DThe green-black state government in Baden-Württemberg has presented essential elements of a reform to remedy the massive language deficits among primary school students: from the beginning of the 2024/2025 school year, children with language deficits in the last year of kindergarten should receive four hours of additional language support lessons per week. There should be additional junior classes for students with major language difficulties at the beginning of the 2025/26 school year at the earliest. This means that a mandatory preparatory class precedes the actual school enrolment.
“Our goal must be to get the children into primary school when they are actually ready for school,” said Baden-Württemberg Education Minister Theresa Schopper (Greens) to the FAZ. In order for the new language support policy to work, the school law must be changed and compulsory schooling expanded This is the only way it is possible for the school administration to make participation in language support programs mandatory after the language proficiency assessment during the school entry examination – usually at the age of four and a half. So far the recommendations are non-binding. The school administration wants to reach both the children in daycare centers and those who do not attend daycare centers.
Hamburg as a role model
“Based on current experience, we assume that 30 percent of children receive a note after the school entrance examination asking them to take part in language training,” said Schopper. For some, the four hours of language support in daycare will be enough, for others the language and possibly other learning deficits can only be remedied by attending a junior class. Educationally disadvantaged parents should be supported through advice. A problem with the reform is likely to be the large additional staff requirement (of teachers or language support staff) as well as the control of the binding language support requirements.
With this model, Baden-Württemberg follows the Hamburg model. Mandatory preschool was never abolished there. There are currently around 2,400 primary schools in Baden-Württemberg. The new junior classes should initially be set up at larger hotspot schools where the proportion of migrants is high, in accordance with a newly developed social index. According to the Minister of Education's wishes, the primary school reform should be decided in the cabinet in March, if possible. The additional costs are likely to be in the three-digit million range every year.
According to the IQB study, one in five primary school children in the southwest does not achieve the minimum standards in mathematics and German; In many primary schools, the proportion of children from immigrant families is 50 percent. Education experts today agree that the issue was neglected by the previous education ministers from the SPD and CDU.