University of Tübingen: First lockdown: a third of all students had no contact with the school

Around 30 percent of all students in Germany had no regular contact with their schools during the first corona-related school closings in spring 2020. It was therefore not possible to maintain contact, particularly in rural regions. In addition, only around 25 percent of schoolchildren in rural Germany received learning materials as part of online lessons while schools were closed – in cities it was around 60 percent. This is shown by the school management study “Leadership in German Schools (LineS)”, which is representative for Germany and is carried out jointly by scientists from the Universities of Tübingen, Lüneburg and the University of Education of the Northwestern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences.

The corona crisis hit schools in Germany unprepared and presented them with new challenges. In particular, repeated closings and the discontinuation of face-to-face classes resulted in many students losing contact with their teachers. In addition, new forms of learning and teaching had to be introduced at short notice, which differ from traditional forms of teaching.

In the study between April and June 2020, a total of 306 randomly selected school administrators of general schools were surveyed. As they reported, only about three out of four school children (71 percent) in Germany had regular contact with their school during the school closings in spring 2020, i.e. at least once a week. In rural regions (school locations with fewer than 3,000 inhabitants), only three out of five students (60 percent) were in regular contact.

Communication with pupils mostly took place in direct exchange with their teachers (89 percent), for example by telephone, a messenger service or by making material available on learning platforms (75 percent). Learning together in small groups (41 percent) or even in class (33 percent), on the other hand, rarely took place during the school closings in spring 2020. In this regard, there are clear differences between schools in rural and urban areas: In rural regions, for example, joint learning in small groups only took place in 19 percent of all schools, and joint learning in class only in 16 percent of all schools.

Clear differences during the first nationwide school closings in spring 2020 can be found with a view to teaching: While around 60 percent of all schools in cities and metropolitan areas offered learning materials as part of online lessons, only 27 percent of schools in rural areas chose this route. Instead, they provided for pupils primarily by providing learning materials before the school closed (88 percent) and by providing material while the school was closed (74 percent).

Nationwide, school heads across all regions report a lack of digital equipment in schools and parental homes, which has severely impaired distance learning. “To what extent the schools have in the meantime succeeded in learning from the situation last year for the most recent school closings in 2021 must be shown in a follow-up study,” says Prof. Dr. Colin Cramer, who is supervising the study at the University of Tübingen. A corresponding study, which is expected to take place in summer or autumn 2021, is in preparation.

Comments are closed.