English speaking public schools?

My wife and I are looking into moving to Cologne this summer.  We have a 5th and 6th and grader.  I've seen some posts on the different Private schools but was wondering if anyone knows if the public school system has any english schools. 
We look forward to the adventure of moving to Europe but still have some reservations regarding our childrens education.(and also what to do with our cairn terrier)
Any advise would be appreciated.

Hi and welcome on the forum John :)

I hope other members will be able to tell you more about the public schools soon ;)


Thanks, this forum seems like it could be very helpful.

Hi John,

When researching the areas between Köln and Bonn. Our kids (4 and 7) are at the Bonn International School.  We found a few schools that listed dual instruction in German & English for pre-schools and kindergarten but not higher grade levels.

You may want to seek guidance of a relocation specialist and/or check out the town webpages of the areas you are looking to move to. For instance,, www.kö or our town www.brü Under the education section you will find lists of schools in the area, both public and private. When searching add "de" to your search criteria and it will bring up more websites. We used google translate when searching and it helps to automatically translate webpages for you.

As for your family's terrier, there is lots of advice out there on moving overseas with a pet. Here are a few things we learned with transporting our 1 yr old golden retriever and 2 cats.

German's love their dogs. They go everywhere, no joke. Most are off leash in neighborhoods. Males are not fixed. There are a lot of 'hunde pensions' in Köln (aka dog kennels in the area that are really great that offer classes, day and overnight stays which is helpful once you want to start sightseeing).

1st when booking airline tickets, Your dog might be small enough to go in the cabin, check to find out. United/Lufthansa allow 3 small animals inside the cabin per flight. If you take connections on a regional carrier make sure you know their rules. Our cats went regional first to DC and they only let 1 in the cabin, the other went cargo. Also, they have a limit on animals in cargo travel, so make sure you reserve your spot when you buy the ticket. In cabin is about half price. Also, there are weather restrictions for pets traveling in cargo. We flew from FL to Frankfurt. The kids and dog and I drove to Orlando so we could fly direct in January this way the cold weather would not be a factor. Driving to a bigger airport and flying direct with the kids is worth it if you can.   

Note that when you check in for cargo, go about 4-5 hours early. We had to wait for TSA to come inspect the crates and carriers. Then we had to take the pets out of the crate in the airport at the counter and then at security. The ticket agent will check all your paper work when you check in. There are restrictions on travel crates, check out the airline websites for more info. Depending on the size of the airport you fly from the extra time takes all the pressure off trying to juggle the animal, kids and luggage. You can put blankets, toys, water and food in the crate.
We did not drug any of the pets, based on all the advice we read and from our vet.

2nd, If you don't have one, you will need an international micro chip, and a new rabies vacation after the chip per new law that went into effect in Dec 2010. We needed to have all three animals get booster rabies vaccination because they were micro chipped in the October and we flew in Jan.

3rd, the health certificate, this is the "fun part", your vet needs to complete the dual language health certificate and health exam within 10 days of travel (you can get this on the internet). After that is completed then your local USDA office, checks it over and stamps it, along with attaching a new health certificate that they only have copies of. They then over night this back to you or you wait to receive it. In Florida the office was in Gainsville, 3 hours away, thanks to UPS it got there and back in time. Call the local USDA office in Little Rock and ask about their procedures ahead of time.... then the kicker is you have to travel within those 10 days or if you are start all over.

When you go through baggage claim, they bring the pet out and there is a vet right there to look over the paper work. Our dog also had to get out and walk around for the Vet to look at him. Our friend came in Dec and their dog did not.

Paperwork you need (original & copies): Rabies record, microchip, dual language international health certificate, USDA certificate. We also had them get kennel cough vaccination. We brought heart worm and flea and ticket treatment with us, it is cheaper in the states.

Hope this is helpful, email or post more questions. We really love being here so far, the kids are coming along. It is an adjustment for them, so be patient. We picked up used copies of English-German picture dictionaries and books for kids off amazon before we came. This has helped all of us learn some vocab.


How old are your kids? We brought ours at 3, 5, 7 (4 years ago) intending to put them in an international public school (near Heidelberg). They ended up going to German schools and adjusting very well. You should research the school system here as kids are put on different educational paths relatively early, which can be unsettling to the uninitiated. Best of luck!

Thanks for the replies.  Lots of helpful information.  The tips on bringing our dog over just what we needed to know.

Ideally we would like to put our kids into a public school for the exposure and to learn the language.  Our kids are doing well enough that I think they could catch up on what they miss while learning the language.(I know, what parent doesn't think there kids are smarter than most)  I think this would work well for younger kids, but I worry it might be to tough for a 10 & 11 year old going into the equivalent of 5th and 6th grade unless the school has a program to help with the transition.

As per recommendations, I will be using Google translate to look at the school web sites in the area.


I know a couple of people who went to Bonn International school. But I am not sure if it is a public school though.

Welcome to Expat-blog california1983! :)

Thank you for this info.

Hiya - you don't say if your children are male or female.  Near Bonn is a Catholic girls school that teaches a bilingual stream.  Children start High School in Year 5 here.  To attend SAG, she will need to have a 'Gymnasium' recommendation - meaning 'top grades'.  The school is a public school, but supported by the church - giving it a private school feel.  The school comes highly recommended.  It is very confusing to work out how the children are graded at this age, but you will find that most people can speak english and will help you find your way.  Children adapt extremely quickly to the new language.  The Bonn International school is private and school fees are very high.  Below is a link to the school I mentioned above.  Best of luck:

Hi, we are also moving to Cologne this summer.  Is it routine for expats to live/work in Cologne and go to the international school in Bonn?


Honestly speaking.....
Bonn has better schools.
The people are also more ...."high class" ...-_- Sorry...I don't really like using this expression, but don't know how to say it in a different way.
Well, Bonn is the ex-capital.
So, there are still a lots of consulates, embassies and international organisations such as the peace research institutes and international develolopment aid organisations.
So, people who used to work in the government before....are now retired and live in Bonn.

Cologne is rather like a media & masscom centre. Bonn is very quiet and can seem very rural at first sight, but has a very intellectual and open minded flair actually.

Please just don't send your kids to the Nicolaus Cusanus Gymnasium.
It is English Bilingual and it is a "Unesco" school or something like that. But it has a very bad reputation among Bonn Gymnasiums.

i know that there is an international school here in Cologne too.
But I have no idea weather it is private or not.

I just had a look at the SAG website.
And yes, i know this school. (Sankt Adelheid)
It has a good reputation in Bonn.
I remember the name now.

Hi Katiebluebug & John,

Hope your move preparations are going well.

Just to respond to your question about the locations. There are a few German and Expats that live/work in Colonge but drive their kids to Bonn. 

It really depends on the type of school you are looking for in terms of academics and culture, they all have their own style and approach. I have gotten to know a lot of families at the school, and everyone is very welcoming, down to earth and goes out of their way to help out with the transition of relocating. I do not see a lot of "keeping up with the Jones" as you may expect at an American private school.

For our kids Bonn really stood out above the rest in terms of academics and family networking. Our daughter (now 8) is excelling in her German, as she has lessons everyday. Her second grade class just completed an activity where they went on 2 field trips on the city bus into Bad Godesberg and Bonn Center to interview people on why they were in the city that day, what they liked and wanted to see more of. Their survey results were just presented to city officials, along with a map they created and a top 10 list of things to see in Bonn. I should add that they interviewed people in German. I went on one of the field trips with them it was incredible to see how independent and confident the kids were as they interviewed people (we went in groups of 3kids/1adult and spread out).  My son, (now 5) is enjoying it as well, one of his favorites is having the 4th grade buddy. The buddies make up board games to teach math and reading, they play, read together and work on projects.

In addition, there is a primary school assembly in the morning. Each month different classes do presentations and small performances to share their recent class projects, these include power points, dance, singing, acting and videos. Parents can see what is happening in all the classes as well as their child's. The presentations are really impressive, and student driven vs teacher driven.

The school really offers an amazing education, and the family community is great. There are so many great opportunities at the school after school, sports and lunch time clubs. For example, the primary swim team and families are all flying to Berlin this weekend for a swimming met. Two months ago the 5th graders went on a week trip to Italy to ski school.   

Let us know if you have questions about the area etc. Hope your move prep is going well, it is really a lot to organize.

nationals and 75% expats.

i am looking and plain to go to cologne in may 2013 and i have three childern 2,5,6 years and i am looking to find public school
with combined speaking two language germany and english
naer the kinder rehabilitation hospital
so plz can help me
thanks alot

Hello alsharari -> Just to note that this thread is dated 2011. ;)

Thank you,

Hello all,

I know this tread is old. But I'm interested in help with German public schools in Bonn for my 10 year girl.  We are moving from Florida in May 2013.  It's very difficult with little experience with German language.

Thank you,

hi does anyone know  any information where to look for an englisch speaking school for 5 year old in cologne, as we are thinking of moving there in dec 2013. julie

After working at a private English school in Cologne for five years, I would highly recommend sending your child to a German school.  I now teach German children English, and I find that they are very well educated, much better than the children who attend the private school.  A downside of the private school is that so many children are German, they are all learning incorrect English grammar from each other, and so by the time they finish their education, they can neither write in English or German, because the level of German they are taught is extremely poor (despite what the school director will tell you!).
The German schools appear to be much, much better, and a lot of the Gymnasiums now offer a bi-linigual programme.
Good luck with whatever you choose.  :)

Dear H&I
I am looking for a kind of an international school for my kid in Cologne and came across your thread.  I already took a look at the Friedensschule in Cologne and actually got a good impression of that particular school. Since my husband is US american and myself  Spaniard it looks like the right move to get him into this school where they are supposed to teach English und Spanish as well as German. We barely speak English at home. Our family languages are German and Spanish.
I was wondering if this is the school you were referring to in your thread. Thinking about it it sounds reasonable that being most of the children non native English speakers they might turn out not learning English as they should. Besides I have heard of some children having trouble with maths when moving on to a secondary German schoool after the Friedensschule.
I would appreciate some further information on this school.
Thanks in advance

I'm wondering why one would send their kids to a private International school in Germany if they speak German? The public schools are free and good, private ones are expensive. There they will be instructed in German but all will get English and in most schools they can elect to take Spanish as well at some point. International schools are ideal for people coming who don't speak German and only staying for a year or two. Generally, if staying longer, the goal should probably be on getting the kids German up to par so they can switch to a public school. Exceptions might be for people who prefer the Waldorfschule system of instruction.

I am not sure how to answer that question... I believe both type of schools are good but if you want your kid to learn a foreign language properly then the public school in Germany  is not the right place to do so especially not in a class of 30 pupils and a non native English teacher... Also if your kid has special needs or has a special talent  you might want to enforce then you will need to look for alternatives.. which is not necessarilly a Walldorf schule.

My stepson went through Waldorfschule for 4 years and then switched to a normal public school. As far as the Waldorfscule goes, it is EXACTLY geared towards people with special talents or going at their own pace. Private schools will often offer smaller class sizes but at what cost? They might or might not have native speakers for teachers but most public schools offer relatively good instruction anyway.

Whether a pupil really learns the language well will be more dependent on the reinforcement outside of school. If they hear English at home, as well as have English language movies, TV programs and books available plus possibly use English on vacations - then they will have positive reinforcement as to the usefulness of the language.

Many Scandinavians have excellent English – although most teachers are not native speakers. But they have the expose to English language TV, movies etc. I think more stuff is dubbed there now but a couple of decades ago I more than once met kids in Scandinavian that I mistook for Americans. And they hadn’t even started school yet! They just regularly watched enough English language TV that they were totally bilingual.

Of course a native speaker is better- all other things being equal. But many other factors are important as well. Better a competent German who excited and inspires their pupils than a native speaker who bores them.

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