Private school

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A private school is a school that, in contrast to a public school, is the responsibility of a free (non-governmental) school body .

Supporters can be church organizations, social services, associations , partnerships or private individuals. In contrast to municipal school bodies, the independent sponsors are responsible for the teaching staff and for the conceptual design. Private schools are - at least in Europe - under state supervision and generally have a public law status.

Reasons for the formation of private schools are the parents' interest in the respective character, the concern to realize alternative educational concepts , a religious / ideological character or the preservation of a school offer close to home.


An analysis of the 2006 PISA results (natural sciences) shows that in most countries private schools are superior to public schools, but that this is partly due to a different composition of the student body . After taking into account the effects of the family and socio-economic background of the student body , in most of the OECD countries examined (including Germany), public schools prove to be superior to private schools, in some they prove to be equivalent, and in only one OECD country (Canada) Even then, the private schools prove to be superior. For Germany, a study carried out in 2017 by the SPD- affiliated Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung showed that “there are mostly only minor differences between the average competencies achieved in private and public schools”.

Student share

Depending on the country, the proportion of pupils attending a privately owned school varies greatly. The OECD average in 2006 was 14%. In Austria it was lower at 10%, in Switzerland at 5%, in Great Britain at 7% and in Germany at 6%. In the 2016/2017 school year, however, every 11th student attended a private school. In 2006, European countries where private schools are relatively widespread were the Netherlands (67% pupil share, but all Dutch private schools are financially dependent on the state), Ireland (58%), Spain (35%) and Denmark (24%).

The private school is a marginal phenomenon in Germany. By contrast, they are quite common in Ireland , Denmark , the Netherlands and the USA . In France and Spain , too , a considerable proportion of primary and secondary school students attend private schools, which are almost exclusively church-run.

In the Middle Ages the private school was common, mostly there were no other schools, so the children of wealthy parents were sent to monastery schools.

As a result of the so-called pill kink and a general public opinion against private schools, many private schools had to close in the 1980s. However, it became clear that the long-established and renowned private schools in particular, with their many years of experience in educational work, emerged stronger from the crisis. Since the 1990s, new private schools have also emerged in the new federal states. These are often smaller schools founded as parents' associations , which implement their own alternatives out of criticism of the public school system.

Situation in individual states

Germany: Independent school


Instead of “private school”, the term “independent school” (also colloquially: “free school”) is preferred in official language.

Legal basis

The right to set up independent schools is expressly guaranteed by Article 7, Paragraph 4 of the Basic Law (GG). The high rank of the guarantee ( Article 7 of the Basic Law is one of the basic and human rights) results from the experience of National Socialism . A DC circuit to prevent the formation, the existing legal guarantees of independent schools. This guarantee obliges the state to support the founding of these schools in order not to neglect the right to found “independent schools”.

The Basic Law explicitly demands that “a separation of the pupils according to the ownership structure of the parents is not promoted” ( ( Art. 7 ) Separation prohibition ), and makes this a prerequisite for the granting of recognition or approval. Michael Wrase and Marcel Helbig from the Berlin Social Science Center , however, come to the conclusion in their study: “The social mix of private schools intended by the Basic Law is not taking place”.

Since the supervision of the school system in Germany is the sovereignty of the federal states , each state decides independently on the approval, recognition and operating conditions for independent schools. The federal states - directly or indirectly through municipal institutions, operators of public schools - thus also supervise their private competition. Newly founded, privately owned schools are not financially supported in the first few years (usually three to four years). Only a few countries pay these withheld funds, at least in part, to the independent schools.

Public funding for teachers in independent schools is part of the salaries of teachers in public schools (usually between 70% and 90%). The difference must be provided by the institution itself, e.g. B. by collecting school fees.


In the 2009/10 school year there were 5200 private schools in Germany. Around three fifths (3,196) of these were primary and secondary schools, special schools or grammar schools, and around two fifths (2,004) vocational schools. In relation to the total number of schools in Germany (43,577), this corresponds to a share of 11.9%. However, the share in general education schools is significantly lower (9.2%) than in vocational schools (22.4%). Of the approximately 11.7 million students, around 945,000 attended private schools. This corresponds to a share of around 8% of the total student population. The proportion in the individual federal states differs greatly: while in Saxony around 13.4% of students study in private schools, in Schleswig-Holstein it is only 3.4%. There are relatively high proportions of around 10% in Bavaria and around 9% in Thuringia.

In 2013 there were 3,370 general and 2,040 private vocational schools. 9% of all students attended private schools. It is estimated that around 50 private schools have been founded by companies.

In the 2016/2017 school year, 9.0% of all students in Germany attended a private school (western Germany without Berlin: 8.8%, eastern Germany with Berlin: 9.9%). One of the characteristics of private schools is a comparatively low proportion of pupils with a migration background: in private primary schools, the percentage of pupils with a migration background was 28.3% in 2016 (in public primary schools: 38.1%); at non-grammar schools it was 19.2% in 2015 (at corresponding public schools: 30.3%) and at grammar schools 17.7% (at public grammar schools: 24.2%).

School types

A distinction is made between substitute schools, which, according to their overall purpose, lead to the same school qualifications as the corresponding public schools and at which one can meet compulsory schooling, and supplementary schools, which complement the existing educational offer at will. According to Article 7, Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Basic Law, only substitute schools require state approval.

Substitute schools

If private schools want to award recognized qualifications (e.g. high school diploma, secondary school diploma, business school diploma) or if their attendance is intended to fulfill compulsory schooling , these are substitute schools whose attendance replaces attending a corresponding public school. Substitute schools require their own state approval or approval and are subject to state supervision.

Such private schools receive state refinancing depending on state law. The obligation to promote private schools results from Article 7 of the Basic Law. For a long time, around 90% of the personnel costs that the school received as a public school were common.

With reasons for savings, or in order to maintain or expand one's own creative leeway in school network planning , there are sometimes government efforts to cut subsidies for privately owned schools.

For reasons of comparability of the financial statements, state control should apply everywhere, but it is not equally strong everywhere. In the past, teachers at substitute schools were only granted a teaching permit if their training corresponded to the training of comparable teachers at public schools. Due to a shortage of teachers, teachers without appropriate training have been used for some years now, provided that this is also done in public schools. State-recognized substitute schools conduct the final exams on their own like public schools according to the specifications of the respective ministry of education, as they have been granted state sovereign rights with the recognition. Approved substitute schools, supplementary schools recognized in North Rhine-Westphalia, do not have these sovereign rights, so their students must take so-called external exams or non- student exams in order to receive a corresponding state certificate. Sometimes an external examination board chairman, e.g. B. the school board responsible for the school determined. The individual countries make precise regulations .

Complementary Schools

Supplementary schools are independent schools that are not substitute schools. Pupils attending a supplementary school usually do not meet the extensive requirements of compulsory schooling . In some Länder, pupils attending a supplementary school can be exempted from compulsory education. The supplementary school can be run as a registered private school after notifying the authorities. In a second step, the indicated school can be granted state recognition as a supplementary school under certain conditions.

Complementary schools can also develop and offer new courses. In the area of ​​vocational education in particular, there are many supplementary schools for which there are no equivalent in public schools, e.g. B. the one-year higher vocational schools, language schools, drama schools or interpreting schools.

Free teaching facilities

Independent teaching facilities are not public schools or substitute schools , but are subject to school supervision (see, for example, Section 119 of the NRW Schools Act).

Financing and tax considerations

Private schools finance themselves for the most part from a financial equalization for the substitute schools , which varies depending on the state. In Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Hesse, private schools providing general education receive financial aid amounting to 85% of the student costs of public schools; “If you include building costs and provisions, according to the 'Arbeitsgemeinschaft Free Schools Hamburg', it is only 65 percent.” The financial aid for private alternative schools is 90% to 100% of the student costs of public schools. In Baden-Württemberg, the financial aid was increased to at least 80% of the student costs of public schools on August 1, 2017, so that the remaining cost gaps that can be covered with school fees have been further reduced. At primary schools the difference is only € 86. In North Rhine-Westphalia, where financial aid amounts to 94% (for special needs schools 98%) and in Rhineland-Palatinate, financial aid depends on the fact that school attendance is free. However, even this is not controlled by the authorities, as WDR research in NRW has shown. According to the Federal Administrative Court, other personal contributions that have to follow private commitment in addition to school fees include donations to school development associations , grants from financially strong people who stand behind the school authorities and support the school in a broader sense, but also taking out loans.

Insofar as the parents' contributions serve to cover the running costs of normal school operations, these are performance fees and not donations. This also applies if the payments flow to the school association through a support association.

Up to 2008, 30% of the costs for private schools in Germany could be claimed as special expenses without any limitation. From 2009, 30% of the costs can still be claimed, but no more than 5000 euros per year and child. The tax deductibility of care costs remains unaffected by the change.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 6.2 billion euros were spent on schoolchildren in independent schools in 2009. A large part of the expenditure was related to the remuneration of the staff. The expenditures per pupil at general education schools in private sponsorship amounted to 7,000 euros, in vocational schools in private sponsorship to 5400 euros in 2009. Around 15% of the funds came from private sources (parents' contributions, sponsorships, development associations, etc.). The share of public funding was 84% ​​(general education schools), of which 78% were provided by the federal states, 4% by the municipalities and 2% by the federal government.

The differences between the school-type-specific funding amounts per pupil provided by the public sector compared to the expenditure of the pupils in a corresponding public school are different. The difference between the two items, averaged across all school types, was between 493 euros per student in Brandenburg and 2949 euros per student in Baden-Württemberg in 2011. By promoting private schools with high financial aid, the state can relieve itself of its obligation to take care of the public school system. In 2011, the federal states relieved themselves of around 1.2 billion euros.

Most recently, the subsidies in Baden-Württemberg have increased to 80%.

In principle, according to the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court , the state is only obliged to secure the subsistence level of the substitute school.


The Association of German Private School Associations (VDP) represents by his own admission "free educational institutions of general and vocational education, the labor market services sector, adult education and tertiary education." Together with the two denominational private school associations, the Federation of Waldorf schools and boarding schools association formed by the VDP the Working Group of Free Schools (AGFS). Since schools in Germany are a matter for the federal states, they operate primarily at the state level.

“As a result of this, around 3,160 schools with around 771,000 pupils are organized in the AGFS. Including at Catholic schools: 368,000 pupils, at Protestant schools: 148,000, at schools in the VDP Verband Deutscher Privatschulverbände e. V .: 168,000, at Waldorf schools: 81,000, at rural education centers: 6,000. Via the VDP, the working group of independent schools also includes the 45 schools of the Federal Association of Independent Alternative Schools. The Working Group of Independent Schools thus represents almost all independent general education schools in Germany as well as a large part of the independent vocational schools and educational institutions. "


According to the VDP, one twelfth of a good 11 million students in Germany attend a free school. Education professionals disagree on whether private schools have more advantages or more disadvantages for society. Proponents say they better serve the needs of students and parents and give the education system a positive boost. Critics say they divide society.


Private School Act

Private schools in Austria are  regulated by the Private Schools Act (PrivSchG). The basic rules go back to the Provisional Law on Private Lessons of June 27, 1850.

"Private schools are schools that are established and maintained by other than the statutory school owners."

- § 2 Definitions of PrivSchG, according to Art. 14 Paragraph 6 and 7 of the Federal Constitutional Law

The school provider must be recognizable from the name of the school ; this must not lead to confusion with the school type of a public school. The use of a legally regulated school type designation is only permitted with the approval of the responsible school authority and is bound to certain requirements regarding curriculum, equipment, school books and teaching qualifications.

Private schools are of one of the following types:

Private schools can be subsidized by the public purse, private schools by legally recognized churches and religious societies in general always ( § 17 PrivSchG Subsidization of denominational private schools - entitlement to claim ), which does not contradict the Concordat with regard to religious instruction, other types of schools, among other things, provided that they meet the needs of the population in the district, i.e. they do not reduce the move-in of a public school ( Section 21 PrivSchG subsidization of private schools - requirements ).

In the school year 2010/11 around 10% of the students attended a private school. The highest proportion of 31.8% was found in vocational middle schools, at AHS it was 15.8%, in higher vocational schools 12.2% and in the compulsory school sector (elementary, secondary, special and polytechnic schools) 10, 1 %. By far the most important independent school provider is the Roman Catholic Church in Austria , whose facilities are attended by 53.2% of all private students. This also includes, for example, foreign school forms for diplomatic children that are not established in Austria.

Schools within the meaning of this law are "facilities in which a majority of students are taught together according to a fixed curriculum" (Section 2, line 1). Private schools that do not meet this profile do not fall under the Private School Act, so they are not “schools” in the sense of the legislator. Since there is no compulsory schooling in Austria, but only compulsory instruction , the recognition of the place of education as a school is not a mandatory requirement: These forms of education fall under home schooling . Only proof of the teaching itself and the fulfillment of the basic general teaching content has to be provided.

In addition, there are private non-school educational institutions that comply with Section 2 (1) of the School Organization Act and have been able to be certified by the Ministry of the Interior since 2006 according to the Settlement and Residence Act, which helps their students from third countries to obtain residence status . These institutions are obliged to report persons when the training has been completed or the continuation of the training is not expected. The certified educational institutions are published on the Internet. These include institutions such as the Austrian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution , the Vienna State Opera Ballet School and the Aviation Academy Austria of Österreichische Luftfahrttraining GmbH.

Great Britain

7% of UK school children attend public schools , the cost of which can be higher than the average annual salary. The name public school goes back to scholarships that a high percentage of students receive and which, unlike in the past, predominantly recognize academic achievement. In general, this is what counts most today; In the 18th and 19th centuries, aristocrats sent their children to public schools on the premise that they should never have to earn anything themselves. For example, in the 19th century, the Eton College curriculum included ancient languages ​​(Latin and Greek), mathematics, and new languages ​​at a ratio of 15: 3: 1.


In Switzerland the most common private schools are Steiner schools . There are also educational institutions where people can catch up on their Matura or prepare for a certain entrance exam .

In principle, anyone in Switzerland can open a private school. There are no quality standards or other regulations as long as the school does not receive any government funding and does not teach children during the compulsory schooling period. The interests of Swiss private schools, some of which rely on an international clientele, are safeguarded by their association, VSP . Practically all known Swiss private schools are members of the VSP.

United States

Early American elite boarding schools were puritanical and anti-English oriented. These included the so-called academies, namely Andover , Exeter , Deerfield and Milton , which had already been founded in the 18th century.

Renowned boys' schools in New England from the mid to late 19th century are grouped together within the Independent School League . Mostly leaning towards the Episcopal Church of the United States of America , the students came mainly from wealthy families. The schools are based on the example of well-known English public schools such as Eton College or Harrow School .

See also


  • Hermann Avenarius , Bodo Pieroth , Tristan Barczak: The challenge of the public school system through private schools - a controversy. The free schools in the location competition. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2012.
  • Christian Füller: A way out of private schools? What they can do better, what they fail. Edition Körber Foundation, Hamburg 2010
  • Matthias Hofmann: Alternative schools - alternatives to school. Klemm u. Oelschläger, Ulm 2015, ISBN 978-3-86281-086-4 .
  • Matthias Hofmann: Past and present of free alternative schools. An introduction. Klemm u. Oelschläger, Ulm 2015, ISBN 978-3-86281-057-4 .
  • Peter Metz: "Schools on sunny heights". Foundation and development of alpine secondary schools in Switzerland. Tardis Verlag, Chur 2019, ISBN 978-3-9525049-0-1 . [Treats private middle schools.]
  • Reiner Tillmanns: The freedom of private schools according to the Basic Law. In: Issue 62 of the Yellow Series Pedagogy and Free School , Cologne 2006
  • Journal for Pedagogy , Issue 5, September / October 2009: Thematic section: Private schools
  • Law of Youth and Education (RdJB), 3/2009, focus: essays on questions of private school law

Web links

Wiktionary: Private school  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Gundel Schümer, Manfred Weiß: Educational Economy and Quality of School Education - Commentary on the educational economic evaluation of data from international school performance studies. (PDF; 904 kB) In:
  2. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Ed.): Study: Private schools no better than public ones . ( [accessed on June 9, 2018]).
  3. ^ Robert Renner: VDP - Association of German Private School Associations e. V. - Number of private schools increased further. Retrieved on May 27, 2018 (German).
  4. ^ Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: PISA 2006 - School Achievements in International Comparison - Scientific Competencies for Tomorrow's World. 2007. Bertelsmann Verlag, p. 269
  5. Arnold Köpcke Duttler: position of independent schools. (PDF; 39 kB) u. a. on the term "private school"
  6. ^ Christian Füller: Schools have to work freely. In: - Interview with Kurt Wilhelmi from the Berliner Volksinitiative Schule in Freiheit
  7. Approval of private schools: Federal states disregard the Basic Law. WZB, May 27, 2018, accessed May 27, 2018 .
  8. ^ Federal Statistical Office: Private Schools (Fachserie 11 series 1.1). Archived from the original on June 11, 2011 ; accessed on September 2, 2015 (information on schools, classes, pupils, graduates and teachers at private schools from the Federal Statistical Office for the 2009/2010 school year).
  9. Stefani Hergert: The entrepreneur schools . In: Handelsblatt . April 9, 2013, ISSN  0017-7296 , p. 25 .
  10. Martin Spiewak: Golden times for the private sector . In: Die Zeit , No. 12/2018
  11. Testimony to a lack of instinct - Saxony's minister of education has declared a war on the free schools that he can only lose. In: Die Zeit , No. 44/2010
  12. So that it stays colorful. "Yes" to free schools! ( Memento from September 3, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) In: - Protest campaign 2010 in Saxony under the leadership of the school foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony
  13. Felix Neumann: Assigning blame is not enough. In: . July 4, 2018, accessed July 5, 2018 .
  14. Gesetzntwurf amending the Private School Act and other regulations. (PDF, 242 kB) In: Beteiligungsportal Baden-Wü May 19, 2017, p. 5 , accessed May 27, 2018 .
  15. ↑ Draft law of the state government: Law amending the Private Schools Act and its Implementation Ordinance, printed matter 16 / 2333. (PDF, 178 kB) State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg, July 11, 2017, p. 15 , accessed on May 27, 2018 .
  16. Torsten Reschke: Private schools: How voluntary are parental contributions really? In: West Pole . September 10, 2017, archived from the original on June 12, 2018 ; accessed on May 27, 2018 .
  17. BVerwG 6 C 18.10, judgment of December 14, 2011. Federal Administrative Court, accessed on May 27, 2018 .
  18. Section “How do private schools finance themselves?” Verband Deutscher Privatschulverbände e. V., accessed March 2, 2009 .
  19. BFH, decision of July 20, 2006. Az. XI B 51/05, full text.
  20. Barbara Brandstetter: How the state contributes to school fees. In: Welt Online . February 13, 2009, accessed March 2, 2009 . Tax return: the most important in brief. (No longer available online.) In: Mindener Tageblatt . January 28, 2009, formerly in the original ; Retrieved March 2, 2009 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
    @1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  21. Finances of the schools - independent schools and schools of the health sector. (PDF) Federal Statistical Office, June 14, 2012, accessed on July 1, 2012 .
  22. Theodor Heuss: Decision Private School Financing I, Federal Constitutional Court 75, April 40 , 1987, accessed on May 27, 2018 : “Quotation from the Member of Parliament, Th. Heuss, on GG Art. 7 IV 1:“ To prevent the worry, I have requested the addition of the sentence that the state monopoly should be granted in any country: the right to establish private schools is guaranteed. For God's sake I don't want to get embarrassed somehow with the suggestion that my colleague Dr. Seebohm made the point that the state had to pay as much costs for these private schools as is taken from it calculated on the individual pupils. Because that would be an award for such schools if it would deprive them of their performance character of voluntariness and at the same time relieve the state of its damned duty to ensure the education of Germans to the best of its conscience. ""
  23. ^ Helmut E. Klein: Private school financing in the calculation of state underfunding and the restriction of competition. (PDF, 425 kB) Institute of the German Economy , June 2011, archived from the original on September 1, 2014 ; accessed on July 5, 2018 .
  24. Federal Constitutional Court, 1st Senate: Federal Constitutional Court - Decisions - On the admissibility of state child clauses in private school laws of the states as well as on the scope of the state obligation to financially support private substitute schools (continuation of BVerfGE 75, 40 and BVerfGE 90, 107) - § 17 para 4 p 1 PrSchulG BR as amended on December 19, 1989, compatible with both Art. 7 para. 4 GG and Art. 3 para. 1 GG. November 23, 2004, accessed May 27, 2018 .
  26. BundesArarbeitsGemeinschaft Free Schools
  27. (accessed June 24, 2013)
  28. Private schools are a blessing and a curse for the education system. In: , June 24, 2013.
  29. RGBl. 309/1850: Imperial decree of June 27, 1850, effective for all crown lands of the monarchy , whereby a provisional law on private lessons is enacted and comes into effect from the day of its publication. In: General Reich Law and Government Gazette for the Austrian Empire , 101. Issued and sent on August 3, 1850, p. 1271 ( Online at ALEX - Historical legal and legal texts online )
  30. ^ Leo von Thun and Hohenstein : Lecture by the Minister of Cultus and Education, regarding the provisional law on private instruction . In: JG Seidl, H. Bonitz, J. Mozart (Eds.): Journal for the Austrian high schools . tape 1 . Carl Gerold, Vienna 1850, p. 534 ( scan in Google book search [accessed on March 20, 2013], talk of June 6, 1850).
  31. Private school as a way out of the reform backlog. Retrieved May 15, 2015 .
  32. Tuma: Certification of non-school educational institutions (PDF; 30 kB), January 4, 2006, Federal Ministry of the Interior
  34. ^ Private schools in England. In: FAZ , June 27, 2009, p. Z1,2.
  35. a b Cookson, Persell: Preparing for Power: America's Elite Boarding Schools (Basic Books, 1985).