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Building the Abi and completing an apprenticeship at the same time: This is a new offer that will be introduced in Lower Saxony from the 2023/24 school year as a mandatory requirement at all vocational high schools with a focus on social pedagogy. The students then not only acquire their general higher education entrance qualification, they are also socio-educational assistants.
Socio-educational assistants plus Abi
But they have to work really hard to do that. Because in addition to the lessons that prepare them for the Abitur, they have to complete 300 practical hours in day-care centers. In addition to the Abitur exams, they take a theoretical and a practical exam as socio-educational assistants.
Day care centers and students benefit
The Conerus School in Norden has already gained experience with this new form of training. "We are one of five model schools in the Osnabrück school district and have been offering the double qualification since autumn 2021," says Norbert Göttker, head of the social pedagogy department at the Conerus school. His colleague Holger Stellmacher, department head for vocational high schools, adds: “The advantages of this double qualification are obvious. The high school graduates gain practical experience in the field of socio-education and find out relatively early on whether studying in this field is an option for them. At the same time, specialists are being trained for day-care centers who are able to add a degree to it at any time.”
Because they are qualified, the young people could take on part-time jobs in kindergartens or crèches while they are still studying – either on an hourly basis or as emergency care during the summer holidays. At the same time, care facilities could alleviate their shortage of skilled workers.
Degrees equivalent but not equivalent
The two study directors cannot say whether the day-care centers will use this opportunity. “The first year will not finish until next spring. We lack experience there,” says Norbert Göttker. It is important to both of them that the Abitur and training do not compete with each other. "The degrees are equivalent, but not of the same kind," says Holger Stellmacher. Because the double qualification "is such a hybrid thing", the two study directors work closely together.
This is how the "hybrid thing" works
The focus is on the high school diploma. If you are not admitted, you will not get your degree as a socio-educational assistant. The practical training exam is already taken in class 12, the theoretical exam in the first half of class 13, so that the students have enough time to prepare for their Abitur. The practical phases - partly in blocks, partly during the holidays - are then already completed. “Practical hours can also be completed after school. But only when the students can prove they do they get their training qualification,” explains Norbert Göttker.
However, the 20 or so students in the current 13th grade in Norden have already mastered these tasks. In May you will be the first in Lower Saxony to hold a high school diploma and an apprenticeship certificate. The two study directors believe that such combinations could also be used in other areas, such as nursing.