A new manager at the monthly celebration for the Waldorf School

Each month the children of the Waldorf School in Oberursel, the Freie Waldorfschule Vordertaunus, show each other what they have learnt in a „Monatsfeier“. Twice a year this is held in public so that their parents and anyone else who is interested can come along and watch.

Dr. Ralf Gissel (Photo: Freie Waldorfschule Vordertaunus)The public Monatsfeier this autumn was not only a chance to do just that in the Stadthalle, but also to meet the school’s new manager, Dr. Ralf Gissel.

Now the idea of a school having a “manager” (Geschäftsführer) may sound pretty strange, but maybe it is the terminology that makes it that way. Dr. Gissel, himself a parent of 3 children who have visited or are still at the school, explained that the “head” of the school is split into three roles. There is the academic head, the manager and the chair of the charity (e.V.). The academic head can concentrate on academic matters within the school, while the charity is concerned with raising the money to fund it.

The manager sits between the two and is responsible for the administrative part of the school for which he has six employees and many of the parents in supporting roles.

Dr. Gissel also explained the difference between an “Ersatzschule” and a “Privatschule”, the latter being private and funded by school fees. The Waldorf school in Oberursel is an “Ersatzschule”, ie. a replacement school that should be treated equally to state schools according to Germany’s constitution. Unfortunately it is not and the school only receives 75% of their funding from the local authority – one of the reason that the school has to charge a small monthly fee. In association with other Waldorf schools they have set themselves the target of getting this level raised to 85%, something the new manager may well be in a good place to do considering his legal background in high level positions at a number of banks.

The Waldorf School Monatsfeier in the Stadthalle

As for the “Monatsfeier”, not only were a number of parents involved in the organisation outside the hall, but the whole event proved to be a very professional affair, with both pupils and teachers on stage.

The choir of the 3rd to 6th years filled the stage of the Stadthalle, the ground floor of which was pretty much full of parents and siblings as well, and the English recital of the 2nd years could well lead one to ask why the state-run primary schools cannot put on a show like that, not to mention the 3rd years singing in Russian!

But then perhaps its the funding issue that keeps the Waldorf school on their toes. The fact that the parents contribute more financially and personally means a closer and higher interest in the school, just as the school is more accountable to them. Maybe it works both ways and produces a better result than schools where the education is perceived as being free?


About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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