To Overview

Overview of ongoing and completed projects at LIfBi


All publications incl. the LIfBi series "NEPS Survey Paper", "LIfBi Working Paper" and Transfer Reports

To Overview
About us

History and Purpose of LIfBi - from the Origin of the National Educational Panel to the Present Day


Overview of all employees of the institute with filter and search function

To Overview

News on research, events and developments at LIfBi incl. news archive


Conferences, events and trainings of LIfBi as well as all dates of the institute's own lecture series LIfBi Lectures


Information services, press portal and distribution list, and downloads for media professionals


All LIfBi annual reports, subscription to the newsletter as well as all transfer reports and publication series.

To Overview
Research Data Center

Information about the FDZ-LIfBi incl. contact form and registration for the newsletter "LIfBi data"

Data and Documentation

To the data of NEPS, ReGES and further studies incl. documentation and variable search

Data Access

Request for access to scientific use files incl. overview of all data use projects


Information on FDZ events, tutorials and help for handling the data incl. online forum

To Overview
LIfBi as an Employer

Flexible working and part-time models, equal opportunities and good work-life balance

Further Education, Doctorate, Networks

Offers for all qualification levels and best networking opportunities

Workplace Bamberg

Living and working in the heart of the world heritage city - central location of empirical educational research

Job Offers

All open positions in the areas of research, infrastructure and administration at a glance


The Overload of Focus Schools: Inclusion comes at the expense of social integration in Rhineland-Palatinate

Teaching children with and without disabilities together is the goal of an inclusive school system. Instead of inclusive offerings across the range of different types of schools, Rhineland-Palatinate relies almost exclusively on so called inclusive focus schools. However, this concept is at the expense of social cohesion, as analyses by Marcel Helbig and Sebastian Steinmetz, researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) in Bamberg and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), show. For example, the proportion of children from low-income families at inclusive focus schools in Rhineland-Palatinate has grown at an above-average rate since 2012. Especially in urban areas, this has exacerbated the problem of social segregation in the elementary school system. Focus schools have therefore to shoulder a double burden regarding inclusion and integration.

Rhineland-Palatinate is the only federal state in Germany to rely almost exclusively on focus schools for the inclusion of children with special educational needs. The majority of the federal states, on the other hand, have opted for Comprehensive inclusion across all school types. In some states, such as Berlin, Hamburg, and Brandenburg, there are mixed systems of comprehensive inclusion and special schools.

Using data from official school statistics, the study now demonstrates that the concept of inclusive focus schools comes at the expense of social integration. This is due, on the one hand, to the way these schools were created. In Rhineland-Palatinate, for example, the socially weaker elementary schools were selected as locations for focal schools, i.e., schools that already had a high proportion of children from low-income families before their conversion. As a result, the share of children with learning aid exemptions was six percentage points higher at focal schools than at non-focal schools. Since 2012, the poverty rate at priority schools has increased, in some cases at an above-average rate. This is especially true in urban areas, where the difference in the share of poor children between focal and non-focal schools doubled to 12 percentage points. This is especially true in neighborhoods where there are more elementary schools. "We suspect that middle-class parents, in particular, are avoiding the focal point schools and sending their children to other elementary schools close to home", says Marcel Helbig.

Focus schools in Rhineland-Palatinate, therefore, have to do double integration work - on educational and on social integration. "This is at the expense of equal opportunities, reinforces social segregation, and shows that half-hearted inclusion can have unintended social consequences", Helbig adds. Both authors argue for the overcoming of focus schools in favor of inclusive education in all types of schools.

With the signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, Germany is obliged to teach children and young people with and without special educational needs together. The Convention stipulates that inclusive education be offered in schools as close as possible to the child's home. Focus schools thwart this right and also prevent a systematic shift towards an inclusive school system, as only certain locations take on this educational mandate. Rhineland-Palatinate, along with Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, brings up the rear in implementing school-based inclusion, as a WZB study published in September 2021 showed.

To the current study:
Marcel Helbig, Sebastian Steinmetz: Common Education at the Cost of Social Inclusion? Analysis of the Social Situation in Inclusive Schools Using the Example of Focus Schools in Rhineland-Palatinate, published in: Journal of Educational Science (November 2021)

About the authors:

Prof. Dr. Marcel Helbig is Head of the Research Unit "Structures and Systems" at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBI) and Senior Researcher in the Project Group at the President's Office at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB). His research focuses on education and social inequality, urban sociology, school policy, and regional inequalities.

Sebastian Steinmetz is a research associate at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB). His research focuses on the inclusion of people with and without disabilities in schools and on issues of social segregation in large German cities.

More News