Secondary School Principal at International School of Hamburg in Germany
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Secondary School Principal
International School of Hamburg (Germany)

Sep 10, 19
Oct 11, 19


International School of Hamburg

Secondary School Principal

International School of Hamburg seeks a dynamic, forward-thinking and team-oriented individual to lead the Secondary School.

The Secondary School Principal reports to the Head of School and plays a central role in the school Leadership Team and in helping to guide the development of the school in all areas. This opening provides an ideal opportunity for a professional educator and school leader who wishes to take the next step in advancing her or his career by engaging actively with a school that is proud of its strengths; reflective about its areas for growth; and prepared to commit its human and material resources to the process of self-improvement, both individual and collective.


Providing educational leadership and vision for the long-term educational benefit of the student population in Grades 6 to 12;

Managing all aspects of the Secondary School in accordance with the policies and guidelines established by the Board;

Providing strong leadership to all constituencies of the Secondary School in order to guide the school through the next phase in its development;

Developing and implementing a cohesive curricular framework together with the IB Coordinators, the Assistant Principal and the Junior School administration;

Working with the IB Coordinators to develop course options for Secondary students;

Ensuring that teaching inspires and motivates students to attain standards of excellence in academic and extra-curricular activities;

Maintaining ISH’s accreditation status in coordination with other school leaders;

Recruiting and evaluating highly-qualified faculty and staff, with the Head of School and in consultation with Heads of Department;

Taking a leading role in administering the Secondary School’s student code of conduct policy;

 Updating the Secondary School Handbook;

Leading and participating in meetings of the various Leadership and Divisional teams;

Supporting the personal counselors in attending to the social-emotional needs of students in the Secondary division;

Generating the staff and student timetables for the Secondary School;

Communicating with parents, student groups and external partners;

Participating in the school’s Child Protection Team;

Leading Secondary staff members in the school’s staff appraisal process;

Ensure that the school complies with accreditation standards and all relevant policies and regulations.


The successful candidate will be an educator who, with regard to all or most of the following, is able to demonstrate:

Minimum of a Master’s degree, preferably in Educational Leadership or Curriculum Development;

Excellent proven leadership skills gained in an educational environment;

Commitment to international education and successful experience as an administrator of a secondary school in an international or multi-cultural community;

Proven experience with the IB Diploma and MYP frameworks;

Experience creating school timetables and working with timetabling software;

Strong team leadership and exceptional interpersonal and communication skills, with the ability to extend the collaboration and partnership between staff, students, parents and the wider community;

Native or near native proficiency in English;

Cross-cultural openness and understanding, together with a willingness to engage with the local German community in order to promote the school’s interests;

Sound knowledge of current educational philosophies and their application in international education;

Student-centered approach to student behavior management;

Exemplary modelling of our Core Values: Kindness, Respect, Responsibility, Safety.

Terms of Employment:

The salary, benefits and terms of contract will be commensurate with the qualifications and experience of the candidate and will be competitive with other international schools in the region. The candidate should be available to start work on 1 August 2020 and the initial contract is for a three year period.

Interested applicants should send the materials referred to below as a single PDF file to Tanja Mischke, HR Manager, by Friday, October 11th 2019, at The school reserves the option to close the search early should an outstanding candidate be identified prior to the deadline. A longlist of applicants will be interviewed via video conference. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to ISH for onsite final interviews.

A cover letter explaining why the applicant is interested in this position and why s/he feels that his or her professional experience is a good match for the role of Secondary Principal at ISH.

A detailed current CV.

Contact details of at least 3 professional referees, at least two of whom must be current or recent supervisors.

A statement of up to 500 words outlining the applicant’s leadership philosophy supported by specific examples where possible.

Attention: If you apply for this position, please inform the school and us ( that you saw the notice on the Search Associates website.

The School

ISH was founded in 1957, making it the first pre-K to 12 international school to be established in Germany. We are a non-sectarian, not-for-profit independent day school governed by an elected Board. Originally opened on the shores of the Alster lake in central Hamburg to meet the educational needs of the children of American, British and Canadian military personnel, the school campus has moved several times. Since 2010 ISH has been situated on a purpose-built campus in the tree-lined western suburb of Klein Flottbek.

Campus and Facilities

Our 19,000 sq. foot campus houses all classrooms, administrative offices, athletic and fine arts facilities under a single roof. Many of our teaching and learning spaces look out onto the forest which lies beyond the back gate, or the city’s Botanical Gardens located across the street from our main entrance. Among our facilities are a large multi-purpose auditorium, a full-size soccer pitch, several other outdoor sports areas, science laboratories for both elementary and secondary learners, Design spaces, music classrooms and practice rooms and a library with a large open rooftop terrace. Two well-equipped and spacious playgrounds meet the needs of our younger students. 

The City

Hamburg was recognised by the Economist Intelligence Unit in August 2017 as one of the 10 most liveable cities in the world, earning a perfect score of 100 for both its health care and infrastructure. The city is known for its vibrant cultural life, exemplified by the opening of a new symphony hall, the Elbphilharmonie, in 2018 and the many music clubs, theatres and other cultural venues dotted throughout the city. As the third-largest commercial port in Europe, Hamburg has always been identified with the Elbe River and the port is one of the main economic engines of the city and surrounding region. Hamburg is also one of the greenest cities in Europe, with parkland and forests offering respite from the hustle and bustle of Germany’s second most populous city. Airbus has a major facility on the banks of the Elbe and is one of the city’s largest employers. Expatriate workers and families are attracted by the clean air, proximity to nature, the relatively low crime rates, outstanding medical care and general high quality of life. With these benefits comes a relatively high cost of living and income tax rates in Germany tend to be higher than in many other European countries.

Curriculum and Accreditation

ISH follows the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) in our Early Childhood and Primary years. We have been authorised to offer the IB Diploma since 1978, and received authorisation to teach the IB Middle Years Programme in 2016, and the IB Career-related Programme in 2019. We are proud to be supporting our first cohort of IBCP candidates in the current school year. Our school is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). We are a member of the Association of German International Schools (AGIS) and the Northwest European Council of International Schools (NECIS). ISH receives grant support from the U.S. Department of State's Office of Overseas Schools (A/SO), Washington, D.C.

Faculty and Staff

Our teaching faculty and support staff are drawn from 24 nationalities: some have been with us for most of their professional careers and have made Hamburg their home, while increasing numbers are globally mobile educators with valuable experience of other systems and innovative practices who join us for two to five years. The school leadership team works hard to nurture a spirit of collaboration and innovation in a supportive environment where risk-taking is encouraged and underpinned by the philosophy that we are all learners, and that failure teaches us at least as much as success. Within our faculty we have workshop leaders, IB examiners and colleagues who have come to us from other professions and brought unique perspectives and experiences with them. Several of our staff are being trained in Mindfulness and will be leading their peers and our students in what we see as a critical component of our pastoral care responsibilities to all children.

A significant number of our teaching faculty hold advanced degrees, and we have a generous and well-established programme of professional development, both in-house and through workshops and conferences in Europe and beyond. We are committed to following a trajectory from “good to great”, and our faculty and staff are actively engaged in helping to realise this goal through their participation in a variety of significant projects which are described briefly below.

Current school-wide initiatives

The successful candidate for this role will join a school that is engaged in a number of initiatives which are intended to work in synergy with each other to lead us on a path towards not only self-improvement but actual transformation in key areas of school life. Among these are four projects that are described briefly below:

Re-accreditation: we are currently engaged with our faculty and staff in determining which organisation(s) to partner with—NEASC, CIS or both-- for our next Accreditation visit which will occur in Autumn 2021.

Staff Appraisal: after a 2+ year process led by the management team with input and feedback from faculty and staff, we are in the process of launching a new, more comprehensive and employee-centred staff appraisal protocol.

Campus Development: We are developing some exciting new possibilities for various areas of our school campus as we seek to ensure that our learning facilities continue to meet the needs of our teachers and learners now and in the years to come.

Strategic Plan: We have engaged with an external consultancy to work with all stakeholders in shaping and articulating our next Strategic Plan, including our Vision and Mission statement, as the current plan will draw to a close in the summer of 2020.

Our students

Our demographics, like those of many international schools, include both host-country passport holders (local Hamburg families who value the international programme and philosophy of our school, and German families returning from overseas postings), and mobile expat families. The school-wide ratio is approximately 35% host-country and 65% expat students, though this can differ within specific grade levels and from year to year. We have 740 students from pre-K to Grade 12, comprising approximately 50 nationalities. In addition to our host-country population, the next four nationalities by percentage are:  UK – 9% , USA – 7.5%, Denmark – 4%, Spain – 4%.

While our maximum class size is 24, in practice few classes reach this number and many are well below 20.

Parental Involvement in the School

ISH is fortunate to have an active and enthusiastic Parent Teacher Association (PTA) which meets on a monthly basis with the Head of School and the Division Principals to discuss topics of interest to the parent community. The relationship between the PTA and the school management has always been a cordial one, and this group leads and supports a wide range of activities and events for the community. In each grade level, parent representatives are appointed to liaise with classroom teachers and the Principals, and they play a vital role in helping to keep the two-way communication flowing smoothly.

The School Board

The ISH Board is the legally-recognised governing entity of the school, and is composed of 4 parent members, 4 non-parent members, 2 staff members, and the Head of School (ex officio). Meetings of the Board are held 6 to 8 times per year during which the Head of School briefs members on relevant topics to do with the operations of the school, new initiatives, enrolment and budget updates etc.

Did You Know…?

Executive Vice President David Cope's career has taken him to Europe, Africa, North and Central America, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.