Compulsory education in Berlin begins at the age of 6 when children will attend primary school, known as Grundschule. The grading system in primary school runs from grade 1 – 6 and tuition is free in state schools. Parents will only need to pay for schoolbooks, additional teaching material, after school care, lunch and class excursions and trips.
After primary school, parents and children decide which secondary school to attend. In Germany secondary school is divided into three streams, these are:
- Hauptschule – secondary lower school. Students finish at around 15 -16yr. This stream is for a practical child with low academic marks. From here children usually go onto vocational training.
- Realschule – intermediate school. Students finish at around 16 – 17yr. After completion, the student will receive an intermediate school-leaving certificate which will allow them to go onto professional gymnasium (further education) or vocational training.
- Gymnasium – grammar school. In Berlin this consists of 7yrs of schooling. Students with only the highest marks will be allowed entrance and they will receive a higher level of education, preparing them for university. This is the only secondary school that will grant a child entrance into university within Germany.
In Germany schools teaching hours are mainly between 07:50 and 13:00.
Berlin has 878 schools and Germany has around 350 publicly funded or State recognised higher education establishments. There are also a number of English speaking internationally schools that are publicly funded. These include Nelson Mandela School and JFK (refer to International Schools Section for more details).
The standard of education in Berlin can vary greatly, depending on the borough. Most schools within the ‘well off’ areas better provide for the children.