No special incidents: This is the answer given by most ministries of education to the question of whether there are increasing problems in schools due to the escalation of the Middle East conflict. This surprised me at first, but it corresponds to the logic of educational and regulatory measures. Most of it is done by the schools among themselves, instead of going to the ministry.

However, the Federal Government's Commissioner for Anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, has been calling for years for a nationwide obligation to report anti-Semitic incidents at schools, such as those in Berlin, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse.

Of course, the Middle East conflict is still a topic in schools (as we have already reported in detail in our special newsletter). The ministries know that this is a challenge, support teachers with material collections, didactic advice, links to specialist agencies and school psychologists, offer seminars and online consultations at short notice – and call for a decisive fight against anti-Semitism.

But many Jews in the country of the perpetrators of the past are once again living in fear, as we have researched together with a team from the capital office. You can read the text from the current issue of SPIEGEL here . What schools have failed to do in the fight against anti-Semitism is the subject of the "Debate of the Week".

Since all other challenges in schools do not simply disappear while the Middle East conflict dominates the news, it is still about the latest education news ("That's what's going on").

We look forward to your suggestions and feedback. Please feel free to write to

For the education team at SPIEGEL
Herzlich, Swantje Unterberg

What's going on

1. German pfui, English hui

One of the most important school performance tests in Germany shows how bad the German language skills of pupils are – once again. This time, the focus is on the school performance of the ninth grade. You can read our analysis of the IQB education trend here. And my colleague Silke Fokken has commented on what the real scandal is about the disastrous results.

In an interview with Jan-Martin Wiarda, IQB director Petra Stanat talks about the violent results and the search for the causes. The education journalist's blog can be found here.

Incidentally, it was not only the drop in performance in German that was severe, but also the increase in English. The pleasing aspect that the kids speak English better than ever is the subject of a detailed article by Martin Spiewak in »Die Zeit«, as you can read here.

My colleague Lisa Pham took a look at what is already happening in Hamburg to compensate for language deficits in children before the first grade.

2. From high school to a deprived school

Are you familiar with the "happ-and-snap" rule and stop-cleanup? We were able to listen to two teachers who talked about their experiences after a week of school swapping between a so-called hotspot school and a Protestant grammar school – an interesting exchange that included impressive examples of educational inequality.

3. Neglected special schools

There is a shortage of teachers almost everywhere, but only rarely does the situation at special education schools come into focus, as the »Süddeutsche Zeitung« writes. The problem is particularly acute here – because disabled or chronically ill children are dependent on close care.

4. Disoriented pupils

Generation Z has a particularly difficult time when it comes to career orientation. The author Ronja Ebeling took a look at what needs to happen so that she doesn't lose herself completely.

Number of the week


What all-day offers at German primary schools look like has so far varied. In order to put an end to the worst uncontrolled growth, the 16 Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs have now agreed on twelve recommendations for more quality.

Debate of the week: Is enough being done to combat anti-Semitism in schools?

The list from Saxony, Berlin and Lower Saxony is just as impressive as those from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria, Thuringia or Hamburg: Most of the federal states have long-standing programs and training courses on the subject of anti-Semitism, cooperate with memorial sites, promote encounters and have anchored Judaism and the Holocaust in the curricula or at least created points of contact for the topics. They don't see any omissions, they say when asked. But how does this go together with the fear that Jews in Germany are feeling again and the conflicts that are also being waged in schools?

There is no shortage of good teaching materials, says Elke Gryglewski, managing director of the Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation, to which the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp belongs. A major deficit in the fight against anti-Semitism is that "many multipliers lack self-reflection on the extent to which they are part of this problem." This applies not only to teachers, but also to judges and social workers. "We are socialized in a society where anti-Semitic images are part of the culture," says Gryglewski. In order to become aware of this, even more training is needed.

It is true that there are higher approval ratings for anti-Semitic statements in Muslim communities than among non-Muslims, as a research evaluation by the TU Berlin on behalf of the Media Service Integration shows. However, this does not apply to historical revisionism. Anyone who now focuses exclusively on Muslim young people is externalizing the problem, says Gryglewski. Most of the young migrants are socialized here. "In many places, the approach to history does not differ from that of young people without a migration background, because the temporal distance is the same for all of them," says Gryglewski.

More on this topic

  • Hatred of Jews among Muslims and migrants: Has German politics underestimated this anti-Semitism for years?

  • SPIEGEL Education Newsletter:War in the ClassroomBy Miriam Olbrisch

  • After the Terror against Israel: Middle East in the SchoolyardBy Susmita Arp, Armin Himmelrath and Swantje Unterberg

Muna Tatari, an Islamic scholar from Paderborn, on the other hand, blames excessive demands for the fact that too little is often said about the Middle East conflict in schools. Teachers fear the escalation, she says in an interview with my colleagues Katrin Elger and Asia Haidar.

At the association level, the issue of anti-Semitism is given varying degrees of weight, as my colleague Lisa Duhm has researched. Suggestions from teachers to do more against anti-Semitic tendencies have been fading away for years, criticises Gerhard Brand, national chairman of the Association of Education and Training (VBE). He assumes a high number of unreported anti-Semitic incidents because those affected did not dare to report them. "Studies show that teachers are not adequately trained in either training or continuing education to recognize such incidents in time and to accompany them sensitively."

Brand calls for a rethink of how we deal with the issue. "One hour of history or politics a week is simply not enough. Anti-Semitism must be addressed and fought at the point where it occurs." After all, such incidents occur not only in the classroom, but also in the schoolyard or in the sports hall.

According to Ulf Roedde, political education on the subject of anti-Semitism is also clearly neglected in German schools. Roedde is a member of the executive board of the Education and Science Union, which represents around 280,000 people in educational institutions nationwide. Since the beginning of Hamas' attack on Israel, Roedde has already received several dozen calls for help from teachers, asking for guidance on how to properly deal with anti-Semitic incidents in the context of the war.

Roedde's demand: There is an urgent need for more further training opportunities for teachers and additional counselling centres on how to deal with anti-Semitism in schools.

Stefan Düll, chairman of the German Teachers' Association, takes a different view. The lecturers could deal competently with the topic. The schools are "a quiet and safe place thanks to the prompt response of teachers to possible anti-Semitic incidents," says Düll. Problems tended to take place outside the classroom.

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And what else?

The first weeks of the new school year are over, the first tests have been written and corrected, and the shock in some places is great: everything was still good in elementary school, the child shone with ones and twos and learning was apparently easy for him. Then came the change to high school – and the child only performs satisfactorily or even inadequately. Is this normal or do I have to worry, some parents and children are now wondering. I would like to research the answers and am looking for parents and students to tell me about their experiences with the change to the Gymnasium. Feel free to write to me at