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Experts: All-day schools does not reduce members in sport clubs

Danish sports organizations are worried that the number of members in their clubs will decrease because of the implementation of all-day schools, but results and experts in Germany are clear – it will not. 

By Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen and Stefan Sigaard Weichert.

Pupils left their bags behind, before going to activity class. Photo: Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen

The bell is ringing. There is complete silence, before voices starts getting louder and louder – kids are coming into sight. It should be silence before the storm, but they look tired and exhausted from a long day. The clock says four pm. The school day is over and the pupils drag their bags after them on their way home. Everybody wants to lay down the rest of the day.

It is the complete nightmare for Danish sports organizations – if the Danish government is implementing the all-day schools. They fear for the member levels in sport clubs around the country, but they should not be worried. At least not if we look at results from Germany.

They implemented the all-day schools about ten years ago, so they today make 33 percent of all schools in Germany. The pupils normally go to school from eight am to four pm in the all-day schools, and a lot of that extra time is used on sports.

Fear of children fleeing from afternoon activities

DIF, Umbrella organization for sport – Denmark’s Olympic Committee, and DGI, Danish Gymnastics and Sports Associations, are two of the sport organizations, which have expressed their fear and concern towards the all-day schools and the longer school days.

But they do not need to fear for their members, explains Boris Rump, Officer for education in the German Olympic Sport Association.

“It was also a big fear in Germany, that pupils will stop practicing in sport clubs, but we have not seen that scenario. Pupils do not stop practicing in sport clubs, but the number of clubs are slowly decreasing,” says Boris Rump.

An example of the decrease in sport clubs can be seen in the German state Nordrhein-Westfalen, which have collected the number of sport clubs and members from 2000 and until now. It is the biggest state in Germany with 18 million inhabitants, and they have seen the number fall with 845 clubs (4.2 percent) during that period, even though the number of club members in the state are almost the same.

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Graph showing the number of members from year 2000 until 2012. Source: Member and club statistics in Nordrhein-Westphalen
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Graph showing a decrease in sport clubs from 2000 to 2013. Source: Member and club statistics in Nordrhein-Westphalen

Problem for small clubs

If the number of clubs are decreasing, but the number of members are almost the same – what is then happening?  Boris Rump explains the scenario in Germany.

“The small clubs are the ones closing. Pupils spend more time and do more sport in school, than before. This means that the sport clubs have to change their structure and adapt to the changing circumstances, as for example the greater pressure on facilities in the afternoon or at night, because of the longer school days,” says Boris Rump.

But that is not the only reason, why the small clubs are having problems, explains Christopher Heim, Head of the Department for sports science in Goethe Universität – Frankfurt Am Main

“The clubs have to change their strategy because of the all-day schools and get to the pupils where they are – in schools. In Germany we have seen the clubs do that after some years. They start working with schools, and this is where the big clubs have the advantage. It is a way to handle the changed situation and get more members,” says Christopher Heim.

The cooperation with schools means that the sport clubs are in charge of the physical education in schools in the afternoon instead of teachers. It is a way for the big clubs to push out the small clubs, explains Christopher Heim.

“The small clubs depend on volunteer work, and can therefore not send trainers to the schools during day time, where they are at work. Another things is that the schools might not be interested in the small clubs as they do not have such a broad perspective with many different sports as the big clubs. The consequence is that we see the big clubs dominating the sport picture and pushing the small clubs out,” Christopher Heim explains.

HT16 gained 1.000 extra members

One of the clubs, which has benefited from the all-day school is HT16 from Hamburg. They started working with schools four years ago and are now cooperating with 20 schools. The club has 5.000 members and a long list of sports for example dancing, football, judo, swimming, and handball.

At the HT16 sports club, there are several activities to choose from. Photo: Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen

Hear Oliver Camp, head of department and trainer at HT16, explain the benefits working with the schools.


HT16’s coaches in the schools are mostly undergraduate students from the universities. The club received 100.000 euro in financial support during the first years to change the setup and get started. A support which is not normal to get for sport clubs in Germany, but they received it because of their location in the poor area of Hamburg.

“It has helped us change the structure in the club, and I am not sure that we could have done it without financial support. So I can just imagine how hard it must be for smaller clubs, which do not even have the setup like we did before.” says Oliver Camp and continues.

“It is still an ongoing struggle for us. The tasks have just changed. As it is now about finding the coaches, who can practice during school hours, and furthermore just to work things out with schools is a big job, which require people on the payroll.”

HT16 get money from the schools for managing the lessons in the afternoon, besides the extra membership fees from new members in the club. The normal way to do it, explains Boris Rump.

“It is a good way for the schools to save money on teachers, because they are more expensive than an employed coach, who earns about 10-15 euro per hour (A normal teacher in Germany earns about 22 euro an hour).”

Back in school the bell is ringing. There is complete silence, before voices start getting louder and louder – kids are coming into sight. They look tired from a long day in school from eight am to four pm, but their day is not finished – some of them are going to sports clubs to finish their day off. As they get on their bikes, a man comes out of the school.

A coach from the nearby sports club – ready to continue his day coaching some of the same kids, but this time in the club.

Read more: The elite clubs benefits from all-day schools 

The elite clubs benefit from all-day schools

The physical aspect is one of the points, where players benefit from cooperation between clubs and schools. 

By Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen and Stefan Sigaard Weichert.

The fitness room, where HSV Handball start their practice in the morning, is located less than 200 meters from the sport school, Alter Teichweg. Photo: Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen

In a residental area in the middle of Hamburg is the sport school Alter Teichweg located just beside pitches, pools and gyms. Every day, 1.200 student make their way to class through the narrow grey corridor – 230 of them are elite sport students.

Alter Teichweg is not special. This kind of elite school is normal in all major cities around Germany after the all-day school system was implemented about ten years ago.

The well known German Handball club, Hamburger Sports Verein Handball, is one of the clubs working with Alter Teichweg. The club has talent teams with players as young as nine to ten years old, and they believe the players benefit from this new kind of cooperation with schools.

Hear why in the video below, where we follow the Hamburger Sports Verein Handball under 18 youth team in fitness center.

Read more: Boys catch up to girls maturity in all-day schools

Boys catch up to girls maturity in all-day schools

Girls mature earlier in school than boys, but it is changing in Germany where studies show, that boys in all-day schools catch up to their peer female classmates.

By Stefan S. Weichert and Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen.

Rimma und Maria
Dr. Rimma Kanevski and Prof. Dr. Maria von Salisch’s study has shown, that boys catch up to girls in maturity in all-day schools. Photo: Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen.

Ten years have passed since the all-day school system was implemented in Germany. Similar to the system that the Danish government wants to incorporate in Denmark. In Germany, the scientists have measured that the academic level has risen since the all-day school system was introduced, but besides the academic level, the system has shown other positive effects.

A study from 2013, made by Dr. Rimma Kanevski & Prof. Dr. Maria von Salisch from the Leuphana University in Lüneburg, shows a number of results. Their study was made throughout three years, where they have followed pupils from all-day schools and traditional schools from 7th and until 9th grade. One result is that pupils at all-day schools are evolving more quickly mentally compared to the normal school system.

“From our study we can see, that the pupils in all-day schools are more aware of their own and others feelings than students from traditional schools – so called maturity. Especially boys are evolving faster, actually to the same level as their female peers,” says Dr. Rimma Kanevski.

Results in all-day schools
The graph on top shows the results in all-day schools where boys catch up to girls in maturity. The findings are based on a series of questions throughout three years. In the graphs are showed two measuring points – first in 7th grade and then in the 9th. Source: Peer-Netzwerke und Freundschaften in Ganztagsschulen by R. Kanevski and M. v. Salisch.
Results in half-day schools
This graph on top shows the results in the old school system in Germany, which also is called half-day schools. Source: Peer-Netzwerke und Freundschaften in Ganztagsschule by R. Kanevski and M. v. Salisch.

The development in the traditional schools is opposite – the girls mature faster than the boys, who stay at the same level behind the girls. The study also shows that boys are less aggressive in all-days schools compared to traditional schools.

Pupils from all-day school also have more friends inside school than their fellow pupils from traditional schools and retain the same number of friends outside of school.

“It is surprising, that they do not have less friends in their spare time, as they stay longer in school than in the traditional schools. It shows how important this type of school is for kids. They develop their personal relationships with fellow students faster and to a higher level than the traditional schools,” says Prof. Dr. Maria von Salisch.

Hear Prof. Dr. Maria von Salisch explain what she thinks of her and Dr. Rimma Kanevskis findings.

Read more: Large sport clubs will survive the all-day school – small might die 

Bad test lead to all-day schools

A low score in an European PISA test was the last push which made the German government topple down from their chairs. Enough was enough, and it ended with a new school reform in 2002 – that looks similar to the one the Danish government wants to implement.

By Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen and Stefan S. Weichert

The afternoon program at The Falkenberg School in Flensborg contains for example football. Where they always pick a referee to be in charge. Photo: Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen

In the beginning of the new millennium, the German government was shocked about the latest European PISA study based on subjects as natural science, reading, mathematics etc. It showed that German pupils were falling behind in academic learning in school compared to other European countries.

The german government therefore proposed to implement a new school system, the all-day school, to raise their pupils’ academic level. Nina Bremm from Institute for psychology and motion at the Hamburg University explains.

“Something needed to change, the government was very disappointed in the existing school system and decided to put in four billion euro (30 billion Danish kroner) in the all-day school system,” says Nina Bremm.

“Another reason was the many single moms and full time working parents. The government sought a system where the children could be looked after in the afternoon and at the same time raise the academic level, give possibilities to do more physical activities and homework during school hours,” she says.

The all-day schools got implemented in the existing school system, which is divided in primary school from 1st – 4th grade and secondary school from 5th – 12th/13th grade. Today about 33 percent of the schools are all-day schools and the rest are normal schools as we know it from Denmark (see this link to a report of how the all-day school system works).

In Germany they have two kinds of all-day schools – open and closed schools. Open all-day schools are where the pupils can choose to attend an afternoon program – which is not an option in the closed all-day schools.

An open primary school in Germany – The Falkenberg School in Flensburg.

The board show, what programs the pupils can choose to follow during the week. Photo: Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen.

An example of an all-day school in Germany is the Falkenberg School in Flensburg. It is an open all-day school and has been that way for six years. It cost the pupils 75 euros (for the full program, five days a week in a hole month, where lunch is included) to attend the afternoon program . It differs from closed all-day schools, where the program is free of charge.

Hans-Peter Fokuhl, principal at the school, explains: ”It is expensive to operate the all-day school system, we have to pay all tutors in the afternoon, therefore the parents also have to pay for their children.”

All adults in charge of the activities are people from the local area and students from the local university. It is too expensive to have the teachers stay the full day, even though they actually want to participate, according to school teacher Sonja Achilles.

Hans-Peter Fokuhl explains about the activities.

“After the normal school hours are done, the all-day pupils are served lunch and then have time to do their homework before the activities begin. We are offering various activities, for example football, theater and later this year they can learn to play chess.”

Read more: Large sport clubs will survive the all-day school – small might die