Primary school

Drei Schüler in der Grundschule

The continuous improvement of the teaching and learning culture is a focus of Berlin’s primary schools. All-day school offerings create time to change educational offerings in terms of content and method and to support all students individually.

Welcome to school!

Cover Schulstart 2021

With enrolment, a new and exciting stage in life begins for your child and you as a parent, one that you can look forward to. Here you can read about what your child will learn in primary school, how you as parents can participate and what special offerings are available in schools.

Start of school life

In the brochure Start of school life. Things to know about the start of school in 2021 you will find all the important topics and questions about primary school. You can find out about everyday school life, afternoon care or the certificate without grades.

School enrolment in 2021

Mädchen mit Ranzen bei Einschulung

For children born between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016, compulsory school attendance began on 1 August 2022.

For school enrolment, you must register your child in the appropriate primary school between 27 September bis 8 Oktober 2021. This is usually the public primary school nearest to your home and will be communicated to you by your district school authority.

You can apply for the postponement of compulsory school attendance for one year if the level of development of your child suggests better support in a daycare centre. If your child was born between 1 October 2015 and 31 March 2016, you can apply for early admission to school when you register. The supervision of schools in your district decides on applications for deferment or early admission.

All Berlin primary schools are all-day schools


The continuous improvement of the teaching and learning culture is a focus of Berlin’s primary schools. All-day school offerings create time to change educational offerings in terms of content and method and to support all students individually.

Instruction and extracurricular offerings are based on the learning and life needs of the students and are related to one another in terms of content and organisation.

With the reliable half-day primary school and the open or bound all-day primary school, parents have access to school offerings with different conceptual and time-based offerings: parents can choose the all-day model they want for their child.

The flexible initial phase of school education

When younger children go to school, the school has to change too, of course. The 1st and 2nd school year are considered as a unit, which is reflected in the flexible initial phase of school education.

School beginners are not just beginning to learn, but what the children can already do is very different. Every child has strengths and weaknesses, but when they start school, children can learn from each other. It’s not just about knowledge but also about personal and social strengths.

The aim of the Berlin schools is to support each student individually and to take their different requirements and needs into account. That is why teachers make the following assumptions during the initial phase of school education:
  • Every child has already successfully learned a lot before starting school.
  • Every child wants to learn.
  • Children are active designers of their knowledge and skills.
  • Every child goes their own way when learning.
  • Every child needs their own time and suitable offerings for their learning.

In the initial phase of school education, all children learn together. For pupils who need special support, lessons are available for special educational support. These can be used for specific support offerings in the class as well as in small temporary groups or for individual children.

Even after the initial phase of school education, parents whose children have special educational needs are free to choose a school. Because integration has priority in the Berlin schools.

  • The flexible initial phase of school education

    Support through individual, joint and multi-age learning

    PDF-Document (1.6 MB)

  • Weekly schedule for primary schools

    PDF-Document - As of: 2019

Mixed-age learning

According to the motto: “Show me how you do it!” the 1st and 2nd school years are age-mixed and the standard form at a Berlin primary school.

This means that most children will stay in the initial phase of school education for two years in order to learn the content according to the framework curriculum and to achieve the goals of the instruction.

More time to study

Any child who needs more time can also stay in the initial phase for a third school year. The third year does not count towards the general compulsory school attendance. The children thereby do not have any disadvantages and are not considered to be repeaters.

Faster learners

Children who may learn faster because of their special talents move up to the 3rd grade after just one year. The advantage of this flexibility works two ways: each child learns at their own pace and does not have to change their entire learning group.

Regardless of whether they study for two or three years during the initial phase of school education, your child will always stay with a few friends and trusted resource persons.

Learning to read and write

It is important for your child to write freely when they start school. So your child can
  • Understand the alphabetical structure of writing
  • Learn writing on an individual level,
  • Experience the communicative function of writing,
  • Become motivated to read and write.

Your child learns to write according to rules and thus acquires confidence in spelling (e.g., when working with class and basic vocabulary). In class your child learns with motivational support from the teacher to increasingly orient their own writing to the correct spelling.

As your child progresses in learning to read, alphabetical spelling will be complemented with orthographic strategies. Through targeted, individual learning opportunities, your child will acquire solid spelling skills.

After the initial phase of school education, your child will continue the process of learning spelling with an expanded vocabulary and with regard to a more differentiated orthographic knowledge.

You can find information on teaching reading and writing in the early school years in Primary school technical letter no. 11 ‘Basics of written language acquisition. The A-Z essentials of learning to read and write’

The basic vocabulary

cover grundwortschatz 1,2

Since 2012 primary school students have received the basic vocabulary booklet to determine what vocabulary each of them is already proficient in.

The booklets “Abend bis zwölf“ (“Evening to twelve”) for grades 1 and 2 and “Arzt bis Zukunft“ (“Doctor to future”) for grades 3 and 4 give students, parents and teachers an orientation on what language learning should be mastered in the various development phases.

In addition to the booklets for the students, there is also a handout for teachers on using the basic vocabulary.

  • Basic vocabulary for grades 1 and 2


    Document: SenBJF

  • Basic vocabulary for grades 3 and 4


    PDF-Document (632.6 kB)
    Document: SenBJF

  • Basic vocabulary - handout for teachers


    PDF-Document (2.1 MB)
    Document: SenBJW

What is rhythmization?

Grundschülerin schneidet mit Schere Papier

The open design of the day, the so-called rhythmization, has become established in many primary schools. Every school can structure its everyday school life according to its needs. This means that there are various ways to organise the daily routine in the all-day primary school:

  • Sliding start
  • Teaching blocks instead of 45-minute lessons
  • Open final phases
  • Active breaks
  • Beginning and end of the week

Learning the first foreign language

Speaking several languages is an important element in school education and also increases future professional opportunities.

That is why foreign language instruction is started in the 3rd grade in Berlin. Pupils can choose between English or French as their 1st foreign language. Instruction takes place for two hours per week, in some schools even as a voluntary working group in the initial phase of school education. In the 4th – 6th grades there is one hour more of instruction per week.

Special language offerings in primary school

Learning tasks

Learning tasks (homework) should support and consolidate the learning processes begun during instruction. But they can also serve as preparation for instruction. In general, the exercises for consolidating and applying what has been learned have already been worked on in school.

The schools decide on the scope of the learning tasks in their school conference (committee made up of teachers and parents’ representatives). The learning tasks should help the students to independently practice and consolidate what they have learned and should be able to be solved independently by the students.

Of course parents can help their children, but the children should solve the tasks independently, because if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn. The tasks are not educationally justifiable nor permitted as a punishment or disciplinary measure.

Self-assessment questionnaire in primary school

In order to encourage the children to experience and assess their own learning, there is a “Questionnaire on self-assessment in primary school”. It was developed in practice and has already been tested in many primary schools.

The skills-oriented questions are intended to stimulate 4th and 5th grade students to assess their interests, competencies and learning performance themselves. The teacher can get information about how well the students can observe their own learning development.

Performance assessment: the indicator-oriented certificate

At the end of the school year in the initial phase of school education, all students receive a certificate with an assessment of their learning, performance and competence development. This assessment can be in the form of a free text or an indicator-oriented certificate.

1st and 2nd grade

The list in table form for all subjects in grades 1 and 2 supplements or replaces the conventional text of a verbal assessment. The performance assessment follows a competence-oriented approach and maps essential learning and development goals. The assessment is made with regard to the framework curriculum, the study of the starting point of learning (LauBe) of the initial phase of school education and the learning documentation for mathematics and language.

3rd to 6th grades

In grades 3 to 6, certificates are issued at the end of each school term. In grades 3 and 4, the majority of the class parents’ assembly can decide that a verbal assessment should continue to be given instead of grades. In grades 5 and 6, only grade certificates are issued.

Mixed-aged classes

In mixed-aged classes, in which children from the initial phase of school education (1st and 2nd grade) study together with children from 3rd grade, all children receive the same type of certificate: a verbal assessment, which can also be given in the form of an indicator-based certificate.

Comparative assessments
In all Berlin primary schools – as in all federal states – at the end of the 3rd grade, comparative assessments are taken in German and mathematics.

These comparative assessments show the performance development of the individual students. But the performance of the entire class is also compared within the school and also with the schools in the catchment area. The comparative work is based on the binding nationwide educational standards for the primary school sector.

  • Certificate model for mathematics

    PDF-Document (574.6 kB)

Supplementary support and after-school care

Mädchen beim Schulmittagessen

With their all-day operation, the Berlin primary schools make an important contribution to the compatibility of family and work, because every primary school in Berlin is a reliable half-day primary school.

This means that the children usually have instruction from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and are at any rate supervised at school – even if instruction should end earlier. This offering is free for parents.

Open all-day primary school

If your child attends an open all-day primary school, where instruction takes place from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – but beyond that you wish care for your child, e.g., in the afternoon or during the holidays, then you must apply for an after-school care voucher at your youth welfare office and contribute to the costs depending on your income situation.

  • After-school care is free of charge for 1st and 2nd grade students. This provision applies as of 1 August 2019.

Bound all-day primary school

In the bound all-day elementary school there is an overall school concept of instruction, education and additional support and care (after-school care). This means that the educational offerings in the bound all-day primary school take place from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

You must apply to your youth welfare office for additional care modules before or after this time or holiday care and provide evidence that you need care. With the after-school care voucher you will also receive a notification of the cost sharing.

  • Day care is free of charge for 1st and 2nd grade students. This provision applies as of 1 August 2019.

School lunch

A healthy and high-quality lunch is an important component for a successful school life. At the same time, meals together offer many educational opportunities to teach school children the connections between nutrition, health and environmental protection in a practical way.

Free of charge

Since 1 August 2019 all primary school pupils (1st to 6th grade) are entitled to lunch at no cost. In order for your child to take advantage of this offer, you must sign a contract with the school caterer for supplying a free lunch. This is necessary despite the fact that lunch is free of charge so that the school or the caterer can plan well.

Quality food

The caterers are obligated to implement the quality standards of the German Nutrition Society and will be tested and assessed by the lunch committees – consisting of pupils, parents and teachers – before you can be selected as a provider.