Compulsory Education in Germany

What Is Considered as Compulsory Education in Germany?

All Germans are obliged to attend primary and secondary education, ever since they reach the age of 6, up until they complete a 9-year full-time schooling at Gymnasium, or 10 years of full-time years for other general education schools.

If youngsters fail to attend full-time classes at the general or vocational education schools, at upper secondary level, they’ve to attend part-time left-aside classes. This applies even if they’ve already passed the period of their compulsory education. Such obligation is known as compulsory attendance “Berufsschule Berufsschulpflicht” and lasts 3 years.

Other children who fail to attend at all such education and training, they’ve may be required to attend full-time classes and trainings (for vocational schools only).

Disabled youngsters have an obligation to complete compulsory education too. In dependence to their special education needs “Sonderpädagogischer Förderbedarf” they will attend either a normal school or a special school “Sonderpädagogische Bildungseinrichtungen”.

German compulsory education obliges pupils to regularly participate in school lessons, as well as in other formal and informal schooling activities/events/projects. Such compulsion extends also to their parents who’ve to regularly supervise study progress of their children and participate in school parent’s meetings. This also includes training companies which are in charge of keeping the evidence of the pupils’ attendance in the vocational training and children’s practical commitment (for vocational schools).

German Primary Education

What Is Considered Primary Education in Germany?

Grundschule (primary school) offer mandatory education through mixed-ability classes for children of age 6 until they complete grade 4 (or 6 in Berlin and Brandenburg) of school studies.

There are two primary school education systems in Germany. In a 5-day school week pre-education system, there’re 188 teaching days/annually. In a 6-day school week preschool system, there’re 208 days of teaching/annually, by including also teachings during 2 Saturdays/every month.

Primary school pupils are obliged to attend 20 to 29 courses/1 week, and 20-22 /first year. Primary school courses normally last up to 45 minutes. During 1 day up to 6 courses can be taught.

Which are the Teaching Practices in Primary Schools in Germany?

The core objective of the German primary education is development of essential understanding, skills, abilities and key competences amongst pupils.

Subjects taught in German primary schools are German language, mathematics, general studies, foreign language, art, handicrafts/textile design, music, sports, and religion/ethics. They also teach intercultural, mint, media, health, musical-aesthetic, sustainable development, and values education.

Learning objectives in primary schools are attained through engagement of pupils in planning, running, analyzing study subjects (lessons) in an adapted way, which goes along with their knowledge, interest, curiosity and concerns. Students are also encouraged to take part in organizing initiatives and interdisciplinary projects of the school.

Primary school textbooks in Germany, used as study reference, have to be approved the respective Ministry.

People suffering long-term or permanent illness or physical incapacity who couldn’t attend primary education lessons they may well receive such education at their homes.

Moreover Germany offers special primary education scheme for children of the professional travelers, who cannot attend regular primary education. Schools like School for Children of Professional Travelers “Schule für die kinder beruflich Reisender” offer separate education for such group of children, during the period they’re not traveling.

There’s even a School for Circus Children “Schule für Circuskinder”.

Germany has also vocationally-oriented primary education modules. This education is offered for the children of workers in companies/institutions such as EU project BeKoSch (Development of Professional Skills for Showmen through Modules).

What’s more, Germany has International Schools offering primary education through bilingual lessons in several languages, such as the European Schools.

Which Is the Grading System in German Primary Schools?

By completing lessons of the grade 1, children are automatically transferred to the grade 2, regardless level of knowledge attained during such studies.

Starting from grade 2, these children are awarded a suitable mark, in dependence to the level of knowledge they’ve attained during studies. If failing to pass the grade, children have to repeat the grade lessons once more.

In the Pupil’s school report “Zeugnis” is issued showing all the marks achieved during a school year, and according to that is decided whether the child will pass to the next grade or has to repeat the same grade.

The progress of pupils in German primary schools is evaluated upon a 6-mark grading system as follows:

  • 1 (very good).
  • 2 (good).
  • 3 (satisfactory).
  • 4 (adequate).
  • 5 (poor).
  • 6 (very poor).

Does a Pupil Receive a Primary School Leaving Certificate in Germany?

There isn’t any examination upon completing a German primary school. Thus, primary school-leaving certificate aren’t usually issued, except for the Lander Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz.

Instead, when pupils leave a German primary school they must have reached “the Grundschule target outcomes”. Accordingly, there are issued an annual report of their studies during 4th/6th grade.

What Is Considered Secondary Education in Germany?

German Secondary education takes place after the primary school, and it’s separated into lower secondary level “Sekundarstufe I” and upper secondary level “Sekundarstufe II”.

The lower secondary education is the education offered for pupils of age 10 – 15/16 in grades 5/7 to 9/10.  Lessons in this level are of a general nature and serve as preparation for the upper level of secondary education.

The upper secondary education is the education that pupils of age 15/16 – 18/who have completed lower level of secondary school receive for the purpose of getting a university entrance qualification or a vocational qualification. This level resumes all the courses of lower secondary level which built the basis of knowledge of the participating pupils.

Germany has various secondary schools attended by children of various abilities and various prior qualifications received in primary education.

Which Are the Types of Secondary Schools in Germany?

Federal country of Germany offers secondary education in public and private schools.

Germany’s publicly-funded secondary schools are:

  • German high schools issuing specialized qualifications in one study area.
    • Gymnasium”. Providing intensive and in-depth general education, general knowledge for university studies, and for scientific work. It normally covers schooling years from grade 5-12 or 5-13, leading to an “Allgemeine Hochschulreife” known as “Abitur”.
    • Hauptschule”. Teaching basic general education, leading to a vocational or university entrance qualification. Education in such school lasts from grade 5-9, and sometimes includes the grade 10 as well, leading to a “Hauptschulabschluss”.
    • Realschule”. Offering more extensive education, leading to a vocational or university entrance qualification. It usually covers schooling years from grade 5 to 10, “Realschulabschluss”.
  • German schools with more than one study course “Schularten mit mehreren Bildungsgängen”. They offer 2-3 different study subjects.
  • German vocational schools. They offer lessons and practical placement, known as a dual system. These are the types of vocational schools available in Germany:
      • “Fachoberschule”. Providing 2-year education to the holders of maturity certificate “Mittlerer Schulabschluss” leading to a “Fachhochschulreife”, entitling holder to enter a university of applied sciences. If a 13 grade is held in this institution, a pupil completing it can receive a “Fachgebundene Hochschulreife” or an “Abitur”.
      • “Berufsoberschule”. Providing a 2-year general and in-depth education and training regarding initial vocational knowledge and training obtained during previous education, leading to a vocational qualification (or Abitur – by proving the good command in second foreign language). There is also a 3/4 year course of study which is aimed at getting a double qualification, both vocational and higher education qualification.
      • “Berufsfachschule”. Offering education for one or few professions which require formal recognition or leading to a vocational training qualification.
      • “Berufsschule”. Delivering practically-oriented and interdisciplinary lessons and skills, which prepare pupils for further vocational education or for a job in a profession. They do that based on the dual system, education and training combined.
      • “Berufliches Gymnasium”. Providing a 3-year long secondary education program, leading to an Abitur.

Germany’s private secondary schools are the following:

  • Alternative schools “Ersatzschulen”. Providing equal lessons and courses as public secondary schools.
  • Complementary schools “Ergänzungsschulen”. Teaching additional courses, despite those that are also offered in the public secondary schools.

Which are the Objectives of the German Secondary Education?

Lower secondary education in Germany, as its core mission has the fundamental education, individual specialization, and identification of individual abilities amongst children.

German secondary education objectives are achieved by:

  • Engaging children intellectually, emotionally and physically.
  • Teaching them independence, decision making, as well as personal, social and political responsibility.
  • Assisting them in attaining their educational goals.
  • Supporting them in advancing their specialist knowledge.

General upper secondary schools in Germany aim to prepare youngsters with the needed understanding to obtain the Abitur or other university entrance qualification. With a university entrance qualification they can apply for further academic studies in any German higher education institution, or apply for a professional education and training study course.

Gymnasium offers youngsters with exhaustive understanding, expertise and know-hows for German and foreign language as well as Mathematics. These institutions also taught young people self-development, social responsibility, and participation in democratic society. Additionally, they’re informed and guided regarding academic institutions and their admission requirements, vocational sphere and access requirements, together with the employment prospect in various professions.

Upper secondary education offered during 2 full-time years by the German vocational high-schools “Berufliches Gymnasium” prepares youngsters to get a vocational qualification for a skilled work as qualified staff “Fachgebundene Hochschulreife”. Such qualification allows them to get a job in a profession requiring a formal qualification. The same time, such qualification can lead into a university entrance qualification, if the holder shows a good command on a second foreign language. Additionally, with such qualification the holder can study in a technical university, but before that, they’ve to study for 2 years until they get a maturity certificate “Mittlerer Schulabschluss”.

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