Plettenberg: Preparation for Ukrainian children: welcome groups in schools

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Welcome groups for Ukrainian children were created at Martin Luther School and Albert Schweitzer High School. © Dickkopf, Georg

School-age children from Ukraine who have taken refuge in Plettenberg should also be able to attend school here in the medium term, but the exact specifications are still missing. However, the city and the schools of Plettenberg are now creating a first welcome offer to make it easier for children to start normal school life at a later time and to teach them their first knowledge of German.

Plettenberg – “With the help of all schools and the city we will create an initial language offer,” explains Thorsten Jagusch, head of the Martin Luther School. Christoph Wilk, head of the youth, school and sports department, specifies: “The offer has a total of three objectives. Firstly, children should get to know the school system, secondly, they should get in touch with their peers, because they are currently welcomed in a very decentralized way and, thirdly, they should mainly learn German ”.

State guidelines are still missing

Both are part of the group of three principals, two representatives of the city and a representative of the care association who are organizing the offer, which will start next Monday and will last until the Easter holidays. It is hoped that Ukrainian children can be integrated into school after the Easter holidays, says Jagusch.

“It was important for us to create this welcome offer so that the children could settle down first and not suddenly come to some school and then not know what will happen,” explains Christoph Wilk. That is why they thought about what could be offered in a short time to the children and young people who came to Plettenberg from Ukraine. There was still no specification from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on how to regulate school attendance for refugee children. But one thing was clear: “Using the usual tools for children without knowledge of German didn’t seem entirely correct, given the large number,” Wilk explains.

Usual procedure not suitable

It usually happens that children with no knowledge of the German language – not only refugees but also immigrants – are tested in the municipal integration center (KI) of the Märkischer Kreis and evaluated in which class they can be classified. After that, in agreement with the schools and depending on the ability, there would be a class in which the child can then be directly admitted to normal operations. “As a rule, these are always isolated cases,” Wilk says. However, from the point of view of Plettenberg city and school officials, this system does not work with large numbers. “I don’t think AI can do that. And even classes don’t have that ability.”

“We wanted to form two welcome groups until we got an official message from the state,” Wilk says. Waiting after the Easter holidays with a school offer was not an option: “We think it would take too long to let the children do nothing, they want to do something and need structure”. solution, because the state is ultimately responsible for education, Wilk points out.

The welcome groups will be separated by age. The school age group will be based at the Martin Luther School, for children aged between ten and 16 at the Albert Schweitzer Gymnasium. “Children use the OGS classrooms at Martin Luther School and ASG,” explains Thorsten Jagusch. According to Wilk, it’s not obvious that schools make these rooms available. In general, he praises the various campaigns that have already been carried out or started in schools. “It’s great in all the schools in Plettenberg how willing they are to help – it’s a great welcoming culture,” says Wilk.

Experienced caregivers

Both welcome groups will start on Monday. These take place from Monday to Friday, precisely at the Martin Luther School during the first four lessons, i.e. until around 12, and at the ASG from the first to the sixth lesson, i.e. until just before 13:00. Caregivers with educational experience, including teaching staff with Ukrainian and Russian language skills, must take care of children and young people.

It remains to be seen with how many children the offer will start. Based on the number of Ukrainian children who have arrived and registered in Plettenberg so far, there would be nine children in the host group of the Martin Luther School and 13 children and young people in the ASG. But as more refugees are expected in Plettenberg – over the weekend the bus bridge will start a new tour to the Polish-Ukrainian border – some school-age children and young people will likely join as well.

To reach all eligible children, Wilk contacted the head of the youth assistance office, Michael Schröder, and Florian König, who had helped organize the bus bridge for Ukrainian refugees to Plettenberg and the accommodation of many. guest accommodation. Invitations were sent to families, including in Ukrainian translation. “But we don’t know if everyone will come directly on Monday,” Wilk says. “But it is a voluntary offer and is not part of compulsory schooling”.

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