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Problems entering Realschule, know of loopholes?

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We arrived in a small village in Bavaria in August 2012. At that point none of us had any German language skills but we arranged for intensive language lessons for the kids 4 times a week and they started in the village school three weeks after we arrived- Our oldest son in year 3, middle son in year 2, and youngest son in year 1. We had difficulties from the beginning and I also received constant phone calls from the teachers about how the children needed more language lessons because they weren't performing at the levels of their peers. After about 6 mths the phone calls stopped because the kids were fluently speaking the language and were improving in their reading and writing. Our at home language instructor was actually very impressed with our older son in particular and at his abilities at absorbing the language. Our older son finished year three and began year 4 where the teacher had a meeting with us in Sep 2013 to inform us that we would need to work very hard with our son this year if he hoped to get into the Reschedule since his performance was still not up to that of the other children. We hired a German tutor who only speaks Deutsch and has worked with him on German grammar and reading comprehension since the beginning of this year. She feels his performance is average (for a German student) and is continuing to improve. However we were just informed by my sons teacher that his performance is not acceptable enough for him to attend Realschule and he will have to go to the Hauptschule instead. He has been achieving 2's and 3's in Maths, 3's in Science, and unfortunately still 4's in German. For me a refusal into the Realschule is a deal-breaker and we will have to try to negotiate an early exit from our contract. We have had a lot of bullying both verbal and physical from other students over the past year and a half and I feel that at Hauptschule this is only likely to get worse. In addition my sons 3rd year test results from Australia showed him in the top 65 percent for Reading, English Grammar, and Spelling and in the top 86 percent for maths...so I am hesitant to stick him into a lower tier school for academic reasons as well. Are there any loopholes in Realschule entry? Can't we just say that we prefer him to attend this school? I mean doesn't the fact that he has only been learning the language for just over a year and is already performing on par with 'average' German native speakers an indication of his ability? I have no qualms with up and leaving, and will if the academic outcomes are not in keeping with our wishes, but I am trying to research other less extreme measures first. Any help would be much appreciated.

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Going to Hauptschule would not be the end of the world!

 

As you say, your kids have already done extremely well in picking up the language here - it's not an easy language!

 

If in the first year or two of Hauptschule, the teachers realise that a child is way ahead in terms of grades and ability to learn, then they would support a child being moved to another school, in this case, a Realschule. If not, then they won't.

 

Even after actually leaving school, one has the option to continue to learn, so this really should not be considered the end of the world!

 

As for saying that you will move again "if the academic outcomes are not in keeping with our wishes", well, would you really be doing your kids a favour, now that they have learned German, to move them back to an all-English-speaking environment? I think it would be a terrible waste!

 

 

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so I am hesitant to stick him into a lower tier school for academic reasons as well.

 

It's not just a matter of lower-tier vs. upper-tier. The Hauptschule was specifically designed for students who will be pursuing careers not requiring a university education (such as forklift operators). So even if your kids do amazingly well at the Hauptschule, they won't be able to go to university afterwards because the Hauptschule certificate they will get at the end doesn't come anywhere near what is needed for university admission.

 

Moving to another school later on is probably not going to be very easy if your kids have spent a couple of years being taught Math, German etc. at the Hauptschule level while in the meantime, all the other kids were taking these subjects at the Realschule/Gymnasium level.

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Moving to another school later on is probably not going to be very easy if your kids have spent a couple of years being taught Math, German etc. at the Hauptschule level while in the meantime, all the other kids were taking these subjects at the Realschule/Gymnasium level.

 

Bolocks! Even though I'm not a fan of the three level system in Germany you can continue school after hauptschule and get your realschule certificate or continue from there and get an abi.

 

Fortunately our school board here in SH has just about done away with haupt- and realschule and gymnasium and combined all three. Now all students attend the same classes but are graded depending on their level. Later the students can leave school depending on the certificate they wish to achieve.

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Bolocks! Even though I'm not a fan of the three level system in Germany you can continue school after hauptschule and get your realschule certificate or continue from there and get an abi.

 

Maybe in theory.

 

  • With an Abitur from a Gymnasium, you can get into a universtity directly.
  • I've heard of several cases of people who went to the Realschule but afterwards did whatever was needed to bridge the gap between a Realschule certificate and the Abitur, and were eventually able to go to University.
  • However, starting at the Hauptschule and then going to University is exceedingly rare, if possible at all... We're talking about an enormous gap here.

 

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We have an Klasse 8 Hauptschuler here at home. He will stay at his school until either after class 9 (Hauptschulabschluss) or class 10 (Mittelsomethingorother) and then will have the opportunity to go to the local Berufsschule to take a 3 year Abitur course in order to end up with an Abitur which is OK for entry to higher education, including University although there are some oversubscribed courses/locations that will not be happy with this kind of Abitur.

 

So says our school.

 

I would take this with a shovelful of salt if it were not that several sets of parents whom we know from our oldest child have taken their kids out of the Gymnasium to do the longer Abitur, they are teachers, a lawyer, and a well-connected von Posh family, amongst others, and I cannot imagine that all these people who do actually understand the system and how it works (as opposed to our clueless blunderings) would knowingly make a really long term and critical mistake with their kid's lives.

 

There really are many ways to skin a cat in the German system. What presents as monolithic and unchanging is actually extraordinarily flexible.

 

I still would take up Panda's loophole while you can, because the Hauptschule system is definitely different, we have already been having one day a week of job stuff for the last 18 months, and next year is only 3 days school, 2 days berufsschule/work placement, and that would not necessarily suit a kid who likes academic stuff.

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Kids sometimes develop at different rates than their peers. So the Fachabitur route is one that's not terrible.

 

Also, there's nothing wrong with getting a Hauptschulabschluss: if your child is not academically gifted, it would be doing it a great disfavour forcing it to struggle for years, get settled socially in a Realschule or Gymnasium and then to have it be told it just can't cut it. Besides, Germany still has a very extensive apprenticeship system, where your child will be able to learn a profession: depending on attitude and aptitude anything goes, including working your way up through Fachabitur and university.

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Maybe in theory.

 

  • With an Abitur from a Gymnasium, you can get into a universtity directly.
  • I've heard of several cases of people who went to the Realschule but afterwards did whatever was needed to bridge the gap between a Realschule certificate and the Abitur, and were eventually able to go to University.
  • However, starting at the Hauptschule and then going to University is exceedingly rare, if possible at all... We're talking about an enormous gap here.

 

 

My daughter is currently attending a 10th grade class called "Einführungsklasse" at the Gymnasium after having graduated from Hauptschule (which has been called "Mittelschule" as of recently) after finishing grade 10. These Einführungsklassen are specifically designed for pupils from Hauptschule and Realschule so that they can bridge the gap between the levels of their old schools and the Gymnasium. It means though that you are "losing" one year. However, it seems well worth it. She feels it really is giving her the foundations for what will be needed in grades 11 and 12 and is patching up the gaps she has had. She enjoys that feeling of being on top of things academically.

 

So it is doable not only in theory. I suggest you speak to a school carreer counseler at the Schullaufbahnberatung of the DoE.

I´d also suggest you look into the Montessori system. Speaking from personal experience with my 2 kids and from what I know about their friends I can highly recommend Montessori schools.

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Kids sometimes develop at different rates than their peers. So the Fachabitur route is one that's not terrible.

 

Also, there's nothing wrong with getting a Hauptschulabschluss: if your child is not academically gifted, it would be doing it a great disfavour forcing it to struggle for years, get settled socially in a Realschule or Gymnasium and then to have it be told it just can't cut it. Besides, Germany still has a very extensive apprenticeship system, where your child will be able to learn a profession: depending on attitude and aptitude anything goes, including working your way up through Fachabitur and university.

 

Right. However, the kids in question were doing fine academically before coming to Germany.

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So it is doable not only in theory.

 

Strictly speaking, that theory stops being a theory once there's at least one concrete example of someone who went to Hauptschule and then continued on to get a University degree.

 

I don't doubt that cases of University graduates who first went to Hauptschule do exist, somewhere, but I think they're very rare.

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Strictly speaking, a theory stops being a theory once there's at least one concrete example of someone who went to Hauptschule and then continued on to get a University degree.

 

I don't doubt such cases do exist, somewhere, but I think they're very rare.

 

You should then visit a Berufsschule and see how large the "Fachabitur" classes are. It's not as few or far between as you might thing. Its gotten so "bad" that businesses traditionally depending on Hauptschüler cant fill their apprenticeship vacancys.

Thats why you see stickers on every Handwerkers car advertising for openings in that comapny. My brother inlaw is an electrician and earns pretty well with flexible times and his boss has been having huge trouble filling positions the last few years.

 

Germany's workforce is actually becoming over academic. Just ask the next cab driver what he/she studied and you'd be surprised.

 

Btw, if one doesn't plan on taking up a job that requires an academic degree you'd be surprised how little emphasis HR puts on your schooling past when considering you. Focus is being placed more and more on social competance and leadership quality. You either have that or you don't.

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You should then visit a Berufsschule and see how large the "Fachabitur" classes are.

 

I would instead look at the graduating class of a University, and see what percentage of these graduates went to Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium.

 

I can't quote any statistics, but I would be surprised if it turned out that there was more than 1% of university graduates who originally went to Hauptschule.

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I'm having a terrible time finding any statisic about at all about the amount of Hauptschüler and moving on after finishing... :-/

 

Back on topic. @OP: If you feel your child is good enough and can follow the teacher in German (which seems to be the case as all other courses are ok) then you can send your child to Realschule. It is only an "empfehlung" which means on a suggestion. Teachers can always be off and the worst that can happen is after a year or two your child would be switched to Hauptschule.

 

From my personnal expierence these past few weeks, my daughter is now leaving elementary school, there are a few parents from her class that are sending their kids to a Gymansium even though their childrens grades are midlevel at best and have gotten a Realschul Empfehlung.

 

The Gymnasium has stated from past expierence that 1/4 to 1/3 will be sent to Realschule in the next two years. Seriously, what your kid is supposedly bad at in German it makes up for in English. No major issue I'd say.

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@Mapleleafdude

In Bavaria, the teacher's recommendation is binding.

Parents don't get a say.

 

Bavaria sucks.

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Are there any Gesamtschule in your area? It would seem to be the best way forward for a kid who is still catching up in German and has the potential to do better once the language skills are there.

 

You could also talk to the school director at his school about whether repeating Klasse 4 would make any difference. Usually a child wouldn't be able to do this just to get the grades for the next school but if the main thing holding him back is his German it may be a way to give him the extra time he needs. If you think his current teacher is prejudiced in any way and this is affecting the recommendation another year with a different teacher could be helpful.

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I would instead look at the graduating class of a University, and see what percentage of these graduates went to Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium.

 

I can't quote any statistics, but I would be surprised if it turned out that there was more than 1% of university graduates who originally went to Hauptschule.

 

Well, the option of visiting an Einführungsklasse hasn´t been available for long enough. So presently there can be no University graduates yet who went from Hauptschule to Einführungsklasse and from there to Abitur.

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Children are not allowed to repeat grade 4 in Bavaria and out of interest I actually looked at the graduation photos from the last few years hanging in the hallways of the Gymnasium , there were very few boys with non german names in the final Abitur classes even in an area which has a large population of non german families. There were quite a few girls but the boys were unfortunately few and far between.

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