Cramming maths and foreign languages in the mornings, juggling a lunch break or riding a unicycle and practicing quarrels in the afternoons - this is a normal day for the fifth graders of the Maria Theresia secondary school in Günzburg. Since 2004, the school has introduced full-time operation in some classes in 2004, offering not only core education but also numerous working groups and recreational opportunities. The additional offers such as internet courses, billiards, judo or communication training should not only deal with the children. The all-day care should rather help to acquire social skills, get involved for others and more fun to learn.
That this concept works and all-day schools actually have a positive effect on the social behavior and the learning joy of the students, has now been the "study on the development of all-day schools" (StEG) shown. As part of the research project, scientists from the German Institute for International Educational Research, the German Youth Institute, the University of Giessen and the Institute for School Development Research at the University of Dortmund examined: How did all-day schools in Germany develop, and what effects does the full-time care have on the personality and the Grades of the students? The starting point was the "Pisa shock" in the year 2000. In the OECD's international school achievement study with the abbreviation PISA, the German children underperformed in all three areas tested - reading, mathematics and natural sciences. For this reason, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research decided to financially support the expansion of all-day schools in the state, with the aim of better promoting socially disadvantaged students and optimizing educational provision nationwide.
300 schools, 60 000 questions
To test whether the concept of full-time school works, the scientists examined for the StEG between 2005 and 2010, more than 300 schools in 14 federal states - including the Maria Theresa secondary school in Günzburg. The researchers interviewed about 60, 000 students, parents, rectors, teachers and cooperation partners on the quality of all-day offers, pedagogical design principles, the satisfaction of students with lessons and leisure activities as well as on social skills, personal learning motivation and school grades.
The evaluation of the data has shown that all-day schools have an overall positive effect on the personality development of the pupils. "Students participating in full-time activities are less prone to violence, more friendly with their classmates, and less likely to disturb lessons, " says Natalie Fischer, project coordinator of the StEG and graduate psychologist at the German Institute for International Educational Research. The main reason: Whole-day students identify more strongly with their school, explains Fischer. In addition, the children and young people would have to deal with their classmates through the afternoon offers longer. This promotes interaction and improves social skills. "Especially boys take on more social responsibility, for example, if they are allowed to help design an offer and are thus taken seriously, " explains the psychologist. And she adds: "If the relationship between teachers and students is right, the educational quality of the offers is high and the activities are motivating the students, the grades also improve." Display
Will the family be too short?
Although full-time schools in other European countries, such as France, Greece or Sweden, have proved their worth many decades ago, Natalie Fischer says many parents in Germany still fear that family life could suffer if the child does not return home until late in the afternoon comes. The StEG proves, however, that this fear is unfounded. The all-day offers improve the family climate, says Natalie Fischer, especially when the parents are working and relieved. "Our findings have also shown that conversations and family activities are just as likely to happen to full-time students as they are to half-timers, " explains the psychologist.
Outside the family, of course, things are different: In many places, clubs or church organizations suffer from the all-day offer. For club activities that take place in the afternoon, all-day students can hardly participate. The research project "All-day School in Rural Areas" of the Agrarian Social Society Göttingen and the Chair of Social Education and Extracurricular Education at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena revealed the dimensions.
No one stays SITTING
But overall, the researchers involved in both studies see the all-day school as a model of success. The rector of Maria-Theresia-Mittelschule in Günzburg, Karin Virag, said: "All-day schools are our future. This is shown by the fact that in the last three years we did not have any sit-ins in the full-time classes. However, schools must be designed to respond flexibly to the needs of students and parents. "
In order to introduce all-day schools in Germany nationwide, the financial resources are currently missing - beyond the necessary political consensus. In the coming years, however, the federal government wants to increase public education spending continuously. According to preliminary calculations, the 2008 budget was around 215 billion euros, corresponding to 8.6 percent of the gross domestic product. By 2015, the federal and state governments want to increase this share to 10 percent. It is not clear where the money required for this will come from. ■
by Caroline Leibfritz