Mith the beginning of the new year, Berlin’s Education Senator Astrid-Sabine Busse (SPD) will take over the presidency of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK). She shares the fate of her predecessor, who had to survive an election in her own country in the year of her presidency. Everything went well for Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister of Education, Karin Prien (CDU), and there were no doubts in the north-west that she would remain in office.
In February, the election will take place in the capital. Busse was the headmistress of an elementary school in a hotspot area, and she is a political career changer. Her strangeness to the political establishment cannot be overlooked, even though she has been in office for a year now.
As a native of Berlin, she finds it difficult not always to speak plain language, but to weigh her words. She has become more cautious in the first year of her senatorship. As chairwoman of the interest group for Berlin school administrations, she was able to say a lot more openly.
Headmasters in Berlin with freedom of choice
For the year of the KMK’s presidency, she has chosen a focus topic that is close to her heart as a former headmistress: the further development of all-day schools. There are around 50 all-day primary schools and 146 all-day schools in Berlin. Binding quality standards for inclusive all-day schools came into force at the start of the school year. “All-day school doesn’t mean school in the morning and after-school care in the afternoon – I find that word horrible,” says Busse of the FAZ. The aim of every school must be to develop a good pedagogical concept with a rhythmic day for the children.
“This includes sporting and musical activities and breaks in which the children can eat a healthy and delicious lunch and also play.” They should also have the opportunity to withdraw if they are spending the entire day together. A good all-day offer for everyone considers buses desirable.
Since the headmasters in Berlin have much more decision-making leeway than in other countries and also have their own budget, there are many options for an all-day offer. “Every school in Berlin has the opportunity to invest a portion of its budget in targeted afternoon activities.” They could work with sports clubs that are geared towards the schools and thus not prevent physical activity in the club, or they could also cooperate with youth centers.
Closer cooperation with the Conference of Family Ministers
Because the Standing Scientific Commission (SWK) also took early childhood education into account in its primary school report, Busse wants to work more closely with the Conference of Family Ministers (JFMK). “The JFMK is a little overshadowed by the KMK, and there is only one big conference a year.” She therefore suggested to her successor, Brandenburg’s Education Minister Britta Ernst (SPD), that the KMK and JFMK meet together once, because the ministers work more closely together should. After all, children don’t just learn in school, but in daycare.
“I’ve been to many day-care centers and have seen that fine motor skills such as handling scissors or tying a bow are trained there at an early age,” she reports. Kindergarten children should also develop numerical concepts. But they also built up social and language skills there, for example in conflicts among themselves and the corresponding solutions.
In Berlin there have been compulsory language proficiency surveys for a long time and also corresponding support. When asked why the capital is not enforcing the mandatory tests and subsequent support for those in need, Busse says: “The sanctioning is in the hands of the districts. If a family has been written to three times, some districts give up.” But these are exceptions. She would like Berlin to follow Hamburg’s example and test so early that there is still enough time before school starts to prepare the children well enough for the start of school. “Re-establishing the entrance classes that used to be common would be impossible for reasons of space alone.”
In the summer, the KMK intends to present the fields of action for primary schools that follow from the recommendations of the SWK. At least the many teachers in the country, who are fed up with getting new instructions from politicians, cannot accuse her of not knowing what she is talking about.