The concept strikes many as old-fashioned and anachronistic, while others fiercely defend it. From the 2023/24 school year onwards, the girls’ high school in Papenburg will also admit boys – the decision of the school’s governing body, the school foundation of the Catholic diocese of Osnabrück, has triggered many discussions in the Mariengymnasium and in the city. Schoolgirls even started a signature list. In the meantime, the excitement has subsided, says headmaster Michael Bloemer: “We are working on our new educational concept.”

The girls’ high school has existed since 1835 and was handed over to the diocese’s school foundation by the Thuin Franciscan nuns in 2018. Over a long period of time, the Mariengymnasium has repeatedly had problems with weaker cohorts, says Thomas Wessler, board member of the foundation. In the future, the school is to be run in a stable three-stream system. In order to have more stable student numbers, boys should also be accepted. The school should no longer only target 50 percent of the population. In any case, the school is already cooperating with the municipal grammar school in the upper grades – so there are already boys in the courses before they graduate from high school.

The decision of the school board of trustees came as a surprise, not only to the teaching staff, but also to the students. The parents’ opinions were also divided, reports headmaster Bloemer.

One of the arguments in favor of an all-girls school is that when girls are at a school by themselves, they treat each other differently. They are more open in class than when boys are there too – and therefore more self-confident because they worry less about how they appear to the opposite sex.


Another argument: In schools where girls and boys are taught together, boys are often strong in mathematics and science subjects, girls in languages ​​and arts subjects. Not so in the so-called mono-educational schools. At all-girls schools – so the argument goes – the girls also enjoy maths and technology, while graduates of such schools study such subjects more often in comparison.

This is exactly what applies to the Mariengymnasium, says teacher Britta Kassens-Hesener. “The feedback we get from graduates shows us that an excellent foundation has been laid here for studying mathematical and scientific subjects.”

Educational scientist Jürgen Budde from the European University of Flensburg, on the other hand, considers the concept of an all-girls school to be outdated. School models that also reflect social diversity in schools are to be welcomed. Even if it is sometimes not as easy for girls at mixed schools because of the boys as at all-girls schools, this does not justify separate school systems for both sexes, says the researcher.

A separate girls’ school is also problematic because this concept is based on the existence of two genders. “The difference between boys and girls isn’t big enough to organize an entire school on this,” Budde believes. Especially since the legislature is now also asking what should happen to children who don’t find themselves in the gender dichotomy between male and female , i.e. non-binary personalities.

Ultimately, questions about gender diversity, about the differences and similarities between girls, boys and non-binary people can be addressed much better in a joint school, says Budde.

Many students at the Papenburg girls’ high school think it’s good for boys to be admitted. “It actually has many advantages,” says 17-year-old Ronja Knobloch, who is now in the 12th grade. As nice as the atmosphere at the all-girls school may be, they are not used to sharing lessons with boys, and starting their studies together with boys is then more difficult.

“If you look outside, it might be a bit more realistic to have mixed classes,” says classmate Inga Niehaus. And Maren Kremer, who is also 17, says that she doesn’t believe that the self-confidence of the students will decrease in the future when students sit in class. “That has nothing to do with the fact that only girls are taught here, but with the type of teaching here in general.”

Since the 1990s there have been repeated inquiries from parents as to whether the son should not be allowed to go to high school alongside the daughter. The sponsors at the time – the Thuiner Franziskanerinnen – would have stuck to the concept at the time, says the deputy headmaster Arne Fuchs.

A new pedagogical concept is to be drawn up and presented to the elementary schools by the autumn holidays, says headmaster Bloemer. Probably not much will change. There is no need to worry about the boys. “We need to integrate them into the school community like we did with the girls.”

The end of the tank discount is noticeable at the petrol pumps. On Thursday, diesel was sometimes over 2.50 euros. Fuel prices are still high on Friday morning.

Germany supports Ukraine, says Annalena Baerbock, “regardless of what my German voters think.” The Foreign Minister is currently being criticized for this statement. Chancellor Olaf Scholz stands behind his foreign minister.

A courageous man steps in when women are badly abused at a Christopher Street Day gathering. Now he’s dead. The police arrested a suspect on Friday.