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Innovations and developments - Germany

Essentially, the educational guidelines aim at the following changes in teaching practice:

  • early improvement of language competence, especially for children with a migrant background and children with German as second language, usually linked with a determination of the proficiency level,
  • better interaction between day-care establishments, pre-school institutions and primary schools, introduction of reliable half-day primary schools and provision of offers for all-day schools,
  • achievement guarantees by regularly evaluating the learning situation; development and application of tools for performance diagnostics and implementation of standardised comparative tests across schools.
  • establishment of school programmes,
  • new formulation or further development of frameworks and elaboration of standards in core subjects,
  • further development of the teachers’ methodical and diagnostic competences through further educational training.   (http://www.kmk.org/aktuell/bb_zusammenfassung.pdf)

Desirable Modifications of General Legislative Guidelines

How much influence educational guidelines (recommendations of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, school decrees, implementation regulations) actually have on the architecture of practice cannot be judged. It is, however, sure that a clear structure and standardised contents can contribute to their successful implementation. It would thus seem purposeful to strictly transpose those educational guidelines and school decrees which support inclusive education and instruction into specific implementation regulations. Equally, school internal decisions and resolutions would have to be examined under this aspect, and, where applicable, modified accordingly.

Secondly, it would be advisable to evaluate the existing guidelines including those yet to be adapted with regard to their practical implementation and to assure that the commitments are met. This would require not only the corresponding support from the school authorities of the regions, but also that the teaching staff involved in assessment processes is willing to put the guidelines into practice and, what is more, are qualified to do so. 

Finally, the way performance standards are dealt with on a social level should be adapted. The results of international comparative studies of pupil achievement show that the existence of non excluding schools does not counteract efficiency and performance orientation. Looking for instance at the Scandinavian countries we can see that inclusive schools are very well capable of setting and achieving high educational standards. With regard to the educational system in Germany it needs to be considered that a ‘school for everybody without exclusion’ as an institution with inclusive education and instruction can hardly be integrated harmoniously into a school system which underlies the principle of performance oriented pupil and school type classification. Within this institutional framework of performance related parallel school types the exclusion of children with SEN occurs to be as consequent as the transfer of pupils who fail to achieve the performance standards from one school to another. Conversely, from the viewpoint of inclusive education and instruction, the German education system should preferably change its course to such a degree that individuals are not transferred to different school types on the basis of performance achievement or failure (for whichever reason), but rather bring in assessment standards, tools and methods in a flexible way in order to determine further achievable aims and courses of education. 

Required Resources

It is perfectly obvious that discrepancies between educational guidelines and the practice of diagnostics (cf. 2.2) are not intentionally caused by teaching staff or emerge by pure coincidence. Instead, all the evidence seems to indicate a lack of time and qualification on the side of teachers to implement the latest education policies and to promote support oriented diagnostics. In practice, too little is known about how to carry out qualitative analyses, how to classify the results in terms of progress and how to use the accumulated data in didactics. Not only in basic subjects like arithmetic, reading and writing, but also regarding the basis they require in the form of cognitive and linguistic development there is often a lack of theoretical knowledge. This is also true for didactic support concepts which take up such diagnostic findings and use them for individually tailored support. 

To change this situation, resources would have to be made available firstly to ensure competence acquisition through further education of teaching staff and secondly to ensure that the required competence is imparted through supplementary trainer education. The prevalent system of teacher training in Germany is in the process of change, and this too, requires resources. The two to four-phased models of teacher training which are presently being discussed would have to be newly conceptualised in their entity in order to respond to the new structures and contents. Resources are also needed in the field of research and science since various subject areas are yet to be backed with theories of development, didactic concepts and educational approaches.

Finally, the practical implementation of educational guidelines requires additional resources for teaching lessons and qualified staff, so as to assist the pupils at school, to determine their further course of education in terms of next steps, to recommend relevant didactic approaches, to elaborate education plans, to advise the pupils’ relatives as well as the qualified staff, and finally, to advance interdisciplinary exchange and co-operation.  

The educational guidelines represent an ideal point of departure for inclusive education and instruction. On the level of concrete transposition these guidelines in some Länder need yet to take shape in a more strongly standardised form. As practice shows, various conditions are still impeding to the process of consequent implementation. In addition, only very selective examples of successful inclusive practice in the context of assessment are available, and insight into its practical efficiency is unfortunately limited to insufficiently differentiated documentation. Teacher education should ideally evolve in the sense that teachers, to further qualify for the new tasks, should receive broader and at the same time more differentiated special education, which is essential to the enhancement of inclusive education.

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