Types of Schools and Qualifications
In FrankfurtRheinMain (FRM) there are many different types of schools and qualifications, giving your child room to develop with the best possible support.
In all of the federal states the school system is divided into primary school (Grundschule), secondary school 1 (Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium or Gesamtschule) and secondary school 11 (high school, vocational college or technical college). The school which your child attends will depend on their ability and interests.
Primary School (Grades 1–4)
All children in the FrankfurtRheinMain region attend primary school as a whole for the first four years. There, they learn the basics in subjects such as German, mathematics, social studies, art, music and physical education (PE). Some primary schools also offer English. The main focus is on a playful approach to learning, which gradually becomes more structured in preparation for secondary education.
Secondary School (Grades 5–10)
After primary school, children go on to secondary school. The type of secondary school is decided by the parents and the teachers, whereby the teachers give a recommendation. The decision is made on the basis of the child’s marks and their behaviour at school. It is possible to switch to a different type of school at a later point.
In Hessen there is grammar school (Gymnasium), comprehensive school (Gesamtschule), as well as two other types (Realschule and Hauptschule). This system is based on the tiered school system that was originally divided into three parts, but which has become broader and more fragmented in recent years. It is based on the following types of school:
Hauptschule prepares children for apprenticeships in a trade, such as a painter and decorator, sales assistant or roofer. Children leave school after grade nine with a junior school-leaving certificate (Hauptschulabschluss). These schools often work closely with companies and workplaces that offer internships to students, preparing them for the world of work. However, the number of Hauptschulen is decreasing.
Realschule also prepares students for vocational training. It ends at grade ten with a junior school-leaving certificate (Realschulabschluss/Mittlerer Schulabschluss). This qualification is higher than a Hauptschulabschluss and gives access to a greater choice of training courses. The Realschulabschluss qualifies students for vocational training, for example as a bank clerk, insurance broker, mechatronics engineer, IT technician or medical secretary. It is also possible to switch to high school (gymnasiale Oberstufe) afterwards.
Gymnasium, grammar school, (grades 5–10) prepares pupils for high school, the gymnasiale Oberstufe. After 12 or 13 years at school, depending on the school, students take the senior school-leaving certificate, the Abitur. This certificate enables them to start studying or to start a dual study programme or vocational training.
Gesamtschule, comprehensive school, is open to all students, regardless of what type of recommendation they have from their primary school. Here, students can take any of the school-leaving certificates, depending on their ability.
Germany does not have a single school system that applies to all regions. The individual federal states set their own educational policies. As a result, there are subtle differences between the school systems in the three different states that make up FrankfurtRheinMain – Hessen, Bayern and Rheinland-Pfalz. However, there are more similarities than differences, and it is possible to switch to schools in different states without any problem.