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‘Full-time’ education systems in the knowledge-society. International comparison of the cooperation between schools and out-of-school educational agencies

Thomas Coelen

Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, University of Hamburg, 17-20 September 2003

Preliminary Remarks

In this article I will line out the methodological frame of a comparative research project which I have started in November 2002. The project is situated in the context of the graduate program "Youth Welfare in Transition" at the universities of Bielefeld and Dortmund, funded by the German Research Association (DFG).

In that context I have organised an international conference about the modes of cooperation between school and out-of-school education agencies: Colleagues from Canada, France, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, and Germany met in Bielefeld from the 9th to the 11th of October 2003 to compare the respective national arrangements of formal and non-formal education.

Here I will mainly present the scheme of comparison which was sent to the contributors in order to help them preparing their presentations.

The topic: Full-time school – full-time care – full-time education

The topic of both the conference and the research project is – as the subtitle of this article put in other words – the role of out-of-school education institutions in the full-time systems of selected countries.


The background of this topic is the specific German ‘half-day-school’ (e.g. from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.) – which has (again) become questioned after its poor results in the PISA-study – as well as the comparatively differentiated and specialised structure of youth work agencies in Germany, with their important social and educational functions. In contrast to Germany nearly all – at least all European – countries have education systems which provide school and youth work from (early) morning until (late) afternoon. The German education system (which furthermore varies among the different states) has - along with Austria, Switzerland and Greece - just very few such institutions.

Therefore one of the main focal points in the current debate and political activities following the poor results of German pupils in the PISA-Study is the use of "Ganztagsschulen" (‘full-time schools’). In fact, with the beginning of the new school year 03/04 new day-formats are about to be implemented. But: Qualitatively they do not seem to be much more than Ganztagsbetreuungen" (‘full-time care’) with lessons given by teachers until lunchtime and a meal, help with the homework and some time for playing provided by some freelancers, volunteers and just a few professional educators in the afternoon. In opposition to both – 'full-time school' and 'full-time care' - the debate in the German social education science prefers the term "Ganztagsbildung" (‘full-time education’) which refers to a concept of integrated formal and non-formal education.1

State of Research

Besides these more or less theoretical and political debates, there is only very little comparative research about the relationship between out-of-school education agencies and schools in the education systems of other European countries. So the conference in Bielefeld 2003 represented a first step to close an astonishing gap in research concerning the international comparative social sciences:

It is true that in the international comparative research on youth welfare services single studies pick out the school-related youth work as a central theme2, but a comparative survey about the cooperation of school education and youth welfare service does not exist at all. Analogical to that fact, international comparative studies about full-time-schools are very rarely3. Regarding descriptions of educational systems in Europe4, the part of non-formal education of children and adolescents is totally neglected.

On the primary level France, Great-Britain, Ireland and Spain have ‘full-time forms on five, Belgium on four and Luxemburg on three days per week, Italy and Denmark for a part of the pupils5. On the secondary level a tendency in European school systems can recently be noticed: apart from the countries already practising full-time schooling (France, Great-Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium), even in countries with a school-system finishing at lunchtime the integration of formal and non-formal education gains in importance6. Taillights of this development are still Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

But as I already said: Since the shattering results of the PISA-study about German pupils have been published and realized by the public, the full-time institutionalisation of school and out-of-school education has become a main topic in politics, both on a national level and on the level of the federal states. Despite the fact that reorganisations have already begun, concepts about how to realize a durable integration of formal and non-formal institutions7 do not yet have remarkable influence in Germany. The results are more or less patch-work.

Under a methodical perspective the research project and the conference follow the actual change of paradigms in the international comparative educational sciences: descriptions only regarding one country are no longer that predominant, but therefore comparisons of different educational systems focussing a special problem or topic gain in importance.

The research question is situated on "meso-level"8:

Functions and Objectives of Comparison

Full-time-school systems should be compared – referring to Esping-Andersen - ‘to see the wood instead of the trees’ and to point out common tendencies (and maybe furthermore to point out causalities). Furthermore it seems to be helpful to avoid – remaining in the picture of the wood and the trees – to avoid the thicket of the internal German debates...

I use the term "system" synonymic to the term "regime" exerted by Esping-Andersen. In my form it refers to the way in which education of children and adolescents is allocated between state, civil-society and families.

Probably, within the scope of the research project the three levels of international comparisons in the educational sciences9:

1. The comparatively methodised theory-building,
2. the theory-based explanation of the variety of different cultural phenomena,
3. the transfer of practical and political knowledge

can not be considered in equal measure. This first step probably has to be restricted to unit 1 (theory-building and -critique) and unit 3 (transfer of political knowledge). That means regarding the four functions of international comparisons in the educational sciences the ideographic and the experimental units will be in the centre of interest.10

At the conference systems integrating formal and non-formal education were compared in regard to three final objectives:

Units of Comparison

The content of the German term "Kinder- und Jugendhilfe" (youth welfare service) cannot easily be translated into other (academic) languages. Therefore on the conference and in the following research project every stately, public, private or economic form of out-of-school education is regarded as comparable to the German so-called "schulbezogene (school-related) Jugendhilfe" (e.g. Kindergarten and other child care institutions; youth clubs and centres; youth counselling, youth education centres; ambulant und statutory socio-educational provision for children with problems etc.).

The central topics of German youth welfare research are taken as units of comparison:

Criteria of Comparison

Core-elements which can contribute to the named typology ("Ganztagsschule", "Ganztagsbetreuung", "Ganztagsbildung" – "full-time-school", "full-time-care", "full-time-education") are considered as criteria of comparison.


Analysing the involved organisations a mere side by side of institutions (e.g. using the same building) and just punctual cooperation shall be neglected as well as special forms of care in remedial and special fields of work.

1. The set of providers for education:

2. The set of finance of education:

3. The set of forms of education:

4. The set of functions of out-of-school offers in relation to school


Characterising the staff structure in full-time-systems it has to looked at:

1. The set of contents in the training of the professionals:

2. The set of formal certificates among the professionals:

3. The set of professionals and volunteers


As "users" are considered: children and adolescents from their age of school enrolment (4 or 6 years) up to at least the end of their compulsory school time (15 or 16 years), who attend institutions of the general education system and use offers of youth welfare, as well as their parents.

The following criteria are analysed:

1. The set of times (daily, weekly, annually; depending on age):

2. The set of legal conditions in using full-time institutions:

3. The set of the functions of out-of-school offers in relation to families:

Discipline and Theory

On the disciplinary and theoretical level the comparison deals with the relationship between social and school education in the several academic systems.

1. The formal level of study and training programmes for the staff in full-time systems:

2. The use of leading terms :

3. The degree of networking between the disciplines in form of:

The scheduled characteristics of full-time systems serve the development and modification of the typology ("Ganztagsschule", "Ganztagsbetreuung", "Ganztagsbildung" – "full-time-school", "full-time-care", "full-time-education"). In the next step it will be necessary to create a synopsis of selected education systems alongside the criteria pointed out here in this article. The following step will be to figure out some systems which are appropriate to illustrate the types.


Adick, Christel (2003): Globale Trends weltweiter Schulentwicklung: Empirische Befunde und theoretische Erklärungen, in: ZfE 2/03, S. 173-187.

Allemann-Ghionda, Cristina (2003): Ganztagsschule - ein Blick über den Tellerrand, in: Appel u. a. (Hg.): Jahrbuch Ganztagsschule 2004. Neue Chancen für die Bildung, Schwalbach: Wochenschau, S. 206-216.

Anweiler, Oskar u. a. (1996): Bildungssysteme in Europa. Entwicklung und Struktur des Bildungswesens in zehn Ländern: Deutschland, England, Frankreich, Italien, Niederlande, Polen, Russland, Schweden, Spanien, Türkei (4. völlig überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage), Weinheim und Basel: Beltz.

Coelen, Thomas (2002): "Ganztagsbildung" – Ausbildung und Identitätsbildung von Kindern und Jugendlichen durch die Zusammenarbeit von Schulen und Jugendeinrichtungen, in: neue praxis, 1/02, S. 53-66.

Coelen, Thomas (2003): Ganztagsbildung im internationalen Vergleich. Eine Forschungsskizze, in: Appel u. a. (Hg.): Jahrbuch Ganztagsschule 2004. Neue Chancen für die Bildung, Schwalbach: Wochenschau, S. 217-226.

Coelen, Thomas (2004): Synopse ganztägiger Bildungssysteme. Zwischenbilanz eines Forschungsprojekts, in: Appel u. a. (Hg.): Jahrbuch Ganztagsschule 2005. Neue Chancen für die Bildung, Schwalbach: Wochenschau (i. V.)

Deinet, Ulrich (1996) (Hg.): Schule aus - Jugendhaus? Praxishandbuch. Ganztagskonzepte und Kooperationsmodelle in Jugendhilfe und Schule, Münster.

Döbert, Hans u. a. (2002) (Hg.): Die Schulsysteme Europas, Baltmannsweiler: Schneider.

Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1999): Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economics, Oxford: University Press.Evans, David R. (1981): The planning of nonformal education, in: UNESCO, Institute for educational planning (Fundamentals of educational planning Bd. 30), Paris.

Holtappels, Heinz Günther (1994): Ganztagsschule und Schulöffnung. Perspektiven für die Schulentwicklung. Weinheim und München: Juventa.

Huxtable, Marion/Blyth, Eric (Hg.) (2002): School Social Work Worldwide, National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Washington DC.

Köhnen, Helga (1992): Deutsch-englisches Glossar der Jugendhilfe. Ein vergleichendes Handbuch – German-English Glossary of Youth Services. A Comparative Handbook, Weinheim und München: Juventa.

Neumann, Ursula/Ramseger, Jörg (1990): Ganztägige Erziehung in der Schule. Eine Problemskizze (angefertigt im Auftrag der Senatorin für Schule, Jugend und Berufsbildung der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg), Universität Hamburg.

Nieslony, Frank (1997): Schulsozialarbeit in den Niederlanden. Sozialpädagogische Arbeit in Schulen des niederländischen Bildungssystems. Perspektiven für Deutschland?, Opladen: Leske + Budrich.

Otto, Hans-Uwe/Coelen, Thomas (2004): Ganztägige Bildungssysteme in Wissensgesellschaften. Formelle und nicht-formelle Bildung im internationalen Vergleich (i. D).

Schriewer, Jürgen: Stichwort: International vergleichende Erziehungswissenschaft, in: ZfE (3. Jg.) 4/00, S. 495-515.

Treptow, Rainer (2002): International Vergleichende Sozialpädagogik. Eine Aufgabenbestimmung zwischen den Komparatistiken, in: Thole (Hg.): Grundriss Soziale Arbeit. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.


  1. Coelen (2002)

  2. Nieslony (1997); Huxtable/Blyth (2002)

  3. Neumann/Ramseger (1990: 9)

  4. Anweiler et al. (1996); Döbert et al. (2002)

  5. Holtappels (1994: 176)

  6. Neumann/Ramseger (1990: 11)

  7. For example Deinet (1996) or Coelen (2002).

  8. Treptow (2002)

  9. Schriewer (2000)

  10. The melioristic function: the counselling of politicians by „best practise"-examples cannot be provided in a serious manner. Also the evolutionistic function: the explanation of differences and shared tendencies can only point out as a possibility.

This document was added to the Education-line database on 03 March 2004