Integrated Secondary School

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After primary school, students can go to an integrated secondary school (ISS) or a Gymnasium. The integrated secondary schools emerged from the previous secondary school (5-9), intermediate school and comprehensive schools during the school structure reform.

A school for everyone - completely individual

In the integrated secondary school, each and every student is supported individually to the best of their ability: the focus is on them. In the learning team and individually, work is carried out at stations and in small groups, projects and learning areas. That means more fairness and more motivation for every student. Nobody falls by the wayside. There is no longer any demotivating repetition of a year.

The integrated secondary school offers all school-leaving qualifications – from vocational qualifications to the Abitur.

There are the following possibilities:

  • The ISS has its own upper secondary school.
  • The ISS has a binding cooperation with the upper secondary level of another ISS or an upper level centre.
  • The ISS has set up an upper secondary school in an alliance.

An additional benefit: binding all-day offerings at all integrated secondary schools with the option of sport, musical or artistic activities, including lunch.

Performance differentiation

Since students with different strengths, skills and inclinations attend an integrated secondary school, offerings at different levels are also necessary for the best possible support.

The schools can decide for themselves how instruction is organised depending on requirements and support options. These include, for example, courses with different performance levels or joint study groups with tasks at different levels.

Class frequency

The class size of 25 or 26 students ensures the best conditions and good academic success. The class frequency can be even lower through additional support hours, for example, for students whose language of origin is not German or who do not have learning resources.


With 31 hours a week in grades 7 + 8 and 32 hours in grades 9 + 10, the schedule at the secondary school is two hours less per week than at a Gymnasium. However, the integrated secondary school students receive even more instruction than the Gymnasium students, since they have a whole school year more time until the Abitur.

All-day school

All secondary schools are all-day schools: there are binding educational and care offerings for all students until 4 p.m. In the open form, offerings such as sports, theatre, art, music or student work time are available after the end of instruction. In the bound form, these offerings are integrated into everyday school life.
To this end, the secondary school cooperates with youth work and youth welfare sponsors. The school can decide how is organises its all-day programme and how it uses staff and financial resources.

One school for all qualifications – from vocational training to the Abitur

The integrated secondary school enables its students to obtain the following qualifications after passing exams:
  • Certificate of vocational education (BBR),
  • Advanced vocational qualification (EBBR) and
  • General certificate of education (MSA).

The first general school leaving qualification, the Bildungsreife, is achieved at the end of the ninth or tenth grade.

In addition, the secondary school, like the Gymnasium, offers the transition to the upper secondary school after the tenth grade. If the ISS does not have its own upper secondary school, it enters into a cooperation or an alliance with another school.

In order for a student to be able to change to the upper secondary school, the final grades must be good after the tenth year and the intermediate school leaving qualification must be passed. The upper secondary school at the integrated secondary school usually lasts three years, but with particularly good performance it can be completed in two years.

Upper secondary school in an alliance

Integrated secondary schools that do not have their own upper secondary school can set up an “upper secondary level in an alliance”. This means that with the admission to the 7th grade (or the 1st grade of a foundational comprehensive school) a school with an upper secondary school can be attended.

A change of school is not necessary after the 10th grade. The Abitur certificate is issued by the school that admitted the students. The teaching staff in the joint upper secondary level includes teachers who also teach in grades 7-10 of the alliance schools.

  • As of the 2017/18 school year:

The “Guide for establishing upper secondary schools in an alliance” offers a joint concept for schools, that are embarking on the demanding path of developing a joint concept for the Upper Secondary School, an overview of organisational and content issues on which agreements are reached.

Comparison of the Integrated Secondary School and Gymnasium

  • Integrated Secondary School


    • Start: in grade 7

      (in some schools in grade 5)

    in grade 7

    (in some schools in grade 5)

    • Probation year: no


    • Promotion to the next class:
      7th-10th grade: always advance

      (voluntary repetition possible)

    grades 8-10: promotion only with appropriate performance

    • School years up to Abitur: 13
      (12 years possible)


    • Possible school qualifications: Abitur, intermediate school leaving qualification, advanced vocational qualification, vocational qualification

    Abitur, intermediate school leaving qualification, advanced vocational qualification, vocational qualification

    • Educational objective: ability for vocational training, ability for a course of study after 13 (12) years

    ability for a course of study after 12 years

    • Students per class: max. 26

    max. 32

    • Instruction time (hours) per week:
      7th and 8th grade: 31
9th and 10th grade: 32

    7th and 8th grade: 33

    9th and 10th grade: 34

    • All day operation: yes

    at some Gymnasiums

    • Lunch-offer: yes


    • Compulsory cooperation with: primary schools, upper level centres (OSZ) or other integrated secondary schools with an upper secondary level

    Primary schools

    • Foreign languages:
      1st foreign language is continued
2nd foreign language as compulsory elective

    1st foreign language is continued

    2nd foreign language compulsory

    • Dual learning: yes

      (school defines concept in school programme)


    (can be offered as a professional profile)

    • Internship: yes


    • Differentiation of performance: yes,
2 requirement levels


    • Individual support: yes


Further information