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 the recommendation they received at the end of primary school.

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 grades 7 & 8. If they do not speak any, or little German, they will attend separate German lessons. English lessons are not differentiated (streamed) according to mother or partner tongue level but according to academic achievement. 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. In grade 9, students can learn the language they did not choose in grade 7 as  it is offered as an elective (Wahlpflichtunterricht) course, as long as a sufficient number of students sign up for it.

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.

Differentiation (FEG System)

Certain core subjects (English, German, Maths and the sciences) are streamed according to the FEG system.

  • F: Fortgeschrittenenkurs (advanced level)
  • E: Erweiterungskurs (intermediate)
  • G: Grundanforderung (elementary level)

In grade 7 students are streamed in Maths and English, following a period of continued assessment.

Streaming takes place in the sciences and in German from grade 9.

In grades 7 & 8 students participate in Integrated Science. Biology, Physics and Chemistry are introduced as separate subjects in grade 9.

The differentiated subjects are taught either in separate groups, or at different levels within one group (internal differentiation, i.e.: FE/EG). Students can switch levels each term (half year), depending on their report card grade.

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 start at 8.00 a.m. and end at 3.50 p.m. from Monday to Wednesday. On Thursdays school ends at 3 p.m. In grades 7 & 8 lessons often end earlier on Fridays. The school club is available until 4 p.m. but, unlike primary school, students will not always be supervised until 4 p.m. in case lessons finish earlier, or if a lesson at the end of the day is cancelled.

Mandatory electives in grade 9 (profile courses)

As of grade 9, students choose a mandatory elective (2 lessons per week). Electives that are usually on offer: Drama, Sport, Music, Art, MSA German, IT, Film analysis, Science, French, Spanish. As a rule, students attend their elective course for a period of two years. Upon application students may switch courses after one semester (half year) if they have a valid reason.


Workshops take place on Tuesday afternoons between 2.15 and 3.50 p.m. Students have the opportunity to attend three different workshops throughout the year, the aim being to try out different skills and interests.  Participation is mandatory for all grade 7-10 students. If students are new to the German language they are encouraged to attend a German speaking workshop. The workshops vary from chess strategies and MSA preparation to bouldering and open art studio.

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.

19.01.2019 Nelson-Mandela-Schule · Staatliche Internationale Schule Berlin | Nelson Mandela School · State International School Berlin