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Parents want pupils to learn social skills


ONE in four parents is not happy with Germany's schools, according to a major survey by the GEW teachers' union and the Dortmund Institute for Educational Research.

A quarter of parents believe academic standards are too low, while 61 per cent are in favour of the introduction of school league tables.

But far more - 70 per cent of parents in the west and 78 per cent in the east - say schools should prepare pupils better for working life.

Almost three-quarters of parents with school-age children say they want teachers to help children become more competent socially - a rise of 20 percentage points since 1997.

"Dissatisfaction partly reflects rising expectations of parents for their children's education, particularly in the former east," said Dr Eva-Maria Stange, chair of the GEW.

Concern over pastoral issues is particularly acute. Parents also want schools to equip pupils better with problem-solving skills.

In the west, the number of parents wanting this has jumped 18 points since 1997 to 72 per cent. Parents in the east registered a 7 point increase to 77 per cent.

Teamwork, tolerance of others ad "responsibility for their own acts" are among the qualities parents say they expect a "good education" to encourage in their children.

Three-quarters of parents want school reports to include marks for conduct, neatness and diligence rather than just the results of subject tests.

A similar number want their children to learn courtesy and discipline in school.

"By discipline they don't mean obedience but the ability to get on with others socially without conflicts arising," said Dr Stange.

The findings are an indictment of German teachers' concentration on "delivering the curriculum", with pastoral care almost absent from the teaching agenda, even in primary schools.

Pastoral problems and general character development are widely regarded by teachers as the responsibility of the home and church.

Many schools in Germany pride themselves on not having a religious ethos. Few have assemblies, and moral issues are left to religious education classes.

"We have made recommendations that teacher training should move away from a concentration on theories of education to the actual practice," said Dr Stange.

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