Having trouble finding the right secondary school for my child

47 posts in this topic

Dear Toytowners, first I need to appologize for the stupid title, but the truth is that I'm really upset and nervous about what's going on.

My son moved to Germany in August 2015. He had finished 4th grade in our country and he was in the city's excelency board for the year he finished school. He is a very good student. When we came to Germany, the school advised us to let him go back on year in order to learn the german language and we accepted the advise.
So, he did the 4th grade and had, of course, to struggle with the new language and adaptation. Nevertheless, he had good grades in Math and other subjects, but not enough german skills yet. We believe that he did not had enough quality support he needed at the first school he attended. 
Last month we moved to Munich and so the last 2 months of the school year need to be in a new school.
We contacted Referat für Bildung und Sport who then sent him to the nearest Grundschule (15m walking distance) to finish the year. And this is where the things began to be strange.

We enrolled our son in the new Grundschule school, and after 2 days of him attending this school, I got a call from them appologizing but that they could not take him because "he is too old to attend the Grundschule", so they sent him to the Mittelschule (45m walking distance from home).

A couple of days after, we got the feeling that the school didn't know what to do with him. He was constantly changing classes, or getting classes not suitable for him (like 7th grade chemistry where he was just sitted there making drawings or something), in short, no real classes - just throwing him around to the next available free seat.  

So, last monday, he started to attend  the RealSchule near our home, this time around because we were not happy with the Mittleschule and we went directly to the school and asked to enroll him. After showing them all the documents that they requested, they accepted and my kid was finally in a school. 

Now, I got a call from the Realschule, asking for a meeting with the Rektorin, because they found out that my kid can not attend the Realschule, because:

a.) He is too young for the class he is in;
b.) The report from the 1st teacher in German recommends that he should go to a Mittleschule to improve his german language skills ;

 

I'm really upset and I want to fight this "throwing around".

Can you advise me on what to do next, or whom to ask for help? 

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Tough one.  Not sure about Munich but there should be a Schulamt which you can complain about the situation and ask for an evaluation and final recommendation.  Once you get that, then whatever school he is supposed to be in has to take him.  On that website, they list evaluation as one of their duties.  They also list under Wir über uns a person responsible for each Schulbezirk.  Good luck - it's not easy dealing with the Schulämte in Germany so put on your perseverance hat and keep fighting for your child's education.

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31 minutes ago, rhody said:

Tough one.  Not sure about Munich but there should be a Schulamt which you can complain about the situation and ask for an evaluation and final recommendation.  Once you get that, then whatever school he is supposed to be in has to take him.  On that website, they list evaluation as one of their duties.  They also list under Wir über uns a person responsible for each Schulbezirk.  Good luck - it's not easy dealing with the Schulämte in Germany so put on your perseverance hat and keep fighting for your child's education.

 

Thank you rhody. I'll wait for the outcome of tomorrow's meeting with the rektorin and will contact Schulamt afterwards.

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What happened at the meeting with the Rektorin?  Sounds like an awful situation for you and your son. How old is your son?

 

We had a similar situation when my daughter started school here aged 10 with no German language skills. It was a major battle at the time to get her into the right school. I did get lots of brilliant advice from other TT members.  There's a lot that I can suggest to you...

 

First and foremost, don't expect a mainstream school to support your son's German learning. We were told in no uncertain terms that no child should nor could expect ANY special attention.  The only way that my daughter was able to stay at the school of our choice was for us to hire a private German tutor.  In the first 2 years, this cost us quite a fortune though at such a young age, kids learn very quickly. Tuition is still ongoing albeit at a lesser pace. 

 

All teachers recommended as much social interaction with German kids as possible.  This is true and helped a lot.  Perhaps find a kid's holiday club in your area over the summer holiday. My daughter spent a few weeks going to such a club every week day in the holidays. It was fun, she made friends and her German improved.  Ask your son's current school if they are aware of such summer holiday activities.

 

Don't accept anything that you feel is unsuitable for son.  I always found that a firm though reasonable approach with teachers worked well. 

 

I don't  know how good the Schulamt in Munich is though ours here were useless.  I was categorically told that there wasn't much need for foreign kids to learn German well as they will only end up in the lowest level of education.  My husband didn't believe me so I challenged him to contact the Amt himself and he was told the same thing. It might be best to visit the Schulamt in person with a German speaker if your German isn't advanced. Face to face meetings often work better. 

 

There's more I could say though hopefully, other TT members in your area can tell you more for now. 

 

All the best

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I totally agree with emkay but want to add some personal experience:

 

As tedious as this is: I would go through all the schools in the area and email them for a meeting to discuss.  In a totally different situation, i actually emailed the secretary and said i was not from germany but had questions about enrolment and how the school system worked and asked them if they had any english speakers on staff that i could get advice from.  The secretary asked an english teacher, who also happened to be the lower class academic advisor and that teacher met with me and was incredibly helpful.    This was at a local gymnasium.

 

There is one tidbit of good news: things are changing rapidly, at least in our area. 

 

This year at my daughter's gymnasium, we actually had a bunch of new refugee kids coming in who didn't speak ANY german.  By having these kids there, the school was able to apply for and receive, extra language support teachers for these kids.  I am assuming they couldn't accept very many of them, and i'm not quite sure how they were shown to be exceptional enough academically without having previous schooling in Germany, but the good news is simply that the school was open enough to try it out.  Since the kids spoke a bit of english but not German, my daughter was able to hang around with them and help them, etc and learned they are getting pulled out of regular german class each day for the German-as-a-second-language classes, then they go to regular classes for everything else, plus regular tutoring in those classes (i.e. math) just for extra immersion.  The one syrian kid helps my daughter in math, and she helps him with German.  The program seems to be working out to day. 

 

At my other daughter's grundschule, we had a similar situation - two spanish kids came and didn't know a lick of German.  they were struggling big time.  But when the refugees came this past year, the grundschule also was able to start a German-as-a-second language program and the two spanish kids were also able to benefit from this and are now doing fantastic.  Now those two kids are getting Gymnasium recommendations. 

 

As emkay says, we can't "expect" language support from any given school.  But recent events have been forcing a lot of schools to open up quite a bit.  I imagine A LOT of schools are still the way they were before, which is why i recommend contacting other schools at a level that you think your child is capable of, and asking them if they do happen to have language support.   

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Just something else that might be worth considering....if you are Catholic, it might be worth looking into Catholic schools in your area or other faith schools as appropriate to you. Here's a link...Catholic schools in Germany.  It was suggested to me that a faith school MIGHT be somewhat more open to non German speakers.  

 

My daughter was helped a lot by an older girl at her school who was a native English speaker. She would collect my daughter from her class whenever she had a free period and helped her with German. I paid her 10€ per 45 minute session with as many as 10 sessions per week in the early years.  As well as that, another tutor came to our home 2-3 times per week.

 

I see from your profile that you are from Portugal. Are there any Portuguese groups, clubs etc in Munich?  If you were to make contact, perhaps you can be offered some advice on tuition.  I do think it can help to learn German with an element of your native language though not essential. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, emkay said:

Just something else that might be worth considering...if you are Catholic, it might be worth looking into Catholic schools in your area or other faith schools as appropriate to you. Here's a link...Catholic schools in Germany.  It was suggested to me that a faith school MIGHT be somewhat more open to non German speakers.  

 

 

 

This is true too.  But i will add you don't need to be catholic to attend, you just need to be open yourself.  Our Stiftung's (I don't know the right word here, but basically catholic-church funded school board) are open to students of all faiths, and even offer a regular religion class for the non-catholic kids.  

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I am sorry to hear you’re struggling with your boy in the school system here in Munich. I’d love to give some advice but am missing the age of your boy in your post to give any.

 

I have two boys and my older one chanced school 6 times now ... so I know a lot about Munich school system, private and public ... but I definitely would need the age, as this was an argument before. My older son is also older for his grade he is going to now (7th grade). It sounds a bit fishy to me that he’s supposedly too old for the school he was going to …

But I know if you don’t know how the rules are, they will tell you everything if they don’t want to place your son in their school, no matter if it is true or not. Unfortunately, it often is more a matter if there is a placement available or not, but they won’t tell you that.

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Thank you to all that replied.

I'll try to make a short update.

In the meeting with the rektorin, she told us that they made a mistake accepting him, and that he should go to the Mittelschule, however, as I said I want him to continue in the Realschule, and that I plan to move him to the Gymnasium once his German improves, she said that in that case he will continue if in September he is able to pass one examination in German, English and Math.

 

@emkay, we get the same feeling that foreigners are meant to be in the lower education. Not only foreigners, but also kids that seem to be introverted or shy. We can't accept this.

 

@Joanie, I'll try the catholic schools (hopefully @lunarcat is wrong about them being just for girls?)

 

@lunarcat, I would love to get to know more of your experience. My son is 11 years old. I also believe now that all I got was lousy excuses so far, but up until this point I was gullible enough to trust the system. Not anymore!

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It's quite a scandal that the refugees are getting special German classes, while other foreigners especially the kids are completely left out/ ignored by the system.

 

But it’s actually not differnet if you have a German kid with special needs – I got no help at all from the public school system.

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My daughter was just over 10 years old when she was accepted into a Catholic gymnasium without any German language skills at all. The proviso was that she HAD to show significant improvement within a 2 month trial period. I have to say that she was then incredibly shy so this seemed to be quite a massive hurdle for her.  

 

To get her into the school, I contacted her old school in England and begged her former teacher to take the time to write an assessment about her that I could present to the school. It took a while to arrive though he did write an excellent report on her achievements plus his personal view of her further prospects. I also showed the school several of her former school books with teacher's comments etc. Plus, she had twice yearly tests in England and I presented those, with a translation of the results. For example, in the UK, a 1 was poor, 5 was excellent.  

 

Please do try and find someone local who can help you.  Sorry to assume your German isn't perfect.  If my German was as good as your English, I'd be very happy!  If I were nearby, I'd be happy to help.

 

My experience was that the school situation is a massive project of simply not taking no for an answer and pushing my child in the best direction possible. If your child has a moderate to good level of intelligence  don't accept the lowest level. Ever! 

 

Plus, be prepared to fund a significant amount of Nachhilfe.  Normal German families have to do this too if the parents can't directly help with school work which is expected. We couldn't. Just don't sit back and accept anything that you don't feel is right. 

 

For us, this all started 5 years ago when we moved here.  I'm very happy to say that my daughter, at a gymnasium, has now achieved an average Zeugnis of 2, including German, French and maths.  I have to say that her and I both were thrilled that one of her first teachers was proved completely wrong.  That teacher told her back then that she'd never make it here in a German school and now, my daughter just got a 1 in geography...with that teacher.  Do anything you can to motivate your son, it's so hard for kids but definitely possible. 

 

 

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Just a quick thing to mention...if you really did particularly wish to move your son to a gymnasium one day based on his previous academic achievement, you might be better to try to find a suitable place for him at a gymnasium so that he can start in September. I know there's only little time left of this school year.  He's had such a difficult time of moving so much and the prospect of him maybe having to move again in the future might be even more difficult.

 

A quick look at this website suggests there are some mixed Catholic Gymnasiums...

 

http://www.schulwerk-bayern.de/nc/schulorte-auf-einer-bayernkarte.html  this is the type of organization that I would contact to get some advice.  As well as the Schulamt of course. 

 

I can't stress enough that it would be a great idea for as much social activity as possible with German kids over the school holiday. Ask at your son's current school, his old Grundschule and your local gemeinde for any group activities they know of.  My daughter overcoming serious shyness was the start of her improved education. 

 

 

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You might want to consider a Montessor school. My reasons for that that suggestion are to be found e. g. here:

http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/topic/322934-relocating-young-family/?do=findComment&comment=3217097

http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/topic/318726-adaptation-of-english-speaking-children/?do=findComment&comment=3192105

 

I´d think twice about sending your son to a Gymnasium against teacher´s recommendation as it might well frustrate and demotivate him. As my daughter´s case shows you can get the Abitur (she passed last week) even if you had first visited a Mittelschule (returning from overseas she went to a Bavarian Mittelschule, passed "Mittlere Reife", went to a special class for kids from Mittelschule or Realschule at the Gymnasium and from there to Abitur). So there is no good reason in my view to make a child´s life hell and spoil the fun of learning by sending it to Gymnasium even though it´s not ready. Kids who fail at a public Gymnasium will be removed from it (irrespective of the wishes of the parents). This is not exactly helpful for developing self-confidence.

 

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On 30.6.2016, 11:34:45, emkay said:

A quick look at this website suggests there are some mixed Catholic Gymnasiums...

 

http://www.schulwerk-bayern.de/nc/schulorte-auf-einer-bayernkarte.html  this is the type of organization that I would contact to get some advice.  As well as the Schulamt of course. 

 

 

NO, there aren't more Catholic schools in Munich. It will show you, there are more Catholic schools throughout Bavaria, but not in Munich. I don't think this will help bringing up the suggestions to contact Catholic school.

There are just no more Catholic school options here in Munich for boys.

 

However, there is one Protestant private school in Laim. And threre are more private schools in Munich. But part of them are really expensive. The other part is really hard to get into (Waldorf or Montessori). Would that be an option?

 

My son in 4th grade got 2 booklets in school this year. One is showing ALL Gymnasiums in Munich, the other ALL Realschulen . You really should have that. Threre are all options in it, private and public ones.

 

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Ask for the „Informationsbroschüre“ here:

 

Auskunfts- und Beratungsservice im Referat für Bildung und Sport

Servicetelefon Schulen – allgemeine Auskünfte:

089 233-96779

 

They are titeld:
- Information zur Einschreibung – in das Gymnasium
Schuljahr 2016/ 2017

and

- Einschreibung in die Realschulen und Schulen besonderer Art
Schuljahr 2016/ 2017

 

The “Amt” for “Bildung und Sport” (education and sport) produced them.

I can’t find them online, what sucks!

 

You will find the information and the schools online here , but I found it really helpful to have all the schools in one booklet, also the private ones.

 

https://www.muenchen.de/rathaus/Stadtverwaltung/Referat-fuer-Bildung-und-Sport/Schuleinschreibung/Realschule.html

 

https://www.muenchen.de/rathaus/Stadtverwaltung/Referat-fuer-Bildung-und-Sport/Schuleinschreibung/Gymnasium.html

 

 

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When we moved to Nürnberg in 2008, my 11-year-old daughter had very little German. During the summer before she began at the Nürnberg Gymnasium (the school also had a Realschule level, which they said she would have to move to if she couldn't keep up), I sent her to a language camp in Berlin for several weeks -- the kids had intensive classes and spoke only German during the course of the camp. It was a cost, but wasn't prohibitively expensive, and seemed to help her language skills.

 

That being said, unless your son is a motivated student on his own, the Bayerisch schools aren't going to be very pleasant for him.

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On 30.6.2016, 12:24:03, jeba said:

You might want to consider a Montessor school. My reasons for that that suggestion are to be found e. g. here:

 

 

 

Yes Montessori might be an option, depending where you live. It is really hard to get a placment grade 1-4. It is a little bit easier grade 5 or up. One can be lucky, netherless.

 

 

Quote

I´d think twice about sending your son to a Gymnasium against teacher´s recommendation as it might well frustrate and demotivate him. As my daughter´s case shows you can get the Abitur (she passed last week) even if you had first visited a Mittelschule (returning from overseas she went to a Bavarian Mittelschule, passed "Mittlere Reife", went to a special class for kids from Mittelschule or Realschule at the Gymnasium and from there to Abitur). So there is no good reason in my view to make a child´s life hell and spoil the fun of learning by sending it to Gymnasium even though it´s not ready. Kids who fail at a public Gymnasium will be removed from it (irrespective of the wishes of the parents). This is not exactly helpful for developing self-confidence.

 

 

 


I very much can support that statement. It is very possible to make your "Abitur" nowadays going first to Realschule or even Mittelschule and then adding 2 or 3 years in FOS / Fachoberschule.


In Gymnasium they start the second foreign language in grade 6! I am not sure this is a good option at the moment as your son still struggles with German. And then he would have another language in grade 6.


And you only can choose between Latin and French in Gynasium (other school options include Spanish, Italian, Russian). It is a very tuff route. I know parents, e.g. a friend’s daughter who is quite intelligent and got recommendation for Gymnasium, but she goes to Realschule now, so she can still do her sports 3x/week. You would have a really hard time to fit that in a Gymnasium schedule.
It is also possible if you have good grades to changes schools at the end of the school year and go from Mittelschule to Realschule, especially after grade 6. They start special qualifications in grade 7 in Realschule and the classes are often reassigned therefore. So this is a very good moment to change schools.

 

My older son was now one year in Mittelschule and it was really good to build his self-confidence although he is quite intelligent and that school is really not at his intelligent level. But it was very easy to write very good grades in Mittelschule. The class teacher has the time to help the students individually and he knows the students as he teaches most of the subjects. My son had a lot of knowledge gaps coming from a private school and he is at a very good level now. I am sure he will make his Abitur in the the end.

 

 

I just would be really carful about repeating classes. Last year we were told he could attend Realschule but would have to go back in grade 6. I decided againgst that and did send him to Mittelschule. Now, after this year his grades are so good, he could go to Realschule next year but into grade 8! Would I have followed that advice he would have lost a whole year and due to health problems in primary school he already lost one year. I am very glad that I did not follow that advice and we swallowed the bitter pill sending him to Mittelschule.
But I found, that the all the teachers were highly motivated to get the best out of him and support him.

 

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