News at GESS

Singapore international schools: Interview with GESS headmaster Christoph Zänglein
Posted 28/11/2017 04:53PM


Interview with Christoph Zänglein"Singapore international schools: Interview with GESS headmaster Christoph Zänglein" & pdf - 13th November 2017


GESS headmaster Christoph Zänglein shares what makes the school and its community tick…

Here at HoneyKids, we’re always happy to get to know the people behind Singapore’s best international schools. This time round, we got the chance to chat to Christoph Zänglein, Headmaster at GESS. The Bavarian born educator reveals his fascinating background (which includes the military and waitering!), the unique curriculum at GESS, and why parents love sending their kids to the school.

Please tell us a little about yourself – where is your hometown and what would your students be surprised to know?
I was born in Wuerzburg, in the north-western part of Bavaria. Before I became a teacher, and before and during my studies, I was a soldier in the German army for three years. I also played handball in the second German division, and worked as a barkeeper and a waiter.

What’s your philosophy towards education?
My philosophy has always been centred on “student-led learning” and empowering students to evolve into adults by their early twenties; adults who are mature and feel responsible for the world around them.

How is your school different to other international schools in Singapore?
Our school is the only international school in Singapore to offer students a choice between the English IB and the German curricula. We also have unique mother tongue programmes for Dutch, Danish, German and English as well as our distinctive Language Enrichment Programme (LEP). These allow our students to refine their family languages in an immersive environment. Eventually, we produce multilingual students who are strong candidates to study and work all over the world.

Can you tell us a little about the teaching approach at GESS?
Instead of just imparting knowledge, we encourage our students to inquire and discover. Classes are designed in a way that promotes learner agency. In tune with the times, we also enable our students to use digital media efficiently and responsibly to educate themselves.

Tell us about your school’s community: who are the people who love sending their kids to school there? What do parents tell you they value about the school?
Families from over 50 countries, especially European countries, send their children to our school. From what we hear, parents appreciate that we help their children stay in touch with their heritage through our emphasis on mother tongue. Many also welcome the strong sense of community – we are not selective and look out for each child’s development regardless of differing abilities.

What do you think are the greatest challenges young people face today? And the greatest opportunities you feel are open to them?
Globalisation enables our students to find attractive jobs in all parts of the world. Students are more open-minded, flexible and fit into various societies quickly. On the other hand, our world has become less predictable – changes take place faster than ever. Young people face the challenge of adjusting to new situations within very short timeframes, and the trade-off is that they lack time for reflection.

Can you share any lessons you’ve learned about communicating and connecting with kids throughout your years in education?
I have learned that students want to be dealt with fairly. They dislike dishonesty and want to be told exactly what is going on. It is also not difficult to teach young people as long as you show them that the topics you are teaching are of relevance to their lives.

What do you love most about leading this school?
As principal of a school you have many opportunities. When you have a vision about teaching and learning – and as a teacher you should have it – you are in a very influential position to change schools for the better.

Author: Rebecca Wong

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CPE registration number: S72SS0010G
Registration period: 22 June, 2017 – 21 June, 2023

©2017 GESS

IB Curriculum

The English speaking European Section of GESS is a fully fledged International Baccalaureate World School, and one of the few in the world who are authorised to deliver the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (IBDP).

Since opening in 2005, the European Section has grown rapidly to become a school with a reputation for quality education with a strong community feel. We now have over 600 students. The vast majority of our students are European passport holders, for whom GESS represents a vital connection with home. Students are thus provided with a safe, friendly and familiar environment in which they are challenged to thrive as they grow into independent and responsible global citizens.

Our academic and pastoral programmes are designed to support this demographic and ultimately to prepare our students for returning to Europe or for entry into European universities. To this end we endeavor to support mother tongue language acquisition so that our students do not lose this vital connection with their home culture. Fortunately, given the high entry requirements into European schools and colleges, this also means that our students are especially well prepared for study all over the world, particularly North America, the UK and Australia.

The Pre-School department provides education from 18 month to 6 years in either English or German. Children are placed in groups according to their age.


German Curriculum

Since the school was founded in 1971, the school has evolved into a school with two sections. As an accredited “Excellent German School Abroad”, the German Section of the German European School Singapore (GESS) offers all major German school leaving certificates. The European Section is an authorized IB World School offering education in English across all three IB programmes.

The German Section supports the students to develop their German roots. We give them wings for the linguistic demands of a globalized world through our differentiated English programme from grade 1 onwards. In secondary school some subjects are taught in English. Our students are benefitting from numerous bonding activities and have additional space to enjoy the internationality of the school.

Our Pre-School department provides education from 18 month to 6 years in either English or German. Children are placed in groups according to their age. 

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