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Germany:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

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Overview Germany

Contents

Germany:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Germany:Historical Development

Germany:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Germany:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Germany:Political and Economic Situation

Germany:Organisation and Governance

Germany:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Germany:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Germany:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Germany:Organisation of Private Education

Germany:National Qualifications Framework

Germany:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Germany:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Germany:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Germany:Funding in Education

Germany:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Germany:Higher Education Funding

Germany:Adult Education and Training Funding

Germany:Early Childhood Education and Care

Germany:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Germany:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Germany:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Germany:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Germany:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Germany:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Germany:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Germany:Primary Education

Germany:Organisation of Primary Education

Germany:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Germany:Assessment in Primary Education

Germany:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Germany:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Germany:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Germany:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Germany:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Germany:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Germany:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Germany:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Germany:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Germany:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Germany:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Germany:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Germany:Higher Education

Germany:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Germany:First Cycle Programmes

Germany:Bachelor

Germany:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Germany:Second Cycle Programmes

Germany:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Germany:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Germany:Adult Education and Training

Germany:Distribution of Responsibilities

Germany:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Germany:Main Providers

Germany:Main Types of Provision

Germany:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Germany:Teachers and Education Staff

Germany:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Germany:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Germany:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Germany:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Germany:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Germany:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Germany:Management and Other Education Staff

Germany:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Germany:Management Staff for Higher Education

Germany:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Germany:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Germany:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Germany:Quality Assurance

Germany:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Germany:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Germany:Educational Support and Guidance

Germany:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Germany:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Germany:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Germany:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Germany:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Germany:Mobility and Internationalisation

Germany:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Mobility in Higher Education

Germany:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Germany:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Germany:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Germany:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Germany:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Germany:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Germany:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Germany:National Reforms in School Education

Germany:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Germany:National Reforms in Higher Education

Germany:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Germany:European Perspective

Germany:Legislation

Germany:Institutions

Germany:Bibliography

Germany:Glossary

Types of Institutions

Gymnasiale Oberstufe

Since 2013, in almost all of the Länder the Allgemeine Hochschulreife (general entrance qualification for higher education) can be obtained after the successful completion of 12 consecutive school years (eight-year Gymnasium). To guarantee the mutual recognition of the Abitur obtained after this shorter course, the Länder have to ensure teaching of a total of at least 265 weekly periods in the lower secondary level and the gymnasiale Oberstufe. In Rheinland-Pfalz, selected Gymnasien providing eight-year courses of school education are set up in combination with all-day schools.

In Schleswig-Holstein Gymnasien can return to nine-year courses of school education or offer both courses in parallel from 2011/2012 onwards. In Hessen Gymnasien have been able, since the beginning of the 2013/2014 school year, to choose whether to offer the eight-year or nine-year Gymnasium course of education. Niedersachsen has returned to the nine-year Gymnasium course of education from the 2015/2016 school year. High-achieving pupils can still obtain the Allgemeine Hochschulreife after twelve years. In other Länder the nine-year course of education is tested within the framework of a pilot project.

At Schularten mit drei Bildungsgängen the Gymnasium course of education will not, as a rule, be reduced to eight years.

Common principles for upper secondary education were laid down by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz – KMK) in the agreement on the structure of the gymnasiale Oberstufe in the upper secondary level (Vereinbarung zur Gestaltung der gymnasialen Oberstufe in der Sekundarstufe II) of July 1972, amended in June 2013.

The gymnasiale Oberstufe is divided up into a one-year introductory phase and a two-year qualification phase. Grade 10 may have a dual function as the final year of schooling in lower secondary education and the first year of schooling in the gymnasiale Oberstufe. At the eight-year Gymnasium, successful completion of grade 10 will entitle the pupil to enter the qualification phase of the gymnasiale Oberstufe. At the nine-year Gymnasium, successful completion of grade 10 will entitle the pupil to enter the introductory phase of the gymnasiale Oberstufe. Building on the foundations laid at lower secondary level, the classes in the qualification phase are usually structured in relation to half-year terms. Whilst still required to take certain subjects or subject combinations during the qualification phase, they now have scope for individual specialisation. Related subjects are grouped together under main areas. The three main areas with examples of subjects they include are listed below:

  • languages, literature and the arts
    (e.g. German, foreign languages, fine art, music)
  • social sciences
    (e.g. history, geography, philosophy, social studies/politics, economics)
  • mathematics, natural sciences and technology
    (e.g. mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, information technology)

Each of the three areas has to be represented right up to the gymnasiale Oberstufe and in the Abitur examination. Religious education in line with the provisions of the Land and sport are also compulsory. German, a foreign language, mathematics and physical education as well as, as a rule, history and one of the natural sciences must be taken throughout the qualification phase of the upper level of the Gymnasium and results must be indicated and taken into account in the certificate of the Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife.

The comparability of the examination procedures and examination requirements is guaranteed for all Länder by the Uniform Examination Standards in the Abitur Examination (Einheitliche Prüfungsanforderungen in der Abiturprüfung ). By the end of 2008, the Standing Conference had passed 41 subjects for the Uniform Examination Standards in the Abitur Examination, which have, in part, been revised against the background of the results of international comparisons of school performance and on the basis of experts' reports.

In October 2012 the Standing Conference has resolved educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife in German and Mathematics and in follow-on courses in the foreign languages English and French which replace the Uniform Examination Standards. Based on the educational standards a pool of Abitur examination tasks is currently being developed which the Länder can draw on from 2017 onwards. The development of educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife in the natural science subjects biology, chemistry and physics is expected to be initiated in 2016.

The subjects at the gymnasiale Oberstufe are taught at different levels of academic standards in accordance with the Uniform Examination Standards in the Abitur Examination and, in the subjects German, mathematics and follow-on courses in the foreign languages, the educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife). They are divided in courses at a basic level of academic standards and courses at an increased level of academic standards. The courses at a basic level of academic standards teach the propaedeutics of scientific work, and the courses at an increased level of academic standards provide in-depth teaching of the propaedeutics of scientific work by way of specific examples. The courses at a basic level of academic standards in the subjects German, mathematics and foreign language comprise at least three weekly periods. The pupils are required to choose at least two subjects at an increased level of academic standards, comprising at least five weekly periods, or at least three subjects at an increased level of academic standards, comprising at least four weekly periods, one of which being either German, a foreign language, mathematics or a natural science. The Länder regulate the further details in their own responsibility. Generally, the pupils are required to take two foreign language courses during the introductory phase. Pupils who have not or not continuously been taught a second foreign language before entering the gymnasiale Oberstufe are required to take a second foreign language course throughout the gymnasiale Oberstufe. The four or five subjects of the Abitur examination must include:

  • at least two subjects at an increased level of academic standards
  • two of the following three subjects: German, foreign language or mathematics
  • at least one subject from every main area of compulsory subjects (the Länder may decide at their own discretion whether or not religious education can represent the social sciences area)

In some Länder, lessons in the core subjects are only taught at an increased level of academic standards.

The gymnasiale Oberstufe has also been established in other types of school in addition to the Gymnasien. In some Länder, these include the kooperative Gesamtschule, integrierte Gesamtschule and the Berufliches Gymnasium.

Geographical Accessibility

For the geographical accessibility of schools in the secondary sector, the information on the geographical accessibility of primary schools applies.

Admission Requirements and Choice of School

Admission to courses of general education at upper secondary level is based on leaving certificates and qualifications acquired at the end of lower secondary level. For the possibility of gaining admission into a specific school, see the section on the organisation of the lower secondary level. The admission requirements for the gymnasiale Oberstufe are set forth above.

Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils/Students

At the latest upon entrance into the gymnasiale Oberstufe, the pupils are, as a rule, no longer taught in annual classes. The class unit is replaced by a system of compulsory and elective subjects, with the possibility of individual specialisation. The gymnasiale Oberstufe is divided into a one-year introductory phase and a two-year qualification phase, whereby grade 10 may have a double function as last school year of the lower secondary level and first school year of the gymnasiale Oberstufe. During the qualification phase, courses are structured in half-year terms, defined thematically, and assigned to subjects to which specific curricula apply. The courses provided are principally divided up into different levels of academic standards: courses at a basic level of academic standards and courses at an increased level of academic standards. Within the scope of the relevant agreement of the Standing Conference, the responsibility for the organisation of lessons and for the design of the compulsory and elective subjects with the possibility of individual specialisation lies with the Länder. The above explanations regarding the gymnasiale Oberstufe equally apply to the Berufliche Gymnasien.

Organisation of the School Year

For the organisation of the school year in the secondary sector, the information on the organisation of the school year in the primary sector applies.

Organisation of the School Day and Week

There is no fixed end to teaching times at upper secondary level (Sekundarstufe II). The weekly instruction time at the gymnasiale Oberstufe usually is also 30 weekly periods which are taken within the framework of courses at a basic level of academic standards and of courses at an increased level of academic standards.

At the eight-year Gymnasium, the number of weekly periods at lower and upper secondary level is generally increased by two to four weekly periods. To guarantee the mutual recognition of the Abitur, all Länder have to ensure teaching of a total of at least 265 weekly periods in the lower secondary level and the gymnasiale Oberstufe to which up to five hours in elective subjects may be added.

For general information about the daily and weekly timetable and the five-day or six-day week, see the section on the organisation of the primary sector.