Bunte Stunde a cross-class school support and extension program

Aim of the program 'Bunte Stunde'

In order to better support the individual talents, interests and abilities of our students and to be able to better meet the heterogeneity of our student body, the teaching staff at DSM has jointly decided to implement a cross-class school support and extension program in the form of a support band from the school year 2023 onwards. The aim of this program is to create an increased range of differentiated support offers in small learning groups*.

Our goal with the 'Bunte Stunde' is to meet the individual learning needs of all our students, whether this involves remediation, consolidation or extension. We aim to counteract learning difficulties preventively, to create a secure foundation and to support the further development of special skills and interests. All children should be challenged where they have strengths and find support where they have difficulties.

The support lessons take place in parallel groupings: Prep (in-class support), Year One and Year Two, Year Three and Year Four, Year Five and Year Six. At DSM we refer to this support set-up as 'Bunte Stunde', since the children are assigned to different coloured groups. The colour does not indicate the corresponding level and is randomly assigned. The ‘Bunte Stunde’ takes place once a week each for the subjects German, Mathematics and English and is conducted by two teachers per class. Due to the cross-class structure, up to four groups can be created for two classes and up to six groups for three classes. This increased ratio allows our students to receive more individualised support through more individual time with teachers.

The teachers use common learning status diagnoses, standardized performance assessments and comparative work (e.g. ACER, HSP, ELFE, Thuringian competence test, NAPLAN etc.) as well as lesson observations and their knowedge of the students' learning prerequisites and social-emotional skills to allocate the students to a suitable group. The learning group in each core class is divided into three competence levels: support group (children with specific learning gaps or support needs), core group (children with solid and consolidated basic knowledge and skills), extension group (children with special achievements that go beyond the class level). Based on this, cross-class small groups, that are more homogeneous in relation to a skill that the group is focusing on, are formed.

In the ‘Bunte Stunde’, the contents of the individual groups are based on the needs of the students. The teachers ensure that the students are provided with material that is appropriate for their age and year level. Furthermore, cooperative learning methods and open tasks ensure that the students are supported and challenged according to their learning level and allow our students to learn with and from each other. At the end of each semester, the ‘Bunte Stunde’ teachers, together with the class teacher, evaluate the progress of the students and reallocate the groups for the next semester. The group allocations are shared with the parents at the start of every term by their child's respective class teacher. Should it be necessary to change groups within a semester, the parents will be informed accordingly. At the end of the school year, the students participate in a student survey, which the teaching staff evaluate and make adjustments where necessary. 

Further links and information

Sources for learning across different year levels, especially at schools with a high degree of heterogeneity:

Thoren, Katharina; Hannover, Bettina; Brunner, Martin Jahrgangsübergreifendes Lernen (JÜL): Auswirkungen auf die Leistungsentwicklung in Deutsch und Mathematik in ethnisch heterogenen Schulen Fickermann, Detlef [Hrsg.]; Weishaupt, Horst [Hrsg.]: Bildungsforschung mit Daten der amtlichen Statistik. 1. Auflage. Münster ; New York : Waxmann 2019, S. 140-155. - (Die Deutsche Schule. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, Bildungspolitik und pädagogische Praxis - Beiheft; 14)


Advantages and disadvantages of multi-age education:

Australian Journal of Teacher Education Volume 44 Issue 5 Article 2 2019 Multiage Education: An Exploration of Advantages and Disadvantages through a Systematic Review of the Literature Michelle Ronksley-Pavia Griffith University Georgina M. Barton University of Southern Queensland Donna Pendergast Griffith University


Article in the Herald Sun:
Bunte Stunde at the German School in Shanghai: