Press Release

German School Barometer: More and more children worry about their family's financial situation

  • Representative survey by the Robert Bosch Stiftung shows child poverty is clearly growing. 
  • Further results: Student behavior and the high workload are currently the biggest challenges for teachers in German schools. 
  • Teacher shortage: Two-thirds of part-time teachers would be willing to increase their workload – but only under certain conditions.

Stuttgart/Berlin, Sept. 20, 2023 – More and more children and young people are concerned about the financial situation of their families. These are the findings of the German School Barometer published today by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH. According to the representative survey of teachers in Germany, child poverty has visibly increased across the population compared to the 2021/22 school year, particularly in places where people are socially disadvantaged. In addition to concerns about parents' financial situation (33 percent; in socially difficult situations: 48 percent), one in three teachers observes more frequently that students lack school materials (37 percent; in socially difficult situations: 64 percent) and come to school without breakfast (30 percent; in socially difficult situations: 54 percent). Fewer children and adolescents also take part in extracurricular activities (29 percent; in socially difficult situations: 51 percent) and participate less frequently in school retreats (24 percent; in socially difficult situations: 37 percent).

"Children living in poverty too often become adults living in poverty. This cycle must be broken," says Dr. Dagmar Wolf, Head of Education at the Robert Bosch Stiftung. "Lack of money at home prevents young people from participating in social and cultural life. This also has an impact on psychosocial health. In addition to a basic needs-based child allowance, we therefore need educators to take a poverty-sensitive attitude. They must not only be able to recognize the effects of poverty on children and young people, but also to counteract stigmatization."

Teachers observe fears and are concerned their students have trouble concentrating

Student behavior (34 percent) and their own workload (31 percent) are currently the biggest challenges for teachers. More than three-quarters observe concentration problems in their classes (81 percent; 2022: 80 percent) and complain about the excessive use of online media (79 percent; at elementary schools already 66 percent). Almost one in three teachers (31 percent) also perceive anxiety among children and young people. Motivation problems (70 percent; 2022: 80 percent), aggressive behavior (27 percent; 2022: 39 percent) and unexcused absences (15 percent; 2022: 38 percent) have decreased compared to the surveys during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Two-thirds of part-time teachers surveyed would be willing to increase their hours – but only under certain conditions

Since the beginning of the year, measures to alleviate the acute shortage of teachers have been under discussion. Among other things, increasing the working hours of part-time teachers has been proposed as a short-term solution. Against this backdrop, 38 percent of respondents say they currently work part time. Two-thirds are basically willing to increase their working hours ¬– among those under 40, the figure is as high as 73 percent. However, only under certain conditions. Among other things, they call for a change in the current workload model, the so-called Deputatsmodell, to one that reflects actual working hours and takes into account tasks outside the classroom (73 percent). Less family caregiving work (40 percent) and a better care situation for their own children (26 percent) are further prerequisites for teachers to be able to work more hours. 

"In our current school system, the shortage of teachers will not be solved by part-time teachers working more," Wolf says. "School as a workplace needs to become more attractive again. This includes taking teachers' concerns seriously and responding to their demands for reform. A comprehensive change in the working time model can take pressure off the system and would be a first step toward a sustainable education system."

Detailed results can be found in the German School Barometer. The latest survey polled teachers about additional topics, including the current status of digitalization and inclusive schooling.

About the German School Barometer 

To compile its German School Barometer, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has conducted regular representative surveys on the current situation of schools in Germany since 2019. For the latest survey, 1,032 teachers at general and vocational schools in Germany were polled by the opinion research institute forsa between June 13 and 23, 2023.

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