Since the introduction of education standards assessment studies in Europe, Germany's schools have taken a caning for reported inadequacies. An independent report suggests claims of shortcomings may be unfair.
German kids are not so educationally neglected after all
The study conducted by the business magazine Capital and Microsoft Deutschland revealed that rather than needing to feel shame-faced, German schools can in fact hold their own with schools in other European countries.
Researchers conducting the survey spoke to every German school which offers its pupils the chance to graduate with a high school diploma, but only 20 percent agreed to take part.
Mädchen in einer Schule
By means of comparison, they also surveyed 200 top schools in other European countries, with an unexpected outcome.
"We were surprised how well our schools did against their European counterparts," said Kai Stepp, the editor of Capital, adding that only one school from another European country would have made it under the top 10 German schools.
"We did much better than expected," he said.
The majority of Germany's top educational establishments are in Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, but the top school is situated in Baden-Württemberg.
Extensive range of extras
Although on average, class sizes in German schools are larger than in other countries, and teachers are often older, schools here offer a broader learning spectrum than their European neighbors.
In the main, German pupils have access to a colorful palette of extra-curricular activities, ranging from languages, environmental projects, art or music. And it does not only apply to the expensive private schools.
"The results showed that excellent schools with fantastic equipment and dedicated staff don't necessarily correspond to a type of school," Stepp said. "Among the top ranking schools was a comprehensive, but also private schools."
Money doesn't always talk
Although there is no denying what money can buy when it comes to classroom and school equipment, it is not the be all and end all of educational success. What is often more important is whether pupils have access to the working world, whether they do internships and know how to write a good job application.
And of course, the attitude of the teaching staff and the school directors is decisive to the success of the minors in their tutelage.
But Stepp said another influential factor is the social environment in the school -- and according to the survey, that is a problem which is still rife in Germany.