Expats will find that their experience of schooling in Germany is likely to differ depending on where they are based within the country. Germany has a decentralised system of education whereby the national government plays a minor role and responsibility for schools lies with individual states (known as lander).

Schooling in Germany is compulsory from the ages of seven to eighteen but many parents send their children to a nursery or kindergarten from the age of three.

The German approach to education is seen as progressive as it makes provisions to cater for students of all abilities. Beyond the traditional academic subjects such as maths, science, geography, history and languages, the German system also provides opportunities for students to pursue vocational disciplines if they are more suited to those. 

Although the standard of public schools in Germany is generally good, these institutions are only really a viable option to expats who are relocating to Germany for the long-term or those with children that are young enough to learn a new language more effectively.

The majority of expats living in Germany opt to send their children to a bilingual school or an international school.  

Bilingual schools are still considered to be public schools so there are no fees attached. These schools offer two curricula: one based on a child’s mother tongue and the other in German.

In addition to the fact that they are cost-effective, bilingual schools also allow expat children to mix with German children in addition to other expat students and allowing for better assimilation in the long-term.

Bilingual schools are also very popular amongst Germans and therefore spaces tend to fill up quickly. Expats should start the application as soon as possible and before moving to Germany to give their children the best chance of securing a place.

The reason most expats opt to send their children to international schools in Germany is that they offer the smoothest transition to life in a new country. Students at international schools follow the curricula of their home countries and teach students in English, or the language of their home country.

Large cosmopolitan German cities like Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt have large number of international schools which cater for students of various nationalities.

While international schools generally offer a high standard of learning, smaller class sizes, a range of extra-curricular activities and excellent facilities, the major downside to sending a child to one these schools is the hefty price tag. Expats should therefore try to secure an allowance to cover the cost of school fees when negotiating their relocation package.