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The school system differs region to region; I always found it very confusing as there are so many different types of schools to choose from. I’ll be using the Bavarian school system as an example in this post to give you an insight on the topic.
It all starts with die Grundschule:
die Grundschule is from the ages six to ten years old. This is the same as a primary school and the years go from 1 to 4.
After primary school you can choose between three different schools:
die Mittelschule (middle school):
In middle school you have the years 5 to 9/10, for eleven to sixteen year olds. You finish the school with an erfolgreiche Abschluss (if you complete the school up to year 9), mittlerer Abschluss (if you complete the school up to year 10) or qualifizierende Abschluss (an extra certificate you can earn in year 9).
die Realschule (secondary modern school):
This is also years 5 to 10. The difference to the middle school is here you can choose from three education topics:
Mathematic – scientific – technical field
second language French
music composition/home economics/social field – this depends on what the school has to offer.
das Gymnasium (grammar/high school):
This school is from the years 5 to 12 and has a more in depth education. If you attend this school you have the qualification for university and you finish the school with Abitur.
Once you complete one of the three schools the further options are:
Berufsschule mit dualen System (trade school with dual system):
This is years 10 to 13 and the education is split between classes and work, for example you would have alternating weeks at school and at a workplace.
Berufsfachschule (vocational school):
Here you only have classes; however you may need to do a certain amount of practical work outside of school in order to finish the course. The schools are specialized to a certain career, for example Altenpflege (care for the elderly) or Fremdsprachenberufe (foreign language jobs)
FOS und BOS (Fachoberschule und Berufsoberschule)
In both schools you have the chance to attain an abitur if you haven’t got one already. To get into BOS you have to have completed a Berufsausbildung (career education). BOS only takes one year to complete as you already have the practical experience from your last education. At the FOS you don’t need this previous experience; however the course takes two years to complete because it includes the practical experience that you need.
I hope this post clears up any confusion with the school system in Germany! As I said before, this is just for Bavaria and could be different in another part of Germany.
Thanks for reading 🙂