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There is a greater variety of schools in the Rhein-Main area than in any other part of Germany. In addition to the public German schools there are private bilingual or international schools. All public schools are gradually being converted into full-time schools and most children can already eat their lunch at school.
Children generally start school at 6 years of the age. For the first four years they go to primary school (Grundschule). At the end of this period, teachers hand out recommendations for the child’s further schooling. In some cases children go to a transitional school for two years orientation before a final decision about their further schooling is made.
Children must transfer to the highest-level secondary school (Gymnasium) in Grade 5 or at the latest Grade 7 if they would like to obtain a general university entrance qualification (Abitur). A general university entrance qualification can be attained after the 13th year of schooling, or in some schools after year 12 (depending on whether the school follows the “G9” or the “G8” model).
For most jobs that require training a secondary school-leaving certificate (Realschulabschluss) after 10 years of schooling is sufficient. The lowest school-leaving certificate can be attained after 9 years of schooling at a general-education (lowest level) secondary school (level I, yrs 5-9, Hauptschule). Such schools are oriented to the world of work, and are compulsory for all pupils who do not transfer to other secondary schools.
The comprehensive school (Gesamtschule) combines all three types of school (Gymnasium, Real- und Hauptschule). This model has been applied in Hessen since the 1970's. Pupils at these schools are separated for some specific subjects according to their performance level but stay together with their classmates for all other subjects.
Public schools in Germany are free of charge but private schools ask for tuition fees. About 8% of all children in Germany go to a private schools. Most public schools offer very limited homework tutoring and only a few offer an all-day programme. Extra tuition has to be organized privately. All international schools in and around Frankfurt are private schools.