Compulsory schooling in Austria begins in the September following the child’s sixth birthday. Children turning six after August 31st are not officially of school age until the following September. Before starting school, children must pass a school readiness test (Schulreifetest).
Parents whose children were born between August 31st and March 1st can apply for early school enrolment at the school of their choice, providing the child passes the Schulreifetest and fulfils all of the statutory requirements. Children who are six but are not ready to go to school can attend a separate pre-school class, or be pre-schooled together with Year 1 children, or even in some cases pre-school together with Years 1 and 2. These children follow a different curriculum and get extra help where needed.
A German language skills assessment (MIKA-D test) is now part of the Schulreifetest. If a child’s level of German is not enough then German language support is offered, either parallel to regular lessons or in a separate language class, for up to fifteen hours a week. A child can be enrolled under special circumstances; this means they are not graded for up to two years, or until their German skills have improved enough for a fair assessment.
Public school enrolment
Enrolment takes place at the chosen school and the registration process begins in the preceding academic year, usually during the course of the winter term. Information regarding the exact timing of the enrolment period can be obtained from the school or from the Board of Education for Vienna. If a child becomes a resident of Vienna during the course of an academic year, parents should make contact with the department responsible for school place allocation.
A child must be registered as resident in the city of Vienna in order to start the school enrolment process at a public school.
A child can only be enrolled at ONE school. School places for the coming school year cannot be reserved outside of the official enrolment period. While most private schools require you to register your child several years in advance, it is not possible to do so for a public school.
All children between the ages of six and fifteen years of age have the legal right to a place at a public school close to their place of residence and/or at a public school where a sibling is already a registered pupil. It is, however, possible to register a child at another school, depending on the availability of school places.
You will need to follow the procedure outlined below to enroll your child at a public school:
- Towards the end of the calendar year, a letter from the Board of Education for Vienna (Einladung zur Schülereineschreibung) will be sent to parents outlining the process of enrolling a child in a public primary school. This letter provides instructions on the steps to take and includes a list of the documents required. However, it is highly recommended that you visit potential schools before this time, either on open days (Tag der Wiener Schulen) or by contacting the Head Teacher directly to arrange the visit.
- The school enrolment period takes place over two weeks in January/February. During this time, you should make an enrolment appointment with the Head Teacher of the school you wish your child to attend. The test of school readiness is usually done at the same time.
Allocation of school places in a primary school is the sole responsibility of the department for school place allocation of the Board of Education for Vienna. Detailed information about the educational system in Austria in English and German is available on the website of the Austrian Ministry for Education as well as on the website of the City of Vienna.