Caroline Kann

School Development Management Under the Impact of Declining Student Numbers as an Explanation for Divergent Private School Developments

Top-down vs. Bottom-up Using the Examples of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia after Reunification


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After the number of students in East Germany fell by half in the period after the reunification, the ministries of education of the new Länder employed different governance approaches in the area of school development planning. Using the examples of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia, this article suggests that the nature of these governance approaches provides an explanation for the varying degrees of growth of the private school sector across states. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where a topdown governance approach was followed, strict guidelines regarding the closure of school sites led to a sharp decline in public schools and, at the same time, a sharp increase in private schools. In Thuringia, where the state level administration largely stayed out of school development planning, school closures were decreed less often at the municipal level and, at the same time, fewer private schools were founded. The article is based on the author’s dissertation that focuses on the dismantling and conversion of school sites in the face of a demographic decline in student numbers, particularly emphasizing the private school sector.

governance, school development, private schools, school closure