This particularly affects children who previously had difficulty attending classes on a regular and consistent basis. For children who were already affected by developmental risks before the pandemic, good supervision and support must be ensured for the foreseeable future, said Andrea Hanke, head of the department for social infrastructure in the Hanover region. According to surveys, around 3-4% of all pupils have been repeatedly absent from school for a long period of time. There is hardly any statistical data on this. According to a representative Forsa survey commissioned by the Robert Bosch Foundation in 2021, 26% of teachers surveyed nationwide reported an increase in school absenteeism since spring 2020.
Trends also in Wilhelmshaven, Harburg and Braunschweig
Other municipalities also see significant problems. “Our impression as a school board is that the issue of school withdrawal has worsened during the pandemic,” said the city of Wilhelmshaven at the request of the German News Agency (Dpa). The Harburg district recorded 517 absences from school last year. In the school year 2020 there were 349. Before the pandemic in 2019, the municipality had 399 students who did not attend regular classes. “Basically, students who don’t go to school regularly find themselves in difficult situations,” a spokesman for the authorities said. These would get worse over the course of the pandemic. The city of Braunschweig predicts that, as a long-term consequence of the Crown, children especially from families with educational and financial difficulties will not obtain low-skilled school qualifications.
AWO expert: “Children stay hidden for a long time”
The reasons for pupils’ long absenteeism are often family problems, bullying or mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety disorders. “The phenomenon of school avoidance has increased,” said Thomas Thor, head of the school avoidance department at the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO) region of Hanover. According to Thor’s observation, affected students usually receive help too late. “Children stay in hiding for a long time,” Thor said. The omicron variant has brought the coronavirus to schools in Lower Saxony, many students stay at home with positive tests. It is often not immediately apparent when children are absent for other reasons.
Many students developed withdrawal trends during the pandemic
Expert Thor assumes that the consequences of the pandemic will only become evident in the next few years. “Many of our clients have developed a tendency to withdraw in the past couple of years, they are very inexperienced in dealing with conflict,” says Thor. Some couldn’t cope with 30 children in one room anymore. The AWO offers various projects for those who avoid school. In the Konnex project, young people receive individual advice and support. Another project called Glashütte is a place of out-of-school learning: seven boys between 13 and 17 are currently receiving four hours of instruction here, as well as socio-educational and occupational therapy support.