The Robert Bosch Stiftung

Zukunft Schule 1
Photo: Max Lautenschläger 
The Anne-Frank-Realschule in Munich is winner of the 2014 German School Award and was honored by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The Future of Schools

Through its activities related to schools, over the last thirty years the Robert Bosch Stiftung has established itself as an educational foundation in Germany. For example, the Foundation honors schools with the German School Award, today’s most well-known and challenging award for schools – an achievement that has won recognition in and beyond professional circles.
 

Leaving no child behind

The Foundation’s main goal in this field is ensuring that young people have fair starting conditions and receive personalized support, regardless of their background or social status. In this context, the Foundation is focused on students’ entire academic career, from early childhood education to elementary and secondary school, vocational training, and university. 

The Foundation achieved its first major success within the educational system back in the early 1980s. At the time, school projects such as after-school computer groups or story workshops were few and far between. Which is why the Foundation launched the Praktisches Lernen (practical learning) program, supporting around 400 projects which allowed children to learn in ways different from conveying abstract concepts in a classroom. Another of the Foundation’s areas of focus in the 1990s was the Healthy School program. By having breakfast together and participating in athletic activities offered during recess, children were introduced to a healthy lifestyle while still at school. The special aspect of this project was that the supported schools for the first time shared their experiences with partner schools and together formed a network of schools. This approach proved of value and today is the basis for numerous educational projects carried out by the Foundation.
 

Giving schools role models

When the shock of the PISA study ignited the social discussion regarding Germany’s educational landscape, the Robert Bosch Stiftung resolved to increase the profile of outstanding schools in Germany. Together with the Heidehof Stiftung, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has honored the best of them since 2006 with the German School Award. For this purpose, in 2005 the Foundation brought together an expert group of academics and school administrators who, based on a comprehensive understanding of education, together identified six areas which determine the quality of a school: academic achievement, dealing with diversity, quality of classroom instruction, responsibility, school life, and school as a learning institution. These criteria became the basis for evaluating schools when awarding the German School Award and in recent years have established themselves as characteristics of a good school. Since the launch of the German School Award, over 1,000 schools have participated in the competition. The award’s media partners are stern magazine and ARD public broadcasting. The first award ceremony led to wide-scale public attention when out of all the schools participating, an inner-city elementary school was selected as Germany’s best school. Former German president Horst Köhler presented the grand prize to the Kleine Kielstraße elementary school, and was so impressed with its work, that he paid the school a visit himself soon after. Educational researchers, school administrators, and politicians often pay visits to the schools that have won the award to see for themselves exactly what makes these schools stand out.

 

  

Learning from one another

The award winners of the past eight years prove that innovation in education in Germany comes directly from the real world – in fact, right from the schools themselves. This is why the Robert Bosch Stiftung also brings the winners together in the German School Award Academy, and connects them with other schools that have a desire to improve. More than 1,200 school representatives attended the events offered by the academy and the German School Award’s four regional teams last year alone. The academy has developed further support activities for the representatives, and the success speaks for itself: formats like the visitation program, the educational workshop, and the school laboratory have initiated school development processes at many schools, and are considered models for the successful transfer of good school practices.
 

A model that shines 

The German School Award and its quality criteria now serve as a model in many different aspects. Together with stern magazine, a guidebook for parents was published, and additional school awards have been established in the German state of Saarland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The Foundation incorporates the wealth of experience gained from collaborating with award-winning schools into many other projects. For example, the Foundation supports student teachers with its Studienkolleg and got school management teams ready for leadership and school development activities in its past pilot project Schulmanagement in Bildungsregionen (school management in education districts). In the School Turnaround project, the Foundation currently supports ten inner-city schools in high-need neighbourhoods in Berlin in cooperation with Berlin’s Senate Department for Education. In 2014 the Foundation opened the UWC Robert Bosch College in Freiburg, where 200 talented students from around the world live and learn together.

 

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Projects in the field of education

The Future of Schools is a focus area of the Foundation
in the field of education.