The St.-Anna-Gymnasium in Munich The St.-Anna-Gymnasium in Munich Photo: Von Nothere - own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Moving to Munich: The German Education System Explained

By  Wednesday, 15.6.2016, 20:41    Moving to Munich

In one of our previous posts we have introduced some English language schools in Munich and said a few words about the schooling system in Germany and especially within the Free State of Bavaria. There are over 6,100 in the Free State. The schools are divided into the following three main categories: schools of general education, vocational schools and schools of adult education. You can find the schools closest to where you are or will be living by searching the Bavarian School Database. In the lower school grades (Grundschule) you cannot choose the public school you want your child to go to freely because of the so called “Sprenglerprinzip”. According to the Sprengler, your child will be admitted into a school in your district.

The German School System is simply and excellently explained in the video below and in the video at the end of this article.

As a rule, every student is eligible to enter the next higher academic level after receiving a school-leaving certificate. Based on the principle of permeability, each secondary school is allowed to award its graduates an intermediate school-leaving certificate. Therefore, when a child leaves primary school and is placed into a secondary school, the child's educational path through the school system is by no means set in stone. When parents and children decide on what path to take, they should bear in mind that it's always possible to switch to a different type of school at a later time. Parents are responsible for choosing the educational path suited to the specific needs and abilities of their child. This decision should be based on personal goals, the child's current academic performance and the requirement profile of each type of school.

The teaching staff at primary schools helps parents make this decision through on-going consultation and support, as do the primary school teachers at secondary schools (Realschule and Gymnasium) who serve as guidance counsellors in the transfer process. Teacher advisors, school psychologists and the State School Advisory Boards can also help parents decide which educational path is best for their child.

German School system.svg
By Toscho - Own work, Public Domain,

The advising and support phase begins at the preschool level. Primary school is the first general school for all school-age children. At the end of primary school (fourth grade), pupils enter a secondary school of their choice, i.e. either a Mittelschule (general, vocationally oriented secondary school for non-university bound pupils), Realschule (professionally oriented secondary school) or Gymnasium (university-preparatory secondary school). As of the seventh grade, students may transfer to a business school.

A child is permitted to switch to another type of school if his/her academic achievement develops accordingly. Each school-leaving certificate opens the door to new academic paths and connections.

After receiving a Mittelschule school-leaving certificate, the pupil may begin:

Vocational training

After receiving the intermediate secondary school-leaving certificate, the pupil may continue with:

• Vocational training

• Vocational secondary school (FOS)

• Gymnasium (higher level)

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Vilijam Zufic

Translator (German, Croatian, English), guide and unacknowledged blogging genius. Born and lives in Pula, Istria, Croatia. Educated in Germany, Croatia and the United States, economics graduate. Currently beginning to prepare to train for pulling himself up by his bootstraps. Married with children. Father of Croatia’s greatest football talent. Knows all there is to know about Istria, camping and bratwurst. At the verge of something big with the only German language blog on Istria No sense of humour. Here to meet like-minded people.

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