Berlin School System

Find out the specifics for schools in Berlin…

There are more than 900 public and private schools within the state of Berlin. As each state (Bundesland) in Germany gets to determine its own educational laws, there are often many differences between the school systems. 

Primary School (Grundschule)

Berlin has more than 400 primary schools. These schools typically consist of six grades before students are separated to go to different secondary schools. In Berlin, the first and second graders share a classroom. Children are separated according to class year starting in third grade, and this is also when they begin to learn a second language, typically French or English. 

There are three main types of primary schools, all of which guarantee education – compulsory for all children - from 7:30/8:00 to 13:30 each day. 

  • Open schools (offenen Ganztagsschulen) provide academic study between 7:30 and 13:30 with tutoring or daycare available before or after school. Daycare is offered in the morning from 6:30-7:30 in the late afternoons from 16:00-18:00 and during vacations. Tutoring or afternoon activities are offered in the afternoons from 13:30-16:00. Each is a separate block which must be applied for. All state-run school daycare can only be used after receiving a voucher which determines how much time a child spends in daycare depending on social and economic factors.
  • Compulsory all-day schools (gebundene Ganztagsschulen) offer a mix of mandatory education, tutoring, and daycare from 8:00-16:00 four days a week. Additional daycare is also available.
  • Part Compulsory all-day schools (teilgebundene Ganztagsschulen) provide a mix between the compulsory and open schools, switching every two days. Voluntary or mandatory afterschool daycare is provided four days a week.  

For parents who want their children to learn a second language from the first grade, there are Public European Schools (Staatliche Europaschulen, SESB) (in German). These are public schools which focus on bi-lingual education. There are 17 primary schools and 13 secondary schools in Berlin which are Public European Schools, offering a total of nine different language combinations. 

Afterschool Daycare (Hort)

While all primary schools in Berlin offer additional supervision when needed, it is important to note that this service is often only provided when the family demonstrates sufficient economic or social need (in German). In order for a child to receive a place at a daycare center (Hort), parents are required to apply for a voucher which determines how much daycare they are granted according to each family’s individual needs.

  • Find out more about the specific requirement for a daycare voucher (Hort-Gutschein) (in German)

Depending on the school, overcrowding can be an issue. It is a good idea to research the situation at each school and to apply for a voucher early as it can take six to eight weeks to be delivered. 

Secondary Schools (Oberschule)

In the sixth year of school, children in Berlin are required to choose their secondary school (in German), unless they attend a Gemeinschaftsschule. Each type of secondary school provides students with different learning options. There are four main types of secondary schools in the state of Berlin: Grammar School (Gymnasium), Occupational Grammar School (Berufliches Gymnasium), Comprehensive Schools (Gemeinschaftsschule), and Integrated Secondary Schools (Integrierte Sekundarschule, ISS). 

  • Grammar School (Gymnasium) is a secondary school which, upon completion, grants a student an “Abitur”, which is required for attending university. Beginning in eleventh grade, students can focus on certain subjects which allows them to better prepare for a university subject or profession. 
  • Comprehensive Schools (Gemeinschaftsschule) (Pilot Program) is a new type of school originally started in 2008/2009. Unlike other secondary school options, the Gemeinschaftsschule does not separate students in the seventh grade, but keeps all students together until tenth grade or twelfth/thirteenth grade depending on which leaving certificate they choose to complete. All different types of leaving certificates are offered, as well as all-day instruction and supervision.
  • Integrated Secondary School (Integrierte Sekundarschule, ISS) combines the former school systems of Realschule, Hauptschule, and Gesamtschule, and offers students all of the main types of leaving certificates. It provides all day instruction and supervision from 7:30-16:00. 
  • Occupational Grammar School (Berufliches Gymnasium) offers students a more focused secondary education beginning in eleventh grade and results in a Fachabitur. A Fachabitur is granted in a particular subject, and allows a student to be accepted into any university, providing that they continue to focus within the same field that they studied at the Berufliches Gymnasium.  

Private Schools in Berlin

In addition to the public school options, there are several private primary and secondary schools in Berlin which offer traditional German, bi-lingual, and multicultural education.

Further Information