- A four-year form of education that commences after four years at Primary School.
- Pupils may transfer from the Academic Secondary School Lower Level (AHS) to the Middle School.
- Educational and careers guidance form the foundation for educational and careers decisions taken later.
- Individualisation and internal differentiation form the key characteristics.
- All-day education is offered at many Middle Schools.
- Upon completion: Attendance at a more advanced medium level or upper level school or a pre-vocational school.
The Middle School has been the regulatory form of education since 1 September 2012. Since the 2018/2019 school year, all former Lower Secondary Schools have become Middle Schools. By creating a broad, legally-assured foundation, it has been possible to create a single type of school for all children aged between 10 and 14 years, after completing four years in the Primary School.
The curriculum in the Middle School
The curriculum of the Middle School combines the traditional emphasis upon quality that was found in the Academic Secondary School Lower Level (AHS-Unterstufe), with a new culture of teaching and learning. One of the principal aims is for the curriculum to be focused on the potential and the talents of the children attending the school. Educational and careers guidance provide an ideal foundation for any subsequent decisions regarding a pupil's future education or vocation.
In addition to avoiding separating children into different educational pathways at an early stage, one of the principal features of the Middle School is the broad implementation of a new culture of learning, the cornerstones of which are individualisation and internal differentiation. This means that the individual abilities and talents of each child will be encouraged as much as possible. On the one hand, pupils will be provided with sufficient time and support to enable them to acquire the content of the curriculum at their own pace. On the other hand, however, they will be offered additional provisions at an early stage, in order to encourage them to utilise their special talents to the full. In the classroom, the emphasis is placed upon the communal processing of topics and content, not only enabling pupils to reproduce the knowledge they have acquired, but to understand and comprehend things as well. New media will also be used in the classroom.
Not only does e-learning allow knowledge to be transferred interactively but it also trains pupils to be critical in their use of new media, such as the internet.
The fact that the Middle School integrates all pupils, irrespective of their origin and upholds the equality of opportunity of both genders will enhance its pupils' awareness, intensify their social competences such as respect, esteem and tolerance and enable them to view the world without prejudice.
At many Middle Schools, the system of all-day education allows pupils sufficient time and an opportunity to pursue the things they have learnt in greater depth. A wealth of musical, creative, sporting and science-related activities will ensure that the afternoons also include some time in which students can relax and enjoy purposeful activity in their free time.
Classes at the MS
Classes at the Middle School follow the curriculum of the secondary school; they are jointly organised by teams of teachers from Secondary School. Successful completion entitles pupils to attend an academic or secondary school, depending on the educational targets achieved. The individual strengths of learning and performance are recorded in the “supplementary differentiating performance report”, which is issued in addition to the normal school report. The choice of educational path is accompanied by regular parent-child-teacher conversations.
Special Needs Education
As was the case previously, children and young people with special needs and who require Special Needs Education, will be integrated into the Middle School. The fact that pupils with and without disabilities learn together on a daily basis means that barriers are lifted and links established, which will increase the social competence of the children involved.
In the integrated classes that form part of this model, subject teachers work together with special needs teachers, whose role it is to work with the subject teacher to deliver differentiated teaching, whilst placing an emphasis upon the special educational needs that exist within the group.
Educational and careers guidance
In years 3 and 4 of the Middle School, particular attention is given to pupils' further vocational career or educational progression. This takes place in the context of "careers education". The obligatory exercise of careers education takes place as a separate subject at least one hour a week. In addition to this one weekly hour, 32 yearly hours are supposed to be integrated into compulsory subjects. From the 7th year of education onwards, the decision as to the type of progression that will be appropriate for a pupil will be accompanied by regular discussions with the parents and the child.
The next step:
After successfully completing the four-year Middle School, pupils have the following options:
- Attendance at the Academic Secondary School Upper Level (AHS-Oberstufe) or a School for Intermediate Vocational Education (BMS), a College for Higher Vocational Education (BHS) or a Pre-vocational School (PVS).
- Pupils who wish to take up an apprenticeship must first complete nine years of education, by attending a Pre-vocational School (Polytechnische Schule) or a one-year medium-level vocational school or successfully complete Year 9 of an Academic Secondary School Upper Level (AHS), a School for Intermediate Vocational Education (BMS) or a College for Higher Vocational Education (BHS).
- Pupils who upon completing Year 4 of the Middle School, have already completed their 9 years of compulsory education (because they had repeated a year) can commence an apprenticeship immediately.
Pupils with special educational needs are able to attend a Pre-vocational School (Polytechnische Schule)or undertake integrated vocational training.