SPOTLIGHT — Meet Axel Thelen

Take a read below.

1. What’s your name? How old are you?

Axel Thelen, 59 years old.

2. How long have you been involved in education, especially for young children?

I have been working in the field of early education for about 20 years.

3. What was your favourite subject at school and why?

My favorite subjects were history and math, because they were very interesting. French, because I was in love with my teacher — so my interest in French remained limited to this specific time.

4. Could you give us some insight into the education sector in Germany as a whole?

The education sector in Germany is basically well-positioned — from a conventional point of view. However, in order to ensure educational equity for every child, as well as sustainability for our society, there is an outstanding need for action in the form of individualised pedagogy. This means focusing on the child and not on the subject. Consequently, this is the belief that it is not the child that can fail, but the system that must review and improve itself. This starts, of course, in early education, which is fundamental not only for personality development but also for the child’s entire educational biography.

5. What was the key motivation behind starting Educcare?

Two particular motivating factors: First, my own two wonderful boys who were of kindergarten age at the time. Second, the realization of what is necessary and possible in early education and daycare centers.

6. Why are daycare centres so important in a child’s early education?

Daycare centers — together with families as partners — are where the foundations are laid for a fulfilled life that is as self-determined and responsible as possible. What is missed here can be corrected later only with great effort, if at all. In other words, daycare centers and the quality of the services they provide can be used to determine the extent to which a society takes children’s rights seriously.

7. What are you most passionate about with your job?

It is important to me that every child feels safe and accepted in their uniqueness every day in our daycare centers, so that they can go on a journey of discovery and develop as fully as possible according to their personal interests and possibilities. Furthermore, that we contribute to the further development of early education in Germany. Thus, my passion is true to our corporate vision: Every child must experience excellent early education.

8. What’s your best experience in your work since starting Educcare?

Almost every day.

9. What are your personal plans and the plans for Educcare in the future?

Personally: A longer sabbatical to take a deep breath and explore new perspectives. For Educcare: To continue to promote excellence in our own daycare centers as a non-negotiable goal and to constantly develop on the basis of change. In addition, we want to make our experiences available to other daycare centers and contribute constructively with politics to the design of early education in Germany.

10. How does Educcare expand further than your core daycare centres? We notice you’re involved in wider engagement and sustainability projects.

Due to our growth and the increasing dynamics and complexity of our environment, we are currently focusing on ourselves and on further increasing the internal capability of our organisation.

11. How has early education changed in Germany since you started Educcare? We’re aware it differs from state to state in Germany.

Early childhood education is on a very good path in Germany, but it also needs to be defended and pushed forward. Away from care and toward education, away from templates and toward individualisation, away from the perspective that kindergarten teachers are just playmates and toward the appreciation of the tremendous job that cordial educators do in the Kitas (kindergartens).

12. What would you change in the educational sector in Germany going forward?

Putting education back on its feet, from the head. Where the foundations are laid, investments must be made in adequate staffing ratios and framework conditions, such as further training, supervision and technology. The need for investment is derived from defined quality standards that take into account the needs of the respective children and families with their backgrounds, i.e. different backgrounds and different needs lead, among other things, to a different staffing ratio. This is the only way to achieve educational equity and equal opportunities as well as the future viability of our society.

13. Outside of your role, what are your hobbies?

Family, travel and creating new opportunities. The best is yet to come!

Sign up at to discover how to grow your own tutoring business and follow us on Twitter for tips on how to be a better tutor