Elementary school

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term elementary school is historically connected with the idea of ​​an educational institution for the people and with the introduction of compulsory schooling . With people was meant the simple population compared to the upper classes or classes of the population. In the course of time, however, the importance shifted towards a minimum education that everyone of a people must have.

In Germany the elementary school referred to a type of school in which one obtained the elementary school certificate after eight school years. Depending on the federal state, there has been a comparable training with the secondary school leaving certificate after nine years since the 1960s to 1970s . If the term elementary school is used in a state-specific manner today, it includes elementary and secondary schools in one building.

In Austria , the four-year elementary school is equivalent to the elementary school , which must be attended by every child who is required to attend school in Austria. The home teaching is indeed permitted by law in Austria, but is rarely used. Compulsory schooling is nine years.

In Switzerland , elementary school refers to the eleven years of compulsory schooling offered by the municipalities at the level of kindergarten, primary and secondary level I.

Elementary schools in Germany

Royal decree introducing compulsory schooling in Prussia, 1717
Jobs as a schoolmaster , painting by Johann Peter Hasenclever , 1845: ironic depiction of lessons in a Prussian village school in the 19th century

Historical bases

The elementary school is based in its historical origins on the obligation to instruct future clerics in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, as formulated in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council . The implementation of this requirement took place very differently in Germany, but particularly intensively after the Reformation . During the visitations , the reformers issued church ordinances that provided for the establishment of schools. The Catholic areas soon followed suit. In the 17th century, the secular rulers also began to be interested in the elementary education of their subjects. Pietism with its educational optimism and the Enlightenment played an important role here . Particularly advanced elementary schools existed in the Electorate of Saxony , while the non-German areas of Prussia had only a few schools. The term elementary school came up around 1800. For a long time the elementary schools were institutions of the parishes. The separation from the church did not come to an end until the 20th century.

In the history of education about Germany, one usually limits oneself to a treatment of the situation in Prussia, which, however, distorts the presentation. The Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I (1683–1740) is considered to be an important promoter of primary schools in German states . In 1717 he issued the edict on compulsory education. He stipulated that children aged five to twelve should go to school and should not be released until they could read and write. The catechism also had to be memorized.

Friedrich II of Prussia (1712–1786) reformed the school system. The duration of schooling was set at eight years in the Royal Prussian General School Regulations of August 12, 1763. The General School Regulations , which the theologian Johann Julius Hecker had largely prepared, formed the basis for the development of the Prussian elementary school system.

Writing and reading schools and the arithmetic schools of the late Middle Ages as well as sexton and Sunday schools of the Reformation formed the preliminary stage of the elementary school. The term elementary school is mentioned for the first time in 1779, it was also called elementary school, elementary school, country school, village school or school for the poor . The school inspection was under the control of the church at that time. She was perceived in the person of the pastor as school inspector, but could at any time be taken over by the church authorities (e.g. the consistory , ordinariate ).

Elementary school in the 19th century

The elementary school was introduced in the 19th century as a single type of school for everyone. This was intended to eliminate the health problems complained of by the military recruitment agencies as a result of child labor and to enforce compulsory schooling, literacy of the population and national education (elementary schools as part of the nation). The financing lay with the municipalities, old foundations and the state. The school supervision was regulated differently in the German states. In principle, however, the churches played an essential role. In the Grand Duchy of Hesse, for example, the priest was chairman of the local school board.

Educational goals have been limited because of cost and dissatisfaction that may be generated. For example, in the first half of the 19th century, the weekly timetable looked like this: 12 hours of reading and writing, 6 hours of religion, 5 hours of arithmetic, 3 hours of singing and hymns. The teacher training took place in newly founded teacher seminars (two years) and for applicants without a high school diploma (that was the rule) at upstream preparation institutes (usually three years), so that one could already be a young teacher at 19 or 20 years of age. The teachers were poorly paid and there was great dissatisfaction. They were housed in the school house.

The reform of the eight-class system introduced by the school council of the small state of Lübeck , Georg Hermann Schröder , was exemplary for all primary schools in Germany.

Elementary school in the 20th century

In the first half of the 20th century, public elementary schools were often divided according to religion and gender. There were also separate pre-schools with basic training in preparation for changing to middle and higher education.

After the First World War , the school system was defined in the Weimar School Compromise by the Weimar Constitution of 1919 and 1920 with the Reich Primary School Act:

"The elementary school is to be set up in the four lowest grades as the elementary school common to all, on which the middle and higher education is also based."

Separate preschools had to be closed until 1925. Those who did not leave elementary school after the first four years received the elementary school certificate after eight years.

During the economic crisis that followed the period of inflation (1919–1923) , a long dispute broke out within the multi-party landscape of the Weimar Republic over a 1928 Reich School Act; it stayed with countless drafts. The Reichstag member Kurt Löwenstein (SPD) also called for an extension of elementary school time to nine or ten years so that school leavers would not be confronted with mass unemployment at a young age. Primarily, the church should be deprived of its influence on the school system and the associated gender segregation should be abolished through the formation of community classes.

It was not until the National Socialist government that a new compulsory education law was passed in 1938.

“Compulsory elementary schooling lasts eight years. [...] All children are obliged to attend primary school. ... During the first four years of elementary school, other classes instead of attending elementary school may only be permitted in exceptional cases in special cases. The transition to a middle or higher school is based on the special provisions issued for this purpose. "

With the renewed confirmation of compulsory education for eight years, regional deviations (Bavaria and Württemberg seven years and Hamburg and Holstein nine years) were repealed across the whole of the empire. Secondary school lasted six years (5th – 10th year of schooling) and the secondary school nine years (5th – 13th year of schooling; for boys until 1937, for girls until 1940).

After Austria's annexation in 1938, the National Socialists established a secondary school for talented elementary school students based on the Austrian model and parallel to the German elementary school. Reich Education Minister Bernhard Rust informed the press at the time that the secondary school, which originated in old Austria, would be introduced throughout the Reich and linked to the first four years of the middle school in the old Reich.

The only four-class new secondary school should ultimately supplant the six-year middle school; it was also called the community school and prepared for skilled trades. The Reich Compulsory Education Act of 1938 was then decisively amended on May 16, 1941. Section II (compulsory primary school) was now followed by the new section III (compulsory secondary school):

“Compulsory elementary schooling lasts eight years. ... primary school children who meet the requirements for admission to secondary school are required to attend secondary school. "

After the end of the Second World War , the four occupying powers took over sovereignty and decided, depending on the degree of destruction of the buildings, on the implementation of school lessons. The British military government transferred sovereignty back to German authorities in January 1947; Control Council Directive No. 54 of June 27, 1947 was only relevant for the American and French occupation zones (southern Germany).

On May 31, 1946, the Soviet military government introduced a single school system in the Soviet occupation zone . In the area of ​​what was later to become the GDR , the elementary school became an eight-year general elementary school in accordance with the law on the democratization of German schools of May / June 1946 , followed by either the vocational school or, for about 15% of the best pupils, the four-year extended secondary school . In addition, good students had the option of attending a two-year middle school after the eighth grade . With the completion of the phase of building the socialist school (1949-1962) eight years of elementary school came in 1959 instead as a comprehensive school the Polytechnic High School , which included ten classes.

It was not until the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949 (without the Soviet occupation zone , SBZ) that the pre-war model of elementary school, middle school and high school was reintroduced across the board in West Germany. The strict confessional and gender segregation in elementary school was not until the early 1960s by forming the first community classes ( community school , as opposed to denominational schools eased). This liberalization process lasted until the beginning of the 1970s.

Former one-room elementary school in Ostermarsch near Norden

In sparsely populated rural areas (e.g. Emsland), several classes (mostly grades 1–4 and grades 5–8) were often combined for communal lessons.

The following table shows the number of pupils in public eight-grade elementary schools in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1963:

Elementary school students in Germany 1963
state Elementary school students
Schleswig-Holstein 224,000
Hamburg 134,000
West Berlin (only up to 6th grade) 102,000
Bremen 62,000
Lower Saxony 699,000
Hesse 418,000
North Rhine-Westphalia 1,497,000
Rhineland-Palatinate 386,000
Saarland 130,000
Baden-Württemberg 733,000
Bavaria 974,000

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the previous elementary schools (eight school years) were formally dissolved in 1964 due to the Hamburg Agreement on Education Reform. The regular school was replaced by a four-year elementary school (in West Berlin the six-year elementary school) and a five-year (Berlin: three-year) secondary school . As an alternative to the secondary school, the pupils could attend another secondary school of the threefold lower secondary level after completing their primary school.

The resolved reorganization of the school organization gradually displaced the term elementary school from legislation. Section 4 (3) of the Hamburg Agreement allowed the federal states to retain the term elementary school as a standard term for primary and secondary schools. In this sense, only the state constitution of Baden-Württemberg defines elementary schools today. Primary school is also mentioned several times in the Bavarian constitution, but is no longer used in school legislation . The reason for this was the abolition of the secondary school in Bavaria. With effect from August 1, 2012, the secondary school ( Art. 7a BayEUG) took the place of the Hauptschule ; at the same time, the linguistic link with elementary school via the word elementary school was abandoned.

Article 7 (5) of the Basic Law lays down the requirements for the admission of private elementary schools in the federal states; With reference to this, the elementary school is mentioned in the Bremen Private School Act and in the North Rhine-Westphalian School Act in the regulations on the approval process.

Incidentally, the elementary school has disappeared from the state constitutions and has also been deleted from the state school legislation - apart from some regulations on the earlier designations of teaching authorization and with regard to teacher salaries. Up until now, the term elementary school was mainly given in Bavaria to schools in which elementary school and secondary school (middle school or secondary school) are united under one roof. According to the law applicable from August 1, 2012, a primary school can run the supplement (elementary school) upon joint application by the school expenditure authority and the school ( Art. 29 Paragraph 1 Sentence 5 BayEUG). However, it then only refers to primary school.

After reunification in 1990, the six-year elementary school in West Berlin was transferred to the whole of the new federal state of Berlin, and the neighboring eastern German state of Brandenburg also introduced a six-year elementary school. In 2010 the attempt to introduce a six-year primary school failed in a referendum in the state of Hamburg.

Elementary school in Austria

The elementary school is a general compulsory school . It consists of a primary school and, if necessary, an upper level.

The primary school can include a pre-school stage, the task of which is to support children who are required to attend school or who are admitted early but are not ready for school with a view to attaining school readiness. In elementary school, the elementary school provides elementary education common to all pupils. In the upper level it provides a basic general education and prepares the students for professional life or for the transfer to a middle or higher school.


The primary school is divided into the primary level 1 (pre-school level, 1st and 2nd grade) and the primary level 2 (3rd and 4th grade). An upper level (which includes the 5th to 8th grade) no longer runs in any of the elementary schools in Austria, the last existed until 2017 in Lechleiten and Wattenberg , both in Tyrol . There are different forms of organization: single-class schools (where several school levels are taught in one class = departmental teaching ) and multi-class schools (each school level is assigned to its own class). Each class is assigned a class head (= class teacher) who usually teaches all compulsory subjects, with the exception of religious education and handicrafts (textiles). Bilingual education is also carried out in areas where there are linguistic minorities . In all schools, children whose mother tongue is not German can be offered lessons in their mother tongue as a non-binding exercise (only accessible with registration).

The teachers in the public schools are employees of the respective federal state . The school maintenance communities are responsible for the provision of classrooms (school buildings, classes including the necessary ancillary rooms and furnishings) and the budgets for organizational areas (e.g. teaching and teaching materials, school attendants, heating, lighting). If several communities are grouped together in a school district, they combine to form a so-called school community. School districts are defined by the ordinance of the respective country and this means that all children who are required to teach in a compulsory school district (as normal place of residence) have to attend the school located in the district. Exceptions (= school attendance that is not part of the explosives) require approval by means of a procedure in which all those affected (legal guardians, municipalities, district administration) have the right to be heard.

History of elementary schools in Austria

See also: Education system in Austria # Reichsvolksschulgesetz

The term elementary school appeared in the middle of the 18th century, first in Tyrol and then throughout Austria under Johann Ignaz von Felbiger , and was not incorporated into law until 1840.

Before the introduction of the Hauptschule, the elementary school in town and country comprised the elementary school with (1st to 8th grade) and the upper grade of the elementary school (5th to 8th grade), a total of eight grades. After the Second World War, the upper level was made possible by the secondary school introduced in 1928 in place of the municipal middle schools, also by secondary schools in central locations with 1st and 2nd class trains to fulfill compulsory schooling for children from rural communities by means of free school transport.

After the fourth grade of elementary school, there is the option of attending the Hauptschule (middle school) or the lower grade of the Gymnasium (this requires an assessment of good or very good in the main subjects ).

Primary school in Switzerland

In Switzerland , the elementary school traditionally comprises primary school and lower secondary level (secondary or junior high school), a total of 9 compulsory school years depending on the canton. It is usually offered by the municipalities. With the intercantonal agreement on the harmonization of compulsory schooling of June 14, 2007 (HarmoS Concordat), the cantonal school systems are harmonized. In the cantons that have signed up to this agreement, the primary level now includes both the entry level or kindergarten as well as primary school for a total of eight years. Lower secondary level follows on from primary level and usually lasts three years. The lower secondary level comprises school types with basic and advanced requirements. In addition, the various special schools also belong to the elementary school. - The lower grammar school, although it is part of the lower secondary level, as well as the general and vocational schools of the upper secondary level do not belong to the elementary school.

See also


  • Johannes Beck: Learning in the class school. Investigations for practice. Rowohlt, 1983, ISBN 3-499-16820-0 .
  • Lucien Criblez: A school for democracy: On the development of elementary schools in Switzerland in the 19th century. Lang, Bern, ISBN 3-906763-77-3 .
  • Hans-Martin Moderow: Elementary school between state and church. The example of Saxony in the 18th and 19th centuries. Böhlau 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-11706-1 .
  • Otto Rühle , The elementary school as it is. Expedition of the Vorwärts bookstore, Berlin 1903.
  • Klaus Schlupp: School, Church and State in the 19th Century - The Catholic Primary School in the Diocese of Mainz and the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt 1830–1877. Nordhausen 2005, ISBN 3-88309-316-5 .
  • Peter Gbiorczyk: The development of the rural school system in the county of Hanau from the Reformation to 1736. The offices of Büchertal and Windecken. Part 1: Text volume. Part 2: source volume. on CD-ROM, Shaker Verlag, Aachen 2011, ISBN 978-3-8440-0331-4 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Elementary school  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Austrian Constitution Art. 14, Paragraph 6. Verfassungen.de
  2. Weimar Constitution of 1919. Documentarchiv.de
  3. ^ Reichsgrundschulgesetz of April 28, 1920. Documentarchiv.de
  4. Posters of the parties 1924–1927 (PDF; 491 kB) German Historical Museum
  5. ^ Reichstag protocol of June 10, 1929. Reichstagsprotocol.de
  6. Reich Compulsory Education Act of July 6, 1938. Verfassungen.de
  7. ^ Christa Berg, Dieter Langewiesche: Handbook of the German history of education . tape 5 . Verlag C. H. Beck, 1989, p. 195 ( online at Google Books ).
  8. The "new" secondary school under National Socialism . Opus.kobv.de
  9. The influence of home, school and workplace on young people . Zum.de
  10. Birgit Braun: Re-education in the American zone of occupation . LIT-Verlag, Münster 2004, p. 39. (Google Books)
  11. ^ Control Council Directive 54 of June 27, 1947, Basic principles for Democratization of Education in Germany ( Memento of May 31, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 15 kB) University of Kassel
  12. Have The German Schools Been Democratisized? Jstor.org, p. 115 (English)
  13. In the dead end . In: Der Spiegel . No. 37 , 1963 ( online ).
  14. ^ Gerhard Eiselt, Wolfgang Heinrich: Grundriß des Schulrechts in Berlin. Luchterhand, Neuwied and Frankfurt / Main 1990, ISBN 3-472-00322-7 .
  15. Agreement between the federal states of the Federal Republic of Germany for the standardization of the school system ( Memento of October 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 1.21 MB) Resolution of the KMK of October 28, 1964 i. d. F. of October 14, 1971.
  16. Art. 15 Constitution of Baden-Württemberg.
  17. See Art. 129 Paragraph 1, Art. 134 Paragraph 3, Art. 135 Clause 1 and Art. 136 Paragraph 2 of the Bavarian Constitution.
  18. For the current types of schools of general education schools in Bavaria, see the new version of Art. 6 Para. 1 BayEUG.
  19. Law amending the Bavarian Law on Education, the Bavarian School Financing Law and other provisions of July 9, 2012 (GVBl. P. 344).
  20. § 6 Law on Private Schools and Private Tuition (Private School Act) of July 3, 1956 (Brem. Journal of Laws of 1953, 77).
  21. Section 101 (4) of the NRWSchulG.
  22. ^ Brandenburg school system. ( Memento from November 2, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Brandenburg state portal
  23. § 11 School Organization Act (PDF) Ris.bka.gv.at
  24. § 9 School Organization Act (PDF) Ris.bka.gv.at
  25. https://www.wienerzeitung.at/nachrichten/zeitreisen/908583-Reform-Volksschule-mit-5-K Klassen.html