German School Primary System

The primary school system in Germany is composed of an optional Kindergarten program for children ages 3-6. It is not required to send students to kindergarten but many parents do in order to get a jump-start on their children’s education. Usually kindergarten is privately run, but depending on the state kindergarten may also be funded by the government.

After enrolling in kindergarten, children are mandated to attend Grundschule, from ages to 6-9 or the first three years of their primary education. Recently, many students learn another language at the primary school level where originally they only learned it during secondary school. In Grundschule, students get an introduction to many subjects and they learn how to read and write. Students also enroll in a class called “Heimat and Sachunterricht” which teaches local history and geography. Religion is taught at the Grundschule, but parents can opt their child out if they wish. There are several options for secondary education each with different lengths and career options. After graduating from Grundschule, students usually enroll in either the Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium, or Gesamtschule.


Hauptschule is the lowest track in Secondary German Education. Starting from 5th grade to 9th grade, students are exposed to basic skills and one foreign language (usually English) and taught an apprenticeship or an unskilled role in the job market for those who will not attend university. Once students are 15 or 16 years old and obtain their “leaving certificate” they can work in public service or continue their education in a Berufsfachschule (full time vocational school).


In the Realschule students are given a wider but general education and are given the chance to learn a second foreign language besides English. It also prepares them for a midlevel job in business. It is possible with high enough marks to transfer into Gymnasium. After Realschule, they can continue their education in a vocational school.

Gymnasium and Abitur

Gymnasium is a 9-year school that prepares students for university. Students learn subjects such as math, German, physics, chemistry, geography, biology, art, PE, religion and history and take two languages, and are also taught skills to prepare them for a university. There are several routes such as classical languages, modern languages and natural sciences. Students are required to take an honor class called Leistungskurse. After the end of Gymnasium, students are required to take the Abitur, an exam students need to pass in order to go to University. In their final years, students focus on the Abitur and take classes that fulfill the requirements.


Gesamtschule is a comprehensive school that combines all types mentioned above. They offer college preparatory classes for advance students, general classes and remedial classes. Students attending can graduate with any graduate certificate. The percentage of students attending Gesamtschule varies with each state.

Why it's important.

This is important because it reveals how comprehensive German education is. Students in the German educational system often learn several languages during the course of their studies. With the change to the European Union, Germany’s position in the center of a diverse Europe, and much more fluid exchange of people between countries this has become increasingly important. Learning about the educational systems in Germany is important because it also allows us to see what their culture values. We also can compare their learning system to ours in America, which is very different.


ger/102/2014/winter/school_system.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/24 22:42 by lpyood
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