Before you can make the decision as to whether a private school is right for your child, another question naturally arises: what exactly are private schools? And how do they differ from state schools? We help you to bring light into the darkness.

Almost everyone has an opinion about private schools. Proponents praise the individual support of the students. Others criticize the allegedly low level of teaching. Opinions on the subject are often formed without the appropriate background knowledge. Very few really understand what constitutes a private school. It’s actually quite simple:

First and foremost, private schools are simply schools for which the state is not responsible. This means that they can act more freely from state regulations. This gives schools more freedom in designing their curriculum or teaching methods. For example, they can shift the focus of the subjects or give the students more say in the lesson. But that says nothing at all about the quality of a private school.

So what determines the quality of a private school?

Private schools are run by independent sponsors. And the pedagogical orientation depends on them, among other things. Some schools attach great importance to individual support. Others bring religion closer to their students than public schools. What pedagogical concept is the right one for your child, you must of course decide for yourself.

As with any other school, the skills of the teachers also determine the level of teaching. The best concept is of no use if the teacher cannot convey the material. But don’t worry: private schools are under state supervision. They have to guarantee a certain level of teaching in order to be able to exist. This alone does not mean that private schools are lagging behind public schools. But before you can really talk about the quality of a private school, you should first agree on which school you are talking about. There are black sheep everywhere. Normally, however, private schools guarantee a high quality of teaching.

The trendsetters of private schools

Independent sponsors support a private school. Nice and good. But what does that mean exactly? And what are “free carriers” anyway? Independent providers are characterized above all by the fact that they are independent of the state. They can appear in the form of clubs, social services, partnerships, church organizations or private individuals. This means that the carriers are very different from one another. And that ultimately has an effect on the orientation of the respective schools.

What are the duties of the porters? And what impact do they really have on schools?

Independent organizations finance the schools and are responsible for hiring teachers. But they can then determine many fundamental things: For example, the providers determine the pedagogical concept of the school. Therefore, the focus of the schools varies: A Montessori school will give your child different things than a Waldorf school. Nature schools or church organizations set completely different priorities. In addition, the providers determine the curriculum under the conditions of the school authorities and design the timetable – if they consider this to be necessary at all. So find out more about the relevant providers in advance in order to get an idea of ​​their schools. Because the values ​​and cultural orientations of the independent sponsors have a significant impact on everyday school life. This gives you the opportunity to find a school that corresponds to your pedagogical ideals.

So, theoretically, anyone who is independent of the state could run a private school?

Yes. Just theoretically. In practice, however, the carriers must of course meet the relevant requirements. A certain level of teaching must also be guaranteed, as well as adequate qualifications of the teachers. In addition, as an independent provider, you would have to take on a large part of the financing of your private school. Incidentally, your pedagogical concept should make sense. Only then will your school be approved or recognized by the state. And that is a requirement.

State-recognized and state-approved – you should know that

German private schools have a lot of freedom in designing their lessons. You can design pedagogical focuses, subjects or teaching methods more individually than public schools. But of course they don’t have a completely free hand. All private schools are either state-recognized or state-approved. And logically, they have to meet certain requirements. This ensures a comprehensive level of instruction. And this is strictly controlled by the school authorities. Especially in the final exams there are no compromises. And there lies the difference between state recognition and state approval:

  • Schools that are state-approved can teach their students, but cannot issue their own school-leaving certificates. Students graduate as external examiners at a public school.
  • Unlike state-approved schools, state-recognized schools are allowed to issue their own school-leaving certificates for their students. At these schools, graduates can obtain all common qualifications (Abitur, secondary school leaving certificate or secondary school certificate). The state-recognized private schools as well as the public schools may also carry out the necessary examinations in accordance with the specifications of the Ministry of Education.

What conditions must be met for a private school to be recognized by the state?

Pupils from a state-recognized school do not have to complete their degree as external examiners at a public school. Of course, this has the advantage for them that they are tested in a familiar environment. This in turn takes some of the nervousness away from many examinees. And that ultimately makes the parents happy. The math is pretty simple: happy students + happy parents = happy school. So state recognition is sought after. But what does a school have to do about it?

Well, education in Germany is a matter for the federal states. So each federal state can decide for itself how it wants to tackle the matter. And that’s why the same applies here: It can’t be generalized. In Baden-Württemberg, for example, the requirements for state recognition are as follows:

  • The comparable teaching objective of a public school is fulfilled.
  • The school’s curriculum has been approved by the School Inspectorate
  • The corresponding private school has been in operation for at least three years
  • The student can transfer from the relevant school to a public school without major difficulties
  • Public school students can transfer to the appropriate school without much difficulty
  • The transfer and admission conditions of the respective school correspond to those of a comparable public school.
  • The school management is sufficiently qualified to carry out its work
  • The teachers are also sufficiently qualified to carry out their work

In other federal states, this list looks similar with a few exceptions.

Does that apply to all states?

Of course not. Because even the exceptions have an exception, of course, otherwise it would be totally boring:

In North Rhine-Westphalia, no distinction is made between recognized and approved private schools. The private schools there call themselves “recognized supplementary schools” and all correspond to the model of state-approved schools in the other federal states.

School fees and state funding – This is how private schools finance themselves

Private schools have expenses. After all, teachers want to be paid and school supplies funded. So private schools are subsidized by the state. On average, however, this only covers about two thirds of the costs incurred. The remaining expenses are financed by private schools through school fees. And who pays it? Surprise: Mostly the parents – you.

But how high are these school fees?

Well, the exact amount is: Approx. €350.00 per month. Or more. Or much less.

Unfortunately, it is of course not possible to name a fixed amount. The costs vary from school to school and depend on the pedagogical concept, number of students, equipment and the additional offers of the school. The reputation of a school also plays a role here. For some private schools you pay less than 40€ per month. Others, on the other hand, charge almost a hundred times as much. Find out about the amount of school fees at the respective school. Fortunately, there are many support options. This means that even more expensive schools are not unattainable.

With all the differences, can a good level of teaching really be guaranteed?

Waldorf students hug trees. And Montessori students can do whatever they want all day long. These and other rumors are often spread about private schools. Of course, schools cannot make it that easy for themselves when it comes to designing their teaching programs. Private schools have to be based on the curricula of comparable state schools. Although you have freedom in implementation, you are obliged to teach elementary school subjects such as English or German. In addition, the teachers have to work to ensure that the students are able to pass the final exams for the desired school leaving certificate (secondary school certificate, middle school certificate, grammar school) after completing their schooling. The education authority strictly monitors these requirements.

And the final exams themselves? Are they equivalent to those in public schools?

Due to the many freedoms that private schools have in the design of their lessons, one question arises above all for many parents: Does the degree ultimately represent a sufficient qualification for my child? This fear is understandable. But unfounded. The final exams that students take at a private school are no more difficult or easier than comparable exams at public schools. In fact, students at state-approved private schools take the exact same exam as students at public schools.

By the way: There are no statistics or relevant facts that prove that children in a Waldorf or Montessori school are not adequately prepared for everyday working life. If you don’t believe us, ask Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. 😉

Priviate Schools by County

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