This week, two major studies shed light on the Hamburg education system - with light and shade. In the Bertelsmann Foundation's "Country Monitoring Early Child Education Systems" published on Thursday, the experts criticize: Hamburg will lack around 3,700 daycare places in the coming year. On the other hand, school senator Ties Rabe can be happy. Hamburg's elementary school students have made up ground in a nationwide educational comparison.
First to the lack of daycare places: According to the Bertelsmann study, despite the massive expansion in recent years, there are not enough places to meet the care needs of parents. This means that the legal entitlement to a daycare place cannot be fulfilled for every child in 2023 either. In order to meet the demand, 1000 more specialists would have to be hired. According to the study, the costs for this would be around 44 million euros per year. In addition, there would be running expenses for operation and possible construction costs.
In its calculations, the Bertelsmann Stiftung said it compared the childcare rates for daycare children in Hamburg in 2021 with the proportion of parents who expressed a need for childcare in the childcare study by the German Youth Institute (DJI) in the same year. Accordingly, the additional need for the care of children under the age of three is particularly great. In this age group, 47 percent of the children in Hamburg are cared for in day-care centers. According to the needs analysis, 53 percent should be. According to the study, 3,200 new places are needed just to close this gap; a further 500 places are missing for children from the age of three.
The study also criticized the fact that 69 percent of Hamburg's day-care center children were cared for in groups whose staff ratio did not correspond to scientific recommendations. The staff ratio in the crèches is 1 to 4.1 – a full-time specialist takes care of 4.1 children. Nationwide, the ratio is 1 to 3.9. The Bertelsmann Foundation recommends a ratio of 1 to 3. If this recommendation were to be followed in the coming year, a total of around 6,200 additional specialists would have to be employed, which would result in personnel costs of over 271 million euros per year.
However, it is currently difficult to expand the range of daycare facilities. "The biggest hurdle on the way to enough places and child-friendly staff ratios in the daycare centers remains the lack of skilled workers," explained Kathrin Bock-Famulla, an expert in early childhood education at the Bertelsmann Foundation. "Even the lack of staff for the necessary expansion of space cannot be recruited and qualified by 2023."
On the other hand, Hamburg's elementary schools breathe a sigh of relief, there is reason to be happy. According to the IQB education trend 2021 presented this week at the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) in Berlin, Hamburg is in sixth place overall - the best result achieved so far.
The competences of fourth graders in the areas of math, reading, listening and spelling were examined nationwide. "Hamburg can set itself apart from the bad federal trend," said school senator Ties Rabe (SPD). "No other federal state has improved as much as Hamburg in the last ten years."
For years, the city-states of Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen formed the final trio. "In 2011, the performance of the Hamburg schoolchildren averaged 14th place across all subjects in a comparison of all 16 federal states." The improvement is encouraging, he said. "But there is still a lot to do."
Across Germany, the proportion of students who met the "regular standards" fell compared to the last study in 2016. For comparison: In the first study in 2011, Hamburg was in 14th place on average across all subjects, according to the school authorities. According to the educational trend, Hamburg was one of the few countries, along with Bremen and Rhineland-Palatinate, in which the results in the skills areas of reading, spelling and math remained largely unchanged. Only when listening was it significantly lower in Hamburg than in 2016.
The PISA follow-up study has been examining the competencies of pupils in the last year of primary school every five years since 2011 using a standard set by the KMK and depicting them on a 500-point scale.
When reading, a value of 479 was determined for the Hamburg fourth graders – only the primary school children in Bavaria and Saxony (496 each) did better. In spelling, the Hamburg schoolchildren achieved 472 points, eighth nationwide. In math, the Hamburgers were exactly on the national average with 462 points and also in eighth place; while listening with 464 points, worse than in 2016, but still in fifth place in a country comparison.
According to the school authorities, Hamburg's fourth graders were tested for the current educational trend immediately after the end of the corona lockdown in May 2021. In the "Reading" category, Hamburg improved from 14th to 3rd place, in the "Listening" category from 13th to 5th place. In "Spelling" it rose from 13th to 8th place and in the "Mathematics" category from 14th place 8th place
A lot has been done in the past, according to Ties Rabe. "We specifically support weaker students, for example with free tutoring, additional study holidays, additional language support and more teachers, but also through free all-day offers and pre-school offers." In addition, they consistently focus on performance: with more exams in spelling, regular learning status checks, school inspections and central final exams, according to the school senator.