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House of Learning – where the future becomes the present

Internationale Schule Südwestfalen and the House of Learning

Certification as an international school and the House of Learning see Städtisches Gymnasium Olpe (SGO) create a learning facility that combines educational work, individualisation and digitisation under one roof.

Modern approaches to the subject areas of language, mathematics, science, the arts and society inspire and encourage students at the international school to develop and build on their own ideas and interests.

Thanks to numerous close partnerships with the region’s business community, the University of Siegen and other educational institutions, the House of Learning represents a comprehensive educational concept that successfully combines teaching practice, development, teacher training and research and focuses on the targeted and personalised education of students from the region and abroad.

With the close cooperation of all involved in the international branch, the House of Learning’s goal is to facilitate practical teaching, internationally recognised qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate and to prepare prospective students for the modern and digitised working world perfectly.


At Internationale Schule Südwestfalen we are a community that learns together, fosters responsible interaction, and challenges as well as encourages each individual. Offering individual support and advice, multilingual and social activities, a strong focus on STEM subjects and healthy exercise, we provide encouragement, support, assistance and reassurance in the development of strengths and interests.


The responsible use of digital technologies forms the foundation for forward-looking education. Using modern media equipment, we empower students to act responsibly, confidently, purposefully and to play an active part in the digital world so that they can learn to make use of the opportunities it offers and identify and avert possible dangers.                                                                                           

social values

We aim to empower all our students to really get to know themselves, to make use of their potential, to reflect on their own actions, to develop a vision for the future and to pursue their goals responsibly, all the while taking responsibility for themselves, others and the community, and embracing tolerance and humanity as the basis for collaboration.                                                                                                                                                                                        

Targeted study
& career guidance 

At Städtisches Gymnasium Olpe we believe in-depth, systematic study and career guidance from Year 7 to the qualification phase (Q2) is an overarching task of any modern educational programme. Offering practical teaching as well as advice and support services, we at SGO, together with parents and in close cooperation with the region’s business community, the University of Siegen and other educational institutions, help the younger generation to embark on and pursue their career guidance process in a purposeful and confident manner.

International Baccalaureate
& Bilingual Abitur

SGO – and its innovative educational programme – with the House of Learning has been certified as an international school in South Westphalia according to the guidelines of Organisation du Baccalauréat International (OBI). This means that students at SGO can obtain the International Baccalaureate (IB Diploma) in addition to the German and bilingual Abitur, Germany’s standard university entry qualification. Focusing on language skills, individual strengths and digital literacy, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a recognised school-leaving certificate which entitles the holder to take up university studies anywhere in the world.

& recreational activities

Städtisches Gymnasium Olpe is a lively school. Besides intensive learning support programmes and homework assistance, students can take advantage of countless extracurricular activities after regular classes and are provided with a hot midday lunch. There are projects in the school’s own woodland, German Football Association talent development, the school’s rowing team and many other group activities related to STEM, the community and healthy exercise.

The House of Learning locally anchored, internationally minded

  • 5 languages
  • 80+ qualified teachers
  • bilingual branch from Year 5
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • extensive recreational and lunchtime activities
  • transparent communication between parents, students and teachers
  • modern campus and media equipment for students and teachers
  • practical projects
  • strong focus on STEM subjects
  • partnerships with universities and companies throughout the region
  • room to adjust and exercise (climbing wall, rowing team, ski trips and much more) support for gifted students (e.g. part-time study)
  • practical study and career guidance (e.g. work placements, advice, presentations)

Frequently asked questions about the HoL

Internationale Schule Südwestfalen is an integral part of Städtisches Gymnasium Olpe and offers SGO and international students the chance to enter the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) during the qualification phase in the upper school. The school is collaborating with the University of Siegen Language Centre and the Am Gallenberg Primary School on the development of a concept for integrating students from primary to intermediate level in the bilingual branch. The House of Learning connects the two areas. The HoL links Internationale Schule Südwestfalen and Städtisches Gymnasium with the philosophy of the International Baccalaureate. Learning and teaching, researching and educating – this combination ensures productive coexistence for the special kind of school within the HoL, giving students a high degree of autonomy.

Any student who is qualified to attend a German Gymnasium [grammar school] or its international equivalent.

Yes, provided that your child is required to attend school.

We would be pleased to advise parents in a personal consultation. Appointments can be made through the secretary’s office (phone +49 (0) 2761/96500 or email letsgo@gymnasium-olpe.de). Please bring your child’s latest school reports with you to the consultation as well as documentation required under the Masernschutzgesetz [German measles protection act].

Personal development: • the IB offers a broader range of disciplines thanks to new subjects; • the IB stands for the teaching of advanced foreign language skills; • the IB empowers students to pursue self-directed learning; • the IB promotes methodological skills and collaborative work; • the IB enables alumni to develop strong social skills; • the IB stands for intercultural understanding in a globalised world; • the IB combines the content of all disciplines ranging from languages to social and natural sciences. Better career prospects: • the IB is recognised as an admission requirement for a place at university in almost every country in the world; • the IB is regarded as a benchmark for degree programmes with selection procedures and scholarships; • the IB prepares students for academia in a unique way; • the IB prepares students for the working world by means of multi-layered performance review formats; • the IB is highly valued as an additional qualification in application procedures.

The number of students is based on the class size guidelines for schools in North Rhine-Westphalia. The IB programmes in the upper school tend to be much smaller so as to ensure the individual attention given to students is very good.

No, the HoL is part of Städtisches Gymnasium Olpe and as such a state school. No school fees are charged. The District Town of Olpe is the school authority.

The grammar school offers traditional qualifications ranging from the intermediate school-leaving certificate to the higher education entrance qualification. The additional IB branch culminates in the internationally recognised IB DP.

All teachers who teach in the international branch have a teaching qualification for the IB DP in addition to the teaching qualification of the North Rhine-Westphalian school system.

Besides the very well connected subject material, theory of knowledge (ToK) is taught and the Group4 Project offered in the IB DP. Theory of knowledge is a subject that offers students the opportunity to take a critical look at various fields of knowledge and subjects and reflect on these in class so as to develop a deeper understanding of how knowledge is generated across subjects. Rather than as a special subject, a Group4 Project is carried out as a beneficial activity holding special significance. It involves temporary and interdisciplinary collaboration between the scientific subjects.

Students are prepared for their final exams during the qualification phase. There are subject-specific assessments that students have to complete within a certain period of time. For example, the language subjects involve oral exams during which subject-specific content is presented in an oral presentation. A field study is an empirical research method used to collect data on the basis of observation and survey in the subject of geography. In the biology or physics practicals, students carry out and analyse experiments independently. In contrast to the Abitur, Germany’s standard university entry qualification, the results do not count toward the assessment of the IB qualification but can be accredited as special performance for the Abitur in the respective subject. Unlike the Abitur, all six subjects are given equal weighting in the final exams. The final exams comprise the exam papers, which must be completed during the period of the written Abitur. Students can be awarded up to seven points per subject in the final exams, meaning they collect up to 42 points. Three further points can be obtained from a matrix linking performance in theory of knowledge and the mark from the extended essay.

In the upper school, classes generally take place between 7:30am and 2:45pm and are usually divided into double lessons. In future, students will be able to use free time in their timetables to prepare for the IB in the HoL, which is currently being set up.

Städtisches Gymnasium offers numerous activities, mainly in the areas of music and sport. More information is available at www.gymnasium-olpe.de

Extensive partnerships exist with the University of Siegen (bcOlpe) and the District of Olpe, which are firmly established on the SGO school premises. In addition to SGO’s programmes (Junior Ingenieur Akademie [Junior Engineer Academy], Roboter AG study group, etc.), there are other activities such as 3D printing, virtual reality and much more.

French, Spanish and Latin can be studied in addition to English in the grammar school. In the bilingual branch, history, geography and politics are gradually taught bilingually. Good English skills are a prerequisite for the IB. English is a teaching language in addition to German and the exam language. There are plans to offer Spanish as part of the IB in future. Together with the University of Siegen, the HoL employs teachers who are trained in language teaching.

In addition to the sports forming part of the curriculum, the wide range of sports on offer at SGO includes football training as part of the German Football Association base school, rowing on the Bigge, climbing on the school’s climbing wall, skiing and much more.

Encouraging and challenging individual students at SGO involves both the performance support and the cultivation of strengths, talents and interests. The fostering of independence and personal responsibility, which is included in the mission statement, is also key. Specific programmes include: • class for reading and spelling difficulties; • individual spelling support in the induction phase; • study advice on how to achieve targets to support students who are at risk of failing exams; •partnership with the Verein zur Förderung besonders begabter Kinder und Jugendlicher in Südwestfalen [association for the support of gifted children and young people in South Westphalia] and the University of Siegen; • skipping years (e.g. in individual subjects) and support for partial studies during school time; • revolving door model -> participation in certain subjects in classes of higher years; • participation in competitions (Mathematics Olympiad, geography competitions, etc.); • preparation for language examinations (DELE, DELF, English Certificate); • various creative, sports, linguistic and scientific programmes to foster development in each individual.

Students must choose an advanced English course, a bilingual foundation course in history and a foundation course in biology, including a project course. Theory of knowledge (ToK) is regarded as a replacement for philosophy. The (world) literature course compliments the German course and replaces the elective of music, art or literature. Students may choose the second advanced course. Any content that is missed is taught in the biology project course or the subject of (world) literature, which also count toward Germany’s standard university entry qualification, the Abitur. In other subjects, as shown in the plan, additional classes may be arranged but these can also be distributed differently over the two school years, Q1 and Q2, depending on subject and need. The extended essay is considered a first draft as well as a subject paper and thus coordinated with the subject paper cycle in Q1.

Besides German and English, history, biology and mathematics are examination subjects. Physics, geography and in the future possibly Spanish can be selected as a sixth subject. CAS is supplemented as needed in a project-based manner, unless students are already involved in extracurricular activities related to creativity, action or service.

The International Baccalaureate may be an admission requirement for studying abroad. What’s more, former IB students report that the IB is often regarded as a reference for study programmes with selection procedures and for scholarships and is ultimately also key to successful selection. The additional qualifications associated with the IB, such as foreign language skills and knowledge acquisition techniques, which can also be decisive for a successful application, should also be emphasised. In addition to such study and career aspects, the personal development of students is particularly worthy of mention. They develop and consolidate a broader range of professional, foreign language, methodological, intercultural and social skills. Such character-building aspects are highly valued by students who have completed the IB at mainstream schools.

Strong individuals from South Westphalia

International school at SGO and the House of Learning

Find out more about the people behind the international school at Städtisches Gymnasium Olpe, the mission statement and commitment, as well as the vision of the House of Learning.


Patrons and partners

The House of Learning is also supported by a school association established by the local business community. The non-profit Verein zur Unterstützung der Internationalen Schule Südwestfalen am SGO e.V. [school association] was founded in November 2018.

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Schülerin der Zukunft mit Tablet

HoL vision

The future of schooling is more than just a school. SGO and regional companies are setting new standards for the future in the area of digitisation and school development with the Internationale Schule Südwestfalen and the House of Learning.

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Schüler sitzen mit Smartphones auf einer Bank

HoL news

Summary of the latest information, important milestones, investments and the development status of Internationale Schule Südwestfalen and the House of Learning at Städtisches Gymnasium Olpe.

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SGO mission statement

At Städtisches Gymnasium Olpe we attach great importance to responsibility, community, tolerance and humanity. This is reflected in our programmes and educational objectives.

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