Types of schools and qualifications
There are many different types of schools in FrankfurtRheinMain (FRM). All of them give your child the best possible support and sufficient space to develop independently.
All federal states adhere to the same basic school system. Children go to primary school (Grundschule), secondary school (Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium) and upper secondary school (sixth form, vocational college or technical college). Which school your child goes to will depend on her or his interests and performance.
Primary school (grades 1–4)
All children in the FrankfurtRheinMain region first attend primary school together for four years. There, they learn the basics in a number of subjects: German language, mathematics, general knowledge, art, music and PE. Some primary schools also offer English classes. Primary education takes a playful approach to learning, which becomes gradually more structured in preparation for secondary education.
Secondary schools (grades 5–10)
After completing their primary education, children progress to a secondary school. Parents and teachers decide on a type of secondary school together. Normally, teachers issue a recommendation at least. The decision is made on the basis of the child’s marks and their social conduct. It is possible to switch to a different type of secondary school later.
Depending on which federal state in FrankfurtRheinMain you live, there are different types of secondary schools to choose.
The following types of schools available in Hessen are: Gymnasium, Gesamtschule, Realschule and Hauptschule.
This system is based on the three-way distinction previously used by German schools. In the recent past, it has undergone many changes and is gradually making way for a different approach. The original types of school are as follows:
Hauptschule prepares children for a course of practical and theoretical training in a specific profession, e.g. painter and decorator, sales clerk or roofer. Pupils finish school after grade nine and receive a Hauptschulabschluss diploma. These schools often partner with companies that offer internships to the pupils and prepare them for their professional life. The Hauptschule model is becoming increasingly rare.
Realschule also prepares its pupils for vocational training but involves ten grades and awards a Realschulabschluss / Mittlere Reife. This qualification is superior to a Hauptschulabschluss and gives young people access to a greater choice of professions. The Realschulabschluss qualifies them to train in professions such as bank clerk, insurance broker, mechatronic engineer, IT specialist or doctor’s assistant. They can also continue their education by spending two or three more years at a Gymnasium (gymnasiale Oberstufe, roughly equivalent to the British sixth form).
Gymnasium (grades 5–10) prepares pupils for the gymnasiale Oberstufe, which is the highest level of secondary school and roughly equivalent to the British sixth form. After 12 or 13 years at school, depending on the school attended, pupils take the Abitur examination. If they are successful, they obtain the Abitur diploma, which qualifies them to study at university, enrol on a dual course of study or start vocational training.
Gesamtschule is open to all pupils, regardless of the recommendation issued by their primary school teacher. They can obtain any diploma – depending on their performance, of course.
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 used in the three different states that make up FrankfurtRheinMain – Hessen, Bayern and Rheinland-Pfalz. But they have more similarities than differences, and children can switch to schools in different states without any difficulties.