Already the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) said: “Saupere aude - Habe Mut dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen”(“Be brave to use your own mind”). But for this an extensive education is necessarily. This fact underlines the importance of a wellfunctioning education system. A great amount of approaches all over the world toward this topic exits and this essays aim is to present the Saxon one.
To achieve this, the essay will start with structure of the education system of Saxony. This contains, among other information, the learning-aims, achievable graduations and selectable profiles of elementary schools, secondary schools, academic high schools, and schools for gifted pupils as well as schools for pupils with special needs. In this context the function of the orientation classes will be also explained. Subsequently the administrative structure of the Saxon education systems will be presented. This includes important tasks of the Minister of educational and cultural affairs as well as his ministry, the 5 subordinate education authorities and the structure of 2 last mentioned. The tasks and qualification of headmasters will be particularly emphasised in order to underline their importance for the Saxon education system. Based on this the significant findings of the “Programme for International Student Assessment” 2006 (PISA) as well as of the “Bildungsmonitor” 2010 will be presented. In conclusion all important facts will be summarized. If current challenges and priorities are traceable in an area will these constitute in the end of a chapter.
The structure of the Saxon education-system
The structure of the Saxon school educational system is characterized due to a strong differentiation among the types of schools and ways to achieve a graduation. A current priority for the German educational policy in general is to simplify the education system toward amount of kinds of schools as well as the ways on which a student can graduate. To implement these is a challenge, because the described fact has a long tradition in the German education system. (Klánová et. al., 2006)
The elementary school
Despite the above mentioned strong differentiation the primary school is the beginning of the school career for every pupil. The enrolment occurs in the age of 6, when the pupil is born before the 30th of July and passes the aptitude test toward skills, which are needed to handle the requirements of the primary school, for example the ability to understand and speak German. If these requirements are not fulfilled the age of enrolment are 7. Primary schools cooperate closely with kindergartens in order to alleviate the access into the school years. The aim of this type of school is to impart in the first 4 school years knowledge, which is needed for further education, for example in the areas of mathematics, German as well as local history and geography. The decision-making toward the future type of school, either secondary or academic high school, is after the first term of the 4th class. These are based on the previous school achievements, which are measured on the current grades, the commendation of the class teacher as well as the wish of the pupils’ parents. A grade point average of 2, 5 is enough to get an access into an academic high school. The priority in this area is to change the current praxis of the early selection toward the school career of a pupil, because an age of 10 was identified as too early for such a serious matter by several studies, for example in the findings of the “Bildungsmonitor 2007” . Despite this fact, a huge resistance against a change in this area is traceable, because this will cause high costs. The reason for this is that this modification is linked with a basically change of the education of elementary-school teachers and the structure of the education system in general, which would also take a great amount of years to implement. Therefore the intended change is a challenge. (Ibid.)
The orientation classes
Independent from the chosen type of school the 5th and 6th class have an oriental function. According to the standing conference of the ministers of education and cultural affairs the aims are to provide differenced arrangements in order to foster the pupils’ individual school capabilities and to balance different prerequisites to learn. Another goal is to monitor learning proceedings of the pupils. Therefore the curriculum and the requirements of secondary and academic high schools are similar, for example every pupil has to begin to learn the first foreign language in the 5th class. Hence it is possible to change the type of school after the 6th class. For pupils of secondary schools a grade point of average of 2, 5 are enough to alter into an academic high school. Furthermore a pupil of academic high school must alter into a secondary school, when the achieved performances implicate that pupils cognitive capabilities are not adequately with the requirements of the currently attempted type of school.(Ibid.)
The secondary school
The aims of secondary schools are to impair basic and vocational preparatory knowledge. After the 6th class pupils are divided into different kinds of secondary schools. Pupils of the intermediate secondary schools graduate after the 10th class with a state-wide central exam. In contrast pupils of the secondary general schools graduate with the end of the 9th class, also with a central exam. Furthermore they are the option to finish the secondary general school after the 9th class without an exam and qualification. If a pupil stays down more than 3 times in one class he or she can leave the secondary general school before the 9th class is finished without a qualification, because the compulsory attendance is 9 years. Furthermore pupils have to choose after the 6th class a profile, which emphasize the development of specific skills, for example for domestic economy. After secondary school people have the opportunity to start the vocational education or to attend vocational schools with higher education entrance. For the last mentioned option an above average intermediate secondary school certificate is needed. As problem was identified that pupils, who leave the school before or with the end of the 9th class has mostly only a slim chance to find a apprenticeship place, because very basic skills are often missing. Furthermore they are stigmatised as simple. Therefore a current priority of the Saxon education system is to improve the quality, outcomes and reputation of this kind of school. This is a challenge, because the way of teaching as well as the reputation is strongly embedded in the German educating system and the society. (Ibid.)
The academic high school
Academic high schools have the aim to impair knowledge and skills, which are needed to accomplish the standards of universities. Therefore the requirements are higher in comparison to secondary schools. After the 6th class the pupils have to choose the second foreign language and after 7th class a profile, which strengthen the development of skills in a specific area, for example art, languages or natural sciences. The secondary level I ends with the pass of final exams of the 10th class, which are in structure and graduation basically comparable with those of the secondary school. The beginning of the secondary level II is linked with a huge amount of changes in the school life of the pupils. For example the continuous school classes were substitute by course groups, which differ toward the formation from subject to subject.