Innovation in education

All-day Schooling in Düsseldorf, Germany


By Mareike Schnitter and Kristin-Susanne Häselhoff, Architects Schnitter + Häselhoff, Germany

Düsseldorf, the capital of Nordrhein-Westfalen, is one German city applying the concept of all-day schooling. The facilities needed for an all-day school are described below, as well as the conversion of one of Düsseldorf’s 72 primary schools for this purpose.

Nordrhein-Westfalen devised its own concept of all-day schools to develop the quality and quantity of primary education as a collaborative effort with the local community. This westernmost state of Germany covers 34 084 square kilometres and counts 18 000 000 inhabitants. Authorities took the all-day schooling initiative in response to a national study carried out by the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment in 2002. Comparing the individual states, or Bundesländer, the PISA-E study made it clear that Nordrhein-Westfalen needed to take action to avoid jeopardising its children’s future chances in life. By the 2007/08 academic year, one in four primary school students in the state should have access to all-day schooling.


 Maxschule's kitchen and dining area

The aim of all-day schooling is for education, as a process, to once again be seen as a whole, rather than split into two separate parts: academic tuition on the one hand, and care on the other hand. As well as a hot meal at lunchtime and help with homework, the new all-day schools (Offene Ganztagschulen) propose a host of educational activities such as sport, graphic art, literature, theatre, dance, music and nature outings. All-day schools offer working parents a reliable childcare solution until 4 pm and in many cases until 5 pm. This also applies on days when there is no school, including six-weeks summer holidays. In addition, the Land has agreed to finance a number of hours of special needs teaching.

The schools’ partners in this context are voluntary youth organisations, parish churches, bodies set up by the youth welfare office, lobby groups and parent associations promoting a high standard of educational childcare.

All-day schooling started in Düsseldorf in 2003/04, and at the beginning of the 2006/07 academic year, 65 mainstream and seven special needs schools had all-day places for 4 665 children. Düsseldorf, with a population of around 580 000, recently experienced a boom in all-day schooling. In 2006, mainstream and special needs primary schools at 43 locations within the city either switched to all-day schooling or increased the number of places already available.

The total cost of building work in relation to all-day schools in Düsseldorf in 2006 was approximately EUR 7.5 million, and further work is planned for the next academic year. Those plans concern constructing new buildings and converting existing ones.

As the first step in the planning process, the city real estate department stipulates the surface area required and fixes the financial limits. Detailed standards are then set for the flooring, wall-coverings, soundproof ceilings, and sanitary and heating equipment.

Facilities for all-day schools

The following rooms are required for all-day schools: a kitchen, a dining area, group rooms and a staff room. The kitchen can be integrated into the dining area or the group rooms, in which case extra lighting is necessary.

The size of the group rooms depends on the building. When new buildings are planned, approximately 2.5 square meters are calculated per student. Where existing buildings are converted for all-day use, the size is limited by spare space. As every group must have its own room, the space available actually determines the number of places for all-day students (a maximum of 25 students form one group).

Playgrounds are required as well, thus the schoolyards are often refurbished with new play facilities.

Existing school auditoriums and gymnasiums can serve as multifunctional rooms for the all-day school.



 Maxschule, façade of the registered building


Case study: Maxschule

A building in the historic section of Düsseldorf was one to be converted in 2006 into a school, Maxschule, for all-day use. The work enabled 50 additional students to take up all-day schooling.

Before planning permission could be granted, detailed negotiations had to be conducted with the heritage authority, the fire brigade and the city building regulations department. The building failed to comply with the fire regulations and had to be completely transformed according to fire-protection guidelines and on the advice of the fire brigade. Fireproof ceilings were fitted, and fire escapes and emergency exits provided. Because it is a registered historic building, fire escapes on the outside are prohibited. Consequently, the relatively narrow staircases had to be fitted with smoke detection equipment.

 Maxschule’s attic, before work began
   Group room in the attic after renovation

During the building work, the school management, parent representatives and the architects co-operated closely on the colour scheme and choice of materials. The idea was to make the rooms look less like school and more like home. The wooden roof beams were left bare, and homey colours were chosen for the walls and floors. The rooms themselves are versatile and have cosy areas, rugs, reading corners, etc.

In theory, work on all-day schools should be carried out during the six-week summer holidays, a tight deadline which presented an enormous challenge for renovating this historic building. This required a great amount of flexibility, co-ordination, and commitment on the part of the building contractors and all those involved in the planning process.

For further information, contact:
Mareike Schnitter and Kristin-Susanne Häselhoff, Architects
Architects Schnitter + Häselhoff
Beethovenstr. 5
40233 Düsseldorf
Tel.: 0049.211.440 34 80
[email protected]


Related Documents