Schools and childcare
Knowledge, values and skills in a variety of fields - Bavarian schools place great emphasis on high-quality education for young people. However, their focus does always remain on the child's personality.
So that children and young adults have an opportunity to realise their potential, the school system is highly diversified, providing them with various paths for attaining their personal educational goals.
The foundation: Primary school
In Bavaria - like everywhere in Germany - school is compulsory. All children turning six by the 30th September of a respective year fundamentally must attend the first year of primary school. There, they will spend four years learning the skills of reading, writing, arithmetic and general knowledge. Additionally, the personality of the little ones continues to develop.
At the end of the third school year, children join their parents and teachers in deciding which secondary school comes into question for them. Following the fourth year, there are then various options: university preparatory school (Gymnasium), secondary school (Realschule/Mittelscule) or intermediate secondary school (Hauptschule).
The direct path to studying at an institution of higher education: University preparatory school
University preparatory school (Gymnasium - website in German) is the most challenging, but also the most direct path to obtaining the Arbitur, which is the highest school diploma in Bavaria. The Arbitur makes it possible for young adults to apply to an institution of higher education directly, provided they meet the other requirements as well. Pupils attending university preparatory school receive a broad general education over the course of eight years. Teachers motivate pupils to work and learn independently, simultaneously challenging them with programmes tailored to children and young adults.
Close to practice: Intermediary secondary school
In Bavaria, nearly all Hauptschule intermediate secondary schools were converted to Mittelschule secondary schools for the 2011/2012 school year. Secondary school (Mittelschule - website in German) covers the years 5 to 9, or 5 to 10. Thanks to the curriculum's strong orientation toward professional practice, these schools provide a solid foundation for a wide variety of vocational professions.
Pupils at an intermediate secondary school can attain certificates of secondary education (website in German). After completing intermediate secondary school, graduates can attend vocational school or a school for continuing education.
Springboard: Secondary school
At a secondary school (Realschule - website in German), pupils mainly receive a solid foundation of general education and basic knowledge for vocational training. Secondary school prepares pupils for their professional life within the scope of a "secondary school certificate” (mittlerer Schulabschluss).
However, it also makes it possible for them to switch to a commercial school (Fachoberschule), after the 10th year, which qualifies graduates for education at an institution of higher education. This makes it a good springboard for all who do not decide until later that they would like to study at an institution of higher education.
One particularity of the Bavarian school system is the commercial school (Wirtschaftsschule - website in German).
This is a vocational school that, in addition to a solid general education, also provides pupils with skills in business and administration, terminating with the "mittlerer Schulabschluss" certificate.
If your children have already been attending school for several years and you are potentially planning to return home, then an international school may make sense. You will find an overview and the addresses of all international schools in Bavaria here:
International schools in Bavaria
School finder and schedule overview
The Bavarian Ministry of Education (website in German) provides a nice overview of the Bavarian school system.
You can use a school finder (website in German) to find a school in your area, a specific type of school and concrete educational programmes. Note that the primary school, intermediate secondary school and secondary school your children attend is based on where you reside, which means that there is no free selection in that regard.
Here (website in German), you'll also find an overview of holidays, enrolment, registration and testing dates based on the types of schools.
Many schools offer afternoon care after the school day is done. The programmes vary greatly, and are based on both the needs of parents as well as on the school's capabilities, such as:
The Bavarian school system: Some fundamentals
In Germany, children must attend school for at least twelve years. An apprenticeship, and therefore attendance to a vocational school, may be included. Compulsory education also means that parents are obligated to send their children to school.
They must take their children to a physical examination beforehand, during which a physician determines the child's ability to attend school. Only then can you register your child with a school. You must do this personally at a scheduled appointment.
Certificates and marks
Pupils in Bavaria receive an interim performance report after the first half of the school year, and then an annual report at the end of the school year. The marks your child receives are indicated in the individual subjects from the second school year on, which may include personal comments from teachers. The marks given are from 1 to 6, where 1 stands for "excellent" and 6 is the lowest mark, "insufficient".
Assistance and advice is available from teachers, advice counsellors, school psychologists and further contact partners. Help is also offered by associations like "Number Against Grief” ("Nummer gegen Kummer" - website in German), for example.