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Education System!

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Education in Germany The responsibility for the education system in Germany lies primarily with the states (Länder), while the federal government plays a minor role. Optional Kindergarten (nursery school) education is provided for all children between one and six years of age, after which school attendance is compulsory.[1] The system varies throughout Germany because each state (Land) decides its own educational policies. Most children, however, first attend Grundschule from the age of six to ten.
German secondary education includes five types of school. The Gymnasium is designed to prepare pupils for higher education and finishes with the final examination Abitur, after grade 12, mostly year 13. The Realschule has a broader range of emphasis for intermediate pupils and finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife, after grade 10; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education and finishes with the final examination Hauptschulabschluss, after grade 9 and the Realschulabschluss after grade 10. There are two types of grade 10: one is the higher level called type 10b and the lower level is called type 10a; only the higher-level type 10b can lead to the Realschule and this finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife after grade 10b. This new path of achieving the Realschulabschluss at a vocationally oriented secondary school was changed by the statutory school regulations in 1981 – with a one-year qualifying period. During the one-year qualifying period of the change to the new regulations, pupils could continue with class 10 to fulfil the statutory period of education. After 1982, the new path was compulsory, as explained above


History

Historically, Lutheranism had a strong influence on German culture, including its education. Martin Luther advocated compulsory schooling so that all people would independently be able to read and interpret the Bible. This concept became a model for schools throughout Germany. German public schools generally have religious education provided by the churches in cooperation with the state ever since.
During the 18th century, the Kingdom of Prussia was among the first countries in the world to introduce free and generally compulsory primary education, consisting of an eight-year course of basic education, Volksschule. It provided not only the skills needed in an early industrialized world (reading, writing, and arithmetic), but also a strict education in ethics, duty, discipline and obedience. Children of affluent parents often went on to attend preparatory private schools for an additional four years, but the general population had virtually no access to secondary education.
In 1810, after the Napoleonic wars, Prussia introduced state certification requirements for teachers, which significantly raised the standard of teaching. The final examination, Abitur, was introduced in 1788, implemented in all Prussian secondary schools by 1812 and extended to all of Germany in 1871. The state also established teacher training colleges for prospective teachers in the common or elementary grades


Primary education
Parents looking for a suitable school for their child have a wide choice of elementary schools
State school. State schools do not charge tuition fees. The majority of pupils attend state schools in their neighbourhood. Schools in affluent areas tend to be better than those in deprived areas. Once children reach school age, many middle-class and working-class families move away from deprived areas.
or, alternatively Waldorf School (2006 schools in 2007)
Montessori method school (272)
Freie Alternativschule (Free Alternative Schools) (85)
Protestant (63) or Catholic (114) parochial schools


Secondary education
After children complete their primary education (at 10 years of age, 12 in Berlin and Brandenburg), there are five options for secondary schooling:
Gymnasium (grammar school) until grade 12 or 13 (with Abitur as exit exam, qualifying for university); and
Fachoberschule admission after grade ten until grade twelve (with Fachhochschulreife (between Abitur and Realschulabschluss) as exit exam) it is also possible to leave after grade thirteen and get either the ″fachgebundene Abitur″ (if you haven′t learned a language besides English) or get the ″Abitur″ (with a second language on European level B1)
Realschule until grade ten (with Mittlere Reife (Realschulabschluss) as exit exam)
Mittelschule (the least academic, much like a modernized Volksschule [elementary school]) until grade nine (with Hauptschulabschluss and in some cases Mittlere Reife = Realschulabschuss as exit exam); in some federal states the Hauptschule does not exist and pupils are mainstreamed into a Mittelschule or Regionale Schule instead.
Gesamtschule (comprehensive school) After passing through any of the above schools, pupils can start a career with an apprenticeship in the Berufsschule (vocational school). The Berufsschule is normally attended twice a week during a two, three, or three-and-a-half year apprenticeship; the other days are spent working at a company. This is intended to provide a knowledge of theory and practice. The company is obliged to accept the apprentice on its apprenticeship scheme. After this, the apprentice is registered on a list at the Industrie- und Handelskammer IHK (chamber of industry and commerce). During the apprenticeship, the apprentice is a part-time salaried employee of the company. After passing the Berufsschule and the exit exams of the IHK, a certificate is awarded and the young person is ready for a career up to a low management level. In some areas, the schemes teach certain skills that are a legal requirement (special positions in a bank, legal assistants).
Some special areas provide different paths. After attending any of the above schools and gaining a leaving certificate (Hauptschulabschluss) - Mittlere Reife (FOR) or Mittlere Reife, (Realschulabschuss from a Realschule); or Abitur from a Gymnasium or a Gesamtschule, school leavers can start a career with an apprenticeship at a Berufsschule (vocational school). Here the student is registered with certain bodies, e.g. associations such as the German Bar Association Deutsche Rechtsanwaltskammer GBA (board of directors). During the apprenticeship, the young person is a part-time salaried employee of the institution, bank, physician or attorney’s office. After leaving the Berufsfachschule and passing the exit examinations set by the German Bar Association or other relevant associations, the apprentice receives a certificate and is ready for a career at all levels except in positions which require a specific higher degree, such as a doctorate. In some areas, the apprenticeship scheme teaches skills that are required by law, including certain positions in a bank or those as legal assistants. The 16 states have exclusive responsibility in the field of education and professional education. The federal parliament and the federal government can influence the educational system only by financial aid to the states. There are many different school systems, but in each state the starting point is always the Grundschule (elementary school) for a period of four years; or six years in the case of Berlin and Brandenburg.


School organization
A few organizational central points are listed below. It should however be noted that due to the decentralized nature of the education system there are many more additional differences across the 16 states of Germany..

  1. Every state has its own school system.
  2. Each age group of students (born roughly in the same year) forms one or more grades or classes ("Klassen") per school which remain the same for elementary school (years 1 to 4 or 6), orientation school (if there are orientation schools in the state), orientation phase (at Gymnasium years 5 to 6), and secondary school (years 5 or 7 to 10 in "Realschulen" and "Hauptschulen"; years 5 or 7 to 10 (differences between states) in "Gymnasien"[14]) respectively. Changes are possible, though, when there is a choice of subjects, e.g. additional languages; Then classes will be split (and newly merged) either temporarily or permanently for this particular subject.
  3. Students usually sit at tables, not desks (usually two at one table), sometimes arranged in a semicircle or another geometric or functional shape. During exams in classrooms, the tables are sometimes arranged in columns with one pupil per table (if permitted by the room's capacities) in order to prevent cheating; at many schools, this is only the case for some exams in the two final years of school, i.e. some of the exams counting for the final grade on the high school diploma.
  4. There is usually no school uniform or dress code existing. Many private schools have a simplified dress code, for instance, such as "no shorts, no sandals, no clothes with holes". Some schools are testing school uniforms, but those are not as formal as seen in the UK. They mostly consist of a normal sweater/shirt and jeans of a certain color, sometimes with the school's symbol on it. It is however a common custom to design graduation class shirts in Gymnasium, Realschule and Hauptschule.
  5. School usually starts between 7.30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. and can finish as early as 12; instruction in lower classes[which?] almost always ends before lunch. In higher grades[which?], however, afternoon lessons are very common and periods may have longer gaps without teacher supervision between them. Usually, afternoon classes are not offered every day and/or continuously until early evening, leaving students with large parts of their afternoons free of school; some schools (Ganztagsschulen), however, offer classes or mainly supervised activities throughout the afternoons in order to offer supervision for the students rather than increasing the hours of teaching. Afternoon lessons can continue until 6 o'clock.
  6. Depending on school, there are breaks of 5 to 20 minutes after each period. There is no lunch break as school usually finishes before 1:30 for junior school. However, at schools that have "Nachmittagsunterricht" (= afternoon classes) ending after 1:30 there's sometimes a lunch break of 45 to 90 minutes, though many schools lack any special break in general. Some schools that have regular breaks of 5 minutes between every lesson and have additional 10 or 15 minute breaks after the second and fourth lesson.
  7. In German state schools lessons have a length of exactly 45 minutes. Each subject is usually taught for two to three periods every week (main subjects like mathematics, German or foreign languages are taught for four to six periods) and usually no more than two periods consecutively. The beginning of every period and, usually, break is announced with an audible signal such as a bell.
  8. Exams (which are always supervised) are usually essay based, rather than multiple choice. As of 11th grade, exams usually consist of no more than three separate exercises. While most exams in the first grades of secondary schools usually span no more than 90 minutes, exams in 10th to 12th grade may span four periods or more (without breaks).
  9. At every type of school, pupils study one foreign language (in most cases English) for at least five years. The study of languages is, however, far more rigorous and literature oriented in Gymnasium. In Gymnasium, students can choose from a wider range of languages (mostly English, French, Russian - mostly in east German Bundesländer - or Latin) as the first language in 5th grade, and a second mandatory language in 7th grade. Some types of Gymnasium also require an additional third language (such as Spanish, Italian, Russian, Latin or Ancient Greek) or an alternative subject (usually based on one or two other subjects, e.g. British politics (English & politics), dietetics (biology) or media studies (arts & German) in 9th or 11th grade. Gymnasiums normally offer further subjects starting at 11th grade, with some schools offering a fourth foreign language.
  10. A number of schools once had a Raucherecke (smokers' corner), a small area of the schoolyard where students over the age of eighteen are permitted to smoke in their breaks. Those special areas were banned in the states of Berlin, Hessen and Hamburg, Brandenburg at the beginning of the 2005-06 school year. (Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony 2006-07)). Schools in these states prohibit smoking for students and teachers and offences at school will be punished. Other states in Germany are planning to introduce similar laws.
  11. As state schools are public, smoking is universally prohibited inside the buildings. Smoking teachers are generally asked not to smoke while at or near school. Students over 14 years are permitted to leave the school compound during breaks at some schools. Teachers or school personnel tend to prevent younger students from leaving early and strangers from entering the compound without permission.
  12. Tidying up the classroom and schoolyard is often the task of the students themselves. Unless a group of volunteering students, individuals are being picked sequentially.
  13. Many schools have AGs or Arbeitsgemeinschaften (clubs) for afternoon activities such as sports, music or acting, but participation is not necessarily common. Some schools also have special mediators who are student volunteers trained to resolve conflicts between their classmates or younger students.
  14. Only few schools have actual sports teams that compete with other schools'. Even if the school has a sports team, students are not necessarily very aware of it.
  15. While student newspapers used to be very common until the late 20th century, with new issues often produced after a couple of months, many of them are now very short-lived, usually vanishing when the team graduates. Student newspapers are often financed mostly by advertisements.
  16. Usually schools don't have their own radio stations or TV channels. Therefore, larger universities often have a local student-run radio station.
  17. Although most German schools and state universities do not have classrooms equipped with a computer for each student, schools usually have at least one or two computer rooms and most universities offer a limited number of rooms with computers on every desk. State school computers are usually maintained by the same exclusive contractor in the entire city and updated slowly. Internet access is often provided by phone companies free of charge. Especially in schools the teachers' computer skills are often very low.
  18. At the end of their schooling, students usually undergo a cumulative written and oral examination (Abitur in Gymnasien or Abschlussprüfung in Realschulen and Hauptschulen). Students leaving Gymnasium after 9th grade do have the leaving examination of the Hauptschule and after 10th grade do have the Mittlere Reife (leaving examination of the Realschule, also called Mittlerer Schulanschluss).
  19. After 10th grade Gymnasium students may quit school for at least one year of job education if they do not wish to continue. Realschule and Hauptschule students who have passed their Abschlussprüfung may decide to continue schooling at a Gymnasium, but are sometimes required to take additional courses in order to catch up.
  20. Corporal punishment was banned in 1949 in East Germany and in 1973 in West Germany. Fourth grade (or sixth, depending on the state) is often quite stressful for students of lower performance and their families. Many feel tremendous pressure when trying to achieve placement in Gymnasium, or at least when attempting to avoid placement in Hauptschule. Germany is unique compared to other western countries in its early segregation of students based on academic achievement.


Public and private schools[edit] In 2006, six percent of German children attended private schools. In Germany, Article 7, Paragraph 4 of the Grundgesetz, the constitution of Germany, guarantees the right to establish private schools. This article belongs to the first part of the German basic law, which defines civil and human rights. A right which is guaranteed in this part of the Grundgesetz can only be suspended in a state of emergency, if the respective article specifically states this possibility. That is not the case with this article. It is also not possible to abolish these rights. This unusual protection of private schools was implemented to protect them from a second Gleichschaltung or similar event in the future.
Ersatzschulen are ordinary primary or secondary schools which are run by private individuals, private organizations or religious groups. These schools offer the same types of diplomas as in public schools. However, Ersatzschulen, like their state-run counterparts, are subjected to basic government standards, such as the minimum required qualifications of teachers and pay grades. An Ersatzschule must have at least the same academic standards as those of a state school and Article 7, Paragraph 4 of the Grundgesetz, allows to forbid the segregation of pupils according to socioeconomic status (the so-called Sonderungsverbot). Therefore, most Ersatzschulen have very low tuition fees compared to those in most other Western European countries; scholarships are also often available. However, it is not possible to finance these schools with such low tuition fees: accordingly all German Ersatzschulen are subsidised with public funds.
Some students attend private schools through welfare subsidies. This is often the case if a student is considered to be a child at risk: students who have learning disabilities, special needs or come from dysfunctional home environments.
After allowing for the socio-economic status of the parents, children attending private schools are not as able as those at state schools. At the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for example, after considering socioeconomic class, students at private schools underperformed those at state schools.[16] One has, however, to be careful interpreting that data: it may be that such students do not underperform because they attend a private school, but that they attend a private school because they underperform. Some private Realschulen and Gymnasien have lower entry requirements than public Realschulen and Gymnasien


Special schools Most German children with special needs attend a school called Förderschule or Sonderschule (special school) that serves only such children. There are several types of special schools in Germany such as:
The "Sonderschule für Lernbehinderte" - a special school serving children who have learning difficulties
The "Schule mit dem Förderschwerpunkt Geistige Entwicklung" - a special school serving children who have very severe learning difficulties
The "Förderschule Schwerpunkt emotionale und soziale Entwicklung" - a special school serving children who have special emotional needs
Only one in 21 German children attends such a special school. Teachers at those schools are qualified professionals who have specialized in special-needs education while at university. Special schools often have a very favourable student-teacher ratio and facilities compared with other schools. Special schools have been criticized


International schools As of January 2015 the International Schools Consultancy (ISC)[19] listed Germany as having 164 international schools.[20] ISC defines an 'international school' in the following terms "ISC includes an international school if the school delivers a curriculum to any combination of pre-school, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country, or if a school in a country where English is one of the official languages, offers an English-medium curriculum other than the country’s national curriculum and is international in its orientation."[20] This definition is used by publications including The Economist.[21] In 1971 the first International Baccalaureate World School was authorized in Germany.[22] Today 70 schools offer one or more of the IB programmes including two who offer the new IB Career-related Programme.


International comparisons The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), coordinated by the OECD, assesses the skills of 15-year-olds in OECD countries and a number of partner countries. The assessment in the year 2000 demonstrated serious weaknesses in German pupils' performance. In the test of 41 countries, Germany ranked 21st in reading and 20th in both mathematics and the natural sciences, prompting calls for reform.[24] Major newspapers ran special sections on the PISA results, which were also discussed extensively on radio and television. In response, Germany's states formulated a number of specific initiatives addressing the perceived problems behind Germany's poor performance.
By 2006, German schoolchildren had improved their position compared to previous years, being ranked (statistically) significantly above average (rank 13) in science skills and statistically not significantly above or below average in mathematical skills (rank 20) and reading skills (rank 18).[26][27] In 2012, Germany achieved above average results in all three areas of reading, mathematics, and natural sciences.
The PISA Examination also found big differences in achievement between students attending different types of German schools.[29] According to Jan-Martin-Wiadra: "Conservatives prized the success of the Gymnasium, for them the finest school form in the world – indeed, it is by far the number one in the PISA league table. But what they prefer to forget is that this success came at the cost of a catastrophe in the Hauptschulen."[30] The socio-economic gradient was very high in Germany, the students' performance there being more dependent on socio-economic factors than in most other countries.

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