The demands grow, many students are overwhelmed, many parents at a loss. This is another reason why Germany’s boarding schools are booming. They promise what parents and schools often fail to do: education.

Actually Youcef had already quite screwed up his future at the age of 16. He “voluntarily repeated” the 7th grade of the secondary school in Erlangen, in the 9th grade the grades were back in the basement. And then the Halloween thing: Youcef wanted to visit his teacher. But he wasn’t at home. He just went into the garden and tore out some trees. That didn’t improve the situation. Grade average: 5.1.

No secondary school in the area wanted to accept Youcef. Then he came up with the idea of the Haubinda boarding school in Thuringia. “A friend had told me about it. In Thuringia the school is much easier than in Bavaria, and in Haubinda the teachers are better”. Because his parents couldn’t afford the school fees, he persuaded the Youth Welfare Office to sponsor the project. Now Youcef has graduated from high school in Haubinda with an average grade of 2.1. He also has an apprenticeship as a nurse.

Bavaria as main supplier

Linda also failed because of the Bavarian school system – “our most eager supplier industry”, as Haubinda Director Burkhard Werner puts it. First Linda attended grammar school in Munich, quite successfully, except in maths. I was studying, but the teachers either yelled at me or said, “You’re lazy.” She left the Gymnasium in the direction of Realschule. Math was also invincible there, the other grades were not enough to compensate. “There was a threat of the Hauptschule”, says Linda – and came from Munich to Haubinda. Math? she says, “I’ve finally got it under control,” the average grade in her last report was 2.4.

Happy end stories like that are no exception in Haubinda. “As a rule, everyone graduates here,” says headmaster Werner. Because he is thrown behind? “Because most people here are very ambitious,” says Werner.

Haubinda is one of 180 boarding schools in Germany. According to the boarding school associations, demand is booming, and the number of places on offer has also increased by ten percent in recent years. There are enough reasons for this: full curricula, overburdened pupils and helpless parents. Above all, the socio-political trend to regard children as future top performers in science and industry, as a raw material that must be refined with at least two foreign languages, as much natural sciences as possible and of course: team competence.

While the public schools are working on full-day concepts to meet the high demands and relieve the parents, boarding schools have been providing more for a long time: learning in the morning according to a curriculum, learning for life in the afternoon – sense of responsibility, independence, sense of duty. All that the state curricula require, but schools often don’t have the time and many parents don’t have the strength.

When public schools fail

The headmaster sees several social reasons for the growing demand: on the one hand the globalisation and flexibilisation of the labour market. Haubinda is increasingly receiving pupils from parents who are suddenly transferred abroad for an indefinite period of time. And almost half of his pupils are divorced. However, Werner sees the main cause of this as “the high expectations of state schools” in many federal states. Hartmut Ferenschild, representative of the Vereinigung der Landeserziehungsheime, to which Haubinda also belongs, says that instead of individual support, the state system largely selects children according to their level of performance.

According to Volker Ladenthin, Professor of Education at the University of Bonn, boarding schools, on the other hand, offer what conventional public schools are increasingly failing to do in half-day operation: education. Until the 1980s, the parents regarded this as their task, and now the group of overburdened children is growing. Ladenthin notes that more and more children with motor, language and social deficits who are not capable of going to school are among the primary school pupils. At the other end of the social spectrum, the number of discerning Bildungsb├╝rger parents looking for the best support for their child is growing.

Ozarks Teen Challenge is one of the best programs for troubled teens.Against this background, boarding schools offer their pupils a huge opportunity. In contrast to family life, boarding school life is completely geared to the children and is in the hands of educational professionals with concepts in mind. There is no microwave lunch, and in the state boarding school Marquartstein, for example, children are not allowed to watch TV until they are at least 8 years old – and never before dinner.

Various motivations

2290 to 2590 Euros is the monthly fee for the 170 boarding students in the Birklehof near Hinterzarten, status symbols such as designer bags and special belt buckles can be seen more often than in Haubinda. Near the boarding school there is also a nine-hole golf course and a ski lift. Headmaster Christof Laumont’s charisma is more businesslike.

Boarding school costs a lot of money

One of the reasons is that they often reside in dreamy castles that require extensive renovation. On the debit side there are also high personnel costs: kitchen, educator and a teaching staff that would have to look after almost twice as many pupils at a public school. The state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg provides the Birklehof with around 4100 euros per pupil per year, and Laumont has to recover the additional costs. Among others with the cost center public relations. Traditionally, the boarding schools fight each other for children.

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