Luckily enough finding a school in Salzburg doesn’t cost anything like finding accomodation and it’s actually a relatively simple process. While the process might be simple though, the educational system in Austria is far from simple. You have my apologies in advance therefore, for the length of this post. The good news is that there are English speaking schools at all levels and if you stick with me, we’ll get there. If you don’t want to stick with me you can go straight to the Useful Links at the bottom of the page where you’ll find the contact details you need for finding a school in Salzburg.
First of all you need to decide what type of school you need for your child.
- Young children up to Age 6 go to Kindergarten.
- Older children between 6 and 9 go to Volskschule.
- Children between 10 and 14 go to Mittelschule or Gymnasium.
- Teenagers and children older than 14 go to either a Gymnasium or may complete school with a 1 year course designed to prepare them for an apprenticeship which they will complete while attending a vocational school or college.
Let’s take a look at each of these in turn and how you need to go about getting your child into a school.
There are 2 English language Kindergardens in Salzburg (that I’m aware of).
You can contact them directly about a place.
Volksschule (Classes 1 to 4)
Volksschule is similar to a primary school and caters for children aged between 6 and 10 for a period of 4 years. Most children go to the Volksschule nearest to where they live. For most school in Salzburg, places are allocated by a central authority based on Mozart Platz in the centre of Salzburg. This link will take you to a webpage describing the process – which is pretty straightforward. You can visit this office any Monday (during term time), between 1:30pm and 4:00pm and register your child. Note that you will need to bring passports and the ‘Anmeldebestätigung’ (proof that you’ve registered to live in Salzburg).
Our youngest goes to Volksschule and we’re very happy with it. The central office allocated us the place on Monday afternoon and we arrived at school next morning at 8.45am. There we met the headmistress who took us to the classroom where our daughter was welcomed by her new teacher. Both were very friendly and didn’t bat an eye-lid at having a new child, who doesn’t speak any German, join in the middle of the year. She receives 4 hours of German tuition per week. At the moment this is one-on-one although that could change if more non-German speaking children arrive.
The worst part of the Volksschule for us is the amount of time she spends there. We came from Cayman where school started at 7:50 in the morning and finished at 2:45. Here in Austria our daughter starts school at 7:50, but finishes at 11:50 and is home by noon. Whatever happened to education as a babysitter? She really enjoys it though, loves her teacher, has made lots of friends and is learning German – which, let’s face it, was one of the reasons we came here.
Getting a place at a Volksschule
This list details all Volksschule managed by this office in Mozart Platz.
Some other schools are not managed by the central office, mainly private, and you will need to apply to them directly. There is one Volksschule which has an English class where lessons are predominantly in English. This is the Praxis Volksschule (this link brings you to the International Class page).
This link details schools not managed by the office at Mozart Platz (mainly private).
Children Aged 10 to 14 (Classes 5 to 8)
In the past, Austrians had a decision to make when a child was 10. Were they academic and should they attend a ‘Gymnasium’, which would prepare them for third level education, or were they practical in which case they should attend a ‘Hauptschule’? It seems ridiculous to me that you would make a decision about a child’s future at such an early age.
So over the past few years the system seems to have changed. It seems quite complicated, but this is my understanding. Many schools have made the change to ‘Neue Mittelschule’ (New Middle Schools) which is aimed at getting children to 14 years of age without them having to make that decision. So now they have a syllabus for the first 4 years of either Gymnasium or the Neue Mittelschule which are quite similar. Having said that, different schools offer different subjects (Latin for example is still taught in the Gymnasium). They hope the process will be completed by the start of academic year 18/19 when all Hauptschule will have fully migrated to the Neue Mittelschule system.
Each Neue Mittelschule selects a theme or strength which they want to pursue:
- Linguistic / Huumanistic
- Scientific / Mathematical
- Economic / Life Skills
- Musical / Creative
The process for getting your child into a Neue Mittelschule is the same as that for the Volksschule and can be found here.
The list of schools managed by the office on Mozart Platz can be found here.
Gymnasium (including English Speaking)
You need apply directly to Gymnasiums as the office on Mozart Platz doesn’t manage them centrally. You’ll find the list here. The schools are called Allgemeinbildende Hoehere Schulen (which is the rather German way of saying ‘High Schools’).
There is one English speaking (or better said Bi-lingual) school in Salzburg called the Salzburg International School (Salis) at Zaunergasse. Zaunergasse itself is a normal Gymnasium which 2 years ago started an International stream. They started with Class 1 (Year 5) and are adding one class each year. So at the moment they have a 1st and 2nd Class (Years 5 and 6). In September 2017 they will have 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
If your child attends a Gymnasium then they have the opportunity to stay there until they complete secondary school (as long as they keep passing their exams each year).
Salzburg International School (Salis)
What Salis is trying to achieve is to offer both the Austrian Matura as well as the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma. There are a mixture of native German speakers and non-German speakers in the class from around the world. The teachers use a mixture of German and English although their emphasis is more on getting native German speakers up to a really good standard of English. The school offers German classes for non-German speakers after the main curriculum is finished for the day. Our daughter is in Year 1 at Salis and has 4 hours of German lessons per week. There are however, quite a few students, all at different levels, in the same class, so it’s not the same one-on-one tuition our younger daughter gets at the Volksschule. We’d recommend additional private lessons on top of what is provided in the school.
Salis accepts a maximum of 25 students into each class. We arrived in Salzburg in January and our daughter got the last place in the class at the time. Students do come and go however so it’s always worth enquiring. There is a fee of €55 per month (10 months per year).
Our daughter is very happy at Salis. She has made lots of friends (from all over the world) and is learning German quite quickly. We’re very happy with the school so far.
Other English Speaking Schools
In addition to Salis, there is another American School of Salzburg, although I’m afraid it’s outside our price bracket.
Nearby St Gilgen (30 minutes from Salzburg) also has an International School, but again it’s just a tad expensive.
If you’re looking for international schools elsewhere in Austria, follow this link.
Children Aged 14+
Children aged 14+ will attend either a Gymnasium (which will bring them to the Matura after which they will likely enter University) or a Hauptschule. If they remain in the Hauptschule, they will complete 1 year of practical studies which will prepare them for the start of an apprenticeship and attendance at a vocational college.
Some Useful Links
- Information on the Austria Educational System as per the help.gv.at website
- English Play Group Kindergarden
- English Play Corner Kindergarden
- How to Enrol your child in a Volksschule or Neue Mittelschule
- List of Volksschule and Neue Mittelschule managed from Mozart Platz
- List of Volksschule not managed from Mozart Platz (Private schools)
- Praxis Volksschule – Volksschule with International Class
- List of Gymnasium schools
- Salzburg International School (Salis)
- The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma
- American School of Salzburg
- International School St Gilgen
- List of International Schools in Austria
- Austrian Education System as per Austrian Migration website
- Graphic explaining the different paths in the Austrian Educational System
As always, feel free to send on any questions and let me know if you find any inaccuracies or anything which needs to be updated.