The Helene-Lange-School is a comprehensive school in Wiesbaden, Germany. The school received much media coverage for its pedagogic methods. While proponents of comprehensive schools believe it is one of Germany's best schools, opponents believe it is just a run-of-the-mill-school that serves privileged kids who would do just as well attending any other kind of school.
In 1847, the school was founded in Wiesbaden as Höhere Töchterschule (School for upperclass daughters). In 1955 the school was named after Helene Lange. At this time it was an all-girls school. In 1971 boys were admitted to the school. In 1986 it was converted into a comprehensive and Enja Riegel became headmistress of the school. In 1987 the school became a member of the UNESCO Associated Schools Project. In 2009 it became a Club-of-Rome-School.
The school serves mainly upper-middle-class children. While 42% of all children visiting Wiesbaden schools have at least one parent born abroad, less than 10% of the Helene-Lange students do. Enja Riegel said she would love the Helene-Lange-School to become more diverse, but that minority youngsters simply did not apply for the school.
What makes the school special?
When Enja Riegel became the school's headmistress in 1986, she wanted to do away with ex-cathedra teaching. She had walls of rooms torn down, thus creating lounges for the students to interact and engage in free learning. She introduced project weeks. Life at the Helene-Lange-School is influenced by having celebrations, traveling, working on projects and participating in theatre plays. In 1988 students became committed to development aid in Nepal.
Germanys best school?
In 2002 the Helene-Lange-students participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), doing well. Breaking the rule that PISA must not be used for school-level evaluation (for which it is methodologically not suited), the media were informed and the Helene-Lange-School was announced Germany's best school. Later it was revealed that while the students really did well, the school was outperformed by most Gymnasien (prep schools) in the south.