Education and Schools in Vienna
English vs. German
There are several private schools that are taught in English. They are highly regarded, but very expensive. The benefit of attending one of these institutions is that you are investing in a community for both you and your child. Many expats live in the neighbourhood of these schools. The transition to a new city is made easier due to resources and facilities available at the school. However, some would say that the cultural experience of being in a foreign city does not reach its potential due to the cocooned effect of being surrounded by expats.
The International School
The American School
The Danube School
The Vienna Elementary School
Another popular option is the private French school, Lycee Francais
Public Schools in Vienna
It is mandatory for a child to attend school as of the first September after he/she turns six. Registration for school occurs in March and it is important that your child is registered at that time as schools are only allowed a certain number of children. When that number is reached, you will be turned away.
In February schools have an open house (Schnuppertag) when parents can visit and speak to teachers and directors. Children are not zoned according to where they live - they can attend school anywhere in the city so long as they have been accepted.
Some expats believe that the curriculum is not challenging enough. There is a belief among Austrians that up to a certain age, children learn best through play and should not be bothered with formal learning such as reading (in kindergarten). This hands-on approach gradually diminishes and by secondary school the curriculum is quite rigorous. But by this point children have a fine grasp of reading, writing (with a fountain pen), tactile arts, math, and have benefited from developing fine motor and communication skills.
Primary school, or Volksschule is for four years, and secondary school, or Gymnasium, is for eight years. Public school hours for primary School are 7.45am to 12pm, with some days extending to 1pm. After school care is called the Hort, which is either in the school or nearby. They provide a hot lunch and afterschool care for a small fee.
Vienna Bilingual Schooling (VBS)Part of the public school system, VBS was set up for students to learn in both German and English. There are a handful of schools set up at both the elementary and secondary school level. Children must be capable in both languages to attend.
KindergartenState Kindergartens are free in Vienna. The problem of course is securing a place. There are many options and price ranges in private kindergartens. Montessori education is popular in Vienna, and there are many bilingual and English kindergartens. Subsidies are available and will reduce the cost. Hot lunches are served at an additional cost. Kindergarten is available for children between the ages of 2-6 with some offering spaces for younger children. Apply early, and do your research. Do not expect to arrive in Vienna and have your young children immediately in a kindergarten close to home. Most kindergartens operate from 7.30am to 5.30pm.
A helpful resource is the VBC - the Vienna Babies Club. This is an organization designed to help parents of young children adjust. They provide information and regular social gatherings based on district.
UniversityVienna has nine public and six private universities.