"Life without school in Austria"
Brief info about homeschooling/ home education in Austria, EU, Europe.
For up-to-date informaion (May 2012) see www.freilerner.at (in German, but you can surely write in English through the contact form).
The author of this site was a home-educating parent in Austria, leaning towards the autonomous approach despite the testing and curriculum, portraying the situation as good as she can while not being a lawyer nor a translator.
For further information, you're welcome to write in English, Russian, French, Spanish and German of course, using the contact form.
1. Compulsory Schooling in general
In Austria, school is compulsory from September after a child's sixth birthday, for the duration of nine years (up to age 14/15).
Actually, though that wording is used in legal publications, there is no compulsory school attendance, but rather compulsory lessons/teaching.
There are four possibilities to fulfill that duty:
- attendance of a public school
- attendance of a private school with "public rights"
- attendance of a private school without "public rights"
- "domestic lessons" (homeschooling)
The base is the state curriculum, but some private schools with "public rights" have had other curricula approved of as equal.
2. Schooling subjected to outside/additional testing
There are two groups that are not allowed to assess their pupils by themselves - private schools without "public rights" and homeschoolers.
Those children are subjected to yearly exams conducted at selected public schools (one can choose from schools all over the country, no matter the place of residence).
The exams are there to make sure that the children did master the curriculum requirements for the according stage.
If they pass, they can continue (or not) like before, if they fail, they have to repeat the entire year at a puplic school or a private one with "public rights".
3. "Domestic Lessons", Homeschooling, Home Education
Homeschooling is called "Häuslicher Unterricht", which means, literally, "Domestic Lessons/Teaching".
It has to be applied for each school year (actually before the beginning of it) by the parent/legal guardian, and approved of by the local school autorities.
The children can get the same books as pupils, paying the same 10% of the regular price.
They can not use public transportion for free, which pupils can on their way to and from school.
There is no funding available yet.
As among homeeducators all over the world, there are different reasons why families choose that route, and are using different approaches. From religious (christian or other) to secular, from "school-at-home" to autonomous/child-led learing. Also, there are quite a few austrian families living (mostly) abroad, returning to fullfill the testing requirements only.