Was your little one born between the 1st of October 2017 and the 30th of September 2018? A very significant moment in their lives is fast approaching – the start of their schooling! Do you know what else is right around the corner? The deadline to enroll them at school. We take you through everything you need to know so that your child’s Schulanmeldung, or school registration process, in Berlin goes as smoothly as possible.
When do I have to register my child to start school in Berlin in 2024?
There’s a registration period for Schulanmeldung and this year, it’s almost upon us: 9th – 20th October 2023.
Does my child have to be registered for next year?
Yes! In Berlin, as in the rest of Germany, school registration is compulsory by law. Children born between the aforementioned dates will become schulpflichtig, that is to say, of compulsory school attendance age, on the 1st of August 2024.
Where do I go to register?
The registration process takes place at the school associated with your residential zone – this is called your Einzugsschule. You will undoubtedly receive all this information by post, including information from your Einzugsschule, but here it is in English: use this website, type in your current address, choose it from the dropdown menu and it will spit out your Einzugsschule (or maybe more than one, in which case, pick one). Then, check the school’s website, because they will probably designate certain windows of time in which you can register, e.g. Mon, Tues and Thurs between 10 and 12 noon, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-3pm. If you come at another time, they’ll tell you to come back later.
What can I expect on the day?
Registration is free and usually takes about 20 minutes. There’s a form to fill out (you probably received it by post) and some questions to answer.
Reminder: This is not necessarily going to be the school your child eventually attends – that is finalised later in the process. The Einzugsschule is basically passing on your information to the Schulamt and the Schulamt figures out where every child should go to school by around April of the following year.
What should I do if I am unsure which school I want my child to attend?
The Schulamt allocates places in Berlin schools, usually by proximity and availability of places. There are absolutely no guarantees in this respect. If you want your child to attend a different school, you apply to the Schulamt (this is called an Umschulungsantrag) and give your reasons – for example, a private school has offered you a place, another school caters better to foreign language students or another child in your household already attends another school. Either way, you should still register your child at your Einzugsschule to begin with.
What happens if I move house before the start of the next school year?
You should still register your child at your Einzugsschule between 9-20 October, even if you will move house soon. Once you register your child at your new address, send your Ummeldung (re-registration certificate, basically a new Anmeldung) to the Schulamt. They then register your child at the appropriate school.
“eine schulärztliche Untersuchung” – what does that mean?
Your child will have a school medical examination before they start school. You will receive further information on this at their school registration appointment, but it is important to note that it is legally required. You can book an appointment online – they’re set to release the appointments on the website on around 10 October this year. The aim of this appointment is to check that your child is physically and mentally ready for the next step of their development at the Grundschule. It examines body and motor coordination as well as language and conversation skills.
If you or your child would like the support of an English-speaking interpreter at the medical examination, you can book a Red Tape translator to go with you.
I think my child would be best at Kita for another year. How can I defer?
You should still register your child at your Einzugsschule between 9-20 October. If you are considering holding your child back, you can indicate it on the form. Then you apply for Zurückstellung (to have them held back) for a year, if necessary for their development. Expect to get a written statement from their Kita (childcare centre) and from the Schularzt (a doctor who works for the department of health and assesses suitability to begin school – more on that below), and justify your decision with your own statement. You’ve got until the end of February 2024 to submit all of this. The Schulaufsicht (school advisory board) for your district examines all three statements and makes a final decision.
Once you’ve registered, you wait with bated breath. If you want your child to go to a school that’s not your Einzugsschule, such as a private school, you submit an Umschulungsantrag. You’ll get a letter in the post in around April 2024 with information about your child’s school. If you’re not happy, you may choose to get a lawyer involved as quickly as you can to make sure you meet the right deadlines for objection.
Once your child has a confirmed place at a school, then they can look forward to their first day, or Einschulungsfeier – a celebration to welcome children into schooling!
If communication in German will be an issue, we can help! The Berlin authorities suggest bringing an interpreter to either the school registration, the medical examination, or both. We would be delighted to accompany you! Whether it’s to the Schulanmeldung appointment or the school doctor’s appointment, we ensure that the day runs as smoothly as possible for both you and your child.