German Education System – Things You Should Know!

German Education System - Things You Should Know!

German Education System. If you’re relocating to Germany with children, you should be aware of the various school types and educational options. Germany has a high educational standard, but assessing the German education system can be difficult for international families.

German Education System

Preschool, secondary, primary, and tertiary education are available in Germany. All children aged six to fifteen are required to attend full-time primary and secondary school. German education, on the other hand, typically lasts till the age of 18.

Most German schools are run by the state and are free to attend. Parents can, however, choose one of the many fee-paying private as well as international schools. With various kinds of schools to select from at the secondary level, it’s a good idea to think cautiously and weigh the various options before selecting a school in Germany.

The German education system is overseen by the Federal Ministry of Education & Research. Each Federal state has its own Ministry of Education, which establishes its own educational program, schools, and standards. As a result, the educational system differs across Germany.

In terms of education, Germany ranks first in the world. According to the 2018 OECD/PISA survey of 15-year-old educational standards, it ranks 16th in reading and mathematics and 12th in science. According to the PISA report, German students are generally happy. However, large disparities exist between the highest- as well as lowest-performing students, reflecting the country’s economic inequalities.

Kindergarten education in Germany

Children under the age of three may attend nursery, while those between the ages of three and six may attend preschool (Kindergarten/Kita). In some places, these are available in the mornings, throughout the day, and even on weekends and evenings.

In Germany, these kinds of childcare can be public, private, or church-run, and some are free whereas others charge fees. These vary greatly between states and are typically based on income. Many have waiting lists, so register your child as soon as possible. Bilingual preschools are also available in major cities.
Nurseries but also pre-schools are both optional. In Germany, most children aged three to six are enrolled in school or childcare. They provide an excellent opportunity for ex-pat children to play as well as learn alongside German children while also absorbing the German language and culture. Five-year-olds in some states may enroll in preschool classes to prepare for primary school.

German Education System – Primary education system

German Education System - Primary education system
German Education System – Primary education system

Germany’s primary school system

In Germany, children must attend primary school (Grundschule). A child starts Grundschule in the autumn term of their sixth year. Moreover, some German states have cut-off dates for when a child can begin school, so check with your local authority.
Primary education in Germany is typically divided into four grades or years (1-4), though in some areas, the primary school continues until the sixth grade. Children typically attend the primary school closest to their homes. Efforts have been made to reduce the disparity in educational standards between areas, but wealthy neighborhoods continue to provide better education than less affluent neighborhoods.
The German states (Länder) are in charge of primary education in Germany as well as setting the curriculum. This indicates that the educational experience varies across the country.

Germany’s public primary schools

Students in each state are entitled to free primary school education. Parents contribute to equipment costs on occasion, but schools provide the majority of materials for free. There are 20 to 30 hours of schooling per week, with the population growth as the children get older.
In Germany, kids attending state primary school will typically attend the school in the catchment area that is closest to them. If you wish your child to enroll in a different school, you must apply for a spot and generally explain why you are doing so.
German public primary education is of high quality. The primary teaching goals are to help students develop key skills and competencies, as well as essential understanding. German literacy, art, science, mathematics, a foreign language, and religion/ethics are common subjects covered in lessons.

Germany’s private primary schools

In Germany, approximately 5% of students enrolled private primary schools. They are less common than in private secondary schools. Many international, as well as alternative schools, will provide both secondary and primary education.
In Germany, primary schools are generally classified as follows:
  • Religious schools typically offer the same curriculum as public schools and are primarily state-subsidized, making them less expensive than fully private options.
  • International, as well as bilingual schools, are completely private schools that generally provide bilingual education and have their own curriculum. They are one of the most expensive schools, but they are of high quality.
  • Waldorf schools (Waldorfschulen) are state-funded alternative schools that use the Rudolf Steiner method of teaching.
  • Montessori schools are alternative schools that use the Montessori method of hands-on development-led education. Typically state-funded.

German Education System – Secondary education system

German Education System - Secondary education system
German Education System – Secondary education system

Germany’s secondary school system

Secondary education in Germany is divided into two general phases, though this varies by state. The lower phase (sekundarstufe I) occurs in most states between the ages of 10 and 15/16. This is required of all students. The upper phase is optional and lasts until students reach the age of 18. This stage focuses on vocational education or getting ready students for higher education.

Germany’s public secondary schools

In Germany, public secondary schools are free and come in a variety of varieties that cater to various academic abilities and needs. A student’s school choice is determined by teacher recommendations, academic performance, and parental preferences. If circumstances change, it is possible to switch from one type of school to another at any time.
In terms of subjects and teaching objectives, the various secondary schools kinds in Germany are largely similar: to develop skills and subject knowledge, to aid emotional and intellectual development, and to foster independence as well as decision-making responsibility.
The following are the various kinds of public secondary schools:
  • Gymnasium – a high school equivalent. Students typically attend these schools till the age of 18 and then take the Abitur final exam required for admission to German universities.
  • Realschule – a school for intermediate students that provides a more broad and vague education until the age of 15/16. The studies culminate in a diploma which allows students to pursue vocational qualifications, begin a trade apprenticeship, or transfer to a gymnasium for sekundarstufe II.
  • Hauptschule – a general secondary school for students who are less academic, lasting till the age of 15/16. Students who attend these schools are more likely to pursue a trade apprenticeship or a vocational qualification.
  • Gesamtschule – a general integrated and comprehensive school that provides mixed-level education to students aged 15/16. These have become more frequent in recent years across the states as part of an effort to generate a more inclusive system. In some states, they may be referred to as Mittelschule, Regelschule, or Regionalschule.
  • Berufsschulen is a vocational school primarily for students from Realschule as well as hauptschulen who wish to continue their education for the sekundarstufe II period.

Germany’s private secondary schools

In Germany, approximately 9% of kids attend private secondary schools. They typically belong to two distinct school categories, which are:

  • Substitute schools (ersatzschulen) – provide an education comparable to state schools. Religious, Waldorf, and Montessori schools, as well as totally autonomous international and bilingual schools, are examples of state-subsidized schools.
  • Supplementary schools (ergänzungsschulen) – these schools focus on subjects not covered in public schools and provide alternative qualifications. The majority of them are private vocational schools.
  • Many international families prefer to send their children to private international schools. These generally provide a high standard of education and allow students to study for the International Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate. However, charges are generally higher than those charged by other private options.

In Germany, the International Baccalaureate

Many international schools in Germany provide a globalized curriculum to a wide range of students. This included 82 schools that offer IB programs at the primary, middle, and diploma levels. IB schools are common with international families, and the qualifications are identified by top universities worldwide.

German Education System – Graduate studies in Germany

German Education System: After successfully completing their studies, all German secondary school students obtain formal qualifications. Gymnasium kids spend their sekundarstufe II period studying for the final Abitur exams required for admission to German universities.
Students in the Realschule and Hauptschule work towards diplomas. The Hauptschulabschluss is granted at the end of grade 9, and the Realschulabschluss is awarded at the end of grade 10. Students in the Hauptschule can stay an extra year to obtain the Realschulabschluss. Following this, students can transfer to a Berufsschule to pursue a trade qualification or to a Gymnasium to pursue the Abitur.
Private secondary schools will usually offer the Abitur or an internationally recognized qualification, such as the IB or EB, which allows entry into universities.