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Alte Salzstr. 67
04209 Leipzig

Tel.: +49 (0) 341.301.3343
Fax: +49 (0) 341.301.3343

Name of contact person: Benni Schmutzer

Year founded: 1990

Number of students: 170
Age range of students: 6-17
Number of staff: 12 full-time, 2 admin, 2 interns

Type of funding (government/private): government and private

The Freie Schule Leipzig is a democratic school. It has its roots in the civil movement in the late 80s in the former GDR, which finally led to the breakdown of East Germany.

Our mission statement is pretty much equivalent to the IDEC 2005 resolution. Everyone is free to decide how to spend their time: what, when, how and with whom he or she wants to learn. Decisions concerning the rules and regulations of the school are made in the weekly school meetings, where everyone has an equal vote. Our goal is to accept everybody as the unique person she or he is and to create a space where everybody can unfold their potentials.

We have age-mixed groups. They meet every day in a “morning circle”. This is also where most conflict resolution takes place. If a solution can’t be found in the morning circle, you can bring up the case in the school meeting. The school meeting can also call for an issue to be dealt with by the so-called “small school meeting”, which is a committee of elected student and team representatives from all groups. This committee also has the authority to set punishments if necessary.

We see parents as very important and competent figures who are strongly attached to their children. That’s why we try to cooperate very closely with them. There are many meetings for parents and many chances for them to get involved in the school. But the parents are not members of the school meeting. We try to create and run our school as sustainably and respectfully as possible towards the environment. We see ourselves as a learning community, and we are open for changes.

School Info Chart

The Questions

What is the name of the school? | Freie Schule Leipzig

What is the address of the school? | Alte Salzstraße 67, 04209 Leipzig

School’s phone number and website? |+49 341 30133343,

School’s EUDEC contact person and e-mail? | Henrik Ebenbeck,

What is the legal status of the school? | Genehmigte Ersatzschule

When was the school founded? | 1990

How many students are there? | 160

Which student age groups are there? | 6 – 17

How many (full-time equivalent) staff members? | 15

How many school hours per day and week? | Monday till Thursday 7.30 a.m. till 5.00 p.m., Friday till 3.00 p.m.

Interested in hosting interns? | we prefer long term interns, at least three months

Interested in the EUDEC Diploma? | yes

Interested in the EUDEC exchange program? | yes

Does applicable law allow your school to follow the EUDEC definition of democratic education? | yes | Because our school was still founded in the former GDR before reunification of the two German states we are in a special situation. We are not forced to follow the states curriculum.

Do students have free choice of whether or not to participate in scholastic and other activities? | yes | Every student is free to decide how to spend their time.

Can students easily initiate and suggest scholastic and other activities? | yes | Everybody can make suggestions in the weekly school assembly.

Can students offer, lead and run scholastic and other activities? | yes | For example the school assembly is run by a team of students.

Can students ‘vote’ on the school’s rules? | yes | All school rules are made in the school assembly, where every student and every staff member has one vote.

Can students ‘vote’ on the consequences of breaking rules? | yes | Everybody has the right to bring someone up in a morning circle. There is a comity that deals with breaking rules. Five students and two staff members working in it, elected by the school assembly.

Can students ‘vote’ on the use of spaces? | yes | Anybody is free to bring it up as a topic in the school meeting.

Are there any compulsory activities for students? | very few | Only if the assembly votes on it. For example there is compulsory cleaning service for fifteen minutes every day.

Who decides on the compulsory activities and who must participate? | the school assembly | All students and all staff members have a vote in the school assembly.

Can students ‘vote’ on accepting and expelling other students? | yes| It’s possible to vote on that in the school assembly.

Can students be involved in the hiring and firing of staff members, including educational staff? | yes| Students are equally involved in hiring new teachers. The legal body of our school is an association. The members assembly of that association elects a board, which is legally responsible for all financial and legal questions. They have to sign the contracts but they usually follow the decisions of the school assembly.

Can students and staff equally participate in the decision making process? | yes | In the assembly every student and every staff member have one vote.

Does your school need to meet any curriculum imposed from outside of the school? | no | We don’t have to follow the states curriculum.

How is student performance and progress monitored and graded? | no grades | There is a lot of personal feedback. At the end of the school year every student gets a letter with a feedback about the last year.

Can students ‘vote’ on managing and deciding the budget? | partially | Students can only decide about a part of the budget

Can students ‘vote’ on the infrastructure of the school? | yes | can be a topic in the school assembly

Can students ‘vote’ on the management structure of the school? | no | Who is working in the office is a responsibility of the board

School Description

How often do school meetings take place? | twice a week

Which decision making bodies are there? | school assembly, morning circles, “little school meeting”

Who decides who is in which decision making body? | school assembly

What is the parents’ role in school life? | they don’t have a vote in the school assembly

What is the parents’ role in decision making? | none

Who is financially and legally responsible for your school? | board of the association

Who makes financial and legal decisions? | members assembly and board of the association

What is the school building like? | a typical concrete school building of the former GDR, built in 1979

Is your school (partially or fully) a boarding school? | no

From how far do most students come from? | all over the city (half a million inhabitants)

In what kind of area is the school located? | edge of the city, very green, many old people

How is the school funded? | states funding (about 50% of what a states school gets) and parents fees

Can students get a degree/diploma? | EUDEC Diploma, if the want to have a Diploma accepted by the state, they have to take the state exam in a states school, the school also gives a Diploma (not accepted by the state)

Is there any curriculum planning? | A schedule is planned for one school year but it can be modified every time. The planning is done by an open group.

Further Description and Comments:

The basic principles of our school are respect, trust, communication and freedom. We are a learning institution and on the way to a democratic, inclusive and sustainable school.

Student and Staff Exchange

Adress of school:
Alte Salzstraße 67, 04209 Leipzig

Number of students and staff; age range:
students: 135 aged 6-16; staff 12 pedagogical, 2 administrative

Describe the location/surroundings:
Leipzig; largish city; accessible lakes for swimming; everything a normal city can offer

Description of school’s concept:
attendance compulsory 8.30-13.00
‘offers’ not ‘lessons’ – all voluntary
weekly school meetings; weekly class 4-10 meetings
the only compulsory thing is ‘dienst’ – 15 minutes of cleaning every day – voted by school meeting;
all school rules decided in school meeting, also represented in employment process and budget

Who decides whether or not a student can come for exchange:

contact person:
Benni Schmutzer

How many students could you host:
up to 10 but flexible

For what duration:
open to everything but need to discuss each case at a time; consider financial factors

What age-range would you welcome:
as from class 5 but also may be flexible

Do you have host-families:
yes – but has to be arranged on a case by case basis

What is the main/only language spoken at your school; what other languages are spoken:
German native speakers; English speakers in staff and students; students also learning Spanish and French; language instruction – maybe but would have to ask

Would the exchange student have to pay tuition; could tuition be exchanged for a free exchange opportunity for students of your school at the school of your guest?:
has to be discussed. a free exchange opportunity might work

Are there any expenses for staying in the host family:
schools lunch is 2,50€ a day; the rest would be up to the individual families to arrange/agree upon

Can you provide basic info on daily expenses (food, transportation) in your city:
tram is 1€ for one way ticket for children; food and other costs are very reasonable

Have you had previous experiences with student exchanges or hosting a student? What was positive/negative?:
students were at IDEC Israel and are arranging going there again and having people come to us; planning of two trips to england next year; different things with schools in Germany; very positive experiences; very enthusiastic

Do you have experience with raising funds for travel expenses?:

Can you put down a holiday schedule for your school? Are there times when you wouldn’t welcome students:
autumn: 2 weeks mid-october
Christmas: 1,5 weeks starting 23 december
Winter: 2 weeks mid february
Easter: 1,5 weeks over easter
Summer: 6 weeks from approx. july

Are you also interested in staff exchange? What are your ideas for such an exchange?: