We – students of all ages, supported by amazing teachers – started the project team “Freiherr-in-action” in 2014, as soon as we knew that a refugee accommodation was going to be built next to our school. Our first goal was to make the refugees’ arrival a little easier by collecting donations, what developed from this was weekly football training and we even competed in a football tournament together.
Over time, we built friendships and are now focusing on raising awareness of racism and discrimination at our school.
In the last year, we visited talk shows, went to a concert, produced a short movie and we are planning to go on a short trip together. Such projects are to make our school an even more friendly, tolerant and open-minded environment, besides the fact that they are always exciting to accomplish as the team that we have become.
The students’ government of our school is responsible for two major aspects of the school:
On the one hand, these elected pupils are the representatives of all students and therefore have to ensure their well being. To do so they, for example, stand up for their classmates when it comes to problems and are part of important decisions concerning internal school politics.
On the other hand, they organise events for the other students such as parties for the years five to seven, soccer and basketball competitions as well as movie nights.
The Freiherr-vom-Stein-Gymnasium lies in the Leverkusen district of Schlebusch
Two representatives from Bracknell visited the Freiherr vom Stein Gymnasium in Leverkusen on 24th September to set up links for Students at Garth Hill College in Bracknell. They met teachers Philipp Reul and Nicole Zierke who gave a conducted tour of the school.
Freiherr vom Stein students have already published their first story in Augenblink.
The last time I missed and regained the Britishness was in Berlin. I stayed in a hip hostel chain. I chose a women’s room for six people, because I wanted it as cheap as possible. Among others there were two English girls. Every guest had a kind of box under the bunk beds to slide out. While I was on the floor crouching and trying to find something, one of the English girls was standing next to me (the passage was narrow and I blocked her way) and waited until I was ready and she could go through. And still she said: “Sorry” to me, even though I was in the way. At that moment I remembered how it was to be British.
And now there are only a few days left until the EU referendum. I get a queasy feeling. What kind of changes will come upon us? I say “upon us” deliberately, because it will – in a manner of speaking – concern everyone in the EU, whether in a positive or negative sense.
I don’t want to speak about the advantages and disadvantages of a Brexit deliberately, the financial and global points that could possibly change. I am leaving this to those who do it the whole time anyway: the experts. I would rather talk about the human aspect. Dear Brits, look at our continent, why would you end such a neighbourhood friendship that worked for the most part. For over 70 years it is relatively peaceful in Europe and not without a reason. Because this is a website for the British-German friendship I think that this is clear.
And still I felt the ambivalence in England time and time again. “I was on holiday in Europe”, “On the continent/ main land…” All these phrases are harmless; still they indicate that for many Brits their country does not really belong to Europe. This attitude of the Brits didn’t change for decades as a member of the EU. As you notice from the Brexit campaign, it appears that for Britain the EU and its regulations are a liability – you feel restricted. If Britain was independent from the EU, they would make decisions that would benefit the island without the “interference” of the European Union. It sounds a bit nostalgic to me: Back to the past, when the British Empire still dominated the world. It doesn’t seem up-to-date in the digital age. More reasonable would be to my mind – if you want to change something, you have a talk with the players and not just leave.
If you leave out everything – all the financial reasons and fears for or against the Brexit – and just decide for yourself: Why would it be so bad right now – June 2016 – to say: “Guys, you know what, let’s go over this and discuss and decide together. Maybe you have something that works great and we could adapt”. This should happen at the table with all the other EU members. Because if we’re being honest: Nothing ever good came out when a state isolated itself with the plan to go into other directions.
„Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” That is the question that adult UK-citizens will be asked in the EU-Referendum on 23rd June 2016.
As a German – English couple with different, not dual nationalities, having family in England, Sweden and Germany, and many close friends not only in these three countries but in Belgium, France, Spain and Austria, we are, of course, staunch and committed ‘Remainers’, though only one of us will be asked the above question.
As the heated debate about the right answer to the referendum question is getting more ferocious by the week we wonder why this debate seems to concentrate almost exclusively on the economic aspects of a possible Brexit for the United Kingdom, its economy and its taxpayers. ‘Brexiteers’ hardly give a thought to the potentially devastating consequences a Brexit at this particular moment might have not only for the British economy but for the stability of the EU as a whole, because whatever the result, the British are and will remain a part of Europe. At present the European Union is seriously challenged by three critical issues:
The ‘Putin-crisis’ dominated by a Russian president who is reclaiming the status of a world power for his country and is trying to split the EU by a quite unique mix of propaganda, bullying and lies.
The refugee crisis which came to the boil in the latter part of 2015 and has caused bitter rifts within European societies and between western and eastern European states. Driven by fear and lack of personal experience with people from other nations and cultures, there is growing support across Europe for nationalism and populism because these appear to offer clear and simple answers to very complex problems.
The Euro-crisis which is far from being solved: Billions and billions of Euros have been pumped into the Greek economy – obviously in vain….
Solving any of these problems will take time, solidarity and firm resolve on all sides. None of these problems will disappear from the political agenda of the UK after 23rd June, irrespective of the outcome of the referendum.
On the contrary: If the UK left the EU right now this would not only make it more difficult to solve these problems but it would also weaken the EU as a whole and impair its urgently needed authority as an important international player. Moreover,the political and economic repercussions of Great Britain leaving the EU will undoubtedly do serious economic damage to this country which also might find itself politically more isolated than supporters of this irrevocable step can imagine:
“EU member states will be determined to prevent the contagion of disintegration among its member states resulting from a Brexit: so they will never make it easy for us to leave and will exact tough terms from us in prolonged negotiations. As President Hollande said, “there will be consequences”.
(Richard Barber, “EU Referendum – responding to the Brexiteers”, April 16, p.4)
This quotation is from a paper written by Richard Barber OBE, a former Commercial Director of British Steel. This paper, which you will find attached, gives a succinct summary of the issues which are at stake in this referendum. Barber’s principal argument:
“…in an increasingly interdependent world, countries must opt, not between pure sovereignty and the pooled sort, but between the pooled sort and isolation […] There is no strength in isolation and no power without allies.” (ibid., p.4)
Nobody should doubt that further reforms of the EU and its institutions are urgently needed. Nobody should doubt that national states – large or small – still have a decisive and indispensable role to play. Their diversity is our wealth, our happiness. But if arguments prevail and not a general feeling of uneasiness and fear of “Brussels” as the source of all evil the outcome of the referendum should be clear.
Social media in Germany have been instrumental in starting an initiative “Hug a Brit a day!” – just to let them know how much we love them and want them to stay in the EU. So, dear family, friends and neighbours, we send our love with hugs and blessings.
Horst and Patricia. Bournemouth, May 2016
Horst and Patricia Tippkötter-Davis
Bournemouth BH8 9JA, United Kingdom
51465 Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
In this article I will tell you something about the refugees‘ situation at Käthe-Kollwitz-School in Leverkusen.
At my comprehensive school in Leverkusen, we have an international class, where young refugees learn German. This project is supported by the school management and other teachers. One of them is Mr Mosner, who ist he class teacher of these 17 students. The students are between 13 and 16 years old and come from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bosnia and Macedonia. The main business of the students is the German language. By the way the students learn English or drama, too. Mr. Mosner himself says that he gets along well with his students.
He mainly uses
1.visual means, for example pictures, facial expression, gestures.
2. auditory means, for example he says: „whisper“ in a quiet language.
3. verbal means, for example he translates the word and a refugee who understands it translates it for the other students into their mother tongue.
He also says that the students need to care for their future. So he says that the students must learn German so that they can communicate in everyday life and can be transferred fast to a regular class.
In his opinion one problem is that some students have to repeat a class because they have not enough German knowledge to get a regular graduation at this school.
He also says that the other, „regular“ students are nice to the refugees.
I personally noticed that Mr. Mosner loves it to work with refugees and kids. I think that he needs a lot of patience in this task. I have big respect for his engagement. We should also not forget the other teachers behind Mr. Mosner. Because one person alone can´t do this task alone.
Paul-Leander Schmidt, 9H, Käthe-Kollwitz School Leverkusen
Sandy Lane – YEAR 5 trip to the Lexicon town centre regeneration site
Report by Ruby, aged 9, Kestrels Class
At the start of the school day, there was a huge rush of parents making sure that they got their children in on time. Because Year 5 had the special opportunity to see all of the arranged plans about the future Bracknell!
Once everyone was in the classroom and we had taken the register, we all got our warm and cosy wellies on and then got into about four or five groups. After that we got our hi-vis jackets and a few minutes later we were off!
When we got there, we all put our safety helmets on and met a lady called Ms. Kiz, who helped the teachers organise the school trip. In the meantime, two other groups went to get an amazing view from the top of Ocean House. Back at the building site, the other groups went up to the second floor car park and we asked the builders questions. Funnily enough we were even able to see Sandy Lane! Year 5 were also able to boss the controllers of the crane about! We made him do a 360 degree turn! After about twenty minutes of questions and fun it was time to switch around so that the other group could catch a glimpse of what it’s like to walk onto the amazing Lexicon!
My name is Nadine, I am 14 years old and go to Landrat-Lucas-Gymnasium in Leverkusen. In 9th form, every pupil has to do 2-week work experience. Since I wanted to do my work experience abroad and am very interested in various fields of arts, I was very happy to get the placement at South Hill Park. South Hill Park is a cultural centre and is located in a very nice, big park. There are lots of interesting offers such as workshops, classes, a cinema, a theatre or other events. You can even rent rooms for events.
I started at 10 a.m. every day and spent most of my time with the people of the set who were all really nice. In total, I worked for eight projects and painted e.g. sceneries or prepared a room for a birthday party. I got along very well with my colleagues and learned a lot about how much work needs to be put into a theatre play.
I really enjoyed my work experience very much and at the end I had the chance to watch the play “One Man, Two Guvnors” which was really funny!
We are a large three form entry Primary school with 656 pupils, located in the centre of Bracknell. In 2002, Sandy Lane Nursery, Infant School and Junior School amalgamated to become Sandy Lane Primary School. We have a wonderful team of staff, governors and pupils who help make Sandy Lane a great place to learn. We are also lucky to have lots of space, playgrounds and green fields to play on!
Our logo is a lion and our motto is PRIDE:
Positive Respect Independent Determined Enquiry
We are very successful in sport and are lucky to have a specialist PE teacher, Mr. Medford. We offer all sorts of clubs including a brilliant choir led by our Assistant Head Teacher, Miss. Einchcomb. We have a Junior Leadership Team (JLT), who work closely with our Head Teacher, Miss Jackson.
At the start of this new academic year 2015-2016, we made a few changes to our Foreign Languages Curriculum. Last year the government made the learning of foreign languages at Key Stage 2 statutory. The new programme of study states that:
‘Teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language and should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one language.’
For many years now Sandy Lane has been ‘ahead of the game’ with French and German being taught at Key Stage 2. However, in order to adhere to the new curriculum, we made the decision that German will be taught across Years 3-6. We’re very excited about the level of language and confidence that pupils will have after 3-4 years of learning German!
Frau Marshall is a specialist Language Teacher who teaches German across Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11). Each class has one 45-60 minute lesson each week for three-four half terms of the six in the academic year. We learn German through all sorts of fun language games, short films, songs and stories. We also learn about German customs and festivals across the year. Sometimes we have native speakers who visit and we have good links to our neighbouring secondary school, Garth Hill College. Last year, we welcomed a group of Year 8 students, who taught a lesson about zoo animals to our Year 5 classes.
In Year 3, pupils take it in turns to take home a ‘German Bag’, which includes a teddy and his/her identity card, a board book, recipe cards, language games, a selection of Euro-coins and a note book. Pupils share photos, experiences, new facts or words with their class each week.
Die deutsche Teddybären heißen Lars, Leonie, Florian and Katja! The teddies get to go on some very exciting adventures from bowling to Cub Scout Camps and even abroad!
In Year 4, pupils learn about food and drink. This year we are planning a German Frühstück or Kaffee Kuchen. They will perform café role-plays, design menus and table mats and also serve each other, including some important guests using their German language skills. At Christmas time, Year 4s enjoyed sampling Lebkuchen, Spekulatius and Stollen! Spekulatius was the clear winner!
Children at Sandy Lane really enjoy performing and sharing what they learn in German to an audience! For example, at Christmas time, Year 5 put together a performance all about Christmas in Germany. They made shoes for St. Nikolaus and wrote a letter to him. They worked out the meaning of the poem ‘Advent, Advent ein Lichtlein brennt’ and designed their own Adventskranz. Christmas vocabulary and numbers were practised by making a class Adventskalender and we learnt the song ‘Lasst uns froh und munter sein’. Some children dressed up as St. Nikolaus, Krampus and German children in their pyjamas and acted out the song, whilst the rest of the class sang in German.
In Year 6, we learn about the weather. We write, perform and film our own weather reports to the class using props and our geographical knowledge of Germany. We are becoming more confident in writing from memory, using intensifiers and using our knowledge of German grammar.
Last year, the Year 6s also learnt how to describe their families. They used bi-lingual dictionaries to find adjectives, which described their mothers or a special family member and then made some wonderful Mother’s Day sentence flowers.
Sandy Lane Primary School would love to find a school in Leverkusen to share our work with and help us in our German language learning journey!
Where do you learn better English than in England itself? England, the mysterious island in Europe, that everyone knows, but not really.
Because I want to study English at university and I did not feel ready directly after school, I thought to myself:” Which preparation is better for this study then living in that particular country?”
At first I thought to myself to do a European Voluntary Service in Great Britain, but the places are much sought-after, because most of the costs are being covered by the European Union. Therefore it was more unlikely, that I would get a place. That is where my neighbour brought attention the twinning between my hometown Leverkusen and the English town Bracknell. Maybe the partnership could offer me a work placement? I contacted the person responsible for the partnership in Leverkusen and my request was passed on. I decided for six months beginning with September, so that I could deal with universities the rest of the year and not worry about it.
A few weeks later I got an answer: There was a possibility to do work experience. I would get accommodation with a host family. That, however, would be in Church Crookham, Fleet – ca. 30 minutes away with a car from Bracknell, where I would work.
I was so glad – in my relief (the weeks before I lived in a perpetual light panic) I have already imagined my life in England.
That is how I got a place as a trainee at the Education Centre of the Bracknell Forest Council in Bracknell. The Education Centre is on the third floor at Easthampstead Park – a old Victorian mansion. It is a centre for meetings and courses for all the things education that is used by the council, teachers and other people and not only by Bracknell Forest.
This could only be good.
But even in my dreams I did not imagine that in three points there would be problems: With the registration with a GP, with opening a bank account and with the public transport and the traffic.
In the first week we tried to register with a GP and to open a bank account. It was easier said than done. At the doctors they needed a proof of address, that could only be done by an official person (in my case my employer). At the bank they needed a letter of introduction, in my case form my GP, to be sure that I am the one I supposed to be. To cut it short: Without a letter of introduction no bank account and without a proof of address from my employer no registration with the doctor.
After I got the letter from my employer that says that I live under a certain address in England, we went to the doctors’ again. This time they could not register me, because I dod not belong to their assigned area, even though my host family had been there for years. But maybe they changed the laws over that time.
In the meantime I made enquiries at another bank: They would only open a bank account for at least twelve months. I wanted one only for six months.
In October I was finally registered with my assigned doctor’s practice. But they could not help me request with a letter of introduction from my GP, because they were not entitled to attest to the information I gave them about my address in England. Fortunately they suggested “Lloyds Bank” which does not need a letter of introduction.
After getting an appointment in the branch in Fleet and arriving there a bit nervous, I had to read that it is closed and had been so when I made the appointment. Full of panic I called them and made a new appointment in Farnborough, after they apologized and asked me whether I received a letter about the closure, which I did not.
After that there were no problems – I only needed my ID to open a bank account – as it should have been – we are all in the EU after all.
Thus I became the proud owner of an English bank account in the second week of November. And I thought it could have been already settled in September. So: Better find out ahead what you need for the doctor or to open a bank account. I definitely learned that.
But the good things overshadowed the bad things long time ago.
I was welcomed wonderfully by my host family and was spoiled with delicious food and interesting stories. I now understand the almost obsession of the English with all kinds of lemon cakes, but it is still strange for me to see other pies being filled with fish or meat. In addition you learn a lot of tips and tricks from the world of cooking from the many cooking programmes and of course from the “Great British Bake Off”.
Despite the two-hour-long way to work with three buses (of course I do not drive with a car here) I am always looking forward to it. The people are incredibly nice and you have the feeling of belonging there immediately. I was brought to the happenings instantly: The guests of the different courses, that were held every day, are provided with coffee, tea and biscuits and the ordered lunches are unpacked by us. Confirmation letters to courses have to be sent and invoices have to be paid.
I am sitting in the resources room, where teachers of Bracknell Forest can lend schoolbooks, CDs, novels and games. To make it easier, we are in the process of cataloguing and digitalizing the resources to make an online catalogue.
But the guests of the different meetings and courses always come first. And another new discovery for me: The Brits cannot live without biscuits. There are so many and different varieties and all of them are incredibly delicious – therefore one understands why they are so important. So: Without biscuits nothing works.
In the end of the day I can begin my journey home with the three buses. For that was the next shock: Firstly, most of the buses only have doors at the front, so that people get off the bus, before other people can go in (and that in a calm and orderly way). The first that got in was most of the time the first that waited at the bus stop and not in terms of the place he was standing but in terms of how long he waited. And secondly, the traffic that kind of appears out of nowhere. That the motorways are full was nothing new to me – in Germany it is common practice – but that normal roads are full, that was something new for me.
There are simply too many cars on too narrow roads and if anything goes wrong, it feels as if the whole system is breaking. But I am dependent on the public transport and do not want to be dependent on my host family.
That is why it is really stressful for me to sit in the bus in traffic, hoping that we arrive before the next to last bus, which brings me home, departs.
So: You should see the bus time tables in the south east region of England rather as a guideline.
And yet the bus drivers are not at fault, because they try to arrive on time and be helpful. In Germany I have never seen it really. Here it is appropriate to greet the bus driver and thank him in the end. That has a positive effect: When arriving late you are not that frustrated anymore, because the bus drivers are just human and they could not help it.
So: The traffic can be slow (especially at rush hour). You can adjust to it and have a chat with your neighbour and thank the bus driver in the end.
So the first impression: Wow! Actually it is different than I imagined. Even though sometimes there are problems in politics and in the economy, the people here are always kind and polite and on the streets kind of more chatty than in Germany. Maybe Germany could copy this.
by Paul-Leander Schmidt, year 9 : Käthe-Kollwitz School
On Sunday, 13th September 2015, was the mayoral election. The polling places opened at 8am and closed at 6pm. The following candidates could be voted for: the actual mayor, Reinhard Buchhorn, Christian Democratic Party, Uwe Richrath, Social Democratic Party, Erhard Schoofs, Bürgerliste, and Markus Beisicht, Pro-NRW (right wing party).
Only 36,5 % of the electorate took part. The election result was:
The new mayor of Leverkusen is Uwe Richrath (SPD) with a majority of 51,2 per cent of the votes. The other candidates had the following results: Reinhard Buchhorn (CDU) 29,8 percent, Erhard Schoofs (Bürgerliste) 12.6 percent and Markus Beisicht (pro NRW) 6.5 percent.
In a special interview with me, Uwe Richrath said that he was really happy because he thought that there would be a run-off ballot. After the result at 7.45pm, he went with his party friends to a restaurant and had a party there. When asked, „What did you dream the night before the mayoral election?“, he answered that he was so firmly in sleep that he didn´t think about that.
More about Uwe Richrath: Uwe Richrath was born on 1st January 1961 in Leverkusen. He went to Käthe-Kollwitz school in Leverkusen, (where I go to school). Since 1986 he has been a retail trade businessman with three textile shops. He has one son, Paul. Since 2000 he has been in the SPD.