Bavarian school system

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So, my 10-year-old just got his Übertrittszeugnis, and is apparently geeignet für Gymnasium, and the German family is jumping up and down about it. Is this some kind of big deal? I have a sort of hazy understanding that there are three different schools he could go to next, but am not altogether clear on the function of each. Can anybody point me to a reasonably succinct rundown of the system in English, not only to clarify my own understanding, but so I can explain to the American family just what is going on?

 

I did try a search first, but turned up nothing.

 

Thanks.

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Hey, well done alala - good going. My step-daughter just got appraised and she just managed to squeeze in to Realschule.

 

As far as I understand there are three levels from 10 years:

 

1 - Hauptschule - for the slow learners

2 - Realschule - for the average

3 - Gymnasium - for the bright kids

 

The curriculum is obviously tougher in Gymnasium, but it is the best springboard to Uni and a good qualification.

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@ 32D

 

very good link. The comparison with grammar schools in the UK is fair but rather outdated. (In the UK the only difference between a grammar school and a comprehensive is that grammar schools are allowed to set entrance exams, thereby raising the standard of the average pupil let in to the school. The sylabus and the exams sat are the same as in a comprehensive school)

 

I think the easy way to exlain Gymnasium to an American family is that it a school similar to (but in some ways different to) a US High School.

 

The qualification that pupils receive at the end, the "Abitur" or "allgemeine Hochschulreife", allow the pupil to attain entrance to university, which the other schools (Realschule and Hauptschule) don't. This is the main difference between the US system and the German system: the child is being filtered at this early age as to whether they are intellectual enough to attend university at a later date. If the child is "geeignet" for Gymnasium, this means all doors remain open and, assuming they pass the "Abitur" aka "allgemeine Hochschulereife" they can go to university (or start an apprenticeship instead if htey so wish)

 

If they get filtered into a Hauptschule or Realschule, they will end up having to an apprenticeship after leaving school (Realschule plus Apprenticeship gives you the right to attend a technical college [Fachhochscule], or as we used say in the UK, a Polytechnic)

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Thanks all, and thanks for the link 32D. I have to admit, I find the British school system even more confusing than the German - I thought grammar school was like elementary school, and have not the faintest idea what a comprehensive is, or what A-levels and O-levels are, and someone once told me that public and private school are the same thing in the UK...? Still, this is a good, concise mostly understandable explanation of the Bavarian system. Super.

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I personally feel it's a crap system. Deciding what kids can do with the rest of their lives for them at the age of 10. This is reason number one why I would never raise kids here.

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Actually, I can see some advantages to the system here - when applied correctly. Of course 90% of the parents want their kids to go to gymnasium, but really, 90% of the kids are not cut out for gymnasium, or university. A Realschule degree is not bad, depending on what the kids wants to do. The majority of bank employees, secretaries, well, most office jobs, including programmers, do not go to university but though trainings and apprentenships. Of course if your kid wants to be a doctor or lawyer, then they have to go the university route.

 

In all practicality, the distribution tends to follow the "classes", academics, those in commerce and trade, and workers.

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I personally feel it's a crap system. Deciding what kids can do with the rest of their lives for them at the age of 10. This is reason number one why I would never raise kids here.

 

 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

 

I am not aware of the German school system but deciding a kid's future at 10 sounds bizarre. Some kids bloom late and most don't even know their academic strenghts until late. I need to dig into this further.

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Yeah, there seems to be a status thing going on here that bothers me. People seem a bit too excited that he got into Gymnasium. I come from a family of plumbers and electricians, and married into a family of mechanics, and those all seem to me like fine, useful jobs. It wouldn't bother me at all if Kilian wanted to do any one of them. As it is, he wants to study chemistry, so I'm glad he got into a school that will enable him to do that. On the other hand, he has some behavior problems, and I'm not sure how much patience his teachers will have.

 

As for filtering kids when they're 10, well, hm. I went to an American high school in a small town, and making every kid in town go through the exact same educational process until they are 18, regardless of their interests and ambitions, also has its flaws. There is more flexibility now, but there is also now this whole flap about teaching Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution. All in all, I think I'm happier sending my kids to German schools.

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The system is somewhat inflexibile - the kids are "sorted" for the 5th grade - they can change schools later, but a switch from Hauptschule to Gymnasium is most likely not going to happen...

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Every kid might not be cut out for university, but shouldn't that be the child's choice at an age where they have a better idea of their skills and chances? Anyways, I'd say 70% of people who really wanted to study at uni would pass if they really tried.

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The thing is, they can switch. I know a couple people who have done that. One actually after a hauptschule degree (but lived in the country, maybe there was no gymnasium there?). They only need to get the abitur and there are a few alternative ways of doing so. Gymnasium is (supposedly) very high stress and there are kids who also switch "down" to gymnasium. Truthfully, (in my opinion) hauptschule is not going to offer kids a hopeful future in most cases.

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I don't know if that's fair. When my husband was in fifth grade, 50% of the kids in his county went to Hauptschule. I don't think it's safe say that 50% of the 39-year-olds in kreis Mühldorf don't have hopeful lives. The ones we know seem happy enough, anyway. Not everybody wants to be a doctor or a lawyer.

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Exactly, not everyone should be a doctor or lawyer either. and I didn't mean to imply that only morons go to hauptschule. I do know from my work on the elternbeirat that there are some serious difficulties facing the students in the hauptschule now, to a large degree because of the high levels of unemployment. Students with a haupschule degree are having extremely difficult times getting a lehre or apprenticeship. Those apprentiships that used to be taken by hauptschule kids are now being given to realschule kids.

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Oh right, I'd heard something about that. Robert was saying that you used to could get a job in a bank with a realschule degree, but now they're demanding abiturs, just because they can. Actually that reminds me a bit of the States, where a B.A. seems to be the new high school diploma, and if you want to get anywhere, you really need a Master's degree. I wonder how that situation will change, now that the current administration is moving to limit college admission to those who can pay the tuition.

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it is not impossible to change from Realschule to Gymnasium but it is difficult. In most cases, you future is set in stone aged 10. Far too early invho.

 

And i agree not everyone should be a uni grad but can you really tell if a kid aged 10 is a future Diplom-Ingenieur or a future electrician's apprentice? I don't think you can and TOO MANY kids are filtered into the wrong schools.

 

I am not saying that the British system is perfect but at least we wait till the kid is 16 before filtering between a Uni-possible and vocational qualifications.

 

And we haven't even started the debate about the lack of universal acceptance of German quailification WITHIN Germany. If yiu graduate in law or teaching outside of Bavaria you can not get a job in your field in Bavaria without sitting further exams. Ridiculous!

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and back to the point about Ausbildungsplätze (apprenticeships). A combination of high entrance requirements to Universities and high living costs whilst at uni mean that many Abiturienten decide not to go and apply for an apprenticeship instead. This puts more pressure on pupils from the lower schools (Real- and Haputschule) who have to compete with them in certain fields for Ausbildungsplätze. In many fields, especially but not only Kaufmännische fields, and especially in prominent companies you need an Abitur to get an Ausbildungsplatz.

 

This actually defeats the whole point behind filtering pupils into different typres of schools.

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OG - I agree that the filtering is a bit young. But the system is not at horrible as I thought it was. Maybe we are lucky at the school we are at though. I do think that there is a bit of discrimination when it comes to the filtering though - a disproportunate number of "workers" children do not go to gymnasium - but is this because their parents don't expect it of them or because the teachers send them that way?? I should know if the parents do have to agree to the filter results - will check at the next PTA meeting..

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The "acceptance" depends on the Bundesland, if i remember correctly. I am not sure what the rule in Bayern is, but i do know of BL, where you can make an "Einspruch" but in the end the decision is the teacher's and the "Einsprüche" end up being a waste of time.

 

Also, the "Eignung" for Gymnasium is totally dependant on the teacher. Teachers are not always saints and i have come across many a German Asehole of a teacher in my time here to be able to say that if a Teacher simply doesn't like a child (s)he can and sometimes will destroy that child's future.

 

Imvho, a teacher should never have that power to decide over the future of a child. It is far tooo sunjective and not objective enough.

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I really didn't think this was entirely up to the teacher. In Bavaria, if the kiddo has at least a 2 grade average, they can go to Gymnasium, if it's worse then there is an evaluation and recommendation of either going in on probation or not at all. The grades in german and math are counted for this. They have also started grading in second grade, it used to start in third grade. I do not like the fact that they have the same teacher for two years in a row - if there is a problem there then there is less room for comparing how the child did with a different teacher.

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