Children at school: In future they will be allowed to stay until the afternoon
MICHAEL PROBST/ AP
Another four years, then a big promise must be kept: From the 2026/27 school year, the statutory all-day entitlement for primary school children will take effect.
Schools must then initially offer all-day care of 40 hours per week for first graders, including lessons.
Gradually, the other cohorts will also be given the right to be cared for at school until the afternoon.
In 2030, the legal entitlement applies to all primary school classes.
Noble goals, only: How should this task be handled in terms of personnel?
According to forecasts by the Bertelsmann Foundation, there will be a shortage of more than 100,000 skilled workers nationwide for all-day support in elementary schools by 2030.
The situation of all-day support is "confusing due to the incomplete and inconsistent, sometimes even contradictory statistical information that is available," write the authors of the study "Facharbeiter-Radar für Kita und Grundschule 2022".
Obviously, however, there are clear differences in the shortage of skilled workers depending on the region.
Once again it can be seen that the old structures in the formerly divided Germany are still in effect today: in purely quantitative terms, the East is much better positioned than the West when it comes to childcare, but is lagging behind when it comes to the number of staff.
For the majority of primary school children, the East German states already fulfill the legal entitlement to all-day care.
According to the study, on average 83 percent use an all-day offer, 3.5 percent a so-called midday offer until 2:30 p.m.
In the western German states, not even every second elementary school child is cared for all day, not even every fifth child attends an overnight offer.
In the eastern German federal states, there would be enough staff available so that every child could have a place in 2030.
However, the personnel ratio is on average lower than in the West, as the Bertelsmann Foundation reports.
On average, a specialist looks after 14 children in East Germany.
In purely mathematical terms, that's more than twice as many as in the West.
According to the foundation, the staff ratio in the after-school care center is 1:6 on average.
According to a statement by the Bertelsmann Foundation, if the East German schools and after-school centers were equipped with enough staff to reach the western key, around 26,000 additional specialists would be required.
If every elementary school child in the west is to receive all-day education by 2030, over a million additional places would have to be created.
Around 76,000 more specialists are needed for this than are likely to be available.
It is unclear how many mothers and fathers will accept the offer of all-day care for their child.
The additional need for skilled workers will be lower in East and West if not all children use an all-day offer in 2030.
According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, if the current rate of 86 percent in the East were to be reached, there would only be a shortage of 18,000 skilled workers there and 55,000 in the West.
"We are determined to make the best of the situation"
Finn Lohmann heads the Rosenborn elementary school in Harsefeld, Lower Saxony, which is currently being converted into an all-day school.
After the summer holidays, children can stay at school until 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Around 180 of the more than 400 students are registered for it.
Mr. Lohmann, what will the whole day look like at your school?
We have a canteen with around 80 seats.
That means: The children get lunch in three groups one after the other.
Before or after each day, they do their homework in smaller groups of around 15 to 20 children.
They are looked after.
From 2 p.m. various offers around sports, music, art and other activities start.
The children can choose which of these courses they would like to take.
The whole day shouldn't be just child storage, but an asset.
I want the students to benefit from it.
Finn Lohmann, Principal
How do you solve the personnel issue?
I looked for partners from the region for the courses, including a football and athletics club, the Harsefeld Museum and the local music school.
An FSJler of the club will lead football courses with us.
It is important to me that the children get to know and use extracurricular offers and that we think outside the box together.
Some colleagues also offer courses.
Overall, the staffing level is so thin that I will probably also lead a course as headmaster, but even then the staffing issue has not been resolved.
Where is the problem?
Like so many other schools, there is a shortage of teachers at our school.
It was clear from the outset that we would not be able to cover the whole day mostly with teachers, as envisaged by the state of Lower Saxony.
We don't have enough teaching hours for that.
I therefore made a special application a long time ago to get funds for other solutions.
It was recently approved.
What do these other solutions look like?
So far, eight pedagogical employees work between 5 and 13 hours a week at the school.
Some could top up.
But for 25 hours a week, I still need at least two skilled workers who want to work from Monday to Thursday between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.
It won't be easy to find candidates, especially here in rural areas and under these conditions.
I had an applicant that I would have loved to hire, but she wanted to work at least 30 hours for understandable reasons.
Unfortunately, this is not possible because our budget is limited.
more on the subject
Reading, arranging, demanding: What children really need in troubled schoolsBy Susmita Arp and Miriam Olbrisch
Education report with corona balance: These are the "permanent construction sites" in day care centers and schools by Silke Fokken
Corona and schools: »We have to clarify what justice means in the education system« An interview by Silke Fokken
I hope to find suitable specialists in the near future.
If the legal entitlement to all-day care takes effect from 2026, the big question is: where should the staff come from?
The state urgently needs to provide support.
In the end, it's about whether there will be a lack of staff and money to organize the whole day the way we want it.
What do you mean specifically?
For example, there will be a group of ten children through the district youth music school who will deal with singing and songwriting.
Many children would benefit greatly from such a care ratio, including those with learning difficulties.
But if I set up groups with only ten children, I would have to employ 18 professionals.
Unfortunately, given the current personnel situation, this is utopian.
Are you still optimistic about the new school year?
We started planning the full day a long time ago and I am convinced that for many children and parents it represents an improvement on the status quo.
Working parents know that their children are well cared for, and children from homes where perhaps things are not running optimally benefit from the support.
My colleagues, who have already worked a lot of overtime during the pandemic, are very committed and want to organize everything as well as possible.
We are determined to make the best of the situation, even if we would have wished for even better conditions for the children.