Participating country education overview

I have learnt that every country has a different way of teaching.15 


Germany is a federal republic with 16 different school systems. Every Bundesland varies in the types of schools it provides and the time students remain at school to sit different exams (for instance, there can be eight, eight-and-a-half or nine years at secondary school until students sit the Abitur). Nevertheless the system is permeable and there is the possibility to change between the Bundesländer and the different types of school.  The curriculum that mandates the subjects and topics is also the responsibility of the Bundesländer, but there is a base of competency standards that all regions have in common.

In Rheinland-Pfalz – the Bundesland for IGS Bertha von Suttner – children start their primary education at the age of six in an elementary school. After four years, they can choose their secondary school. They can opt for a grammar school/high school (Gymnasium) that leads to the Matura (equivalent to A Level in England); for a secondary school (Realschule) that leads to CSE after five years or to GCSE after six years; or for a comprehensive school that offers all these courses, depending on the performance of the student. Additionally, there are different types of high schools that lead to the Matura after students reach the GCSE-equivalent standard, which specialise in economics, social affairs and health or technical studies. Universities require the Matura for admission, and Universities of Applied Sciences require a vocational education and an advanced technical college entrance qualification.

In Germany, most schools are public institutions, run by the local government (Rheinland-Pfalz/ADD). There are initial inspections of teachers in their first years of teaching, and inspections for teachers who want to fulfil a leadership position such as head department, but no frequent/ annual inspections of teachers and headteachers.

Education is a matter of the federal states and therefore there are different regulations and training concepts in the 16 federal states, for example regarding the choice and combinations of subjects. Teacher training comprises several training phases for all teaching posts: studies, preparatory service and in-service training for teachers in the school service. What they all have in common is that university studies (at least two subjects) and the teaching degree depends on the type of school chosen.

There is a wide range of ongoing teacher training available, which teachers should attend frequently to improve their skills.


In Hungary children begin their formal primary education at elementary schools at the age of seven. After the first four years of primary education pupils can choose whether they want to continue their studies in the primary school or apply to a secondary grammar school with eight years of study. Most pupils stay for at least two more years when they can opt for a secondary grammar school with six years of study. The majority of pupils finish year eight, the last year of their primary education, at an elementary school. Secondary education provides students with three options to choose from: students can attend secondary grammar schools, secondary vocational schools or technical schools. Secondary grammar schools prepare students for Matura examinations and studies at university; secondary vocational schools prepare students for Matura examination and the world of work; and technical schools prepare students for the world of work. Hungarian universities require the Matura for admission.

Most Hungarian schools are public institutions run by the Ministry of Human Resources. Institutions, headteachers and teachers are inspected every five years by external inspectors, and annually by internal bodies. Teachers have to hold a college or university degree to practice in the teaching profession. Teachers gaining their university degree become junior teachers and have to go through a qualification process after having two to four years of experince as practising teachers. Then they can practice in category ’Teacher 1’ for six to nine years, when they have to qualify for ’Teacher 2’ status. After 14 years of practice, they can become Master Teachers or Research Teachers if they can meet the requirements of the catogory. All teachers are expected to take accredited CPD courses every seven years to enhance proficiency throughout their careers

Further reading:

Education in Hungary



Teachers in Spain must complete a pre-service training programme (at least a Bachelor’s degree, and also a Master's degree for secondary school teachers), then pass a competitive examination, before completing a teaching practice. Once on the job, Spanish teachers can benefit from receiving more support for continuous improvement. School evaluations, teacher appraisal and student assessments are the responsibility of the education authorities of each autonomous community.

The Spanish education system is decentralised. Typically, the national government defines overall framework policies, but the autonomous communities handle most day-to-day policy-making and administer the great majority of funding. From primary to secondary education, though, schools have very limited autonomy. Universities are more autonomous, notwithstanding some constraints, notably on their ability to hire.

From age 12 (or nearly 12) children move on to secondary school. The first four years are called ‘la ESO’ (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria). Children can leave school at the end of this period or at the age of 16 if they reach this sooner. ESO is divided into two cycles with the same system of repeated years at the end of each cycle as occurs in primary education.

A wide range of secondary subjects are taught, including a language choice between English and French/German.

At the end of the four years of ESO, students may leave school, go on to the two-year Bachillerato (Baccalaureate) academic course, or enrol in basic vocational training courses called FPB.

There are four types of Bachillerato: Arts, Humanities, Natural & Health Sciences and Technology. FPB includes office and administrative skills, mechanics, catering, and hairdressing.

The Spanish school year starts in mid-September and ends in the third week of June. There is usually a break of about two weeks at Christmas and about a week at Easter. There are no half-term holidays as such, but there are short breaks throughout the year which are organised around national, regional and local saints’ days and festivals. There are two kinds of timetables: a divided day, which allows at least two hours for lunch; or the innovation of the ‘jornada continua’, a blocked day which finishes in the early afternoon. Many public secondary schools have now adopted this blocked-day timetable, and teenagers are free from about 3.00pm every day. Grant-assisted and private schools, however, have classes until the early evening several days a week.


In Sweden, school is compulsory for all children between the ages of six and sixteen. They start school at the age of six, in pre-school-class and then continue for another nine years from first grade all the way up to ninth grade. After that, children may choose to continue studying at a three-year-long upper-secondary school programme, but it is voluntary.

The upper-secondary school programmes are either preparatory for further studies at university or vocational in focus.

During their studies, students take national exams in the sixth and ninth grade. These tests are made to make the grading process somewhat equal across the country more than to actually grade the students based on their results.

Both the nine-year compulsory school and the upper-secondary school can be either public or private. The public schools are run by municipalities, and private schools by other organisations, but both are regulated by a government-run institution. This institution makes sure that schools follow the school law, the curriculum and will make inspections when necessary.

To become a teacher, you need a university degree. The length of your university study varies depending on your subjects and the age of the students you aim to teach, but is usually about four years. You can choose whichever subject combinations you want, but some combinations are more attractive to employers than others.

There are inspections of teachers done by the headteacher every now and then, but not on a regular basis. This is done to get a clear view of how the teachers perform and to have a basis for setting the teachers’ salaries. If a teacher gets reported, the government will do additional inspections. 

As a teacher you are expected to educate the students to become democratic members of society. Also, you are to give them the knowledge in your subject/subjects and act as a mentor towards the students, which includes having regular contact with them and their parents.

When it comes to CPD, it differs a lot. Earlier it was common for each teacher to, on a voluntary basis, apply to courses to further develop their profession within their subjects, but as of late, the focus has shifted more to developing teaching methods that could be applied to all subjects by taking part in mandatory workshops.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is comprised of the four nations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 

Education in the United Kingdom is the responsibility of the four nations.  Education policy in England is set by the Department for Education.  Schools can be state-funded or independent.  Schooling is compulsory from ages 5 to 16, with young people aged 16-18 being expected to continue in education until the age of 18.  State-funded schools are arranged in Key Stages, with Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 covering the secondary age-range (11-18 years old).  The state school system includes schools overseen by local authorities and those responsible directly to the Department for Education.

There is a National Curriculum in England, which mandates the subjects and topics children and young people must study until they complete Key Stage 4.  English and music have discrete subject status in the National Curriculum, as does art and design; drama and dance exist as aspects of the English and PE curricula respectively.

Teachers in state maintained schools must hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to take up a teaching post.  There are a variety of routes to achieving QTS, most notably via a one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course with a university or through a one- or two-year employment-based route. 

Schools are typically led by a governing board and managed by a headteacher or principal, a broader senior leadership team, and a number of curriculum and pastoral leaders.



15 Spanish student, 2019.  Students and teachers are cited throughout the toolkit by their nationality, status and the year of the quotation.  This is to protect individuals’ identities.


Further reading:

Wikipedia Education in England

Statistics school and pupil numbers, UK

Collection National Curriculum, UK

Get into teaching, UK

Education in England


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Source: Erasmus+ Project Results Platform