Bonn. Philip Wharton is the new principal at Independent Bonn International School. The 37-year-old has looked at pedagogical, structural and management details. He says: „The school needs a breath of fresh air.“
Philip Wharton is the new principal at Independent Bonn International School. The 37-year-old has looked at pedagogical, structural and management details. He says: „The school needs a breath of fresh air.“ At the principal’s desk in the Independent Bonn International School (IBIS) sits Philip Wharton, 37 years of age, energetic - and also excited. „I am so glad, that I was able to get to know the school with my predecessor for seven weeks at the end of 2017“, he explains.
Irene Bolik has been of immense help, with her 15 years of experience as IBIS principal, to get acquainted with the staff, the 235 pupils, their families and last but not least the operation of this „wonderful school“. As reported, the Scotland native Bolik left in December after 36 years at IBIS. „I was welcomed amazingly. The pupils are so happy and the parents are also really tuned in“, says Wharton gladly. He stems from a family of teachers, well, also principals, he reports smiling. „So that was my dream job. I also studied French in preparation.“ He was hoping to be able to teach abroad.
„I believed that being a teacher outside of England would mean less paperwork“, says the 37-year-old and smiles at the sight of the mountain of files on his desk. His application for a position at the Cologne St. George’s School was successful at once: Together with a colleague he worked there for „twelve great years“. First as an English teacher, later as a class teacher and eventually as head of form, he worked at this 400-children institution. The open position at IBIS came to his attention as a super chance, he said, for someone who holds the British and - since November - the German citizenships. „Because of Brexit“, he explains. He loves England, he is proud to be English, but of course the view of his home country changed since he views it from a distance.
An Alternative to German schools
So now IBIS - whose premises he already got to know during rehearsals with the theatre group Bonn Players - also benefits of his experience. The school works very well. „But I believe, we can do with a breath of fresh air“, says Wharton. During the preparation time, he looked at pedagogical, structural and management details, and got to know new methods of teaching. In working together with his team he is looking to bring his own vision of education to the school - always with the pupils in mind. He doesn’t see IBIS as a competition to German schools, he elaborates. „We are an alternative“, he says. And not only for families who don’t speak German, but for parents who are unhappy with some problems of the German school system.“
Which problems does he mean? Wharton phrases his answer positively. IBIS has very well equipped premises. There are no more than 22 children per class. „And there are no classes which are cancelled.“ The teaching language is English, but German is also taught at a very high level. And what about the plans to extend the teaching level to older children too instead of just up to 13-year-olds? As reported, IBIS has shown interest in premises at the Kurfürstenzeile. „Oh, this question is not on the table at the moment, but it is not off the table either, it is rather beside the table“, Wharton replies. This is being discussed internally. „There will be no immediate decision.“
Original text: Ebba Hagenberg-Miliu. Translation: Mareike Graepel