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Lessons far from home: Refugee children at schools


Arriving in a foreign country you didn't want to go to: the schools are trying to support children and young people from Ukraine. Head of the school authority Jürgen Heiss gives an insight.

Arriving in a foreign country you didn't want to go to: the schools are trying to support children and young people from Ukraine.

Head of the school authority Jürgen Heiss gives an insight.


– Quickly leave home, pack the essentials and leave everything behind, usually also the father: Ukrainian children who have fled to the district have to find their way around far from home.

They have to go to a school where they initially understand neither teachers nor classmates.

Many find it difficult to cope with the expulsion and the constant concern for people at home.

But the example of the Otterfingen elementary school shows that a year after the beginning of the war, a network was formed that supported the young Ukrainians.

From April 2022, 14 students from Ukraine attended a welcome class at the school, distributed across all age groups.

Some students who had found accommodation in Holzkirchen also came.

Principal Inge Weber and her deputy Julia Garhammer organized the lessons with the help of volunteer supervisors.

In the new school year, eleven Ukrainian students are in regular classes, seven of them in a first class.

What is the situation elsewhere in the district and how is schooling organised?

We asked the Director of Education, Jürgen Heiss, a few questions that provide an insight into the situation.

How many Ukrainian children and young people are taught in the district and how is this broken down into school types?

The schools in the district are currently reporting 256 students via a reporting portal.

Two of them attend special schools, 17 are at vocational schools, 31 at high schools, 111 at middle schools, 93 at elementary schools, two at the elementary and middle school of the Montessori School in Hausham.

Realschulen are currently not reporting any Ukrainian students.

Children from Ukraine are also subject to compulsory schooling

Is there something like compulsory schooling?

Are there Ukrainians who are taught from home via the Internet?

Schooling is compulsory.

This begins three months after official notification to the municipality.

Training from home via the Internet sometimes takes place.

However, this can only be seen as a supplement and is not sufficient to fulfill compulsory schooling in Bavaria.

How interested are refugee families in having their children taught by us?

Basically, there is an interest in schooling in Germany, although there are certainly differences.

This is probably also due to the fact that some families tend to return to Ukraine quickly and others are planning a longer stay.


Jürgen Heiss, director of the school board in the district of Miesbach

© Thomas Plettenberg

Bridging classes in secondary schools

How is the teaching organized in elementary schools, middle schools, junior high schools, grammar schools?

At primary schools, all children must be integrated into the regular class from this school year in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Education.

There have been “bridging classes” at secondary schools since the 2022/23 school year.

There are three such classes in the district of Miesbach – at the Tegernsee high school, at the Holzkirchen high school and at the Rottach-Egern middle school.

The formation of a bridging class at the middle school in Miesbach is planned for the end of February or the beginning of March.

Are Ukrainian teachers involved in the lessons?

And if so: What requirements do they have to meet and how are they paid?

Ukrainian forces are sometimes involved in the bridge classes - for example in Rottach-Egern and in the planned bridge class in Miesbach - if they have the appropriate prerequisites.

The school authority does not want to make any statement about the payment.

What is the curriculum like?

Bridging classes are generally designed for all ages and pay particular attention to German, mathematics and English.

How quickly do Ukrainian students learn German?

The speed of learning German depends very much on the individual learning ability and performance, the level of motivation and the affinity for language learning in general.

Some students have a very good knowledge of English, while others have little previous knowledge.

Communicating in German or English in day-to-day interactions plays a not inconsiderable role and can – despite tools such as translation apps – be challenging for everyone involved;

This applies not only to the topic of learning, but also to how the students interact with each other.

Does every school accept Ukrainians or is it limited to central locations?

Every elementary school in the district accepts Ukrainian children.

At secondary schools, they are primarily accepted at the locations of the bridge classes, but young people are also accepted at many other school locations.

Especially at secondary schools, many Ukrainians are integrated into mainstream classes.

How high is the fluctuation in the classes when families move or return to their home countries?

The state education authority, which is responsible for primary and secondary schools, has identified a certain fluctuation, but this is manageable.

In fact, there are isolated cases in which families return home or move within Germany and the EU.

Are Ukrainian families still arriving in the district at all?

Since mid-December 2022, more Ukrainian families with school-age children have been arriving in the district again.

Most of them were recently accommodated in Miesbach, which is why another bridge class is to be formed here.

Is the subject of war/expulsion addressed in the classes?

The topics of war and expulsion are certainly addressed in the classes.

It is important to adapt to the respective learning group and the situation of individual students in the classes.

Pedagogical sensitivity is required, especially with regard to traumatisation.

Sometimes the schools are supported by school psychologists and youth school social workers.

One year of Ukraine war: On the occasion of the 1st anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine, we take a look at the war and its consequences from different perspectives.

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-02-24

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