Science, History and Geography in the Nelson Mandela Primary School are taught in English by international colleagues according to the Berlin State Curriculum.  To that end we strive to guide our students as they discover, learn and grow.   We attempt to achieve this goal by exposing our diverse student population to varied and thoughtfully planned content and methodology.  The end goal of the curriculum is to empower the students to be lifelong capable learners.

The Berlin curriculum emphasizes student capabilities.  It divides the capabilities into four areas: subject competence, method competence, social competence and personal competence.

Subject competence is developed by careful planning and sequencing of the subject matter presented to the students.  The aim is to build upon what the child already knows, to meet the student where they are presently at and to guide and accompany them along their journey of discovery. As guides, educators are not necessarily the driving force in the child’s learning – the child is. The role of the educator is more of a facilitator.  Learning is heightened when it is active and when the students “own” their education.

Method competence is developed by exposing learners to a wide array of learning styles and academic methods.  In doing so, we wish to empower students in their learning by increasing and strengthening their ability to acquire knowledge.  We want them to learn the methods and techniques of scientific, historical and geographical enquiry so that they can apply them when the need arises.  Gathering information from observations as well as texts from various media, questioning sources, reading maps and graphs, finding connections and relationships between events are all vital skills which influence our ability to learn.  Exposure to a diverse set of methods for gaining knowledge in the various fields of study will provide the students with a powerful set of tools for lifelong growth.

We are social beings, and as such require the skills necessary to interact effectively with one another.  We attempt to develop these social competencies through group work and team building opportunities.  Although not directly related to subject content, the ability to collaborate, to teach and learn from others are valuable skills that will benefit the learners as well as society as a whole. Community, acceptance, tolerance, patience are among the traits that are encouraged in our classrooms.

Personal competence is based on self-confidence and self-esteem and developed through the growth of emotional independence and self-assurance.  Students need to identify their strengths and weaknesses in order to learn from their experiences and thus grow from them.  This means not only enjoying their successes, but to also learning to cope with their failures and fears.  Learners benefit from planning their own actions, making decisions and justifying the choices that they have made.  Ample time must thus be given for self-reflection and discussion so that decisions and choices the students make can be further evaluated and amended allowing the child’s personal competencies to develop more fully.

Children's learning is the central purpose of everything connected with school life at Nelson Mandela School. Helping children learn academically, socially, spiritually, emotionally, physically is the only real purpose of schools.  What children learn should respect the past but should be of help to them in their future lives. This involves a degree of prediction which may not always be accurate and which will always need to be revised. Prediction is a risk. Not to engage in it is a much bigger risk to children. Children's learning must respond to their current and future personal needs, their future career needs and the needs of the varied societies and cultural groups in which they are likely to play a part. Learning needs to be active, in the sense that children must engage with their own learning. For primary children, this means that learning which is relevant to the future must be placed in a context that is meaningful to their present lives. Children need to share responsibility for their learning with their teachers, parents and careers. The proportion of responsibility each bears will depend on the age and characteristics of the children. Nevertheless, learning must be constructed in such a way that, by the end of the primary years, children begin to see and experience the potential for taking responsibility for their own learning.

Social Science (SocS)

In year 5 and 6 students take part in Social Science. This subject is a combination of geography, history and social learning and is abbreviated as Socs.  Lessons are taught in English.  In Year 5 and 6 students are assessed in a combination of ways, such as project results, quizzes and tests and classroom contributions. These consist of being prepared, working productively in class and taking part in class discussions. Classroom participation makes up half of the year grade. Media Literacy is an important aspect in SocS. More information about how media literacy in Berlin is taught, can be found here.

Year 5

Students start to learn about the Paleolithic period, about the different types of hominids and how and where they lived. Students explore the way hominids fed themselves, comparing the nutrition of the modern day humans to diets ten thousand years ago. 

Students then learn about civilisations and how they became into existence.  They learn about the first civilisations around the globe, and look at cities and urban diversity, advantages and problems.

Students have an elective unit where they can choose their learning from topics such as Fashion and Consumption, Children’s Worlds, The Media, and their own theme, which may be from a current issue or interest. 

Year 6

In Year 6 students will have four units of study.  They usually start with the topic of Tourism and Mobility.  Students explore the history of tourism and its development, its effects on countries and the advantages and disadvantages of it. Students also challenge themselves by thinking about how tourism will look like in the future.  

Students then travel back in time to Ancient Greece.  Here they explore the different city states and the different forms of government. As part of this, students will also be thinking about the landscape and geography of Greece and how it affected the the way of life.  Learning and using map reading skills and distinguishing different forms of maps is part of this unit.  

Next, they travel to ancient Rome. Students explore how this empire built their towns and cities, how and where the Roman Empire expanded to and what the Romans have contributed to today’s world.

Again, students will study an elective unit where they can choose from the following topics: Diversity in Society, Working to Live or Live to Work, Religion in Society, and their own theme which could stem from a current events topic.




31.03.2023 Nelson-Mandela-Schule · Staatliche Internationale Schule Berlin | Nelson Mandela School · State International School Berlin