Better digital equipment needed Parents in Bonn criticise schools in lockdown

Bonn · Photographed math book pages, unusual hours: Bonn parents criticise that there was hardly any distance learning or checking of tasks during the lockdown. The school staff is demanding better digital equipment for teachers.

 Learning from home was the order of the day during the lockdown. Not all parents were happy with the care provided by the teachers.

Learning from home was the order of the day during the lockdown. Not all parents were happy with the care provided by the teachers.

Foto: dpa/Stefan Puchner

When schools in NRW close down for the big summer holidays today, most schoolchildren experience, in reality, little change in their current everyday lives. As a recent survey of 1000 parents by two West German educational researchers shows(,) in some subjects not even half of the children surveyed have had personal contact with subject teachers since the schools closed in mid-March. In Bonn, too, in their calls for help to the GA editorial office, parents criticise not only the lack of technical equipment in the schools, but also the lack of commitment on the part of teachers during the Corona crisis.

Father documents 248 lessons not taught

The father of a fifth grader at the Carl von Ossietzky grammar school, for example, kept meticulous records. For the period from 16 March to the end of May, he listed 248 missed lessons. During this period, there were a dozen video conferences instead, with a maximum of 45 minutes duration in the classroom - four each in Math and English, two each in German and Spanish. A total of ten papers submitted were returned corrected. There is no sign of any effort to reduce the massive drop-out in class through online teaching or careful feedback.

A mother reports that her daughter was once sent two pages photographed from the Math book by her math teacher. Another time she received a video with the remark that if she had seen it, she would have understood everything. „That was it for the whole time the school was closed," claims the mother and asks cynically: "What do we need teachers for?

Another mother also complains: "It is hardly the parents' job to fulfill the teaching duties." Teachers at the comprehensive school in Beuel refused to send work assignments directly to the email addresses of two children in grade 7 and 9, despite their explicit request. It is not too much to ask that teachers get in direct contact with the students and also get direct feedback for understanding and learning success.

Moreover, the material was not collected, but emailed at changing times of day and night. Instead of clear work assignments and encouragement, one Math teacher said that the material was probably not feasible as a new topic anyway, "but they should just do their Math and possibly Google“.

The mother of a primary school pupil also states: "Often homework was only sent by e-mail. Performance check-ups were carried out on the initiative of the class teacher. This varies partly within a school, but also in the comparison of schools among themselves". Real online teaching did not even exist due to the lack of an e-learning platform and digital equipment.

Several parents are particularly unsympathetic to the fact that some schools have insisted on the movable bridge days on Fridays after Ascension Day and Corpus Christi after the start of rolling classroom instruction. For some children, the only additional day of instruction of the week was cancelled on two weeks.

Andreas Beutgen, as chairman of the Bonn School Board, is the city's highest parent representative. He does not express sweeping criticism of the teachers. The technical equipment is a major problem, he says. In some schools, only 60 percent of the students or parents even have e-mail addresses. The Ministry of Education has imposed full responsibility for data protection on teachers when they contact their students from their home PCs.

When switching to distance learning, they were largely left alone. The Bonn schools should be made fit for hybrid teaching by the city as the responsible body. In the future, we must be able to allow pupils who are ill or in quarantine to participate in lessons via video chat," Beutgen demands.

Rolf Haßelkus, chairman of the city association of the teachers' union GEW, says: "Those padagogues who wanted avoid homeschooling and limited attendance classes, had the opportunity to do so," he says. Some of them needed support. Besides better technical equipment, the schools needed paid administrators. Distance learning also had to be regulated by data protection and labour law. At the secondary school where Haßelkus teaches, two hours of fixed consultation time per week were introduced during the lockdown.

GEW state chair Maike Finnen expressed herself more militant. With regard to the current call by Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer to prepare schools for attendance lessons at a distance after the holidays, she said: "After the burdens of the last few months", she said that teachers now first of all "need holidays and recreation (...) urgently".

(Original text: Martin Wein and Lisa Inhoffen;Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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