School and education

Frequently-asked questions – School and vocational training

Early education

When do I have to put my child’s name down for a place in kindergarten/Kita (children’s daycare centre)?

As early as possible. In some towns/cities there are not enough places. If that is the case, you have to sort this out as soon as the child is born.

Additional information for asylum seekers

Every child refugee has the same entitlement to child daycare as every other child in Germany. The claim is valid as soon as the child leaves the initial reception center and has been assigned to a local authority.

How can I secure a kindergarten place for my child?

Almost every community has a kindergarten. The youth office holds lists of all your local kindergartens. Phone up the kindergarten and ask whether they have any places. Register your child in plenty of time. You have to fill in a form and you can look around the kindergarten. Look for at least one alternative. It is possible that you won’t get a place in the kindergarten of your choice.

My child is only 2. Can he/she go to kindergarten?

In some kindergartens yes. But only for a few hours per week to start with. Your child can get to know the new environment. This makes it easier when he/she spends more time there later on. You can also put him or her in a crèche.

My child does not speak German. Can I send him/her to kindergarten?

Yes, that isn’t a problem. Children learn the language quickly. They can often play without using words. It is the contact with other children and the new language that is important.

Can my child do sports at kindergarten?

There are no formal PE lessons. But many kindergartens play sports-related games with the children. Usually they take the children out for a walk as well. Or there is a big playground outside. So the children have plenty of opportunity to move around.

How many carers are there?

Normally 2 carers are responsible for approx. 20 children.

Will my child be given anything to eat?

Not every kindergarten provides meals for the children. In that case your child will have to take a packed lunch. Kita daycare centres usually offer a hot meal though. The best thing is to ask when you register your child at the kindergarten.

School system

Do I have to register my child at a school?

Children in Germany have to go to school. In some federal states even children whose residential status is unresolved have to attend school. Normally you have to register your child several months before school starts. It’s a good thing for your child to have a German school-leaving qualification. In Germany children have to attend school until 9th grade (age 15-16) or 10th grade (16-17) in some federal states.

When does my child have to go to school?

Children go to school from the age of 6 or 7. Young children do not usually have any problems with the new language. If children do not yet speak good German, there is often special courses available for them to learn German in school.

Can I teach my children at home?

Not normally.

How long is a school day?

Lessons start between 7:30 and 8 am. At primary school they finish at 11 or 12. In the other schools, classes mostly continue until 1 pm, sometimes longer. There are also all-day schools, where they have lessons until about 4 pm. Children can often do their homework at school and are given something to eat. That’s good if you work. All-day schools are available for all school types.

My child would like to go to university. Which school should he/she attend?

Ideally a Gymnasium. They can take their Abitur examinations here without transferring school. But your child can also do the Abitur later, after a different school-leaving qualification, or switch to a Gymnasium at a later point.

Additional information for asylum seekers

Please contact your local resident registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). Your contact person will contact a suitable school.

Children and teenagers that do not yet speak German will at first be grouped together in their own so-called transitional classes. Not every grammar school offers such transitional classes. In this case, children may have to go to another school.

Anyone who is 16+ years old is usually assigned to a vocational school.

More information about the German school system can be found at the BAMF:

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees: School system

We are new to Germany and my child does not speak German. Can he/she attend a German school?

Yes. Small children learn the language quickly. There are transition classes or special courses in school for learning German.

Can I choose a school?

Not always. There are primary schools even in smaller communities. So your child has to attend school there. That means he or she will also make friends who live locally. Not everywhere has a secondary school. In that case it is important to find a suitable school nearby.

Additional information for asylum seekers

When looking for a suitable school, the local resident registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) is responsible for meeting your needs. Your contact person will contact a suitable school. Afterwards you can get to know the school and the teachers.

Can my child travel to school on the school bus?

There is usually only a school bus if the school is in a different town. Within a town, children will have to travel to school on public transport, for instance on the bus or underground. The school is frequently nearby, and your child can walk.

My child needs tuition. Who can I contact?

First of all, contact the school or the (class) teachers. It is possible that tuition may be arranged for you there. A certain fee is usually charged per hour for tuition.

However, voluntary tuition may also be available. To find out more about this please contact Migration Advice. You can find them in the “Help” section under “Important addresses: Advice, authorities and German courses “.

Studying and vocational training

Where can I do vocational training?

Many companies train apprentices. Think about what you want to do later. Then look for a vocational training place. If you are not sure, do a work experience placement before you start your vocational training.

Additional information for asylum seekers

The German labour market currently requires many workers in the handwork sector as well as in some specialised occupations such as nursing. You can find more information on these websites:

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Federal Employment Agency: Make it Germany – sought-after professions in Germany

When can I do vocational training?

Usually vocational training starts in August or September. So look for a vocational training place well in advance.

Do I have to go to business school?

Yes, that’s part of the training. If you do not attend classes at the business school on a regular basis, you will not receive your vocational training qualification.

Is financial support available for degree studies?

Many students can apply for BAföG. You borrow money as you would with a loan. After your degree you have to pay the money back but without interest. And there is also the Bildungskredit (education loan). You can find out further information about the BAföG and Bildungskredit student loans from the Federal Ministry of education and Research.

How can I have my qualifications recognised?

In Germany, many professions (e.g. doctors or teachers) can only be practised with specific qualifications. Have you completed vocational training or do you possess a degree? Then your documents must be checked for recognition. If your documents are recognised in Germany, you will find it much easier to get a work permit.

Do you need help with recognition of qualifications? Then please consult the information portal “Recognition in Germany”. There you can find a hotline to call: +49 30-1815-1111

How can I apply for an internship as an asylum seeker?

Your point of contact is the Federal Employment Agency. Asylum seekers and tolerated persons may, in principle, only take up employment if the Foreigners Registration Office has issued authorisation and noted it in the temporary residence permit or permit to stay until deported. For this reason, before starting employment, asylum seekers and tolerated persons are required to apply for permission at the Foreigners Registration Office. As a rule, the Foreigners Registration Office must first obtain an employment agreement from the Federal Employment Agency. Refugees are subject to an employment ban for their first three months in Germany.

You can find more information about internships here:

Network IQ in NRW: Praktikumsdatenbank Integrationsbetrieb, Handwerk (Integration enterprise internship database, handwork)

Federal Employment Agency: “Internships” and occupational activities for asylum seekers and tolerated persons