Students support students (Vocational School Rotenburg/Wümme)

Short summary

At German vocational schools there are “Career Entry Classes” that are particularly aimed at students who do not have any qualification or certificate yet. They can choose between different areas of profession (economy, household, technical professions) and they can achieve a certificate of secondary education there. 

The project aims at helping vocational school students and uses peer-learning methodology to reach its aim.

The target group is the students at the “Career entry classes” at a vocational school in Lower Saxony (ca. 15 students). Students of this “career entry classes” get support from other students from high school students of the same school who take part in the career, occupational area of information technology. 

The support is organized in weekly meetings for homework and other preparations needed individually by the students receiving support.

Duration of the complete measure: 20 meetings/sessions (beginning of the school year until the Easter holidays (usually in April).

Duration of each session: 90 minutes.

Frequency: once a week.

The advantages of the project for the students receiving support are that the student gets individual support in all areas (one supporter). This forms personal contact among the students and the one who gets the support might accept it better from a peer than from a teacher. It is important to mention the addressability of the supporting students. And in case of asylum seeking students it is also a very good chance to practice German language.

The supporting students have different obligations on one hand, such as: presence, assistance and cooperation. But on the other hand they are motivated as well: they are offered a course in CNC-technics by the teacher – who was once officially qualified by Siemens and can now offer this course including the option to offer an official Siemens-certificate (Name of the certificate: “10C Technik Drehen und Fräsen auf der Sinumeriksteuerung von Siemens”, 10C technics rotating and cutting by using the Sinumeriksteering from Siemens).

The gist or general idea is that students who support other students are offered a particular education opportunity in school which would cost them a lot in other contexts or which would be more complicated to achieve. This could be any course that helps them to achieve further qualifications. 

As a result half of the career-entry class students completed the project and continue the school.

The project is to continue next school year. And there is a room for improvement that was recommended by the students (2 meetings/sessions a week and trainings for the students in methodology and communication strategies, mediation and non-violent communication)

Context of good practice

The vocational school Rotenburg/Wümme is a big vocational school with altogether 2700 students and 150 teachers. It is situated in the countryside. The school carries the Certificate „Europaschule“ and is very active in contacts with different countries, offering practical stays abroad in various European countries and bilingual teaching within its curriculum.

Main characteristics of the challenge, description of the target group

In career entry classes the students have the opportunity to achieve their Certificate of Secondary Education or to improve results of an already finished Certificate (the last result is the one that counts) in order to start vocational training. The biggest challenge is presence/attendance and very low motivation. Students that attend these classes are often extremely tired of anything that has to do with official school and learning. They often stop going to school after a short time again. Teachers very often fail to reach them by usual lessons. These students very often need a more emotional access to school and individual consultation. Peer teaching, as used in this project, can help them overcome the fear of failing. Peers can more easily act as good examples than teachers.

The supporting students come from the same vocational school, but were students on high school level aged 16-18. The students receiving support are students from a “career entry class” (ca. 15 students from the vocational areas of ‘housekeeping/home economics’ or ‘metal’),age group: 17-25.

Addition: Once a year there is a common barbecue organized by the supporting students, the higher classes as well as the supported classes are welcome as guests. There is always a teacher present at all meetings/sessions.

Success factors and processes

The students who have not yet achieved any qualifications but are still at an age where they are obliged to go to school, very often gave up soon. Teachers failed to reach them, many stopped attending lessons after a short time again. Teachers very often do not have the necessary time to take care of them individually and make sure they understand everything during the lessons or do their homework and learn for their tests.

Therefore the school started to think of alternatives and projects that could prevent them failing. That was when the idea came from to use peer-teaching in a win-win-situation.

The supporting students come from the same vocational school, but were students on high school level aged 16-18. They were asked and in return offered the special course to be able to achieve a qualification.

The students receiving support are students from a “career entry class” (ca. 15 students from the vocational areas of ‘housekeeping/home economics’ or ‘metal’),age group: 17-25.

The supporting students help the students receiving support with their homework or with problems they have with different subjects. They meet once a week for 90 minutes.

There is a personal assignment between supporting and supported student.

The supporting students do not only concentrate on the subjects, but also on methodology and the structured and systematic approach to homework and learning strategies. Their methods vary according to the level of the supported.

There is always a teacher present at all meetings/sessions.

There is no necessity to train the supporting students, their social competencies suffice. The students themselves undergo in their own first two school weeks after the summer holidays an intensive course in methodology. This is very useful for their task.

One whole school year. From the beginning of the school year until the Easter holidays (usually April).

The actual meetings/sessions start after the autumn holidays (usually October),the time before is used for explaining the certificate the supporters can achieve. The sessions last until May; they end 2 weeks before the certificate exams.

Impact of measures taken

…the supported students:

  • Homework is done.
  • Topics are explained.
  • They are prepared for class tests.
  • They have had exercise in German (asylum seeking students and others).
  • The feeling of success and achievement raises their motivation level.

…the supporting students:

  • They achieve a qualification and can get an official Certificate (Siemens).
  • They raise their social (and methodological) competencies.

Lessons learned

Teachers who want to take influence in cooperation between the students, teachers who cannot ‘let go’ Homework has to be started, an effort has to be made, but there is no urgent need for perfection.

Resources needed

  • Personnel: various teachers for 90 minutes per week.
  • Planning the 90 minutes for supported AND supporters (they need to have time out then).

Any other information

The supporting students receive a qualifying course and an official certificate (80 lessons / value approx. € 1600,-)

They receive individual support on their way to reach the secondary certificate.

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Target group of good practice:





Maik Lucht (organizing teacher)


Vocational School Rotenburg/Wümme

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