Educational system of Germany

How To Germany

Hauptschule

The Hauptschule (grades 5-9) teaches the same subjects as the Realschule and Gymnasium, but at a slower pace and with some vocational-oriented courses. It leads to part-time enrollment in a vocational school combined with apprenticeship training until the age of 18.

Realschule

The Realschule (grades 5-10 in most states) leads to part-time vocational schools and higher vocational schools. It is now possible for students with high academic achievement at the Realschule to switch to a Gymnasium on graduation.

Gymnasium

The Gymnasium leads to a diploma called the Abitur and prepares students for university study or for a dual academic and vocational credential. Curricula differ from school to school, but generally include German, mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, art (as well as crafts and design), music, history, philosophy, civics, social studies, and several foreign languages. In recent years many States have changed the curriculum so students can get the "Abi" at the end of the 12th grade. Other States are making the transition but may still require a 13th grade.

Gesamtschule

The Gesamtschule, or comprehensive school, is only found in some of the states. It takes the place of both the Hauptschule and Realschule. It enrolls students of all ability levels in the 5th through the 10th grades. Students who satisfactorily complete the Gesamtschule through the 9th grade receive the Hauptschule certificate, while those who satisfactorily complete schooling through the 10th grade receive the Realschule certificate.

Berufsschule

Beyond the Hauptschule and Realschule lies the Berufsschule, combining part-time academic study and apprenticeship. The successful completion of an apprenticeship program leads to certification in a particular trade or field of work. These schools differ from the other ones mentioned in that control rests not with the local and regional school authorities, but with the federal government, industry and the trade unions.

No matter what kind of school a student attends, he/she must complete at least nine years of education. A student dropping out of a Gymnasium, for example, must enroll in a Realschule or Hauptschule until nine years have been completed. Students are required to study at minimum one foreign language for at least five years. A second foreign language is required in Gymnasium.

The School Day

German students at public schools attend school in the morning. Classes normally start between 7:30 and 8:15 a.m. and can end between 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. Class periods are normally 45 minutes long with a short break in between. There is no provision for serving lunch. There can be a lot of homework and heavy emphasis on the "three Rs" - reading, writing and aRithmatic. The curriculum expands as students move up from Grundschule and depends on which of the three secondary schools they attend.

The School Year

The school year consists of two semesters and normally starts around the middle to end of August. There are longer breaks at Christmas and in the summer. Shorter breaks are around Easter and in autumn. There is no school on public holidays. The Christmas break is usually 2 weeks and the summer break is about 6 weeks. The exact dates of the various vacations and breaks are set by the individual Länder.

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