Small foreign schools often have to struggle with financial and personal problems. But a few years ago the German School in Taipei found a way out. It joined up with the Taipei British School and the Ecole Francaise de Taipei to set up a European school.
The Taipei European School educates students from 3 to 18 years old
11 years ago Taipei’s German, French and British schools decided to share a campus. A few years later they set up the European School in Taipei and agreed to jointly offer an internationally-recognised school leaving certificate.
English, French and German are not the only languages taught -- Chinese is also taught at different levels according to ability and foreknowledge. Pupils can even choose to pass exams in Chinese and get a double certificate.
But it’s not all about exams. Emphasis is also given to sports, music, art and theatre. John Nixon is the school’s business manager. His task is to make sure the different interests of the different sections are catered for:
"The British section is the biggest. It's an international section in a sense, with students studying in English. But the French and Germans are more of national systems in a sense, they have fewer different nationalities. But it's important to sort of balance their needs and recognize their needs and to make sure that in the end everyone is a winner."
Learning from each other
Nixon works in close cooperation with the school headmasters and the Board of Governors. Each section of the school is represented in the board, which makes joint decisions on financial questions and strategic planning. Nixon explains that a common consensus is always sought:
"I have particularly learnt a lot from German colleagues that I believe do have a very true European spirit. I think they are the true Europeans in our setup. And we're learning a lot from them about making things work. I think at times we look like the EU, discussing things in long meetings. But I think sometimes we're even further ahead than the EU: We have got a signed constitution, we work very well together. So we're very proud of that!"
The Board of Governors also decides how big the school should become. In 2000, the school had about 400 pupils but now there are 1,100 and the figure is growing fast.
Considering that only pupils with an international passport are allowed to go to the school, the figure is impressive. The German section, with 100 pupils, is the smallest, which is why it needs and wants to remain within the larger structure of the European School.