Reforms of the German education system:
The abolition of the divided secondary school system and
a prolonged integrated primary school
In Germany at present six- to ten-year-old pupils visit primary school from first to fourth form. At the age of ten an allocation takes place: the pupils are divided into four groups depending on intelligence and achievements at school. The Gymnasium', which is roughly equivalent to grammar school, is visited by the best ones, and their final examination after eight years of attendance, the Abitur' that more or less corresponds to A levels, allows them to go to university. The average pupils attend the so-called Realschule', and the weak ones go to the Hauptschule' for five respectively six years. Afterwards they can do an apprenticeship or, if they want to study, go to grammar school for another three years. Those pupils, who have real problems with reading, mathematics, articulating or who have conspicuous behaviour attend another separate school: the Sonderschule'.
The problems and disadvantages arising from this allocation in the present secondary education system in Germany compared to the advantages of this system demonstrate an alarming predominance of the negative issues. Therefore this essay is against the divided secondary education system and supports a prolongation of the integrated primary school system.
An integrated education system has many advantages
On closer examination it is evident that the present secondary school system puts emphasis on the wrong areas: constant sifting out, admitting and shoving off instead of accompanying and furthering represent the main concepts of this system. Most of the pupils who want to change school do it from a higher to a lower type, so the permeability of this system only works toward the bottom. The bad German results of the PISA study, carried out with fifteen-year-old pupils, are an evidence of this thesis. In contrast to the PISA study, the IGLU study, an international survey on reading skills of pupils attending primary school, showed excellent German results. A reason for this success represents the concept of an integrated school. Terms of admission do not exist: it goes without saying that pupils attend primary school. A better acceptance of heterogeneity and an educational appropriate dealing with it, as well as individual support and distinction cause less differences in performance between highly and less intelligent pupils. Learning together in relatively non-selected forms leads to demonstrable better results than learning in divided secondary ones. A reason for this success represents the phenomenon of good pupils helping weaker ones, and weak pupils helping others in subjects they like. It is evident that a prolonged primary school is advantageous. First of all, the primary school teaches the pupils to get on well with each other and to accept everyone; as a result they develop a social competence and unequal opportunities are reduced. Another advantage of a prolonged primary school represents the involvement of the pupils in the decision-making process of which type of secondary school they are going to attend. At the age of ten their parents and teachers decide. But the children have to live with the consequences, and so they possess a right to be involved in the decision. At a certain age the pupils are able to decide things for their life, but not at the age of ten. Secondary school means a growing pressure relating to marks and achievements. If pupils are confronted with this pressure too early, the consequences can be enormous. This problem would vanish with a prolongation of the integrated school.
Supporters of the divided secondary education system
One might say that the divided secondary education system in Germany stands for a talent-orientated distinction, which means: the right school for each pupil. Supporters of this divided system claim that learning in homogeneous classes represents...
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(retrieved on 12.08.2005)
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