Comprehensive education at German boarding schools

Germany is unique among Western countries in its resistance to private secondary schools. A major reason for this is that the German people have always fought for equal education so that all children of the same age can enjoy a good education regardless of their background. This belief has led to the German government’s commitment to providing quality education. As a result, the performance of public schools has a high international reputation, and 90% of the German people are taught in public schools.

The notion of elite private schools is even less common in German circles, which resent the selection model of a school that only accepts “good” students and whose families must be financially capable. In Germany, the idea of equal education is even enshrined in the country’s Basic Law, Article 7, Section 4.4, which states that private schools will only be accepted as an alternative to public schools if the family’s financial means are not a criterion for selection.

Private schools flourish in Germany

In the past, private secondary schools were viewed negatively in Germany as a haven for students who could not keep up with their studies, causing many German parents to feel embarrassed by the prospect of having to send their children to expensive boarding schools. However, as time and circumstances have changed, the private secondary school market is booming in Germany, with the proportion of students enrolled in private schools rising from 4.8% in 1992 to 8.9% in 2016.

This change is particularly noticeable in large cities, where public high schools have higher teacher-student ratios and where it is increasingly difficult for teachers to get to know their students. Parents are increasingly concerned that their children will not be adequately supported in regular schools and are inclined to send their children to private schools. This sentiment is prevalent among the middle and upper middle classes, who see their children’s future as threatened by resource-constrained public high schools and decide to seek out more appropriate private high schools for their children in small classes.

Although private secondary schools claim to have smaller class sizes, more professional teachers, and a guarantee of better education, there have been no reports or surveys to date to prove that private school students outperform their public school counterparts. In terms of quality of education and training, there is no difference between public and private schools. Private schools are superior in terms of overall education, not only in terms of the extensive curriculum and extracurricular activities they offer, but also, and importantly, in terms of the networks they build for their students. Private schools often invite prominent figures from the cultural, political and business worlds to interact with their students to raise their self-awareness and cultivate a perspective that is rarely found in public schools.

Life in a private secondary school

Students in private schools are subject to tight schedules and strict rules, spending up to 10 hours a day on their studies, plus homework and language support classes, as well as extracurricular interest classes such as ballet, judo, sailing, and debate club.

The basic operation of all German boarding schools is very similar. Students live in a group supervised by two tutors, who are usually pedagogues, psychologists or social workers. 6-10th graders are assigned double or triple rooms, and the last two years of high school have separate rooms for study purposes. Students attended classes in the morning and were accompanied by a supervisor in the afternoon to engage in activities of their choice. In some boarding schools, students can even learn to ride a horse or drive a car, and almost anything that interests them can be arranged with the school.

Choosing the right private secondary school

Schools play an important role in shaping students’ thinking and teaching them how to get along with others. When parents choose a suitable boarding school, apart from paying attention to the teaching objectives and values of the school and whether its teaching methods are suitable for the students, they should also pay attention to whether the services provided by the school are compatible with the needs of the students.

The more expensive the boarding school, the better? This is very wrong. Different schools have their own teaching values and goals, some specialize in gifted students, some focus on academic achievement, some emphasize positive character building and teamwork, some emphasize building positive values and social responsibility, and some boast five-star facilities with tennis courts, indoor swimming pools, their own harbor, and more. etc.

As a parent, choosing the right school for your child is an important decision. There are more than 200 private boarding schools in Germany to choose from, and there is always a school that can support your child’s all-round development.

Famous boarding schools in Germany

German private schools have also educated many very famous people, including Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, former Queen Sofia of Spain, and Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, a German politician. August Oetker, the inventor of baking powder, and the famous fashion designer Philipp Patrick Plein, among others. A few of the most prestigious private boarding schools are:

  • Landheim Schondorf: Founded in 1905, the school’s motto is “Learn with your body, your mind, and your hands,” with an emphasis on building character, which Landheim expects students to develop through academics, intellectual internships, community activities, and participation in sports and the arts.
  • Schloss Torgelow: Founded in 1993, the school is dedicated to the curious and hardworking gifted students. The school’s focus is on developing highly qualified students with a wealth of knowledge and critical skills. The goal of their education is to prepare young people for a successful future as well as to provide them with guidance and interest in lifelong learning.
  • Schule Schloss Salem: Founded in 1920, Salem is dedicated to teaching students to take responsibility and build positive character through education. At Salem, students learn to overcome any life challenges through acceptance, understanding, empathy, respect for diversity, and motivation to help others. 
  • Stiftung Louisenlund: Founded in 1949, Louisenlund provides a well-rounded education for students to become well-rounded individuals. Louisenlund’s students are knowledgeable, confident, motivated, curious, respectful of differences, but maintain their individuality and develop their talents to the fullest.
  • Birklehof Schule: Founded in 1932, students are groomed to be self-aware and responsible individuals. The school is aware of the individual strengths and weaknesses of its pupils, and the focus is on each pupil and his or her personal development. At Birklehof, students are able to focus not only on their academic achievements, but also on the expression of their diverse interests and talents. 

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