BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge - The school system

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The school system

All children who live in Germany must go to school.

Compulsory schooling generally begins in the autumn of the year in which a child turns six. Generally, compulsory schooling then lasts until the end of the school year in which a young person turns 18. The rules on compulsory schooling differ according to the Federal Land concerned. It is also possible for a child to start school during a school year.

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The earliest age at which your child can attend school depends on the Federal Land in which you live. You should enquire of the educational authority of your community/town or of the migration advisory service (MBE) as to what the regulations in your Federal Land are.

School attendance is also compulsory for children and juveniles with disabilities or with special educational needs.

The education authority will use an official "procedure to determine special educational needs" to ascertain whether a child has such needs. Either the child’s parents or the school must apply for this procedure to be carried out. Depending on the type of special needs that are identified, the child may either continue to attend a general school or be transferred to a school offering special support. There are various types of special schools, which may be referred to as Förderschulen, Sonderschulen, Förderzentren or Schulen für Behinderte, according to the Federal Land.

Attendance at state-run schools is free.

There are also private schools in Germany, which generally charge parents a fee.

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Class trips, excursions, school parties, school concerts and swimming lessons are all part of learning and everyday school life in Germany. Your child should take part in these events as they are a valuable way of learning and because such shared activities can boost children’s motivation to learn and their enjoyment of school, as well as improving linguistic skills.

You can find out on the next few pages what types of school exist and what role parents play in their children's everyday school lives.

Date 17 December 2015