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What types of schools are there in Germany? The German school system

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1. School is a matter of the country - what does that mean?

The federal states are primarily responsible for our school system. You take care of the teaching staff and, together with the school management, set goals and content for the lessons. Since we have 16 federal states in Germany, the school system can be quite different from country to country. The curricula have different focuses and subjects, the final exams differ widely and the transition to a secondary school is regulated differently everywhere - not to mention the transition to the eight-year grammar school (G8).

But then there is a bit of uniformity: All school types are based on the areas Primary level, secondary level I and secondary level II.

2. Primary schools (primary level)

Schooling is compulsory in Germany, which means that all children between the ages of 5 and 7 and at least 9th grade have to go to school.

School time begins with primary level, i.e. attending primary school up to the 4th grade (or up to the 6th grade in Berlin and Brandenburg). The purpose of primary school is to prepare the little ones for learning in secondary education (secondary school types). The playful learning that we know from kindergarten is structured into subjects such as mathematics, German, specialist knowledge and sport.

With the exception of North Rhine-Westphalia, so-called school districts have corresponding school districts Schools near where you live to. If parents do not like the school, they usually only have to attend a private school (or move to another school district). In justified cases, it is possible to submit an application for retraining to the responsible education authority.More on this: The school district and its exceptions by Rüdiger Schmidt (PDF, 5 pages)

3. Types of secondary school in Germany (secondary level)

► In our guide to choosing a school - secondary school - you will find lots of tips and checklists to help you find the right school for your child, including a guide through the jungle of school types.

The primary sector is followed bySecondary level I., which all secondary schools from 5./7. until 9/10 Class includes.

If you are wondering what types of schools there are in Germany, you should first of all know that pupils basically three degrees can achieve:

  • Secondary school leaving certificate
  • Secondary school / high school)
  • High School / General qualification for university)

Which secondary school your child is allowed to attend is not always entirely up to you; in some federal states, this is dictated by a binding teacher recommendation.

secondary schools

As the lowest educational qualification, the Hauptschule suffers from a bad reputation as a type of school in Germany. Many institutions make an effort to maintain contact with companies and enable them to start their career straight away. Especially practical lessons and internships should make the students fit for the job. Subjects such as math or foreign languages ​​are often taught in performance-based groups.

After graduation, the students can begin vocational training or, if they perform well, they can go for a higher school qualification.

secondary school

According to the Hamburg Agreement of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs in 1964, secondary school students must collecting practical experiencethat go beyond the compulsory subject matter. This takes place in the form of internships and compulsory elective courses. They can also take a second foreign language (mostly French).

After completing secondary school in the 10th grade, students can do a Vocational training start, achieve their technical diploma at the technical college or catch up on their Abi at the advanced high school.

Tip technical college: As an alternative to the upper level of the gymnasium, the technical college could also be a possible type of school for your child. This type of secondary school is subdivided into vocational subjects and ends with the so-called technical college entrance qualification after the 12th grade. Graduates can use it to study at universities of applied sciences.

high school

This type of school enables students to obtain the highest general education qualification, the Abitur. In Germany this is achieved after 12th (G8) or 13th grade (G9). High school students can shorten the upper level by one year and obtain the technical college entrance qualification.

Up to the upper level, the compulsory subjects at the grammar school are taught in class. From the 7th grade (or 6th in the case of G8), the pupils can choose first focal points and a second foreign language. In the upper level, the classes are completely dissolved and the young people are taught in courses of their own choosing.

Good to know:Some grammar schools have specialized in certain subjects and offer, for example, economics and sciencehe or artistic focus.

comprehensive school

The original three-tier school system (Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium) only exists in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse. In the other federal states, Hauptschule and Realschule now exist almost exclusively in combination, in some federal states such as Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia the various systems (still) exist in parallel.

The names for the combined school form vary - comprehensive schools, mainstream schools, intermediate schools, district schools or secondary schools are just a few of them.

► More information on this: Overview of secondary school types in your federal state.

The organization at a comprehensive school can also be very different.

All-day school

Almost all types of schools in Germany are also offered as all-day schools. Here the care offer goes beyond the morning on at least three days a week, what Relieve working parents should. In some schools the afternoon program is compulsory, in others participation is voluntary.

► More on this: Is this type of school the right one for my child?

Special schools

In special schools, the aim is to provide optimal support for children with physical, mental or emotional impairments and / or learning difficulties.

Alternatively, many have schools integrative classesin which children in need of support grow up in a "normal" environment with healthy children. However, these are not as well equipped technically and pedagogically as specialized special needs schools and the subject of bullying is not uncommon at these schools.

Inclusion debate

Currently there is oneheated debate about inclusion. Some activists are convinced that it speaks against the UN Disability Rights Convention to separately educate children in need. Some opponents of inclusion, on the other hand, do not believe that these children can be optimally supported in a mainstream school. You can find pros and cons arguments, for example, on stuttgarter-zeitung.de.

4. Gymnasium upper level and Abitur (upper secondary level)

The upper secondary level includes both the upper level of the gymnasium, which concludes with the Abitur, as well as the vocational area including vocational colleges, technical colleges or vocational high schools.

Vocational school types, such as business high schools, usually offer certain areas of focus and prepare more for professional life than many high schools that aim to study.

High school students can shorten the upper level (secondary level II) by one year and the University entrance qualification which qualifies students to study at universities of applied sciences.

Good to know: There are several ways to graduate from high school. After completing their vocational training, many former students make up for a secondary school leaving certificate (evening schools, colleges).

The G8 / G9 debate

Until recently, the Abitur was common after 13 years (G9). The reduction to 12 years (G8) should adapt our school system to international standards. In the Education Monitor 2014, the Cologne Institute for Economic Research found no negative effects of the reduction in school time on young people. According to a study by the German Institute for Economic Research from 2015, however, the number of grade repetitions has increased. Nevertheless, the number of high school graduates has remained the same overall.

Many parents and educators are of the opinion that the G8 leads to learning stress and does not give children enough time to prepare for working life. Lower Saxony was the first federal state to switch back to the G9 in 2015, further states followed, in some currently there are mixed forms, model schools or freedom of choice. In some Länder, a 13-year school career leads to the Abitur at comprehensive schools, even if it only lasts 12 years at grammar school. Parents and their children should therefore inform themselves in good time about the regulations in the schools in their place of residence and the options for extending or shortening the schooling period.

5. Private school types in Germany

Alternative forms of school

Do you value special educational concepts that deviate from the above and above all enable your child to learn freely and independently? Here you can find an overview of alternative school forms in Germany.

Or are you already interested in a special type of school? Then you might find answers to your questions in the following articles:

boarding schools

In a boarding school, learning and living take place in the same place. There are various forms of these schools in Germany, the most common being denominational, sporting and musical focuses. The range of services goes far beyond the state curriculum and includes a wide range of leisure activities. The range of offers has its price: Accommodation in a private boarding school costs between 1,000 and 3,000 euros per month. State and denominational boarding schools are a little cheaper.

International schools

At international schools, lessons are held in another language or in two languages. The material is mostly not based on the German school system and the children do not receive any German qualifications. Nevertheless, the recognition usually goes without any problems. Attending such a school is possible from elementary school onwards. The cost is 500-1,600 euros per month.

Denominational schools

Denominational schools are tied to one faith. In Germany these are primarily the Catholic and Protestant churches. The monthly school fee varies between 30 and 140 euros depending on the school.

6. Which type of school is the right one for my child?

You have now received an initial overview of the German school system. We hope you can now find out more easily which type of school is the right one for your child.

If not, we have in this article "Which type of school for my child?" all types of schools in Germany once again examined in detail.

Do you already have an idea of ​​what type of school you might consider? Then the next step is going to school.

OurSchool choice checklist helps to become clear as a family about the demands made on the future school - and then to compare these with the reality of attending school.

Suitable for all types of schools! Get to know scoyo now: