secondary schools

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The Hauptschule in Germany is a general school form of middle education, i.e. level 2 according to the ISCED classification of UNESCO. In Germany, the number of secondary schools has halved to 2,600 since 2008. In many federal states the secondary school has been abolished as an independent school form or, in the case of the new federal states, has not even been established.


The Hauptschule is a secondary school and an educational program in the structured school system in Germany that provides “ pupils with a basic general education ”.

Education courses in the German education system


In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Hauptschule is a general secondary school within the structured school system that emerged from the 8-year elementary school in the 1960s . As a rule, it comprises grades 5 to 9 or 10 in the lower secondary level and is completed with the secondary school certificate (vocational school qualification) . It still exists as an independent type of school in six federal states . In some of these countries, it is considered a regular school and must therefore be offered by the school authorities and is also compulsory school , "because all school-age students who do not attend any other [...] full-time school are obliged to attend secondary school". According to the Federal Statistical Office , there were 3,946 secondary schools with 567,174 students in Germany in the 2015/16 school year (2004/2005 school year in Germany 5,195 secondary schools with 1.08 million students).

Educational mandate and general organization

The lessons at the Hauptschule aim at the pupils' professional maturity ; they are very practical, action and method-oriented , but without foregoing a scientific orientation . The curriculum basically corresponds to that of the other school types. However, the subject of work studies is increasingly taught and in some federal states it is the main subject instead of the first foreign language , usually English .

In addition to conveying school-related content, the young people are to be taught the problem of career orientation in its range of content as a lifelong action and decision-making process. The focus here is on the subject of “preparation for career choice”, which, due to its complexity, cannot be classified into the subject structure of just one subject and is therefore dealt with in different subjects. Extracurricular work-related experiences collect the students by visiting regional job fairs or career information center (BIZ) of the Federal Employment Agency as well as through company visits and multi-week work placement .

As a rule, the secondary school certificate is awarded after successfully completing the 9th grade. This entitles you to start vocational training within the framework of the dual training system .

To the many voices calling for the comparability of financial statements to take into account, some states require (for example, Hesse , North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony ) now mandatory one to the educational standards of the Standing Conference oriented (KMK) written secondary school exam in the core subjects German , mathematics and first foreign language as well as a (partly mandatory, partly voluntary) supplementary project appraisal.

State-specific priorities


Since the introduction of the six-stage Realschule (successively from 1999), the secondary schools in Bavaria have come under increasing pressure due to a lack of students. Especially in sparsely populated regions increasingly close to home had part of secondary schools are closed - the students were grouped in key secondary schools and taught there.

The secondary school in Bavaria offered two school leaving certificates after the 9th grade: the secondary school leaving certificate and the qualifying secondary school leaving certificate . After reaching the class goal in the 9th grade of the secondary school, the secondary school certificate was awarded. After passing an additional test, the so-called Quali , the students received the qualifying secondary school certificate .

In order to improve the chances of weaker students on the job market , special practical classes (so-called P-classes) have been set up for students with poor learning skills . For secondary school students who, according to their talent, could also attend a secondary school, there are M-classes in which the achievement of the intermediate educational qualification (middle school leaving certificate) was made possible after an additional 10th school year in the secondary school.

The middle school was introduced at the beginning of the 2010/11 school year as a further development of the Hauptschule . The designation was given to secondary schools that, either alone or together in a school network, provide an educational offer that regularly includes the three branches of vocational orientation ( technology , business , social) and an all-day offer, as well as leading to the secondary school leaving certificate. Middle schools should maintain well-designed collaborations with a vocational school , the regional economy and the labor administration . This further development has been completed: the secondary school is no longer listed in the school directory of the Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Culture.


In the State of Berlin , the Hauptschule was combined with the Realschule and the Comprehensive School in the Integrated Secondary School in 2010 . So there are now only two types of school in Berlin - the integrated secondary school and the grammar school .


The secondary school certificate is available in the form of the simple and the qualifying secondary school certificate as well as the intermediate degree .

Secondary school pupils must take final exams in class 9. The final procedure for the secondary school leaving certificate consists of a project examination and written exams in German, mathematics and, if necessary, English. The secondary school leaving certificate is awarded if the overall performance is 4.4 or better. Good performance is made clear by the issuing of a qualifying secondary school leaving certificate (overall performance 3.0 and better).

The intermediate degree can be achieved at the end of a 10th year of secondary school with a successfully passed secondary school leaving exam.

Lower Saxony

At secondary schools in Lower Saxony, the degrees after grades 9 and 10 are only awarded after successful participation in a central (i.e. nationwide) final examination. If this is the case, the secondary school certificate can be obtained at the end of the 9th grade. Secondary school graduates in the 9th grade can then voluntarily switch to the 10th grade of the Hauptschule and acquire the following qualifications at the end of the 10th grade:

In 2004 a pilot project was started at Lower Saxony's secondary schools in the middle level with the aim of familiarizing young people with the world of work and professional life through an internship day during the school year. Since then, there has been a “practical day” on one day of instruction per week for 8th grade pupils, on which they can visit a company in the vicinity of the school and thus qualify for professional life. In 2005, this practice day was renamed " Operation Day ".

North Rhine-Westphalia

In North Rhine-Westphalia there is ten years of full-time schooling . The secondary school pupils attend the 10th grade of the secondary school after completing the 9th grade. North Rhine-Westphalia awards two qualifications after class 10 : the secondary school qualification after class 10 and the middle school qualification ( Fachoberschulreife ) . The latter can be used to obtain authorization to attend upper secondary school. For the grouping in class 10, the certificate grades in class 9 are decisive, if necessary a change to the vocational field such as the pre-class for the vocational primary school year or similar is possible.


Rhineland-Palatinate has gradually expanded the vocational qualification area at lower secondary level since 1992. With the regional school and the dual secondary school , two types of school were added to the secondary school, which integrate the conventional secondary and secondary school education and enable students of the secondary school profile to achieve the intermediate educational qualification according to the principle of internal permeability . The secondary school was abolished in 2014. The main school course was fully integrated into the so-called “ Realschule plus ”.


In the Saarland , the Hauptschule was initially merged with the Realschule to form Extended Realschulen in the mid-1990s . In this type of school, the pupils in grades 5 and 6 were taught together and, from the 7th grade onwards, were divided into different branches (secondary or secondary school branch). Since the school year 2012/2013, the extended secondary schools have also been abolished and replaced by the comprehensive school , which, in a differentiated manner, also leads to the secondary school leaving certificate.

Other federal states

In a number of federal states, the Hauptschule as an independent school form has either been abolished or, as in the case of the new federal states , has not even been established. However, it still exists in the form of a partially integrated course of education, which means that the federal states must ensure through their school system that the secondary school certificate can be obtained.

The number of secondary schools has more than halved since 2005. Four out of ten secondary schools have been closed in the past ten years. In 1975 2.5 million children went to secondary school, in 2005 there were still a million. The number of their students fell to 390,000 nationwide in 2018.

Thuringia has with the introduction of the regular school , Saxony with the establishment of the middle school , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania with the establishment of regional schools as well as Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen with the amalgamation of the main and real school education in so-called secondary schools .

In 2009, Hamburg abolished the Hauptschule and Realschulen as an independent form of school. In the newly created district schools, the secondary school diploma can be acquired as an integrated course. On July 9, 2008, the citizenship decided unanimously to merge secondary and secondary schools.

In 2007 Schleswig-Holstein also decided to abolish the secondary school. In Schleswig-Holstein, community schools and regional schools were established across the board by the 2010/11 school year . All regional schools are now becoming community schools. The pupils are trained within the class in a differentiated manner.

School educational challenges and concepts

In many secondary school classes, schoolchildren sit on the verge of learning disabilities next to boys and girls with average talent and high performance, children and young people with satisfactory language skills and young people with poor German language skills . The students are just as different in their socio-cultural life situations. In many places, they differ just as much from one another in terms of their cultural or ethnic - religious background as they do in terms of the social situation within their families.

The secondary school reacted to this and integrated various didactic and (socio) educational concepts into its everyday life in order to deal with the problems of its students arising from the different requirements. The most important of these concepts include:

Criticism and attempts at reform

Different high-performance secondary schools

The educational researchers Ulrich Trautwein , Jürgen Baumert and Kai Maaz identify three types of secondary schools.

  1. The modal form of the Hauptschule , Hauptschulen with an average level of performance: This includes 45 percent of the Hauptschulen in the Federal Republic.
  2. Problem schools, lower secondary schools: around half of the students repeated at least one class. 50 percent come from immigrant families where German is not spoken at home. 40 percent of parents have no completed vocational training . Almost a third of families are unemployed . 16 percent of all secondary schools are considered problem schools . The schools are mainly located in city ​​states ( Hamburg , Bremen and Berlin ), in Hesse and in North Rhine-Westphalian metropolises (especially in the Ruhr area ).
  3. High-performance secondary schools: The students at these schools are as efficient as secondary school students . These can only be found to a significant extent in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate and in rural regions of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Perspectives for secondary school students

40 percent of secondary school graduates make the transition to training in the dual system . 8 percent manage to transfer to the school occupational system ( full-time school education or civil servant training ). However, it would be wrong to make a general judgment. The chances for secondary school students vary from state to state. Where the secondary school has a strong position, there are attractive training options in the craft sector and in certain commercial professions (e.g. retail ).

Reasons for the negative image of the Hauptschule and reform approaches

The Hamburg educationalist Herbert Gudjons sees this image of school as being based on the fact that "attending secondary school is rarely the result of a free decision for a secondary school-specific concept, but is largely the result of a negative selection process ". As a result, the Hauptschule is often shortened to the “rest school”. Often sociocultural causes such as a burdened family environment, social isolation (e.g. due to a migration background) or a lack of values ​​or future prospects for students who grow up in a parallel society mean that students fail to transfer to other schools and that lower secondary schools are socially burdened Develop some residential areas into “ hot spot schools ”. In addition, it must be taken into account that Hauptschulen, even in an intact environment, for example in rural areas, have to fear that their educational level will be recognized.

The main school wins primary school rarely leavers voluntarily for their educational background, has many places at the same time but those who take as compulsory education, who do not find their way in the other educational programs. The upgrading of the Hauptschule to a practice-oriented secondary school in addition to the Realschule and the Gymnasium, as envisaged in the Hamburg Agreement of 1964, was not accepted by the general public. The figures from the Federal Statistical Office show: The proportion of secondary school students in all students in a year has been decreasing nationwide for years (2002–2005: −2.4%; in the same period: Realschule + 5.4%, Gymnasium: +4.7% ). This process tends to be the same in all federal states - with large regional differences. Realschulen are the winners of this shift. In view of this development, the secondary school is now in a legitimation vacuum for many school teachers within the structured school system .

The federal states reacted differently to this:

  • with the retention of the secondary school as an independent school form, expanded by a 10th grade, which enables the acquisition of the intermediate educational qualification ,
  • With the abolition of the Hauptschule as an independent school form to a structured school system with partially or fully integrated secondary schools (amalgamation of the Hauptschule and Realschulen with internal permeability of the courses).

The political will is to make the school career permeable towards the top in order to enable secondary school students to pursue further educational opportunities and thus improve the low social reputation of the secondary school course. For educational researchers , in connection with the PISA study the lives of the young people and their education socialization investigate the fundamental problem is not solved, that the high school - even in an integrated course - within the current divided school system a decidedly lower-layer-specific to be school threatens, in which the educational disadvantages caused by the social origin are intensified institutionally .

Education policy representation

The Education and Science Union (GEW) and DGB - trade union and the Association for Education (VBE) and Association of Civil Servants represent the interests of secondary school teachers unions. In this way, they also form the educational policy representation of teachers in the secondary school sector.


Removal of the name Hauptschule. As of the 2015/2016 school year, the term new middle school generally applies in Austria .

The secondary school , which emerged from the citizen school by the federal law of August 2, 1927 , is a four-year, general compulsory school in Austria , which is usually attended between the ages of 10 and 14 and follows the elementary school (corresponds to the federal German elementary school), provided there is no alternative educational option ( Gymnasium , AHS lower level ) was chosen. In order to distinguish themselves better from the lower grades of the general secondary schools (grammar schools, AHS lower grades) and to counteract the threat of closings due to the falling number of pupils, specialized forms such as main sports school or main music school have developed in recent years , which - in contrast to the normal secondary schools - have special admission requirements (relating to specialization).

The emergence of reform pedagogy and the rise of the Social Democrats in the 1920s led to efforts to establish a common school for all ten to fourteen year olds, but their implementation failed due to the resistance of the Christian Social Party (the predecessor of the ÖVP ). The Middle School and Secondary School Act emerged as a compromise .

The Hauptschule was initially run in two class trains, with the assignment applying to all subjects. In the 1st class train, which was also called the A train, were the higher-performing students, in the 2nd class train, also known as the B train, the poorer performing students were found. The curricula were designed in such a way that it was possible to transfer from the B to the A train as well as from the A train to middle school. After this was overridden during the Austro-Fascism and National Socialist era , the regulations were adopted again in 1946. In the 1970s there were renewed efforts by the social democrats for a comprehensive school. Due to the resistance of the ÖVP, however, there were some school trials, now indefinitely extended, which are almost only carried out at secondary schools and therefore did not lead to the desired integration of AHS lower level and secondary school.

Since the 1980s, this two-class system in secondary schools has been replaced by performance groups in the main subjects (German, mathematics, English) so that, on the one hand, talent can be better promoted and, on the other hand, learning difficulties in the individual subjects can be reduced. In addition, the teaching staff in this type of school consists of specialist teachers , i.e. a separate teacher is available for each subject (this does not, however, exclude the possibility of being taught two different subjects by the same instructor). As in other schools in Austria, the duration of a lesson is set at 50 minutes.

As a rule, pupils attend the polytechnic course after completing the secondary school in order to complete the nine-year compulsory schooling , or they start a vocational middle school (such as the commercial school) or a vocational higher school (such as the commercial academy or a technical college ). Only a few attend an upper-level (real) gymnasium after secondary school or (if, for example, repeaters have already completed compulsory schooling) directly enter professional life or an apprenticeship .

As in elementary schools, the municipalities are responsible for maintaining secondary schools, while the teachers are provided by the federal states .

Since 2000, a third type of school, the Cooperative Middle School (KMS), has supplemented the range of secondary schools and lower AHS schools in Austria . Many earlier secondary schools were converted to the KMS school trial.

Due to constant image weaknesses of the secondary schools (mainly in the big cities) discussions about the introduction of a new middle school flare up again and again . ( Comprehensive school ) In 2008 the further school trial new middle school was introduced. All secondary schools have developed into New Middle Schools (NMS) since 2012. This development process was completed in the 2017/18 school year, which means that from 2018/19 the NMS will be fully expanded and there will no longer be any secondary school classes.

Performance groups and grading system

In the 1st performance group , the highest performance is required. The material corresponds to that of the grammar school. The 2nd and 3rd performance group are designed in such a way that “each performance group differs by one grade from the next higher if possible”. In the grading system of the ability groups, a one ("very good") in the 2nd ability group is equivalent to a two ("good") in the 1st ability group. In the 1st and 2nd ability group there is no five (“insufficient”), because if the assessment is negative in the 1st or 2nd ability group, the student will be graded into the ability group below. The ability groups are particularly decisive for the subsequent school or the teaching or professional opportunities, as the ability group can be used to identify a particularly poor or strong student type.

See also


To the overview
To deepen
  • Werner Helsper, Christine Wiezorek: Between performance demands and care. Perspectives of the secondary school in the dilemma of subject teaching and support. In: The German School. 98 (4), 2006, pp. 436-455
  • Klaus Klemm : What do we know about a good school system? In: Pedagogy. 58 (7-8), 2006, pp. 76-80
  • Albert Scherr, Marcus Emmerich: “Internal school reform” in the secondary school. An empirical study of the possibilities and limits of organizational learning. Wochenschau-Verlag, Schwalbach 2007, ISBN 3-89974-338-5
  • Ulrich Trautwein, Jürgen Baumert , Kai Maaz: Secondary schools = problem schools? In: From Politics and Contemporary History . No. 28, 2007
  • Karl G. Zenke: Ways out of the secondary school crisis. Internal and external reforms belong together. In: The German School. 99 (4), 2007, pp. 447-459
  • Mareke Niemann: The 'descent' into secondary school. From becoming a main student to being a main student - a qualitative longitudinal section. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2015, ISBN 978-3-658-06372-6 . ( Table of contents )
For discussion

Web links

Wiktionary: Hauptschule  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Within ten years: the number of secondary schools has halved. In: Spiegel Online . May 16, 2018, accessed May 16, 2018 .
  2. KMK agreement on types of schools and educational programs, 2006 (PDF)
  3. Handbook for Hauptschulbildungsgang. 1998, ISBN 3-7815-0947-8 , p. 9
  4. Federal Statistical Office: Statistical Yearbook 2017 . 3 Education, 2017.
  5. Established in Article 7, Paragraph 9 of the Bavarian Law on Education and Instruction (BayEUG).
  6. ^ The Bavarian School System , accessed on July 11, 2013
  7. § 12 Paragraph 3 School Act for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (School Act NRW - SchulG) . Ministry of Schools and Education of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, May 29, 2020, accessed on July 10, 2020 .
  8. ^ Ministry for Schools and Education of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia: School system: Hauptschule. In: Education portal of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Retrieved May 15, 2020 .
  9. Tahir Chaudhry: Secondary School Student . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. December 18, 2018, accessed February 23, 2019 .
  10. Norddeutscher Rundfunk : Hamburg - citizenship sealed off for secondary schools ( memento from September 15, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), July 9, 2008
  11. Financial Times Deutschland : Schleswig-Holstein abolishes secondary schools ( memento of January 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), January 25, 2007
  12. Werner Helsper, Christine Wiezorek: Between demand for performance and care. Perspectives of the secondary school in the dilemma of subject teaching and support. In: The German School. 98 (4), 2006, p. 445 f.
  13. ^ A b Ulrich Trautwein, Jürgen Baumert , Kai Maaz: Hauptschulen = problem schools? In: From Politics and Contemporary History . No. 28, 2007; see. also Birgit Reißig, Nora Gaupp: Hauptschüler - Difficult transitions from school to work in the same issue
  14. ^ Herbert Gudjons : Basic pedagogical knowledge. Overview - Compendium - Study book. 8th edition. Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbronn 2003, ISBN 3-7815-1284-3 , p. 285
  15. Klaus Klemm : What do we know about a good school system? In: Pedagogy. 58 (7-8), 2006, pp. 76-80
  16. Wolfgang Melzer, Dirk Adomat: The main school education course in the new federal states - developments. In: Dietmar J. Bronder, Heinz-Jürgen Ipfling, Karl G. Zenke (Ed.): Handbuch Hauptschulbildungsgang. Volume 1. Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbronn 1998, ISBN 3-7815-0947-8 , pp. 41-54.
  17. Gundel Schümer: On the double disadvantage of students from underprivileged social classes in the German school system. In: Gundel Schümer, Klaus-Jürgen Tillmann , Manfred Weiß (Hrsg.): The school as an institution and the world of students. In-depth analysis of PISA 2000 data on the context of student performance. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-531-14305-0 , pp. 73-114
  18. ^ Gundel Schümer: Education and Social Inequality. In: The German School. 97 (3), 2005, pp. 266-284
  19. ↑ Apple of contention comprehensive school: Since the interwar period, the social democratic and conservative camps have been fighting over the "school for everyone". Der Standard , October 25, 2006, accessed April 19, 2014 .
  20. ^ Peter Lukasch: Austrian School Books, Part 3: The Development of the School System in Austria after 1945. Peter Lukasch, accessed on April 19, 2014 .
  21. Hauptschule. (No longer available online.) Chamber of Labor Upper Austria, archived from the original on September 22, 2015 ; Retrieved April 19, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  22. Start of school 2009: More attempts at school, small reforms (via the new middle school) from September 7, 2009
  23. Hauptschule. Retrieved September 19, 2019 .
  24. ^ Secondary school curriculum, part two: General didactic principles, 4. Promotion through differentiation and individualization. Federal Chancellery, accessed April 19, 2014 .