Ten minutes’ drive north of the centre of Esbjerg, Esbjerg International School is located on the outskirts of the nice town of Guldager, surrounded by fields. In nine years, the school has grown from 17 to 304 students. But there is still a warm and welcoming atmosphere behind the red brick walls. Here, the students and teachers speak Danish and English in the hallways and across all classes and ages.
– It is quite unique. Even though the school has grown a lot in recent years, it is still a relatively small school compared to international standards. All students have breaks at the same time and they share the playground and school yard, meaning that all students know the names of one another, which creates a strong sense of community, explains headmaster Jason Lusby when talking about the atmosphere at the school, which has students from 44 different nationalities.
The school still have a Danish character. For example, as a rule they always go outside during the breaks, even when it’s raining.
A decisive factor
About 55% of the students are children of expats, who have moved to Esbjerg for a job. The other 45% have at least one Danish parent, but in many cases have lived abroad for some time during their life. According to the headmaster, Esbjerg International School is the decisive factor when parents have to decide whether their next career adventure should take place in Esbjerg:
– It is an important factor for companies attracting international employees, that the city has an international school with high quality teaching. My experience is that schooling rates in the top two on the list of decisive factors, together with the quality of life you can get as a family in Esbjerg and in Denmark in general. It is a very secure and nice place to live, says Jason Lusby, who settled in Esbjerg with his wife and two children four years ago after having taught at various international schools around the world.
Engage, learn, reflect
All 38 teachers at Esbjerg International School base their teaching on the three keywords: ”engage”, ”learn” and ”reflect”, which is the motto of the school. To further support the students’ learning, the school has relatively few students per class: there are only 15 students per class in lower primary and an average of 20 in upper primary and secondary school. In Year 1 there are two teachers in each class.
IB certification on the way
Esbjerg International School has until now followed the internationally recognised Cambridge system. But the school is about to change to the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
– This will make it easier for students who move to another IB school somewhere else in the world during their education, because the teaching style, terminology, etc. will be the same. Likewise, transferring to the IB at upper secondary level, which is based on the same system, will be more natural, explains the headmaster, who expects that Esbjerg International School will be fully IB-certified within two years.
Parallel to the international ambitions, the school has incorporated more Danish elements into the school days, in addition to Danish language teaching at A and B level.
– We still have a Danish character. For example, as a rule we go outside during the breaks, even when it’s raining; we will not be stopped by this here in Denmark, smiles Jason Lusby.
About 80% of the final year students from Esbjerg International School continue at IB at Esbjerg Gymnasium.