Many educational paths after elementary school

By Majd Kanjou

“Which secondary school is the best choice for our child?” That’s what many parents of a fourth-graders student in Baden-Württemberg are asking. Parents have various options as to which school they want to enroll their children in. Every autumn term, there are information evenings about the secondary schools. In Tübingen, for example, parents can get information on three dates in November after the autumn holidays.
In the German education system, there are many different types of secondary schools like Hauptschule, Werkrealschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium.
At the secondary school “Hauptschule” or “Werkrealschule”, students receive the school leaving certificate (Hauptschulabschluss) which is awarded after five years or the certificate (Werkrealschulabschluss) after six years, i.e. a middle school leaving certificate that is equivalent to that of the secondary school “Realschule”. Lessons at the “Hauptschule” and “Werkrealschule” are vocationally oriented with work placements so that students learn about working life daily. If Werkrealschule students want to acquire the university entrance qualification, they can attend a vocational high school for three years.
However, in the secondary school “Realschule”, students receive the certificate “Hauptschulabschluss” after five years or obtain the intermediate educational qualification “mittlere Schulreife” after six years with the “Realschulabschluss”. Students with a “Realabschluss” can attend a three-year vocational “Gymnasium”, a “Berufskolleg” or a general “Gymnasium”.
At the general secondary school, students graduate after eight or nine years. There are various specializations fields of study, for example, linguistics, science, or sports. Afterward, high school graduates are qualified for university entrance and can attend any college or university.
If parents of fourth-graders are not sure which branch of education suits their child, they can enroll him or her in “Gemeinschaftsschule”. Parents decide only one year before graduation whether their child should take the “Hauptschulabschluss”, “Realschulabschluss”, or “Abitur”. In the lower secondary level of “Gemeinschaftsschule”, students receive the “Hauptschulabschluss” after the ninth or tenth grade, while other students receive the “Realschulabschluss” after the tenth grade. At “Gemeinschaftsschule” with an upper secondary school, students in the upper secondary school can graduate with a high school diploma after the thirteenth grade. “Gemeinschaftsschule” is an all-day school three or four days a week.
According to the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Education, students there learn at the “best possible level for them“. They receive detailed learning development reports instead of report cards with grades. There is no dropout.
From October to November, there are information evenings where parents of fourth-graders can get information about secondary schools. Then, from October to January, teachers prepare the elementary school recommendations which are based on the child’s academic performance, and learning and work habits. Children’s strengths and learning preferences are also taken into account. Teachers provide counsel to parents beginning in December and continuing through January. Consultation with qualified guidance counselors is also available. In February, parents should receive mid-year report cards. Then, in March and April, parents register their children at the school of their choice by bringing a passport or proof of identity, the registration form, and the elementary school recommendation. This year’s registration is on Wednesday, March 6 and Thursday, March 7 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the respective schools.
There are special education and counseling centers (SBBZ) for children with disabilities, disadvantages, or chronic illnesses. These schools have different focuses such as learning, language, emotion, vision, hearing, mental development, social development, and physical development. However, parents cannot simply enroll their children there because The State Education Authority must determine eligibility for special education services.
For more information please visit the link below:
Further information evenings will be held in Tübingen in February:
For more information on secondary schools please visit the link:,Lde/startseite/schule


Mathilde-Weber-Schule in Derendingen. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Mostafa Elyasian.






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