Secondary school: What can my child expect at a secondary school?

There are secondary schools in several federal states. In this type of school, the Hauptschule and Realschule are combined. Find out more about the concept and the different organizational forms of the secondary school here.

What is a secondary school?

The secondary school prepares you for a job or university entrance qualification and is very similar to the principle of a comprehensive school . In contrast to this, however, it only combines the two types of school , Hauptschule and Realschule , and does not have its own upper secondary school. The secondary school therefore only includes the fifth to tenth grades and is usually run as an all-day school.

The following federal states have introduced secondary schools: North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony-Anhalt, Bremen, Berlin, Lower Saxony, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate.

Organizational forms of the secondary school

As at the comprehensive school, the pupils of the secondary school are taught together in the fifth and sixth grade, i.e. not separated according to school type. It is not until the seventh grade that there is a differentiation according to different performance levels or desired school-leaving qualifications. This is organized differently at the schools, resulting in the following types of secondary school:

  • Cooperative secondary school: Here the pupils are divided into school-type-related classes (main school classes and junior high school classes). A change of class is possible with a corresponding performance development.
  • Integrated secondary school: With this form, the pupils remain in the class group up to the tenth grade and learn together. The different performance levels of the students are taken into account by so-called “internally differentiated” lessons. For example, the students receive tasks with graded levels of difficulty or options that correspond to their level of performance. In addition, open forms of work such as station learning or weekly planning work are preferred, so that every child can work at their own pace, with or without aids. Basically, the internal differentiation also requires a specific learning environment that allows individual learning, because not all children work on a topic at the same time with the same tasks and materials.
  • Partially integrated secondary school: In certain subjects, there is a so-called “subject performance differentiation”, which means that the students can choose between basic and advanced courses, for example in the subjects German, mathematics, English and physics, depending on their performance. After all, a student’s performance can vary depending on their school subject.

Secondary school in North Rhine-Westphalia

In North Rhine-Westphalia, secondary schools in all organizational forms also offer grammar school standards. This means that pupils can choose a second foreign language from the sixth grade and another foreign language from the eighth grade. In the partially integrated and integrated secondary school, the grammar school standards are also guaranteed by different performance requirements. Gymnasium classes are offered in the cooperative secondary school with educational courses related to the type of school. In this way, the students are optimally prepared for the change to a high school.

Qualifications from a secondary school

Pupils can obtain either a Hauptschule certificate or a Realschule certificate. If you want to graduate with the Abitur , you have to switch to a grammar school , a comprehensive school or a vocational college. In North Rhine-Westphalia, secondary schools even enter into binding cooperation with schools that lead to the Abitur. This means that parents already know when they register where their child can later complete their Abitur.

secondary school in the federal states

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the red-green state government and the CDU opposition agreed in 2011 to introduce this type of school. In Saxony-Anhalt it has existed since 1991. There are also types of school in other federal states that are similar to the concept of secondary school but have different names, including:

  • Rhineland-Palatinate: “ Realschule plus ”
  • Saxony: “Middle School”
  • Schleswig-Holstein: “Regional School”
  • Mecklenburg-West Pomerania: “Regional School”
  • Thuringia: “regular school”
  • Lower Saxony: “high school”
  • Berlin: “Integrated Secondary School”

Why is there secondary school?

The secondary school is a response to declining student numbers and changes in parental choice: Many parents would like to learn together for longer and for different courses to be open longer. In small towns, there are often not enough students to open a Hauptschule and a Realschule. With the merging of the two types of school, the educational opportunities are retained. Ultimately, a comprehensive, performance-based range of schools close to home should be guaranteed.

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