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The Ins and Outs of the German school system

German school system

There is a good reason why the German school system is considered among the best in the world. It is well-structured and made to be easily accessible for all students, regardless of their family’s financial situation, so that they may continue their education up to the university level. Education in Germany is uniform across all federal states. There is typically no cost associated with attending a public elementary, middle, or high school in Germany.

Learn about the educational system in Germany, from its structure to the subjects covered and grading practices, in this informative article.

The German Education Standards

In Germany, mandatory education is governed by the provisions of the Constitution, or Grundgesetz (the German basic or fundamental national law). The federal government’s Departments of Education, Cultural Affairs, and Science have collaborated to establish sweeping guidelines for K-12 and higher education that cover everything from the essentials of a well-rounded education to the nuts and bolts of student attendance and discipline policies.

The local schools and universities in Germany have high standards of education. Indeed, because of its well-structured and rigorous nature, the German school system is responsible for producing some of the world’s most accomplished students. In a 2015 OECD/PISA study, Germany ranked 16th in mathematics as well as in science, and students attending ranked 11th in reading.

At each and every educational milestone, students are subjected to extensive testing and evaluation. A student must repeat an entire school year in order to maintain continuous compliance with the requirements for promotion if they fail to achieve the minimum grades in two or more classes, such as foreign language and religious studies. While over half of German high school graduates report continuing their education in Germany, only 18% of students have to repeat a grade at least once.

What is the structure of the German school system?

Each and every German child between the ages of six and fifteen is required by law to regularly attend school as part of the country’s compulsory education system. However, most students in Germany continue their formal education above the traditional high school graduation age, enrolling instead in one of the country’s prestigious universities or a full-time vocational or technical institute.

Parents have the option of enrolling their children in a public, private, or even international school for all or part of their child’s early and middle school years, but the public and secondary school education in Germany provides students with a solid foundation from which to launch into higher education and earn a Gymnasium Abitur upon completion of their secondary schooling (high school).

When does the school week begin and end for pupils in Germany?

Tuesday through Friday is the typical school week in Germany. A typical day for an elementary school student begins at 8 a.m. and continues until 1 or 2 p.m. The hours may be extended for older students in elementary and secondary school until about 4 p.m. Last-year German high school students may be in class as late as 5 p.m.

School Organization 

In Germany, primary school (sometimes called elementary school) is referred to as Grundschule. The first semester of German elementary school often begins in early September. A kid will spend four years in elementary school, from the ages of six to 10. If you attend a primary school or private institution that lasts for six years, you will be twelve years old by the time you finish the sixth grade.

Students in Germany go on to the secondary school level after they have completed elementary school. In the German secondary education system, students may choose from one of five different kinds of academic secondary schools:

  • Gymnasium: for “scholastic” kids.
  • Realschule: for students whose interests lie primarily in vocational training (intermediate school).
  • Hauptschule: for students who are “less academic”.
  • Gesamtschule: caters to students of varying interests and abilities.
  • Integrated schools: Curriculums from both the Hauptschule and Realschule are combined.

Vocational School 

In Germany, students of vocational programs are required to attend a vocational school in addition to receiving training at their respective workplaces. The vocational school typically requires a high school diploma or its equivalent as a minimum entry requirement. This is generally offered at Realschule, specialized high schools, and comprehensive high schools. Learning a second language is not a priority in German comprehensive schools; instead, students learn to use computers or participate in sports. Professional education places a greater emphasis on these topics. Vocational training programs typically focus on one of eight fields: agriculture; design; health; education and social services; information technology; technology; natural sciences; nutrition and supply; and business and administration.

Is the quality of German education high? 

In Germany, the employment market is robust for anybody with a higher education admission certificate or who has graduated from a vocational school. In 2018, over 88% of all Germans aged 25–64 have at least one of these credentials.

Do children in Germany typically attend school in uniform?

No. There is no requirement to wear a school uniform at a public elementary or secondary school. Some German private schools may be the exception, however.

Do the Germans have homework?

Students in Germany are given enough time throughout the school day to finish homework and access supplementary resources if they need them because of the country’s emphasis on its significance. Even elementary school pupils devote at least half an hour a night to homework (known as Hausaufgaben). Germany’s educational system is structured such that each student receives between 20 and 30 hours of instruction every week.

How long is the average school day in Germany?

The average length of a class session is 50 minutes. School often finishes about midday, so there is no need for a cafeteria, however, there are pauses for eating and mingling. Longer secondary school sessions sometimes necessitate that students carry their own food, and many private institutions provide free lunches.

What is the Grading System in German Schools?

In Germany, students are given grades between 1 and 6. On a scale from 0 to 10, 1 represents “extremely excellent” (“very good”). That’s a remarkable accomplishment. befriedigend (between 2.6 and 3.5) describes an average rating.


International Schools in Germany 

International schools in Germany are a popular option for international families that want their children to be educated in a language other than their own. Students might benefit from this as they adjust to life in a foreign place.

These are all-day institutions that attract students from many different nations. They cover the gamut of academic offerings and co-curricular. The courses are ideal for students who are already halfway through their required education in their home countries.

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