education germany

The Education System in Germany

Basic German education consists of pre-school, primary school, secondary and tertiary education. The first three generally lasting up to the age of eighteen years of age. Unlike most countries, the individual states in Germany decide their own route when it comes to administration of education. But with the condition that school is mandatory for all children of six to fifteen, and that public school is free. However, parents are free to enroll their children in private fee-costing schools, or international schools. Let’s take a look at the education system in Germany.

Pre-school Education in Germany

Pre-school is optional, and provides education for children aged one to five years old. Some are public, some are private, and the community’s churches run some others. Its main objective is to enhance communication and language skills through social interaction between students themselves or with teachers. Moreover, an additional objective is developing motor skills, such as self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-confidence. To achieve that, they sing, read, do physical activities, and are in public environments. At this stage, they do not assess children depending on their academic achievements, but rather their learning activities and overall involvement.

Primary Education in Germany

German primary school generally has four years/grades. But it is not unusual to have schools in some regions that continue to six years. Children have between 20 to 30 school hours a week, increasing as the children get older. Content usually includes German literacy, numeracy, science, a foreign language, art, religion and ethics.

In one education system, students have 5-day school weeks with 188 learning days every year. In another German education system, children have 6-day school weeks with 208 learning days annually. It includes lessons two Saturdays every month.

German primary schools have a 6-mark grading system, ranging from 1 as ‘very good’, and 6 as ‘very poor’. Furthermore, there are no exams administered upon leaving primary school.

Private primary schools include religious schools, international and bilingual schools, Waldorf schools, and Montessori schools. Some of these options are funded by the state, while others are fully private. Therefore, the last option tend to be more expensive.

Secondary Education in Germany

Most states have two phases of secondary education. The first phase, between ages 10 and 15, is a mandatory lower secondary level (Sekundarstufe I). The second upper secondary phase (Sekundarstufe II), between 16 and 18, is optional.

German secondary schools mainly focus on engaging children intellectually, emotionally and physically. They teach children decision making, personal, social and political reasoning and responsibility, as well as helping them reach their academic goals.

There are at least five different kinds of German public schools that cater to different academic needs and abilities. But they are quite similar in terms of what they teach. German secondary schools also use a 6-mark grading system.

Then, we have Gymnasium, or grammar school that lasts up to the age of eighteen. It provides in-depth education and administers exams needed to get into German universities.

Also, we have Realschule that offers generalized education up to the ages of 15/16. Students receive a diploma that allows them to take up vocational qualifications or apprenticeship. They could even transfer to Gymnasium, to continue the second phase of secondary education.

Hauptschule is a basic secondary school for less academic students, lasting up to 15/16. Students there will usually continue with vocational qualifications or apprenticeship.

Gesamtschule is a mixed school offering intermediate level education up to the ages 15 or 16. They promote inclusivity among students, and have become more common recently.

Schularten mit mehreren Bildungsgangen is a specialized school that usually offers two to three different study subjects.

Lastly, Berufsschule are vocational schools mostly for students from first phase schools that wish to continue to the second phase.

Private schools are also categorized into two main groups:

Substitute schools offer the same education as state schools, with the same qualifications. Exemples are international schools, religious schools, and Waldorf/Montessori schools.

Supplementary schools offer education that is different from public schools’, and are usually private vocational schools.

Tertiary Education in Germany

After secondary education, students have the option to continue with university. Just as the prior educational levels, state universities are free, and are also categorized into different groups:

  • Universities
  • Technical Colleges
  • ‘Padagogische Hoschule’
  • Theological colleges’
  • Universities of Applied Sciences
  • Art and Music Colleges
  • Higher Education Institutions for Federal Armed Forces
  • Higher Education Institutions Offering Dual Studies
  • Institutions of Continuing Vocational Education

Each institution specializes on a specific branch of tertiary education. They offer a bachelor’s or an equivalent as the first German Higher Education Qualification, a Master’s as the second, and a PhD as the third. Bachelor’s degrees require a Higher Education Entrance Qualification (Abitur), and an admission exam. As well as Proof of German language proficiency for international students.

Other Education in Germany

Parents that have children with special educational needs (SEN) have the choice of sending them to regular school or enrolling them in specialist schools. Both facilities will provide support for the children that need it. But they put in greater effort and focus, at specialist schools.

Homeschooling in Germany is currently illegal. Furthermore, it requires extensive reasoning and evidence to justify why a child should not attend an educational institution. Only approximately 400 children across Germany are legally homeschooled.

Truly, German education is thorough and branches out to many different specializations at all levels of learning. This is perfect for the ease of students on a wide spectrum of educational ability. There is something for everyone, creating as much inclusivity as possible, for integrated achievement nationwide. If you are looking for support to apply for a higher education degree, ckeck out our services.

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