Depending on which state you live in, you only have to sleep one or three times, and then it's finally time for all teachers, students and parents to go on holiday! In terms of education policy, a turbulent year is coming to an end, which was exhausting for everyone involved.

It all started in January with a report by the Standing Scientific Commission (SWK), which presented six recommendations to the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany – and they were not really well received by all teachers. Fortunately, the same commission has now published another report on the same topic at the end of the year, which should appease most teachers somewhat. ("That's what's going on")

In between, the year has felt like a never-ending repeat of the same bad news. With the Igloo Study, the IQB Education Trend and, most recently, Pisa ("That's What's Going On"), our education system has been certified three times that it no longer teaches students sufficient basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic. In order to make the feeling of constant repetition perfect, the education ministries of the states and the federal government have been tenaciously negotiating the implementation of the Start Opportunities program for months.

Sometimes one was reminded of the comedy "Groundhog Day", in which a weather presenter has to relive the same day over and over again.

In the summer, the high school mishaps became more frequent. Before and after that, there were always water level reports about teachers who are missing or principals who don't want to go on. The whole thing was rounded off in December by a new forecast by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) on how many teachers will be missing in the future (perhaps, probably, really). After all, it is nice that the KMK was able to agree on the publication of the figures after a year of continued need for voting on them. And that she has had her own committee madness investigated, and promises to tackle this construction site. That's a conciliatory outlook for 2024!

How do you look forward to the new year? Please feel free to write to

Enjoy the days off, have a good start to the new year and stay healthy!

On behalf of the education team at SPIEGEL, Swantje Unterberg

What's going on

1. Every recommendation is an omission of the past

Germany is managing the shortage of teachers – at the expense of quality. Experts from the Standing Scientific Commission (SWK) have recommended concrete measures to the ministers of education and cultural affairs: admitting career changers with only one subject, introducing assistant teachers, moderating dual studies, reducing the burden of examinations and shortening the legal clerkship.

However, the colleague of the »Süddeutsche Zeitung« reports that young teachers think surprisingly little of the idea.

2. Promote cohesion

What to do if a brawl escalates in the schoolyard? My colleague Kristin Haug spoke with de-escalation trainer and focal point teacher Torsten Rheinschmitt. It helps teachers and children to behave correctly in the event of arguments.

3. Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs correct calculations

Shortly after the Pisa maths debacle, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs did the math again. According to the report, the teacher gap is much larger than expected: there will be a shortage of around 68,000 teachers in schools by 2035 – almost three times as many as previously predicted by the KMK.

4. Unprepared in class

Recognising letters of the alphabet or already reading a few words: Not even one in four children in Germany has basic reading skills when they start school. Educational researchers are calling for urgent countermeasures.

And so on

Of course, the Pisa debacle continued to occupy us after the first markup, which we had already presented to you in the previous educational newsletter on the day of publication. Here you can read our article on the German math disaster, get the best tips from the math influencers, find out what's different in math class with the Pisa winners, and dive into the accounts of five people who work and learn on the educational construction site every day.

Number of the week


That's how many billions of euros the federal, state and local governments spent in 2022, according to the Federal Statistical Office of Education.

This is an increase of 5.3 percent compared to the previous year. Converted to the total population, this amounted to 2090 euros per inhabitant. However, the share of education expenditure in GDP did not increase last year. This is criticized by the scientific director of the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Hans Böckler Foundation. "The Pisa study, as well as the experience of the pandemic, have shown that extensive and constant investments are urgently needed," says Bettina Kohlrausch.

Debate of the week

Should civil servant teachers be allowed to strike?

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled: The ban on strikes for civil servant teachers is lawful. Four teachers had filed a lawsuit against it. They went on strike in 2009 and 2010 for better working conditions. But since they were civil servants, they should not have stopped working. Among other things, they were fined 100 and 300 euros respectively.

The education union GEW, which had supported the teachers in the lawsuit, spoke of a "disappointing decision". The DGB also regretted the ruling. Both unions expect the federal and state governments to further develop civil service law. "The judges emphasise the importance of participation rights as compensation for the lack of the right to strike. This is where we have to start and strengthen these rights," said GEW chairwoman Maike Finnern. The civil servant relationship is not a one-way street," said Elke Hannack, deputy chairwoman of the DGB.

The German civil servants' association dbb, on the other hand, accused the GEW of having sued for "purely dogmatic reasons" – and welcomed the decision. The dbb shares the legal opinion that the civil servant relationship does not allow for "cherry-picking". The German Philologists' Association (DPhV) was also very satisfied with the defeat of the GEW. This gives the state "the opportunity to reliably deploy teachers in schools," said federal chairwoman Susanne Lin-Klitzing.

News from SPIEGEL Ed

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That's it for this time. Thank you for your interest. We are taking a short break at the turn of the year, the next issue of this newsletter will be published on January 16th. If you have a topic that is close to your heart, you can reach us at