Domestic report: Germany

By Stefan Grosse, July 2015

All in all, Waldorf schools in Germany have a total of about 83’000 pupils and employ 9000 teachers.

The number of schools has been stable or only slightly increasing over a longer period of time. All towns with 100’000 inhabitants or more have at least one Waldorf  school, with the exception of two cities: Regensburg and Ingolstadt. Both cities foster Waldorf initiatives, though.

State funding covers roughly 66.6% of the running costs. The missing 33.3% are obtained through parents’ contributions, reduced teachers’ salaries, reduced teachers’ pensions and highly economical school management.

Upper school/ final exams (Abitur) 

Final exams are taken in 13th grade. Around 63% of our pupils obtain university or college (Fachhochschule) entrance exams (state schools 49%), without repeating classes as a rule. This makes Waldorf schools outstandingly successful in comparison to public schools. Obviously this is one the cornerstones of success of the Waldorf movement in Germany. Of course, curricula in the upper grades had to be adapted, compromises had to be reckoned with. All in all not too severe, but undeniable, nonetheless.

Waldorf teacher training colleges

There are 10 teacher training colleges maintained by the Waldorf movement in Germany. An 11th is independent yet in close cooperation with the national association  : Alanus.  Stuttgart and Alanus are state-approved and are allowed to issue state-approved certificates and diplomas that enable graduates to teach in Waldorf schools. These two license other colleges to issue certificates. Witten has reached an agreement with the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, that their graduates may teach in the Waldorf schools of NRW.

The colleges are financed by the Bund (national association of Waldorf schools), with the exception of Alanus, which is more or less completely financed by SAG-Foundation, (Software-AG-Stiftung). Alanus is one of the largest colleges and not only engaged in teacher training, but also offering other courses of study.

Waldorf teacher training colleges have always had quite a few foreign students, who pay their fees. The rest, which is the lion’s share, is paid by the Bund.

The German Waldorf association

The association is subdivided into 11 regional divisions: The two largest sections are Baden-Württemberg with 57, and North Rhine-Westphalia with 35 schools.

Federal council

The regions are organized in a sort of federal council, called „Bundeskonferenz“. It has to advise the board on all issues and find candidates as well as organize the election of the board, which takes place every three years.

Board of directors, managers, offices

The board has 7 members, who work part-time (40%) for the association. They are supported by 4 managers, who have full-time employment.

The head-office is in Stuttgart and houses

  • the pedagogical research centre, (support und survey of research, publishing of textbooks)
  • the legal section, (arbitration board, legal questions on qualification procedures, international trademark rights for „Waldorf“ and „Rudolf Steiner“,  general issues on school law).
  • the Waldorf foundation,
  • the editorial office of our journal „Erziehungskunst“ (a monthly periodical with a run of 70’000 copies and free distribution to our parents).

The branch in Hamburg accommodates the office for public relations.

The budget of this section has been recently increased; one reason is the preparation and organization for the 2019 Waldorf centenary celebration. This is being organized by an international initiative. We hope that over the next four years, we can awaken a worldwide consciousness for new ideas in education  and let it culminate in a festival that will take place from 7th to 19th September 2019 (the venue is still open).

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