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

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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.

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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

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