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Expats moving to Vienna with children will need to make important decisions, specifically whether to send their children to an international school or to a public bilingual school. Primary factors to consider are the cost of school fees and the curriculum taught, as well as the location of the school.
As there are many options for education and schooling in Vienna, it is important to know what is available in order to make an informed decision.
Public schools in Vienna
Education in Austria is compulsory between the ages of six and 15. Schooling is separated into four years of Volksschule (primary school), and eight years of Gymnasium (secondary school). The latter is further divided into lower secondary school (four years) and upper secondary school, with vocational or academic training being offered for the final four years.
Registration takes place in March, and most schools have an open house (Schnuppertag) in February, which is when parents can 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.
While standard public schools are not a feasible option for most expats who only plan on spending a short time in the city, bilingual schools are a good alternative. At bilingual schools in Vienna, students are taught in both German and English. These are effectively public schools, so fees are low or non-existent.
However, bilingual schools are popular amongst expats and local Austrians alike, so competition for places is high. There are just a handful of these schools in Vienna so expats are advised to apply for a place as soon as possible.
International schools in Vienna
There are several international schools in Vienna where students are taught in English. They are highly regarded but very expensive. The benefit of attending an international school is that it allows students to continue studying from their home curriculum, and children as well as parents can mix with fellow expat families.
Many expats choose to live in the same neighbourhood as the school their child attends. The transition to a new city is made easier due to the resources and facilities available at the school. However, some would say that the cultural experience of being in a foreign city is limited by expats surrounding themselves with other expats.
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