secondary school

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Realschule is the name for different school types in Germany , Switzerland and Liechtenstein , in Austria historically or as a more modern school experiment .

History of real education

Johann Amos Comenius
Johann Julius Hecker, memorial in Berlin

The roots of real  education (derived from the Latin res = "thing, object") can already be found in the early Middle Ages: Walahfrid Strabo (808–849), Benedictine abbot on the island of Reichenau , wrote in his garden poem (Hortulus) how experience can be enlarged through the work of one's own hands ("propriis palmis") .

Other early approaches to real education can be found with the humanists Erasmus von Rotterdam (1469–1536), Georgius Agricola (1494–1555), Thomas More (1478–1535) and Juan Luis Vives (1492–1540), who, in addition to the “ Sprach mastering "the" tangible mastery "translated.

But the Protestant Latin school of the Reformation period, which was oriented towards the Word (of God), cut off these efforts. However, the nobility did not see their goals of upbringing and education with the learned schools fulfilled and developed the class-specific knight academies . They opened the way to modern, real education.

Parallel to this were the efforts of individual educators to provide real education. Wolfgang Ratke (Ratichius) (1571–1635) called for the introduction of the mother tongue in teaching and the replacement of Latin. Johann Amos Comenius (1592–1670) built on this the requirement to teach words only in connection with things. In the "Trivialschule" of Johannes Raue (1610–1679) realities were already being taught in subjects such as geometry , shorthand and biology . For Johann Joachim Becher (1635–1682), the school had the task of creating an orderly state structure through education and teaching. His ideal was the technically educated scholar, the "useful learned" scientist.

In the 18th century the call for secondary schools grew stronger with the bourgeoisie. The previous schools were called into question by the Age of Enlightenment . Initially, imparting real educational content remained the task of individual educators:

For the Pietist August Hermann Francke (1663–1727), realism was also shaped by method. Nature shows the greatness and omnipotence of God. The primary goal of practical instruction was to contribute to the maintenance of his Francke establishments in Halle (Saale) . In 1698 Francke founded the Francke Foundations named after him in Halle , a social institution that still exists today.

The Halle pastor Christoph Semler (1669–1740) founded his “Mathematical and Mechanical Realschule” in 1707 with the idea of ​​illustrating lessons and training techniques that appeared necessary for later life and work. After a failure he founded it again in 1738. The second attempt ended two years later with Semler's death. Semler's school was the first to be called "Realschule", but remained only a supplementary school to the "Teutsche Schule" during its existence.

From the German School, whose verbalism he criticized, the reform-oriented Pietist theologian Johann Julius Hecker (1707–1768) developed a subject class system (based on the differentiated distribution of material created by Johann Gottfried Groß depending on the students' career aspirations) in his "Economical-Mathematical Realschule “In Berlin from 1747. Hecker is considered to be the founder of the original practice-oriented secondary school, for which he had a school garden laid out and to which in 1748 he affiliated the first Prussian teachers' seminar .

Although Wilhelm von Humboldt's educational reform was directed against Realschulen, as early as 1832, Realschule qualifications were recognized in Prussia as entitlement to middle careers. Above all, the qualification entitles to one year of voluntary military service instead of three years of compulsory service. Therefore the middle maturity was also called the annual . This type of school was thus legally placed between grammar school and elementary school. The few institutions were unable to meet the educational needs of the bourgeoisie. Thus arose new civil schools , besides under the tray clogging Latin the grammar school . In 1859 the secondary school, which is part of the higher education system, developed from it (from which the secondary school grew in 1882 ). The public school became the Latin loose Secondary School 2nd order , which remained a middle school. The Oberrealschule , also without Latin , but which is to be counted among the higher schools, emerged from the trade schools in the 1870s . The Abitur exams (later Abitur) of both new forms of school were put on a par with those of the humanistic grammar schools in 1900.

The way to today's secondary schools, however, was different: From the mixture of secondary schools (secondary schools for girls and boys, city schools, community schools and rectorate schools) an independent secondary school grew in 1872 . It lasted through three reorganizations in Prussia and was re-established as a separate school form after 1945. Depending on the federal state, the middle schools were sooner or later renamed Realschulen because parents found the name “middle school” disparaging.


The Realschule is a secondary school and an educational course in the structured school system in Germany, which provides " pupils with an extended general education ".

Education courses in the German education system


The Realschule - z. Partly run as a middle school until 1965 - is a general secondary school within the structured school system. It comprises grades 5 to 10 or 7 to 10 of lower secondary level and is completed with the middle school leaving certificate (secondary school qualification / technical college qualification). According to the Federal Statistical Office, there were 2976 secondary schools in the 2005/2006 school year (0.9 percent fewer than in the previous school year) with 1.32 million students (−2 percent compared to the previous school year).

Educational mandate and general organization

According to the provisions of the Hamburg Agreement of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) of 1964, the teaching of the Realschule aims to provide an expanded basic education . Upon successful completion, this entitles you to take up vocational training courses , to enter the middle civil service career or to attend higher vocational schools or technical colleges or the upper level of the gymnasium . Accordingly, the lessons are practice-oriented, but without foregoing a scientific orientation. The topic of career choice preparation occupies a large area , which due to its complexity is dealt with not only in one but in various subjects, sometimes across subjects.

From the 7th grade onwards, students have the opportunity to choose between different professional profiles as part of the so-called compulsory elective lessons. As a rule, the profiles offer a basic scientific , technical or economic or societal education or enable the learning of a second foreign language . Which directions or options are offered depends on the respective federal state and possibly also on the individual school itself.

To the demand for the comparability of financial statements to take into account a number of states are now demanding mandatory one to the educational standards oriented KMK written College student testing, but in some states at the end of 10th grade of high schools is not expected.

A third of intermediate educational qualifications are acquired in the vocational system. There are currently no educational standards here.

Country-specific focus


In Baden-Württemberg around a third of the students attend secondary school from grades 5 to 10. Approximately one third of secondary school students then attend a vocational high school and thus acquire the Abitur . A specialty of the Baden-Württemberg secondary school are the subject groups EEC (geography, economics, community studies ) and NWA (scientific work: physics , biology , chemistry ). At the end of the 6th grade, one of the subjects technology (Te) , people and the environment (MuM) / everyday culture, nutrition and social affairs (AES) or French (F) must be chosen in the elective area, which is then chosen from the 7th grade with three Weekly hours is taught and is relevant as a core subject for the promotion. In addition to the Realschule, there is the Werkrealschule in Baden-Württemberg , which also leads to an intermediate educational qualification and emerged from the Hauptschule .


The Bayerische Realschule provides general and vocational training by including theoretical questions and at the same time promoting practical skills and inclinations. In 2000, Prime Minister Stoiber and Minister of Education Hohlmeier introduced the six-year secondary school (R6) in Bavaria . Since then, it has included grades 5 to 10 and ends with the secondary school leaving certificate. The Bavarian Realschule differentiates from the 7th grade by offering four elective subject groups: the natural science branch (branch I: core subjects mathematics, physics and chemistry), the economics branch (branch II: core subject business administration) and the linguistic branch (branch IIIa: mostly French). If appropriate teachers are available, it can be supplemented in the musical - creative , domestic or social area (branch IIIb). Typical compulsory elective subjects for branch IIIb are handicrafts, household and nutrition, social affairs, art and music. In addition, the University of Passau has the only professorship for secondary school education and didactics in Germany to date .

North Rhine-Westphalia

Share of school types in relation to the total number of students in North Rhine-Westphalia since 1970
Share of school types in the total number of schools in North Rhine-Westphalia since 1970

The Realschule in North Rhine-Westphalia is a school form of the structured school system consisting of grammar school, Realschule and Hauptschule, which provides its students with an extended general education. It encompasses grades 5 to 10, with grades 5 and 6 forming the test level as an educational unit, in which the suitability of students for further attendance at Realschule from grade 7 is to be checked. At the Realschule, the intermediate degree (Fachoberschulreife), the intermediate degree with qualification note (Fachoberschulreife with entitlement to attend the gymnasiale Oberstufe), the lower secondary degree (secondary school leaving certificate after grade 10) and the simple secondary school leaving certificate (after grade 9) can be acquired.

The quantitative importance of the Realschule has hardly changed since the establishment of comprehensive schools around 1970 (see Fig. 1), probably also because spectacular reform interventions were largely omitted in the Realschule. The fact that the Realschule had to accept a certain bloodletting with the establishment of secondary schools since 2011 and the associated closure of Hauptschule and Realschulen does not change this fundamental statement, especially since this process seems to have been largely completed since 2018. The dynamism of the establishment of secondary schools, which took place mainly in smaller towns and municipalities, has almost completely come to a standstill (see Fig. 2). While the secondary school as a “small comprehensive school” without its own upper level is not forecast to have a long-term future, scientists assume that the Realschule will also have a say in the future of the school system in North Rhine-Westphalia as an independent school form. A strengthening of the structured school system and in particular the Realschulen is seen in the fact that the legislature will enable school authorities to set up an independent “Hauptschule” course from grade 5 onwards at Realschulen. The fact that, from the 2020/21 school year, they will offer a compulsory core subject “Economics” and an elective subject “Economics” should also contribute to the profile of Realschulen in NRW. A parallel development to the economics elective area with the core subject “Business Administration” of the secondary schools in Bavaria can be seen.

Federal states with an integrated school system

Comprehensive schools exist in many federal states . In the cooperative form , the three school forms of grammar school , secondary school and secondary school can be recognized under the umbrella of the comprehensive school, but no longer in the integrated form . The intermediate level is awarded in both types of comprehensive schools. This qualification is also offered in the so-called community schools (introduced in Schleswig-Holstein ).

Federal states with a partially integrated school system

In many federal states the Realschule has either been abolished as an independent school form or, as in the new federal states , has not even been established. However, it still exists in the form of a partially integrated educational program, that is, the federal states ensure through their school system that the intermediate educational qualification can be acquired.

In 2005, Brandenburg merged all secondary schools and comprehensive schools without a grammar school upper level to form an upper school .

In Berlin , the Realschule was integrated into the integrated secondary school together with the secondary school and the comprehensive school for the 2010/2011 school year . Thus there are only two types of school in the state of Berlin, the grammar school and the integrated secondary school.

In 2004, Bremen combined the Hauptschule and Realschulen to form a secondary school . In this all students are taught together up to the 6th grade. From the 7th grade onwards, there is a course-related performance differentiation in the subjects of mathematics and English , and from the 8th grade onwards, also in the German subject . From the 9th grade onwards, the pupils are classified in qualification-related profile classes (secondary or secondary school profile classes).

A few years ago, the secondary school was merged with the secondary school in Saarland . The new school form is now the extended secondary school , in which the students in grades 5 and 6 learn together, but from the 7th grade onwards are divided into different branches (main and secondary school branch). Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Rhineland-Palatinate followed similar paths with the establishment of regional schools (which were converted to Realschulen plus in Rhineland-Palatinate in 2009 ), Saxony with the establishment of the secondary school , Saxony-Anhalt with the merging of the secondary and secondary education courses in so-called secondary schools and Thuringia with the introduction of regular schools .


Private Realschule (RS) type of
Country Austria
Type of school (general) Secondary school with intensive vocational preparation
ISCED level 2
Classification (national) Statutory school / General educational statutory school  (192.1)
School board Private
requirement Elementary school diploma
Duration 6 years
Levels : 5th – 10th School level (1st – 6th grade)
Standard age 10–16
Graduation none

The term Realschule has been used since the 18th century as a term for a job-related type of school, was first anchored in the Political School Constitution in 1805 and defined as a three-year institution for merchants, camerealists, farmers and “artists of a higher kind”. In 1849 it was planned to create a six-class general school. It did not enter into competition with the grammar school until 1868 as a prototype of a higher school without Latin with living foreign languages ​​and emphasis on mathematical and scientific education. At first, secondary schools were seven-class. In 1927 they received an additional eighth grade, and thus the Realschule became a school type equivalent to the Gymnasium , which has been run as a Realgymnasium , an alternative to the humanistic Gymnasium, since 1962 . With the appropriate sponsorship, one encounters the designations (kk) Staatsrealschule during the monarchy and Bundesrealschule since the founding of the republic .

For some time now, in some federal states (for example in Styria ) there has also been a type of secondary school as a private school as an integrated part of a secondary school. It comprises six years and attaches great importance to learning foreign languages, project teaching , imparting IT skills and intensive career preparation.


Realschule ( French. École à exigences de base , Italian. Scuola di avviamento , rätorom. Scola reala ) refers to a section of lower secondary level in several cantons in Switzerland for young people with basic school requirements. It lasts three years, expands the primary school curriculum and prepares students for apprenticeships .

The designation of the school levels has changed over time. What was called Realschule in the 19th or first half of the 20th century often corresponds to today's secondary school , i.e. the school with increased requirements.

An overview of the designation of the types of schools in lower secondary level in the individual Swiss cantons is provided in the table in the lower secondary level in the article on the education system in Switzerland.


secondary school
Country Liechtenstein
ISCED level 2
Duration 4 years
Levels : 6-10
Standard age 12-15

In Liechtenstein, the Realschule is a section of the three-tier lower secondary level and, in contrast to Switzerland, is aimed at young people with higher educational demands. It lasts four years and prepares students for apprenticeships , but also for the transition to grammar school , vocational school and secondary schools . It is attended by around half of Liechtenstein secondary school students.


In Sweden there was the school type Realschule ("Realskola") from 1905 to 1962. It was replaced by the “Enhetsskola”, which is comparable to the comprehensive school / community school in German-speaking countries.


  • Wolfgang Rudowicz: The development of real education in Germany from the beginning of the modern era to the end of the Second World War . The Blue Owl, Essen 1992, ISBN 3-89206-467-9 .
  • Rekus , Jürgen (Ed.) (1999): The secondary school: everyday life, reform, history, theory. Weinheim, Munich: Juventa.
  • Saldern , Matthias von (2002): Realschule education. Baltmannsweiler: Schneider Verlag.

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. ^ KMK agreement on types of schools and courses of education, 2006
  4. See Working Group on Education Report at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development: The Education System in the Federal Republic of Germany, Structures and Developments at a Glance, Vol. 19193, rororo, p. 458
  6. cf. State Parliament resolution of June 13, 2018
  8. Austrian school systematics , status 2011/12
  9. ^ Système éducatif du canton de Friborg. On the website of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Directors of Education (EDK) , August 2018 (French)
  10. a b School models (secondary level I). On the EDK website , cantonal survey for the 2017/2018 school year
  11. Realschule. On the website of the state administration, accessed on February 15, 2019