitur, all six subjects are given equal weighting in the final exams.

The final exams comprise the exam papers, which must be completed during the period of the written Abitur. Students can be awarded up to seven points per subject in the final exams, meaning they collect up to 42 points. Three further points can be obtained from a matrix linking performance in theory of knowledge and the mark from the extended essay.

In the upper school, classes generally take place between 7:30am and 2:45pm and are usually divided into double lessons. In future, students will be able to use free time in their timetables to prepare for the IB in the HoL, which is currently being set up.

Städtisches Gymnasium offers numerous activities, mainly in the areas of music and sport. More information is available at www.gymnasium-olpe.de

Extensive partnerships exist with the University of Siegen (bcOlpe) and the District of Olpe, which are firmly established on the SGO school premises. In addition to SGO’s programmes (Junior Ingenieur Akademie [Junior Engineer Academy], Roboter AG study group, etc.), there are other activities such as 3D printing, virtual reality and much more.

French, Spanish and Latin can be studied in addition to English in the grammar school. In the bilingual branch, history, geography and politics are gradually taught bilingually. Good English skills are a prerequisite for the IB. English is a teaching language in addition to German and the exam language. There are plans to offer Spanish as part of the IB in future. Together with the University of Siegen, the HoL employs teachers who are trained in language teaching.

In addition to the sports forming part of the curriculum, the wide range of sports on offer at SGO includes football training as part of the German Football Association base school, rowing on the Bigge, climbing on the school’s climbing wall, skiing and much more.

Encouraging and challenging individual students at SGO involves both the performance support and the cultivation of strengths, talents and interests. The fostering of independence and personal responsibility, which is included in the mission statement, is also key.

Specific programmes include:

  • class for reading and spelling difficulties
  • individual spelling support in the induction phase
  • study advice on how to achieve targets to support students who are at risk of failing exams
  • partnership with the Verein zur Förderung besonders begabter Kinder und Jugendlicher in Südwestfalen [association for the support of gifted children and young people in South Westphalia] and the University of Siegen
  • skipping years (e.g. in individual subjects) and support for partial studies during school time
  • revolving door model (participation in certain subjects in classes of higher years)
  • participation in competitions (Mathematics Olympiad, geography competitions, etc.)
  • preparation for language examinations (DELE, DELF, English Certificate)
  • various creative, sports, linguistic and scientific programmes to foster development in each individual.

The students are required to choose an advanced course in English, a bilingual basic course in history and a basic course in biology including a project course. Theory of Knowledge (ToK) is considered a substitute for the subject of philosophy. The (world) literature course complements the German course and replaces the elective of music, art, or literature. The second advanced course can be chosen freely. Any content that is missing is taught in the biology course project or the subject (world) literature, which also count towards the university entrance qualification. Additional teaching periods are set up in the other subjects, but these can also be distributed differently over the two school years Q1 and Q2, depending on the subject and the need. The extended essay counts as a "First draft" as well as a term paper and is therefore synchronised with the frequency of other term papers in Q1.

Besides German and English, history, biology and mathematics are examination subjects. Physics, geography and in the future possibly Spanish can be selected as a sixth subject. CAS is supplemented as needed in a project-based manner, unless students are already involved in extracurricular activities related to creativity, action or service.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) can be a requirement for admission to study abroad. Additionally, former IB students often report that the IB is frequently used as a reference for courses with selection processes and for scholarships, and ultimately plays a crucial role in successful selection. Also noteworthy are the additional qualifications associated with the IB (including language skills and knowledge acquisition techniques), which can also be decisive for a successful application. In addition to these study and career-specific aspects, particular mention should be made of the personal development of learners. They develop and deepen an additional range of subject-specific, language, methodological, intercultural, and social skills. It is precisely these aspects of personality development that are valued by learners who have completed the IB at mainstream schools.