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The Martinschule is a school in Greifswald.
Greifswald is a town in Germany.
In the Martinschule pupils with intellectual disabilities
and pupils without disabilities learn together.
They start learning together
when they go to primary school.
All students of the Martinschule graduate.
The Martinschule is a school for everyone.
In 2018, the school received the “German School Award”.
This is an award given to the best school in Germany.
The Martinschule received the award
because everyone is included at school.
How did the Martinschule start?
Germany once was divided in two parts:
East Germany and West Germany.
In East Germany,
people with intellectual disabilities
were put in institutions
or they went to a care centre during the day.
No child or teenager with intellectual disabilities
could go to school.
Greifswald was in East Germany.
There was a care centre in Greifswald.
When the two parts of Germany were united,
we turned the care centre into a school
for pupils with intellectual disabilities.
We called it the Martinschule.
I became the headmaster of the school.
Where did the students and teachers come from in the beginning?
In the beginning there were 24 children
at the care centre.
They all became pupils of the Martinschule.
Some teachers arrived at the school.
They were trained to work with children with intellectual disabilities.
Later, many more pupils arrived
from around the town.
We moved the school to a new building
in the centre of the town.
We wanted to be in the centre of the town because
we wanted the students to meet other people
and to be part of society.
How did inclusion at the Martinschule start?
I always wanted to open a school
where children with and without disabilities
could learn together.
But the parents of children with disabilities
did not like my idea.
They had had bad experiences before
with other schools and teachers.
For example: they were excluded from regular schools
because their children had disabilities.
They had been laughed at.
They were happy that they could take their children
to a school where there were only children with disabilities.
So in the beginning
we just had pupils with intellectual disabilities.
In 2000 we worked together with a regular school
so that their pupils could learn with our students.
Then we set up our own primary school with two classes:
one for children with disabilities
and one for children without disabilities.
From 2011 all classes became inclusive.
This means that children with intellectual disabilities
were not in separate classes anymore.
There are always 3 or 4 children
with intellectual disabilities in every class.
This is very important for children
with intellectual disabilities.
Being together helps them to be more confident.
What is special about teaching at the Martinschule?
We do a lot of projects and workshops.
The students can study on their own
and learn at their own pace.
Every pupil has different goals about what to learn.
Pupils are at the school all day long.
So they do not have homework.
We only give grades to students
when they are 14-15 years old.
Our classes have special education teachers.
Assistants and therapists help them.
Students with intellectual disabilities get training in three places.
– our student company “Nibbles & Co”.
This company prepares and sells breakfast
for our primary school students
– an apartment where pupils with disabilities
practice independent living
– a centre where students with disabilities
can do internships
Why is your idea of inclusion at school good?
Because it works!
At our school students can learn on their own.
This is good for everyone,
not just for the children with intellectual disabilities.
Our students are very good compared to other schools.
They like to come to school.
The teachers, parents and people who visit us
also like our school.
What has changed after the Martinschule received the German School Award?
The award told us that we did a good job
and that we should continue our work.
Not everyone likes the way we teach.
Many teachers left the school.
Many parents and students are not sure
if they want to keep coming to our school.
But we think that inclusion at our school is good
and gets better every year.
Inclusion has not limits,
the limits are only in our heads!
Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.
This has always been incredibly important. It is even more so with the Covid pandemic drastic impact on their rights and lives.
Being visible and vocal on issues directly affecting millions of people requires your support.
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