Opportunities after high school

After secondary school, there are various opportunities for further vocational training. Find out here about the curriculum for the Hauptschule and the Hauptschule certificate. You will also find out how you can support your child in choosing a career and what options are available to him after secondary school.

What is in the curriculum for high school?

The syllabus for the lower secondary school specifies exactly which subjects may be taught at the lower secondary school, how intensively they are dealt with and in which grade the pupils should have this subject in their timetable. The curriculum for the lower secondary school also stipulates which topics are to be dealt with in the individual subjects in the lessons and which learning goals the pupils have to achieve at the end of the school year. Schools are required to follow the Hauptschule curriculum and educate their students accordingly. This is to ensure a uniform standard for all secondary school students.

Since education is the responsibility of the individual federal states, each federal state has its own curriculum. Although the educational standards are similar everywhere, it depends on the respective federal state what exactly is recorded in the curriculum for the secondary school. Many federal states have now completely abolished the Hauptschule and are now planning a community school for Hauptschule and Realschule pupils.

Goals in the curriculum for the Hauptschule

The curriculum for the Hauptschule defines the following general objectives and pedagogical tasks, which the teaching at the Hauptschule should fulfil:

  • At the Hauptschule, your child will be given a basic general education so that they can fall back on a solid basic knowledge.
  • The Hauptschule is intended to prepare the students for their future professional life, which is why topics such as career orientation and successful applications are part of the curriculum for the Hauptschule.
  • In addition, attitudes to life and key qualifications, such as teamwork, resilience, flexibility, independent learning or work attitude, are taught.
  • Lessons at secondary schools are more practical. Therefore, numerous internships or practical days are planned in the curriculum for the secondary school, where work experience in companies is made possible.
  • According to the curriculum for the Hauptschule, the pupils should be supported according to their talents and interests. The lessons are therefore based on the experiences of the students.
  • The Hauptschule also has the task of compensating for social problems in the student body. There are often various projects for dispute resolution or for the prevention of violence and addiction.
  • According to the curriculum, lessons at the Hauptschule should provide assistance and orientation options for the personal lives of the students, for example in relation to healthy nutrition, health, conflict resolution and social values.

The school subjects at the Hauptschule

The curriculum for Hauptschule defines three main subjects for students: German, Maths and English. These three subjects are compulsory for all schoolchildren in Germany because they impart basic knowledge for professional and academic further education.

Apart from the mandatory secondary subjects of sport and religion or ethics, the students have various other subjects from the following areas. Depending on the school, different subjects can be offered at the Hauptschule:

  • Natural science subjects in the curriculum for secondary school:  biology, chemistry, physics, technology, computer science
  • Social science subjects in the curriculum for secondary school:  geography, history, politics, economics, work studies, home economics, social studies
  • Artistic subjects in the curriculum for secondary school:  art, textile design, music, handicrafts

The curriculum for the lower secondary school stipulates that compulsory elective courses for pupils begin in the seventh grade. Depending on their interests, the students choose a focus in one of the subject areas that interests them. In the ninth grade, additional subjects can be chosen. Foreign language lessons are only planned for English at the Hauptschule. In most cases, additional native language lessons, for example in Turkish or Russian, are offered on a voluntary basis.

The high school diploma

The Hauptschule certificate, which is sometimes also referred to as “Berufsschulreife”, is the lowest school certificate that your child can obtain at schools in Germany. The lower secondary school leaving certificate is both the basic requirement for all other school leaving certificates and for attending a vocational school during vocational training. Without it, your child has almost no chance of getting an apprenticeship.

In principle, every student gets the Hauptschule certificate when he finishes school after the ninth grade. This applies to the school types Hauptschule, Gesamtschule , Realschule and Gymnasium .

As a rule, it is sufficient to successfully pass the 9th grade at the Hauptschule in order to obtain the Hauptschule certificate. In some federal states, however, pupils also have to take a final examination after the ninth grade in order to graduate from secondary school. The students are then tested in the subjects German, Maths and English. The exact procedure of the test is regulated differently in the respective federal states. For example, the three subjects are usually tested with a written thesis in which important basic knowledge is queried. Sometimes, however, there is also an oral exam in English to test the knowledge of the students.

Secondary school leaving certificate after the 10th grade

In some federal states it is also possible to complete an additional school year at the Hauptschule. All students who successfully complete this additional year receive an extended secondary school certificate, sometimes called a “qualified secondary school certificate”. With this “better” degree, your child can increase their chances of getting an apprenticeship. In some federal states, for example in North Rhine-Westphalia, the 10th school year at the Hauptschule is also compulsory.

Career choice after high school

Many pupils do not know exactly what they should do after secondary school, although vocational orientation is dealt with intensively in the classes at secondary school. During their school years, the students often have the opportunity to explore the world of work and individual companies. Career orientation takes place primarily within the framework of internships, practice days or company visits. Nevertheless, many schoolchildren take advantage of additional orientation offers, for example voluntary trial internships during the holidays or careers advice from the Federal Employment Agency. You can support your child in their career choice by helping them to recognize their strengths and talents. Also try every now and then to talk about the time after secondary school and talk to your child about his or her possibilities and goals.

Vocational training after high school

After secondary school, your child has the opportunity to apply for vocational training with their secondary school certificate. For many apprenticeships, for example in the manual trades, a secondary school certificate is sufficient when applying. However, it is helpful if your child tries to establish contact with training companies while still at school and perhaps familiarizes itself with a company and a job profile through an internship. This not only increases the chances of being hired by a company directly after secondary school, but also makes the transition to working life easier for your child.

Higher school leaving certificate after secondary school

In order to improve their chances of finding a job, your child can continue to go to school after secondary school and obtain a higher school certificate. If it did well in secondary school and performed well, nothing stands in the way of further schooling:

  • Extended secondary school certificate: Your child can acquire this certificate in most federal states by completing a voluntary tenth year of school at the secondary school after the regular secondary school years.
  • Secondary school certificate : If your child takes special advanced courses in this additional tenth school year, in some federal states it can also finish secondary school with the final secondary school examination. However, some vocational schools also offer special courses in which your child can graduate from high school.
  • Fachabitur or Abitur : With a passed secondary school certificate, the child even has the opportunity to do his Fachabitur or his Abitur. To do this, they must attend the upper level of a grammar school or comprehensive school.
Compulsory schooling after secondary school

In Germany, all students have to go to school for a total of twelve years. If the Hauptschule ends after nine or ten school years, your child must then attend a vocational school or a higher school. If your child skipped a grade, compulsory schooling ends one year earlier. However, if your child had to repeat a class, that doesn’t change anything. Your child will stay in school for the same length of time as before – not about a year longer.

More opportunities after high school

Many vocational schools, but also the Federal Employment Agency, offer further training courses for students who would like to continue their education after secondary school. For example, there is the possibility of doing a pre-vocational year or taking part in other vocational training measures. But there are also courses in which the secondary school certificate can be made up for or in which language skills, writing applications or practical skills are taught. These courses are mostly attended by students who do not immediately find an apprenticeship after completing secondary school, but who are still required to attend school.

FSJ after secondary school

If your child is no longer required to go to school, it can also do a voluntary social year (FSJ) or another voluntary service after secondary school. The FSJ is a good opportunity to get a taste of a social professional field, to gain practical experience and to get to know working life. In addition, it can be a very positive experience to get involved socially and to help other people.

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