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Munich - Public Schools

How the education system works in Bavaria.

Children start compulsory school (Schule) in Munich at a relatively late age, in fact formal education does not start until children turn 6. Prior to school, parents may wish to send their children to Kindergarten. This is mainly for social interaction for the child (and a few quiet hours for the parents!). Children may attend compulsory education for a minimum of 9 or a maximum of 13 years, based on their academic results.

The public school system is not zoned, so you can send your child to the school of your choice (depending on entrance requirements, which occasionally can require sitting an entrance exam).
School hours are generally Monday to Friday from 8 am to 11 or 11:30 am for Grundschule and 8am to 1 or 1:15 pm for Secondary school. Children in public schools do not wear uniforms.

The document below contains information on both public and private schools, including international schools.

A list of all the schools in Munich (in German) can be found at:

Pre-schools or Kindergarten

The German word for preschool is the familiar Kindergarten. Kindergartens are generally for children aged 3 - 6. Most kindergartens are run by the local community or a church group, but there are also private kindergartens. Most facilities charge a low monthly fee.
Hours are very short and strict, so do not really substitute for childcare if both partners are working.

Since children pick up languages very quickly, do not feel your child will not benefit in a German-speaking facility. However, if you would prefer your child to have instruction in another language, please refer to the Private Schools document where preschools that operate in different languages are listed.

Elementary school

Elementary or Primary School, Grundschule or Volkschule, is a course of four years (1st to 4th class) after which, depending on the child's results, particularly in the 4th class, it is decided whether he/she will go to Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium in the 5th class.

Secondary school

Hauptschule and Realschule are for the less academically-inclined students.
After completion of Hauptschule and/or Realschule, students may choose to go to a Berufsschule (vocational school) where they learn a technical trade. Children who attend school for the minimum nine years, graduating from a Hauptschule or Realschule, usually learn a trade or a particular vocational skill.

Children who attend school for 13 years, graduate from the Gymnasium and have the opportunity to continue studying at university. Gymnasium is for the more academically-minded students. Gymnasiums vary in the focus of the subjects they offer and can be broadly divided into:
- humanities
- languages
- science and technology
- economics and social science (with emphasis placed on either economics or social science)
- music

The final year of Gymnasium is called the Abitur (often in slang shortened to Abi) and is equivalent to a high school certificate. After this students can choose to study at a Hochschule (university) or Fachhochschule (technical university).

Switching between different schooling streams is difficult. It is possible for children to progress from Realschule to Gymnasium to complete their Abitur, but this involves additional years of study.

Schools for Children with Special Needs

Förderschule is for children with special needs. This includes schools for exceptionally gifted children as well as for children who have learning difficulties.

More information in the document, Special Education

German as a Foreign Language

German is the language of instruction at public schools. The State School and Education Advisory Service (Städt. Schul- und Bildungsberatung) publishes a list of institutions offering German courses. Some of these have special rates to refugees, political ayslum seekers, and people of German descent migrating back to Germany from Eastern Europe. (See Deutschkursliste2004.doc). These classes are in addition to regular schooling. The advisory board gives counselling in English on which school to send your child to.

Education Advisory Service
Contact Herr Dr. Roth
on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
Tel: + 49 (0) 89 233 26875.

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