All children living in Germany are required to attend school between the ages of 6 and 15. They spend their first four years of primary school at the “Grundschule”. (This school can even be attended for 6 years depending on the federal state). After this, there is a choice between three different types of secondary school. The “Hauptschule” is vocationally-oriented and continues until Year 9 or 10, leading to a general school leaving certificate called the “Hauptschulabschluss”. The “Realschule” continues until Year 10 and ends with an intermediate school leaving certificate, known as the “Realschulabschluss”. The “Gymnasium" continues until Year 12 and leads to the senior school leaving certificate “Abitur” which is also the higher education entrance qualification, and a necessary requirement when wishing to pursue a university degree. Another alternative is the “Gesamtschule” which is a comprehensive school combining the three types of school under one roof and pupils are divided into groups according to their performance.
Attendance at state-run schools in Germany is free of charge. However, you have to pay for some of the books, teaching materials and excursions. There are only a few private or international fee-paying schools and you can turn to your local education authority ("Schulamt") for information on the situation in your area. You usually decide on a particular school after a visit and an interview with the headteacher.
The school year normally commences after the summer holidays between July and September. However, this can vary depending on the federal state. Lessons only take place in the morning at most German schools, although many federal states are currently reorganising the system and turning schools into day schools.
Source: Euraxess Deutschland