The ZfA and the PASCH initiative
The Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) has the task of promoting the quality‑oriented development of schools abroad and to support the establishment of new schools on the German model. Through the Schools: Partners for the Future (PASCH) initiative, the ZfA supports the establishment of new schools on the German model, expands all‑day schooling at the German schools abroad and finds additional teaching staff. The ZfA has been busy since PASCH was launched in February 2008: the number of German schools abroad has grown from 117 to 140 and the network of German Language Certificate (DSD) schools has expanded from 440 to approximately 1100. Many schools have introduced all‑day provision or have expanded existing programmes. Various open and closed models have been chosen to meet parental wishes and local circumstances. The general principle is that all‑day provision must meet local needs and be underpinned by an educational concept.
The PASCH initiative has made it possible for the ZfA to employ additional advisers and coordinators, enabling it to assist the DSD schools even more efficiently. These ZfA educational experts are based abroad and so are well placed to intensify cooperation with local schools that teach German as a foreign language and to advise on the provision of more German classes.
16 quality development facilitators work for the ZfA at various locations around the globe. These facilitators systematically assist the German schools abroad in their strategic development as part of educational quality management. They thereby strengthen the competitive position of the schools on the international educational market.
Quality assurance by means of the school inspections - Bund-Länder-Inspektion (BLI)
The BLI, a system of inspections at German schools abroad which involves both the Federation and the Länder (federal states), was instituted in 2008 in order to assess teaching standards at the German schools abroad.
The BLI, which is organised by the ZfA, determines the quality of a school by means of a site visit lasting several days. Prior to the visit, a team of assessors reviews the submitted documents and school data. To qualify as inspectors, Länder and ZfA experts with experience of schools abroad attend a special training course. The BLI highlights how any given school can make the most of its potential. The schools are thus given the chance to further improve their standards.
The inspections centre on class visits to observe as many teachers as possible. The aim is not to assess the skills of the individual teachers, but to identify the teaching profile of the school as a whole. The BLI draws its information primarily from guided interviews with all groups involved in the school, as well as a physical inspection of the premises. The school is given oral feedback immediately at the end of an inspection. A few weeks later it receives a written inspection report. The school is then expected to draw up a plan of action based on the outcome of the report. The ZfA will advise the schools on measures to improve performance.
The results of the inspections at all schools flow into an annual overall report, which does not however permit any conclusions to be drawn about the state of individual schools. This annual report is published and serves as a strategic tool providing key findings for the further development of the German schools abroad in general.
If a school does well in an inspection, it is entitled to call itself an “Excellent German School Abroad”, and is presented with a certificate signed by the President of Germany to this effect. Inspections are repeated every six years in order to maintain quality.