Bergen Handelsgymnasium is located near the centre of Bergen, close to the railway station and the old city gate.
The school was erect ed in 1904. At that time Bergen Handelsgymnasium offered the highest economic education in Bergen.
Bergen has a long history as a city of trade and commerce. It is not surprising that there were various mercantile schools in the city in the 19th century, and in 1904 the citizens of Bergen founded a new educational institution - Bergen Handelsgymnasium. The school thus celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004. Our school was a private foundation run by a board on which the local business community and city authorities were represented. It was financed by the foundation legacies, fees paid by the pupils and municipal support. In the 1970s the local authorities' economic share increased and eventually the school was taken over by Hordaland County Council in 1976.
Initially the school offered a two year course, and from 1912 it was possible to continue for an extra year. In 1927 an additional one-year on the higher education level was started. There was also an evening course for women, which in 1952 was converted into a day course in secretarial work. Both those courses were terminated in 1995 when all courses beyond secondary level were reserved for colleges and universities.
The years 1953 - 1981 were in many ways the best period for the school. The pupils received a comprehensive commercial and language education at the same time acquiring qualifycations making them eligible for university entrance. Since 1981 the importance of the commercial subjects has been reduced and science as well as some "newcomers" like media studies have become part of the curriculum.1994 Bergen Handelsgymnasium was merged with another commercial school in Bergen - Anton Johannessen's secondary school which offered particularly courses for future clerical and commercial employees. Thus the economic profile of the school was strengthened anew, and it grew to as many as 800 pupils at two different sites. This, however, changed radically when the lease of the buildings at one site, in Nygaten, expired in 2000 and the number of students had to be reduced.
Today the number of pupils at our school is around 400, while the number of staff is around 50. The school has three specializations:
- Three years of general studies qualifying for university entrance
- Three years of media studies qualifying for university entrance
- Vocational training program in services and communication, specializing i travel and tourism - two years at school and two years of apprenticeship.Teaching Platform
The school also runs courses in accounting and commerce and services for the labour market authorities.
Bergen Handelsgymnasium has always been known for its thorough and comprehensive teaching programme in commercial subjects, such as management, accounting, economics, marketing and travel and tourism. They may be combined profitably with languages - English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese and some "newcomers" - information technology and media. In addition the school offers ordinary science programmes. For nearly a hundred years Bergen Handelsgymnasium has specialized in economic subjects and in languages. In recent years new fields of study have been added to the study-programmes. Natural sciences, information technology and media are such fields. At secondary level the school is the leading school in the county of Hordaland in the teaching of economics and media, especially the production of video films.
Like all schools in Norway Bergen Handelsgymnasium is in a process of implementing a teaching reform which aims at greater variation in teaching and learning methods. The approach chosen by our school is called "Elevfokus" - Pupils in Focus. Is was introduced in the year 2000. However, introducing and implementing changes in teaching practice is a time-consuming process as it requires various models for different subjects so that their traditions and needs are preserved in the process of change.The school's primary target and ambition is to develop teaching methods which increase pupil participation on their way to fulfil the requirements of the national curriculum. We are aspiring to achieve that through
*use of teaching methods where pupils' initiative and creativity is stimulated
*use of information technology as an aid in the learning process
* switching to some extent from ordinary teaching to tutorials
* teaching according to the syllabus rather than textbooks
* encouraging interdisciplinary work
* experimenting with non-traditional timetables
* developing alternative evaluation methods
We focus on varying teaching methods. We preserve and appreciate the best of the traditional methods using them side by side with more modern methods like problem based learning, project work and team work. Portfolio evaluation is used in connection with some of those methods.Project work and problem solving are a common method on all levels. Each project period (usually 4 - 5 days), when the ordinary timetable does not apply, is well planned with a clear set of rules for both teachers and pupils. Before a project period pupils prepare a practical plan for carrying out their projects; they meet in the classroom every morning to decide and adjust the plan for the day. In addition to project periods each group of pupils can work with one subject for the whole day every week.
We focus on pupils ability to use information technology. The pupils use either portable pcs og stationary machines. In two years time all pupils will have their own portable pc.
The role the pupils play in the school has changed dramatically. Nowadays pupils work more often in groups and participate actively in planning their teaching and learning loads. Similarly the role of the teacher has also changed. The new situation requires a teacher who is first of all a facilitator, hence a lot more time is used in organising and adapting the teaching to the needs and plans of the pupils.
The evaluation process is rooted in the targets placed in the national curriculum and the syllabi for each subject. Pupils are expected to make an account of what they have learned - which targets in the syllabi they have completed, and are evaluated accordingly. Project work is evaluated by the teacher but also by the students - they evaluate each other, and they even evaluate the teacher in his tutoring function.
On the foundation year we have experimented with an interdisciplinary project exam, where the pupils have a preparatory period when they have to work out a document summing up their project work during the school year. Then a group of them - usually eight - are picked out to have an oral exam where they present a chosen interdisciplinary project and then can also be asked to answer some questions on aspects of the project related to the subjects in question. To make sure that the pupils and the teachers keep up with the national standards while using less rigorous teaching and evaluating methods, it is necessary to test pupils regularly in each subject.
The school has recently finished the following international projects:
Content: Project work on European youth identity
Heinrich Hertz Schuhle, Hamburg, Coleg Glen Hafren, Cardiff, Kauno Jesuitu Gimnazia, Kaunas, and Bergen Handelsgymnasium
Content: Project work in history and mathematics
Espegærde gymnasium og HF, København, og Bergen Handelsgymnasiu
The old city gate from 1628
Bryggen - on UNESCO's list of protected buildings
Lille Lungegårdsvann with the library in the background