The school-system in Germany is quite complex, like most things in Germany ;-). As you might know, Germany is a federal country, divided into 16 different states (Bundesländer), which are similar to states in India. Every state is responsible for its own schools. But the main school system is the same in all of the states and looks like the following.
- Age 1-3: Krippe in a "Kita" - Kindergarten / Day nursery (voluntary)
- Age 3-6: Kita / Kindergarten - Kindergarten / Nursery school (voluntary)
- Age 6-10 / Age 6-12 (Berlin) - Grundschule / Primary school (mandatory)
- After primary school - Gymnasium or Integrierte Sekundarschule / Gemeinschaftsschule / Realschule / Hauptschule - high school (depending on the grades in the „Grundschule“) (mandatory)
Let’s have a look at the “typical” way to go through school as a kid in Germany.
When does my child start with school?
You will get an invitation letter from the Education Office (Schulamt) at least 12-15 months before the beginning of the school year to inform you that your child will start school. Your child has to be 6 years old in order to begin primary school in Germany. Sometimes there are exceptions and children begin a bit earlier (at the age of 5) or a bit later (at the age of 7).
Can I choose a school for my child?
Germany is very well organized, also in terms of schools, which are mostly run by the state. The state has a system to make sure every child gets into a school. Depending on your place of residence, your child will be assigned to a school close to your place. This assigned school is called the Einzugsschule. It’s very common for German parents to stay with the assigned school, because most of the time the friends of the children are at the same school and the way to school is short.
Documents for school registration
You have to register your child at that school and you need some documents to do that. Here is a short overview of what you need for the registration:
- Registration form
- Your personal ID/passport
- Birth certificate of your child
- ID/passport of your child
- Proof of a special examination by the pediatrician
What if I want to pick another school?
As parents you have the right to pick another school for your children. But of course, German bureaucracy won’t make it that easy for you. First you have to register your child at the assigned school. Then you have to fill out an application to “change” schools called Umschulungsantrag. You can find that form online on the website of your city. You have to write a short statement, why you wish to choose another school. Reasons can be a special school profile, a special language program etc.
Your application can only be approved if there are free spots left at the school of your choice. If it is approved you can register your child at the school of your choice.
What kind of English speaking schools are there in Germany?
Perhaps you would like your child to go to an English-speaking school or to grow up multilingual. In almost every big city in Germany there is an English-speaking school. A lot of them are private schools, but there are also some public schools that are bilingual.
Here is a list of some English-speaking schools in Berlin, Frankfurt and Stuttgart:
Quentin Blake School
John F. Kennedy School Berlin
Charles Dickens Primary School Berlin
Nelson Mandela School
Staatliche Europaschule Berlin (german-english)
Berlin British School
Berlin Cosmopolitan School
Berlin Metropolitan School
Berlin International School
Swiss International School
Frankfurt International School
Swiss International School Frankfurt
The European School Frankfurt
Metropolitan School Frankfurt
Swiss International School Stuttgart
International School Stuttgart
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