General Information

Welcome to Nelson Mandela Secondary School, a German/English bilingual state international school classified as an “integrated secondary school” (Integrierte Sekundarschule or ISS) within the Berlin school system. At the same time, NMS is a school with a special profile and pedagogical focus. The following information offers an overview of the middle school years (grades 7-10).


Nelson Mandela School accepts all students that have attended NMS Primary, irrespective of any recommendation they receive at the end of primary school. Highly mobile students are admitted on a preferential basis. Before being admitted, their English skills are assessed by means of an admissions test.

Classes/class teachers

When assigning students to new classes, attention is paid to an equal gender mix, a mix of students who have chosen French or Spanish, and a balance between mother and partner tongue students. 

Where possible, one of the class teachers is a German native speaker and the other an English native speaker.  The class has a tutor hour (Kerngruppenstunde) in the timetable, during which class matters can be addressed.


German is taught as either mother tongue or partner tongue in years 7 & 8. If students do not speak any, or little German, they will attend separate German lessons in the Lernbüro. English lessons are differentiated within the learning group, according to academic ability. There is the option between French or Spanish as a foreign language. Students who started a foreign language in 5th grade should, as a rule, continue with the same language. If students cannot participate in a second foreign language (French or Spanish) in year 7, they have the opportunity to take a beginner’s course as an elective from year 9 onwards. French or Spanish as a third foreign language is also offered in year 9.

Language of Instruction

As a bilingual school NMS aims to teach 50% of lessons in English and 50% in German.

  • The following subjects are predominantly taught in German: Ethics, Sport, Vocational studies (WAT)
  • The following subjects are predominantly taught in English: Natural Sciences, History, Geography
  • The following subjects are taught in English and German: Art, Music, Mathematics

The language of instruction also depends on the language of the particular teachers.


As a rule differentiation at the NMS takes place within the individual learning groups (Binnendifferenzierung) for all subjects. From year 7 onwards, an ability level is determined for the subjects English and Maths; this level is indicated on the report card. The ability level can alter at the end of each semester, according to the grade attained. In years 9 & 10 the ability level is also added for German, Biology, Physics and Chemistry.

There are two levels of differentiation for these subjects:

  • ER: erhöhtes Anforderungsniveau/extension
  • GR: Grundlegendes Anforderungsniveau/foundation

Students require a sufficient number of ER levels in order to gain entry into upper school (Abitur/IB).

The Berlin school system. Basic information 2021

Advancing to the next grade

As in all ISS schools in Berlin, students automatically advance to the next grade at the beginning of the new school year. Upon request of the student’s parents / guardians, students may repeat one year voluntarily.

Middle school leaving certificates

Nelson Mandela School awards all of the following middle school leaving certificates:

  • BBR: Berufsbildungsreife (certificate of vocational education)
  • eBBR: erweiterte Berufsbildungsreife (further certificate of vocational education)
  • MSA: Mittlerer Schulabschluss (general certificate of education)
  • MSA (GO): general certificate of education and qualification for Abitur / IB

The School Day

Lessons generally start at 8.00 am and end at 3.50 pm On Thursdays school ends at 3.00 pm and for years 7 & 8, lessons often end before 3.50 pm on Fridays. Unlike primary school, students will not always be supervised until 4pm in case lessons finish earlier, or if a lesson at the end of the day is cancelled. The school club is, however, available every day until 4pm which is always supervised by one of our social pedagogues.


Please find the timetable for the school day here.

Grading table

Please find the grading table for lower secondary here.

Elective Pathways

Electives are the extracurricular activities at the Nelson Mandela School, which have to be chosen by students in the 7th, 8th and 10th grades for at least two hours per week - as part of the mandatory all-day program - and take place on different days. Our students can choose from a wide range of courses with over 20 activities in the areas of sports, art, music, politics, economics, education for sustainability, support in core subjects, crafts, etc. on four different days of the week. Through the Electives Courses they can broaden their experience, deepen their knowledge, or receive special support. Electives can be chosen individually each semester.

Profile courses 9

Starting in the school year 2021/22, three-hour mandatory profile courses will be installed in the 9th grade, which - in addition to the general timetable - offer a subject-specific in-depth study. In addition to French, Spanish and Japanese, courses in Politics/History, Geography, STEM, Financial Mathematics, Art&Design, Music and Theater will be offered. Profile courses are taken continuously for two years and are noted with a grade on the report card. Internal school curricula specify the content of these supplementary courses. In the school year of 2022/23, the profile courses are continued in the 10th grade and, if necessary, taught across grades.

Social education area

There are four social pedagogues currently working in the area of social pedagogy. One member of the team is assigned to each class. Their office is located on the ground floor of the new building close to the school club.


Our well-equipped bilingual library is located on the ground floor, providing students with space for independent research and quiet work during breaks.


We are happy to be able to offer our students freshly cooked meals in the cafeteria. Breakfast is available before lessons start. During the day a wide range of food is on offer, including two different lunch options. You can register with and order hot lunches online.  Contact: Thomas Beier.

Further Information

Once your children have started secondary school, you will receive an invitation to a parents’ evening. Before accompanying the class teachers into the individual classes, all grade 7 parents will receive more detailed information on some of the main topics mentioned above. You can also check the other parts of this website if you would like to find out more about our school, its programme and its mission.

We wish you and your children all the best for the next step on their education path.

Sarah Dent, Middle School Coordinator, on behalf of NMS staff.