Private school model cut short in court

No more lessons according to the ‚Urach Plan‘ –

The administrative court of the German state of ‚Baden-Württemberg‘ in southern Germany recently banned a new pedagogical concept called „Urach Plan“ which provides for children to be schooled in their homes. The court ruling orders students affected by the decree from now on to go to a school controlled by the state.

Cutting short a reform pedagogical school model, underlines the German state’s view that sitting inside a school building is devoid of any alternative whatsoever.

Licensees of a private school in the southern German county of Schwarzwald-Baar had been granted tuition rights by school authorities in July 2006. Lessons started with elementary classes, two years later grades five to nine were included as well. But when the private school wanted to officially teach its then thirteen students according to the ‚Urach Plan‘, the regional board declined to continue cooperations. Instead, it forbade further lessons and ordered the students to go to a conventional school.

Thereupon the school’s maintaining body appealed for continuation of its model at the local administrative court in Freiburg. After being turned down in June 2013, they pushed on to the higher administrative court in Mannheim. In its ruling from November 18 that court argued, the way in which children were being taught according to the ‚Urach Plan‘ „differed so fundamentally“ from how „school“ was being defined by the authorities that tuition rights, which had been granted before, were no longer valid. For that reason the authorities had had to cut short lessons. Complying to school attendance laws, the court argued, made it necessary „to put things right“.

However, the court in Mannheim didn’t state whether lessons hitherto had been unlawful at all. At the same time there are no „exigent circumstances“ that might justify having all tuition to cease. Nevertheless the administrative court ordered school attendance laws to immediately be implemented at a state controlled school. The ruling cannot be appealed.

The ‚Urach Plan‘ is a pedagogical framework plan which is filled with specific content by the participating schools. Its name derives from the small spa town of Bad-Urach in Baden-Württemberg where the basic outlines of the plan had originally been drawn up. Differing from other reform pedagogical approaches, this school model provides for parents to be strongly involved in the education of students. At the same time lessons according to the „Urach Plan“ are to take place in the children’s living environment, allowing them mainly to learn in their homes.

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