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Compulsory schooling and costs
In Germany there is compulsory schooling: children have to go to school for 9 years. In some federal states, compulsory schooling also applies to children with an unclear residence status. A school year begins in August or September and lasts until June or July, depending on the state. Students usually attend state schools. You don't pay school fees here. There are low costs for copies, materials or excursions. In private schools you have to pay school fees.
Does your child need special German tuition? Then contact the school directly.
© Goethe Institute
There are different types of schools. All children from 6 or 7 years of age go to primary school. After the 4th grade, the children go to a secondary school. There are very different secondary schools. The primary school often gives advice in the 4th grade about which school your child can go to. There are secondary schools (5th-9th grades), here you get a secondary school diploma or a qualifying secondary school diploma. In the secondary school you also have practical subjects such as handicrafts or technical drawing. A higher school is the Realschule (5th-10th grade), here you get the Realschule certificate. After secondary school or secondary school, you can learn a trade. Then there is the grammar school (up to 12th grade). Here you do the Abitur and can then study at a university. In high school you often learn 2–3 foreign languages, such as English and French.
In some federal states there are comprehensive schools. Here secondary school, secondary school and grammar school are combined in one house. If a child wants to change schools, for example from Hauptschule to Realschule, it is easier. With separate schools you can also switch, but that is not so easy. In every federal state there are also bilingual schools, special schools, technical and vocational high schools. You can find more detailed information in our infographics.
In most schools, classes end at noon or early afternoon (2pm or 3pm). After that, a child can go to the after-school care center. It can stay there in the afternoon. They get something to eat and they help them with their homework. But you have to pay for the after-school care center. There are also more and more all-day schools. In this school the children are all day, mostly until 4 or 5 p.m.
The children have many subjects at school. This also includes physical education. He is often not separated in elementary school. Girls and boys then have sport together. Often there are also swimming lessons. Most schools have Christian religious instruction. But you can deregister from religious education and don't have to go there. As an alternative there is ethics and in some schools lessons in other religions (for example Islam or the Jewish religion).
If your child has difficulties in a school subject, they can take tuition. Either from a private tutor or in a tutoring school. Private tutoring is usually a little cheaper.
© Goethe Institute
Students usually go on a school trip once a school year. It usually lasts 3–5 days. A class travels to another city or place together. There are also hiking days. The children go on a trip together. The children learn something about history, culture and nature. The schools also hold school parties. There are, for example, theater performances or concerts by schoolchildren.
Every school has a parent council, these are parents who work with the school. There are parents' evenings several times a year. Here the parents get important information from the teachers and can get to know each other. You can also make an appointment with a teacher and talk to them alone. This is called a parenting talk. You do this when you have problems at school. Or maybe you want to know how the child is doing at school.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to enroll my child in a school?
Children in Germany have to go to school. Even children with an unclear residence status are required to attend school in some federal states. You usually have to register your child several months before school starts. In Germany, children have to go to school up to the 9th or in some federal states up to the 10th year of school.
When does my child have to go to school?
Children go to school from the age of 6 or 7. Small children usually have no problems with the new language. If children do not yet speak German well, there is often an additional offer for learning German at school.
How long is a school day?
Classes start between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. in the morning. In elementary school it ends at 11 or 12 a.m. In the other schools, lessons usually last until 1 p.m., sometimes longer. There are also all-day schools, where lessons last until around 4 p.m. Often the children can then do their homework at school and get a meal. This is good when you have to work. This is available for all types of schools.
Can I choose a school?
Not always. There are also primary schools in smaller towns. Your child will then have to go to school there too. There are not secondary schools everywhere. Then it is important to find a suitable school nearby.
Can my child take the school bus to school?
There is usually only a school bus if the school is in a different location. In the city, children have to travel to school by public transport, for example by bus or subway. School is often nearby and your child can walk.
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