In Germany, children at the age from 6 to 18 years have the right and the obligation to go to school. Going to school is free. As soon as you child is 6 years old, he or she has to go to school (“Schulpflicht” = compulsory education). This obligation ends after 12 years.
The school system consists of 4 consecutive elements. It starts with the “Kindertagesstätte” (Kita, daycare-centre) for children from 0 to 6 years of age followed by the “Grundschule” (primary school) for children vom 6 to 10 years. After that, you child can attend a secondary school. Which kind of secondary school depends on the learning achievement of you child. There are “Freie Schulen”, “Oberschulen”, “Gymnasien” and “Gesamtschulen”. A detailed explanation of these different types can be found under educational system.
18 months before the start of primary school (age 6 to 10), the German language skills of you child are tested. If your child’s does not speak German well enough and needs support, he or she can take part in the “vorschulischen Sprachförderung” (pre-school language training).
On our Refugee Map you’ll find primary and secundary schools (data by bremerhaven.de).
Frequently asked questions
After you have found accomodation in a transitional home, the management of this institution will give the “Schulbehörde” (supervisory school authority) notice of youre children. After that, the schools are informed. They can be informed either by the home management, by you as parent, by the advisor or the interpreter.
Don’t worry if your childrend don’t speak German perfectly – they will learn it in school.
Children and teenagers in need are entitled to take, for example on day trips, with lunch in school or child care or activities like music, sports or playing in groups and “Vereinen” (associations).
Especially children, teenagers and young adults, who receive social welfare (for instance “Arbeitslosengeld II”, “Sozialgeld” or “Sozialhilfe”) are entitles to benefits for participation and education. That applies also to parents who receive “Kinderzuschlag” (additional benefit for children) or “Wohngeld” (benefit for accomodation). Also anybody who receives benefits according to the “Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz” (law on benefits for asylum seekers) can be entitles for that.
You can get the “Antragsformular” (application form) directly at the school. After filling it in, you need to hand it in at the instutions, where you also get other financial aids. If you need personal assistance, please contact a counselling centre.
In Bremerhaven, you can claim a place for you child in a “Kita” (Kindertagesstätte, day care centre) before he or she goes to school (0 to 6 years). Until the 3rd year of age, there is also the option of “Kindertagespflege” (day care with a person at their home).
The school that you child is going to attend, will make an appointment with the responsible doctor for schools for a Schuleingangsuntersuchung (examination before the start of school). The school will also register all chilren with Sprachlernbedarf (need to learn German) with the “Senatorin für Kinder und Bildung” (state department for children and education). Here, they get a place in a “Vorkurs“(special school training for refugees, page in German). This intensive language training takes up to 6 months in primary school and up to 12 months in secondary school. At the same time, pupils take part in regulare lessons by the hour. In some emergency accomodations also language courses take place.
Ask the management of your accomodation, what of offers exist there.
Vacational schools prepare pupils for working life. If adolescents want to start working after ten years of school, they can attend vocational schools to prepare for working. There are dual educations, in which pupils have to go working and learn something about their new profession in school.
Free or alternative schools have different focuses and consider the individual needs of the pupils.
Elementary school is the basis of the educational career. Almost all children attend elementary school for four years. From Mondays to Fridays, the children experience their elementary school day in reliable times from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and all schools are working on being able to provide an all-day program in the future.
In elementary school, the children acquire knowledge and skills in German, mathematics, English and in the subject areas of time and change, society, politics and economics, space, nature and technology, as well as in music, art, sports and religion.
In Bremerhaven, two types of schools are available after elementary school to continue one’s school career: The Gymnasium and the Oberschule. Attending the Gymnasium is particularly suitable for students who can acquire the required learning content in a shorter period of time and who can be expected to learn at a faster pace. Classes consist of no more than 30 students. After a course of education at the Gymnasium lasting eight years in standard time, one reaches the Abitur.
In secondary level I, which extends to the tenth grade, children are taught an average of 32 hours per week. Up to the gymnasiale upper stage, all children move continuously to the next stage at the end of a school year. In view of this, it was found that repeating classes does not generally help to catch up on existing gaps. Specific support services and Easter camps are designed to work through existing deficits so that students can successfully participate in classes the following year. However, repeating a grade is possible in principle at the request of the parents and with specific agreement with the school.
The gymnasiale Oberstufe
The upper stage begins at the Gymnasium after the ninth grade. Here the number of hours is increased to 35 hours per week. In the tenth grade, the children go through the so-called introductory phase. At the end of this grade, the intermediate school leaving certificate (Realschulabschluss) is earned or the students remain at the Gymnasiale Oberstufe and continue with the eleventh grade. The eleventh and twelfth school years form the qualification phase for the Abitur. Students who have completed the Mittlerer Schulabschluss in an upper secondary school or vocational school gain admission to the Gymnasiale Oberstufe on the condition that the grade point average in the subjects German, mathematics and the first foreign language is 3.0 or better.
Gymnasiums offer in-depth general education, cooperative learning, multilingual competence, a good mix of encouragement and demand, and career and study orientation. Different schools offer different content emphases ranging from the natural sciences, the arts, or languages.
In all Bremen high schools, English instruction is introduced starting in the fifth grade. From the sixth grade onwards, an additional language is taught as a matter of principle. As a rule, students can choose between French, Latin or Spanish. Some schools also offer Russian, Turkish and from the higher grades Italian, or Chinese.
At the end of twelfth grade, students take their Abitur exams. The written exams are set uniformly across the state in German, foreign languages, mathematics, and science subjects. In at least two of the three written subjects, the examinations of the Central Abitur are presented. The main topics of the central baccalaureate are announced a good two years before the examination so that lessons can be based on them.
After finishing elementary school, students in Bremerhaven are faced with a choice of two possible school types to continue their school career: at the Gymnasium or at the Oberschule. The majority of children opt for the Oberschule. It includes all grades from fifth to thirteenth and leads to all common school-leaving qualifications. It follows that, with appropriate performance, every student is entitled to a place in the gymnasiale Oberstufe.
The following school-leaving qualifications are attainable:
In general, all school-leaving qualifications can be obtained at the Oberschule that general education schools provide:
– the Erweiterte Berufsbildungsreife (extended secondary school leaving certificate)
– the Mittlerer Schulabschluss (Realschulabschluss) at the end of the tenth grade
– the Abitur after 13 years of schooling
At some secondary schools, the Abitur is offered after twelve years. The gymnasiale Oberstufe thus begins after the ninth grade.
The general class size is a maximum of 25 children. Students at the Oberschule are taught together until the tenth grade. The Oberschule takes into account and adapts to the different performance levels and learning speeds of the children. In mathematics, German, the first foreign language and the natural sciences, students are assigned to smaller courses, each with two different levels of difficulty, based on their individual abilities. With the completion of the tenth grade, the extended vocational training maturity is acquired. At the same time, students have the option of continuing their education by transferring to a Gymnasiale Oberstufe.
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