In Germany it is compulsory to attend school between the ages of 6 and 15, although the school systems in the various federal states can differ. In NRW compulsory education starts with primary school (years 1-4).
Then pupils have the choice between 3 different types of school in Germany's multi-track educational system:
"Hauptschule" (ends after year 9 or 10 with a certificate called "Hauptschulabschluss"), "Realschule" (ends after year 10 with the certificate "Realschulabschluss") and "Gymnasium" (ends after year 12 or 13 with the certificate "Abitur"). In addition there are comprehensive schools called "Gesamtschule" which cover all stages of secondary education (all school-leaving certificates).
State schools are free in Germany. In the field of general education, there are only a few private or international schools that charge fees. The local school authority can provide information about the particulars of the school system in your area.
The choice of school is usually made after a personal visit and consultation with a member of the school leadership team. The academic year begins after the summer holidays in August or September, depending on the federal state. In Germany, most classes are held during the morning hours. However, North Rhine-Westfalia is currently expanding diverse forms of day schooling.