In Germany, schooling is compulsory; children must attend school for nine (in some federal states ten) years. Attendance at school begins at the age of six, with primary school (Years 1 to 4). After that there is a choice between three different types of school: Hauptschule (second- ary school) up to Years 9 or 10 (leaving qualification), Realschule (upper school) until Year 10 (final qualification: school leaving certificate) and Gymnasium (grammar school) which goes up to Year 12 or 13. Grammar school culminates in the Abitur (advanced level qualifications) as a re- quirement for higher education. In addition, there are comprehensive schools where children are streamed according to their ability up to the average school leaving qualification. Since schooling in Germany is a matter for the individual federal states, there are differences in the edu- cation systems and curriculums.
Attendance at state schools is free; only private and international schools charge school fees. You can find information on local schools from the local authority or on their websites. Normally, you cannot choose a primary school yourself. Your postal address determines which primary school is the appropriate one for your child (known as the catch- ment area). However, the choice for further education is up to the stu- dent. Acceptance for a place is normally decided after discussions with the headteacher.