14. What about pre-school and regular school facilities in Germany?
Some important information before we start. Child allowance is paid for all children up to the age of 18 – and in some cases, even beyond. Child allowance applications must be submitted to the Family Allowance Office of the Federal Employment Agency (BA).
In Germany, children between 3 and 6 years of age are able to attend a pre-school facility, such as a crèche, nursery or kindergarten, on an hourly basis, both mornings and afternoons. Attendance is voluntary. A fee is charged. Terms of payment vary from town to town and are usually based on the parents' income. The local youth welfare department (Jugendamt) in your nearest town or another competent local authority will be able to provide information on the availability of such facilities as well as on other day-care services for small children.
All children aged between 6 and 15 (or in some federal states 16 years) must attend school. School life begins with four years at primary/elementary school (Grundschule). After this, pupils go on to one of the following types of secondary schools:
- "Hauptschule" (secondary school (UK) or junior high school (US) leading to a general leaving certificate: Hauptschulabschluss (= 10th grade)
- “Realschule” (secondary school (UK) high school (US) leading to an intermediate school-leaving certificate: Realschulabschluss (=10th grade, with the option of a 1-year extension (erweiterter Realschulabschluss = 11th grade)
- "Gymnasium" (Grammar School (UK) / Senior High School (US), leading to an “Abitur” (= 12th or 13th grade). The Abitur is the highest school-leaving certificate and qualifies holders for admission to higher education.
- “Gesamtschule" is a comprehensive school that is not offered in all federal states. A comprehensive school combines the 3 above school types within a single institution.
The Gymnasium and the senior grades of a Gesamtschule lead to the Abitur school leaving certificate, the higher education entrance qualification in Germany. School lessons are generally held in the morning in Germany, although all-day schooling is becoming more widespread. Attendance at state-run schools in Germany is free of charge.