Primary School – Check! What’s next?

Not all children in Germany have the same access to education. Social inequalities are already consolidated at the transition from primary to secondary school, with parents with an immigration background and parents of financially disadvantaged children disproportionately often choosing a regular secondary school like Hauptschule or Realschule in Germany instead of a more demanding grammar school (Gymnasium) for their children’s school career.

Parents’ lack of information regarding the different types of schools and what suits their child best may be one reason for this educational inequality. Especially parents with little knowledge of German often have difficulties fully understanding German-language information material handed out by the school. As a result, some educationally disadvantaged parents do not know how best to make this decision for their children. Therefore, we want to consider together how parents can be better equipped to make this critical decision.

How do parents inform themselves about the possible secondary schools for their children?
Do families from different social milieus have different access to the information?
Which existing information options are used and by whom? And how are decisions made about the transition from primary to secondary school?
How can parents be reached outside of school?
How can the children’s wishes be better taken into account?
How can parents with an immigration background or financially disadvantaged parents be mainly addressed (e.g. language offers)?

Must-Read – the team should read this before the Kick-Off. Additional English literature may be available at request.

Rainer Werner (2020), Wir müssen Schüler mit Migrationshintergrund endlich mitnehmen, Artikel in „Die Welt“ vom 27.01.2020, online abrufbar:

Kinder- und Jugendmigrationsreport 2020 des Deutschen Jugendinstituts,

Ellen Greaves, Iftikhar Hussain, Birgitta Rabe und Imran Rasul (2021), Parental Responses to Information About School Quality: Evidence from Linked Survey and Administrative Data, Arbeitspapier,

Scientific Partner

Supporting Researchers

Friederike Hertweck

Photo: RWI

Dr Friederike Hertweck has been a researcher at RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen since October 2020. She previously completed her doctorate in higher education economics at the University of Bolzano in Italy. Her research focuses on educational decisions and the institutional framework conditions in higher education, such as tuition fees and admission procedures.

Lisa Höckel

Photo: RWI

Lisa Sofie Höckel has been working as a researcher in the research group “Migration and Integration” and the competence area “Labour Markets, Education, Population” at RWI since May 2015. She studied political economy at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. She completed her Master’s degree at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen and at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She received her doctorate from the Ruhr University Bochum in July 2019.