Home » Germany » Education » State Schools in Germany

State Schools in Germany

Submitted: December 2013

The overwhelming majority of German students attend state schools within their neighbourhood. The whole German education system is available to the children of expatriates. However, the classes are conducted in German, which is usually fine for school beginners but this becomes more difficult as the children get older. Although education is a function of the 16 federal states, and there are differences between each state, it is possible to make some generalizations.

Pre-School - The German preschool is known as a Kindergarten or Kita. Children between the ages of 3 and 6 may attend Kita, but this not part of the official school system. As a result, Kita are often run by city administrations, churches, or registered societies. Attending a Kita is neither free of charge nor mandatory, but can be partly covered by the local authority and the income of the parents. In a Kita, development of children and their relations with other children are fostered through play, rather than being given formal instructions.

Primary School (Grundschule)–There is a wide choice of elementary schools for parents to choose from. State schools do not charge tuition fees. Schooling begins at the age of six in the first year of a Grundschule. Children must attend the Grundschule for 4 years (6 in Berlin), during which time they learn to read, write and to do arithmetic. Some basic instruction is also offered in history, geography, social science, biology, art and music. The subjects taught are generally the same for all.

Secondary School: After children have completed the Grundschule at 10 years of age, or 12 in Berlin, there are the following four options for secondary schooling:



You will find that German children typically attend the primary school in their area of residence. About six-months before the start of the new school year, school authorities hold school registration (Schulanmeldung) days for six-year-olds.

It is very important for all parents to avail themselves of the relevant information, as non-registration is punishable by a fine.

When registering your child, the relevant forms need to be taken to the local registry office, known as the Bürgeram. The department which has the sole responsibility for the allocation of preschool places and school places is called ‘AbteilungfürJugend und Finanzen’.

When you go to register, ensure that you walk with the following documents:





Moving to Germany

If you are considering moving to Germany or are soon to depart, you can find helpful information and advice in the Expat Briefing dedicated German section including; details of immigration and visas, German forums, German event listings and service providers in Germany.


Living in Germany

From your safety to shoppingliving in Germany can yield great benefits as well as occasional drawbacks.  Find your feet and stay abreast of the latest developments affecting expats in Germany with relevant news and up-to-date information.


Working in Germany

Working in Germany can be rewarding as well as stressful, if you don't plan ahead and fulfill any legal requirements. Find out about visas and passports, owning and operating a company in Germany, and general German culture of the labour market.



German Expat News Headlines

German Expat Service Providers

International Citizens Insurance Expat Financial Expatriate Healthcare Integra Global Health Insurance 1st Move International

German Expat Tools