Wachtberg School social work in Berkum brings with it many challenges. She should be strengthened.
Multiple events in classrooms can create difficult situations for students and teachers. The reports by the youth worker Hannah Wirfs and Hendrik Heimbach, headmaster of the Hans-Dietrich-Genscher-School (HDG) in Berkum, in the most recent education committee showed that many of these can be caught with professional school social work. Skillfully used offers from two newly appointed staff make everyday school life easier.
As differentiated as the German educational landscape is, life at the HDG is as multifaceted. Around 35 percent of the young people trained in Wachtberg come from Bad Godesberg, Oedingen, Remagen or from refugee families, Heimbach estimated when asked by Alina Lägel (SPD). Further requests for training come regularly from the Wachtberg branch offices of the Godesheim Evangelical Youth Welfare Office. According to Heimbach, it is not always possible to enroll the children and young people in the HDG for the full half of the school year. Fluctuation due to a change of residence undoubtedly entails additional challenges.
In order to be able to cope with all the challenges, the municipality submitted an application for funding for school social work. The forces should be set up in addition to the existing one and a half positions for school social workers at the HDG. Since February this year, thanks to the subsidy of more than 27,000 euros that was then approved, the municipal youth workers Claudia Schmidt and Hannah Wirfs have each been working six hours a week in school social work. In order to gain even better qualifications for this task, both are taking part in a training course run by the Cologne district government. In the committee, Wirfs reported on the experiences of the first few months.
According to Wirfs, the first meeting on site made clear the great need during the school years. Outside of the holidays, the children like to take part in the workshops. Not only the structure, but also the topics address many everyday topics of the youngsters. For example, a workshop is currently running that addresses ideals of beauty that are highly praised by TikTok and similar media, but which are unattainable, the youth worker reported.
With the increasing development of personal relationships with the students, the two specialists also act as contact persons for students, their parents and teachers, providing advice on school topics, among other things. Personal issues such as motivational difficulties, turbulence in one’s own emotional world or domestic problems could also be addressed in one-on-one meetings, Wirfs said. The aim is always to strengthen peaceful coexistence, the students, communication and class cohesion.
Application also in everyday life
Regardless of strengthening the school climate, school social work is important in everyday life when difficult situations arise with individual children in class or in the schoolyard, Heimbach reported. “If a teacher is teaching 23 children and there is a special situation with one child, then he cannot leave 22 children alone,” he stated matter-of-factly. School social work offers the opportunity to defuse the situation and to work on the problem with the child concerned.