The standard of educational facilities in Frankfurt is on par with the rest of Germany. German public and private schools in the city offer an excellent level of teaching, and Frankfurt is home to a number of Germany’s top universities.
While the German school system is highly regarded globally, most expats opt to send their children to international schools in Frankfurt. These schools offer expat students the opportunity to continue studying the same curriculum from their home country. Continuing studies in their native tongue plays a significant role in allowing children a smoother transition into expat life in Frankfurt.
Generally, all schools in Frankfurt will break for holidays in April, July/August and October, with an additional break in December for Christmas.
International schools in Frankfurt
There are just a handful of international schools in Frankfurt. Expats moving to the city will not have as much choice as they would in the German capital, Berlin.
Most of the international schools in Frankfurt are English speaking and follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. However, there are also international schools which follow the American, British and Japanese curricula, among others.
Expats should note that tuition fees at international schools are expensive in Frankfurt, and those moving to the city as part of an international transfer should be sure to negotiate an education allowance into their contract.
Bilingual schools in Frankfurt
Public bilingual schools are a good alternative and worth considering, especially if there is no provision for the payment of school fees within an expat’s employment package.
There are very low fees attached to bilingual schools in Frankfurt. They are a great option for those planning to spend a good few years in Frankfurt and are keen to have their children integrate well with the local German population.
In these state-sponsored schools, there are usually two streams of curricula based on a child's mother tongue and German. In Frankfurt, there are currently bilingual schools that teach in German and either French, English, Greek or Japanese.
Bilingual schools are a popular option for Germans who want their children to experience a broader education. For this reason, space does tend to disappear quickly; thus, expats preparing for a move to Frankfurt would do well to start making arrangements as far in advance as possible.
Public schools in Frankfurt
Expats who have children young enough to pick up the language quickly, or who foresee themselves relocating to Frankfurt on a long-term basis, should consider standard German public schools. There are no tuition fees attached to these institutions, but there may be registration fees or minimal extras that will need to be financed.
Expats may initially find the system complicated, but it is ultimately based on achievement and is tailored to the abilities of each student.
Children attend Kindergarten at the age of three and start Grundschule (primary school) at age six. From this age, students learn a standard set curriculum.
After this point, they attend one of three types of secondary schools: Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium. German education is thus not divided according to age from this point forward, but rather according to what direction a student chooses to take their education.
A child's academic ability usually determines which school they attend, but the final decision also often rests with the parents.
Bear in mind, though, regardless of which school a child attends, all students are required to complete at least nine years of education. Also, as schooling is usually conducted during the morning, students often receive a lot of homework and are thus unable to involve themselves in too many extra-curricular activities.
Hauptschule, while offering the same subjects as Realschule and Gymnasium, teaches children at a slower pace and includes vocational courses. During grade 10, students study at a vocational training school and then attend Berufsschule, where they receive further education and apprenticeship training up until grade 12.
Realschule, on the other hand, is attended up until and including grade 10, after which students go straight to Berufsschule. Depending on their academic progress, Realschule students can go to a Gymnasium upon graduation.
Gymnasium is generally accepted as the type of school for top students. Subjects included here are mathematics and natural science, as well as classic and modern language studies. It covers grades five through 13 and successful scholars receive a degree called an Abitur, which offers university and college preparatory classes, or combined academic and vocational training.