What's the best in school life

What makes a good school?

People go to school

Many of the more than 80 schools that have won the German School Prize have developed good school concepts that turn widespread notions of learning and teaching upside down. How and why they do this is what this book is about. From multi-professional teams to lateral entrants to well-being, the authors from educational science and school practice take up current topics and encourage others with numerous practical examples.

Good school manual

The good school manual was published on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the German School Prize. The six quality areas are reflected in detail from the perspective of scientists and practitioners.

Good school simulation game

With the business game, the players take on different roles and struggle together to find the best strategy. Compromises have to be negotiated and pleadings held. The teams playfully develop a strategy for their own school based on the six quality areas.

Research good practice

The research program “How does a good school work? - Research for Practice ”aims to systematically research the excellent school practice of the schools that have won the German School Prize. Together with the German School Academy, we have been funding research projects since 2018.

Quality areas for printing

You can download an overview of the six quality areas and the associated key questions on two pages here.


The German School Prize is looking for schools that, based on their starting point, have special student achievements in the core subjects (mathematics, languages, natural sciences), in the arts (e.g. theater, art, music or dance), in sports or in other important areas (e.g. B. project work, competitions).

  • Is there a comprehensive understanding of performance in school that is largely supported and visible in daily school work?

  • Does the understanding of performance contribute to reducing the consequences of social inequality?

  • Are there suitable offers for all pupils so that they can recognize and exhaust their capabilities, discover and test their talents?

  • How systematically and professionally are school learning processes accompanied and reflected upon?

  • Are special extracurricular achievements and talents perceived, appreciated and used (e.g. first language, social commitment)?

  • To what extent does the school take into account performance expectations outside of school (e.g. other types of school, vocational training)?

  • By whom, in what form and with what systematic performance is individual performance recorded, documented and used for diagnostics, development and learning plans?

  • How are performance results in school (e.g. comparison tests) used to improve learning processes?

  • How are schoolchildren enabled to plan their performance goals themselves and to document their performance independently (e.g. e-portfolio, learning diaries, learning maps)?

  • Are formative and summative forms of performance evaluation in a meaningful context and do they ensure transparency in performance evaluation?

  • Are the student performance above expectations for the school location / catchment area / student population / year and are the results documented?

  • Are special student achievements (curricular / extracurricular) achieved?

  • Has the school been successful in lowering repeat, graduation and dropout rates?

  • Have student performance continuously improved in a particular way?

  • How does the school promote the realistic self-assessment of the students?

  • Is there an appreciative, strength-oriented, effective and transparent feedback system?

  • To what extent do descriptions of competencies supplement the numerical grades?

Dealing with diversity

The German School Prize is looking for schools that have found ways and means to deal productively with the different educational requirements, interests and performance opportunities, with cultural and national origins, educational backgrounds of the families, and the gender of their pupils; Schools that are effective in compensating for handicaps; Schools that systematically and continuously promote individual learning.

  • How comprehensive is the school's understanding of inclusion?

  • Does the idea of ​​inclusion shape the basic understanding of the school and does the school associate it with a difference-sensitive development or is inclusion seen as an additional task?

  • Are the students perceived with their diverse skills and strengths?

  • How does the school prevent students from being labeled?

  • Is the diversity of skills and experiences of employees seen and used?

  • How do you ensure that all students find a productive learning situation?

  • Does the school react to different learning starting points through adapted access routes, flexible structures, differentiating media, individual teaching and learning arrangements and personalized support?

  • How does the school succeed in creating a stimulating learning culture in which it is ensured that the students do not hinder each other from learning, but are beneficial for each other?

  • How do students benefit from the different competencies when learning together (mentor, sponsor, assistant, learning through teaching)?

  • Does the school have a consistent and conceptually firmly anchored diagnostic understanding and system that is based on the strengths of the students?

  • Are there strengthening concepts for special living and learning situations (e.g. giftedness, learning disabilities, long-term illnesses, family crises)?

  • How professionally do you react to special talents, including so-called "island talents"?

Teaching quality

The German School Prize is looking for schools that ensure that pupils take their learning into their own hands; Schools that enable intensive and practice-oriented learning, also at extracurricular learning locations; Schools that continuously improve the teaching and work of teachers with the help of new knowledge.

  • What is the common understanding of education, teaching and learning?

  • How firmly is independent and self-directed learning established in the classroom of all years?

  • How are students' individualized and collaborative learning balanced?

  • What rules and agreements on work, learning and social behavior are there and are they binding for learners and teachers?

  • How do students gain access to the world into which they are growing in class?

  • How are the students encouraged to bring their own experiences, skills and questions into the classroom?

  • How are the rooms of the school (inside and outside) used for stimulating learning?

  • How are lessons supplemented by interdisciplinary or extra-curricular educational offers (e.g. working groups, projects)?

  • Do the lessons contribute to the values ​​orientation of the students?

  • Does a rhythmization allow an appropriate change of learning situations?

  • What (agreed) concept is there for the continuous further development of teaching?

  • What support does the school offer to positively change problematic teaching?

  • How are the students involved in the planning, design and evaluation of the lessons?

  • How was digitization taken into account when setting teaching goals and developing teaching methods?

  • How can it be seen that high performance requirements and the confidence in the performance of the students form a good connection?

  • Does teaching enable every student to be successful?

  • Are the criteria and reference norms for performance evaluation clearly and transparently presented and how are the students involved in defining them?


The German School Prize is looking for schools in which respectful interaction with one another, non-violent conflict resolution and careful handling of things are not only postulated, but also jointly represented and implemented in everyday life; Schools that actually promote and implement participation and democratic commitment, initiative and community spirit in class, in school and beyond.

  • How are schoolchildren supported in experiencing themselves as an important member of a democratic society?

  • How does the school enable the pupils to sharpen their view of the world and to recognize their own options for action ("think globally - act locally")?

  • How do teachers and school management ensure that the students also take social responsibility?

  • How do the pupils get to know and use their participation rights and opportunities in school?

  • How can you tell that the students actively and regularly contribute to the development of the educational concept of the school?

  • From school management to teacher action, can typical examples be found showing that school life is a model for democratic opinion-forming and participation?

  • How do the school management and teachers impart the necessary skills to the students (age-appropriate) to take responsibility for their lives?

  • In what way do students learn to take responsibility for their own learning and the learning success of their study group?

  • How and to what extent can students take responsibility in their classes, in school and beyond?

  • How do the school management and teachers perceive their responsibility for the learning success and the personal development of the students?

School climate, school life and partners outside of school

The German School Prize is looking for schools with a good climate and an exciting school life; Schools that pupils, teachers and parents like to go to; Schools that maintain pedagogically fruitful relationships with people and institutions outside of school as well as with the public.

  • Is the school a living space where everyone likes to hang out and feel good?

  • Does the school create places of togetherness and allow play and rest times?

  • Does the school implement a health education concept?

  • Does the school promote (cultural) exchange and joint celebrations?

  • Does the school deal with its own history (e.g. naming)?

  • How does the school create a stimulating and friendly atmosphere in which the members of the school as well as guests feel welcome?

  • How can you see that objects, rooms and the environment are treated with respect?

  • How is a professional balance between closeness and distance created in school?

  • What preventive concepts are there?

  • How is the topic of "healthy school" anchored in the school program and in everyday life?

  • How does the school deal with exclusion, sexualized border violations, violence and bullying (also in digital media)?

  • Which protection concept, complaint and crisis management has the school developed?

  • How does the school organize support and help with school and extracurricular problems?

  • How is parental work organized and what opportunities do parents have to participate?

  • How is the cooperation with the leaving and secondary schools organized?

  • How does the school structure its cooperation with partners outside of school?

  • How does the school present itself to the public?

  • How well is the school anchored in the educational region and in networks?

  • In what form does the school open to projects and initiatives in the district?

  • How are networks maintained and the work of the volunteers at the school recognized?

School as a learning institution

The German School Prize is looking for schools that practice new and result-oriented forms of cooperation between the teaching staff, leadership and democratic management and systematically promote the motivation and professionalism of their teachers; Schools that recognize their own tasks in dealing with administrative requirements, creatively adapting the curriculum, organizing and evaluating school activities and school results, which they work on independently and sustainably.

  • How does the school arrive at its school development goals and processes and how does it focus?

  • How and in what form is it ensured that the relevant school data is regularly documented?

  • How are development measures derived from this data in order to improve processes and results in the school?

  • Is school development carried out with the involvement of those involved and affected? Are decisions transparent for everyone?

  • Does the school have a mission statement that is shared by all members of the school community?

  • Has an advanced training plan been developed that is relevant with a focus on school and lesson development and that was discussed and approved in the overall conference?

  • How is the further training of individuals used for the further development of all?

  • What team and cooperation structures are there and how are these anchored in the school?

  • Is there an organizational chart that also shows the tasks of the school management and other officials?

  • How does the school design its communication structures to ensure the smoothest and most transparent flow of information possible?

  • How is productive personnel development ensured, for example with regular employee appraisals, career planning, etc. m.?

  • What does time and workplace management look like at the school, and how are new employees trained in it?