Pre-School and Primary Education

The early years in the German education system...

Pre-School

From the ages of 1 to 6, children can attend daycare (Kindergarten or KiTa). These are run either by charity associations (Verbände der Freien Wohlfahrtspflege) or by the local authorities. Private daycare is also available in major cities, especially for international children. Attendance at either daycare or pre-school classes is voluntary.

In some federal states, 5-year-olds may also be registered in pre-school classes (Vorklassen) for special assistance and preparation for primary school, including classes specifically designed to help children with limited German language.

Primary Education

Children begin primary school at the age of 6 for four years (six in Berlin and Brandenburg). They attend the primary school of their area of residence. Learning material will be provided free of charge or may be borrowed from the school. Depending on income, parents may be required to meet part of the cost.

Children are offered the opportunity to learn a first foreign language, usually English, while at primary school (depending on individual states' legislation, from first, second or third year).

Pupils are continually assessed throughout primary school, beginning with observational assessment in the first two years with the slow introduction of written tests from the third year onwards. The transition from the first year to second is automatic but to move up to subsequent years they pupils need to fulfil certain minimum requirements in all relevant subjects. To move up to subsequent years they need to fulfil certain minimum requirements in all relevant subjects. Failure in their performance means that they must repeat the year. Pupils may also skip a year if their performance is above standard. This is voluntary and a decision must be agreed by both parents and the school administration.