LIVING IN GERMANY

Children

The German school system

Symbolbild Kind an der Schultafel (c) colourbox.com

Children start primary school (“Grundschule”) at the age of six. They stay there until the fourth year. In the states (“Bundesländer”) of Berlin and Brandenburg, Grundschule continues until the sixth year. Children learn reading, writing and arithmetic at Grundschule. They also learn subjects such as music, physical education and natural history.

Children only start to receive marks from the third year onwards. The marks range from one to six, with one representing the best mark.

In the final year of Grundschule, a decision is made as to which school your daughter or son will attend next. Depending on how good your child’s performance at school is, he or she may attend one of the following types of school:

Hauptschule (secondary modern; until the 9th or 10th year)

Realschule (middle school; until the 10th year)

Gymnasium (grammar school; until the 12th or 13th year)

In some Bundesländer, these types of school have different names or there are other types of school, for example Gesamtschule (comprehensive school). This combines Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium.

After attaining a successful school-leaving certificate from Hauptschule or Realschule, your child can begin with vocational training (“Ausbildung”) or change to Gymnasium. Your child can receive the university entrance qualification (“Abitur”) at Gymnasium. This Abitur means that your child can do an Ausbildung or study at university. If your child attends one of these schools, it doesn’t mean that he or she has to stay there. It is possible to switch between different types of school.