The German education system produces high-performing students and makes it possible for qualified kids to study up to university level. The overwhelming majority of German students attend public schools even though private schools are available. The whole German education system, including the universities, is available to the children of foreigners. Children aged two to six (or seven in some cases), may attend kindergarten. After that, school is compulsory for 12 years in Jena/Thuringia (and can be 13 years in other German states). The first four years are spend in primary school (“Grundschule”). Then, after the 4th grade, they are separated according to their academic ability and the wishes of their families, and attend one of three main different lines of schools: Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium. To compare these systems with english terms: After primary school, pupils go through a rather complex school system, generally devided into secondary school part I (Hauptschule, Realschule, first part of Gymnasium) and secondary school part II (second part of Gymasium preparing for University).
We provide here a list of schools in Jena.
From grades 1 through 4 children attend elementary school (“Grundschule”), where the subjects taught are the same for all children.
The Hauptschule (grades 5-9) teaches the same subjects as the Realschule and Gymnasium, but at a slower pace than Realschule and Gymnasium and with some vocational-oriented courses. It leads to part-time enrollment in a vocational school combined with apprenticeship training until the age of 18.
The Realschule (grades 5-10 in most states) leads to part-time vocational schools and higher vocational schools. It is nowadays possible for students with high academic achievement at the Realschule to switch to a Gymnasium for graduation. Hauptschule and Realschule both do not exist in Jena, instead we have Gesamtschulen.
The Gesamtschule, or comprehensive school, is only found in some of the states, including Thuringia. It combines the both, Hauptschule and Realschule. It it open to students of all ability levels in the 5th through the 12th grades. Students who satisfactorily complete the Gesamtschule through the 9th grade receive the Hauptschule certificate, while those who satisfactorily complete schooling through the 10th grade receive the Realschule certificate. And those who satisfoactorily complete the 12th grade receive the Gymnasium certificate “Abitur”.
The Gymnasium leads to a diploma called “Abitur” and prepares students for university study or for a dual academic and vocational credential. Curricula differ from school to school, but generally include German, Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Art (as well as crafts and design), Music, History, Philosophy, Civics, Social Studies, and several foreign languages. In recent years many German states have changed the curriculum so students can get the “Abitur” at the end of the 12th grade. Other States are making the transition but may still require a 13th grade.
After Hauptschule and Realschule there is another higher education than Gymnasium (secondary school, part 2) leading to Abitur: The so called Berufsschule, combining part-time academic study and apprenticeship. The successful completion of an apprenticeship program leads to certification in a particular trade or field of work. These schools differ from the other ones mentioned in that control rests not with the local and regional school authorities, but with the federal government, industry and the trade unions.
No matter what kind of school a student attends, he/she must complete at least nine years of education. A student dropping out of a Gymnasium, for example, must enroll in a Realschule or Hauptschule until a total of nine years have been completed. Students are required to study at minimum one foreign language for at least five years. A second foreign language is required in Gymnasium.
Special Needs students
There are different schools for students with special needs called Sonderschule or Förderschule. Depending on the individual’s needs and a school’s availability, a student can attend one of the special schools. These schools are staffed with specially trained teachers and generally have a smaller student to teacher ratio than the regular schools. Some special needs students don’t attend these schools and are integrated into a Hauptschule or Gesamtschule.
There are a number of different types of private schools in Germany. These schools usually charge tuition and may offer varied courses, mostly leading to the German “Abitur” as well as other diplomas and certificates at the conclusion of studies.
Costs of school
Generally education in Germany is for free. Private schools ask for a monthly fee. Here you find links to each school in Jena. However, some books, pens, note books etc. need to be paid by the students. Additionally there are some excursions per year. Altogether the costs are estimated to be about 500 Euro for one year. Very seldom exceptions (no fees at all) are possible to gain from the school.
Food in school
Every school offers a warm meal per school day. A contract to the food company needs to be done seperately. Alternatively each student can take food from home to school (usually no option for heating). Since JIGS takes care of food for the whole day, depending on the school, parents are asked for no additional money or a minimum of money per day.
Way to the school
We aim the students of JIGS to be independent. Depending on the distance to the school and the age of the children, we prefer them to go alone by bike or bus/tram as any other school child in Jena. However, if the school is far away, at strange times, or the child is too young to go alone, we offer the child to be driven by car to school. There will be additional cost for bus/tram/car.