Germany has a very high standard schooling system with various alternative educational systems such as International Schools, Waldorff schools and bi-lingual curriculums.
There is an legal obligations of school attendence for children from 6 years of age as opposed to compulsory education known in other countries. That means it is illegal to home-school your children and all children should attend school.
It is also illegal to take children out of school outside of rigid school holidays. Every day outside of school needs to discussed and approved by either a main teacher or a school director.
Choice of Schools in Germany
International Schools with either American or British curriculum are very well established and are present in nearly all bigger cities across Germany. They offer IB curriculum as well as local Abitur. There are also other schools available such as: French Lycees and Japanese schools in some cities.
Bi-lingual programs in public German schools are growing in popularity with long waiting lists and tough competition to get in.
German Educational System
As Germany is divided into 16 states, all of them providing a bit different education system and curriculum.
In general terms there is primary school for the youngest (from 6 years of age), that usually lasts for 4 years. Though in some states it is possible to attend the primary school up to 6th grade.
Once the primary school is over, children get so called recommendation for the future education issued by the school, which suggests which type of school a child should attend. This decision is in some states binding while in some states not.
The choice of middle schools is (again depending on the state): Gymnasium, Realschule, Hauptschule or Berufsschule and also Gesamtschule.
Gymnasium is considered the highest standard of education, leading to maturity exams (Abitur) that are considered an entry exams to universities.
Realschule offers mid-level exams which can also lead to the Abitur through a second stage or to a vocational training.
Hauptschule on the other hand leads directly to obtaining a vocational training as a dual system (theory and practice).
Gesamtschule are the most flexible as they leave the choice of the possible degree until much later. Some of these schools offer Gymnasium high schools, but others don`t.