Raising children in Austria

Updated 2023-07-02 14:52

There are several international schools in Austria, located mainly in Vienna and Salzburg. These schools provide a curriculum based on the American or British system (or occasionally others, such as French, depending on the school) for students in pre-kindergarten through secondary school. Most schools offer the international baccalaureate program, which provides a high standard of education and is recognized by universities worldwide.

The general school system in Austria

Education in Austria is generally free and mandatory for nine years, which means from 6 until the age of 15. After kindergarten, children have to attend the “Volksschule”, compared to elementary school, which will take four years. The children will receive their school books at school. Then you can choose to send your child to the “Mittelschule (MS)”, the Compulsory Secondary School, or the “Allgemeinbildende höhere Schule” AHS (“Gymnasium”), which is compared with the grammar school. If the grades are positive, the adolescents can also transfer to upper secondary school “AHS” after finishing Compulsory Secondary School.

Children who want to take on an apprenticeship, the so-called “Lehre”, might have to go to the polytechnic school for one year, and during the apprenticeship, they have to attend a vocational school in blocks or just one day a week. Even later, for example, as a young adult, they have the opportunity to start an apprenticeship in Austria.

You can also choose to get your A-levels at a secondary vocational school, “Berufsbildende höhere Schule”, or opt for the higher education named “Höhere Schule”. These schools require specific entry demands like an exam and good grades. Last but not least, young adults will have the possibility to go to university.

Public schools in Austria

Overall, public schools in Austria enjoy a good reputation. If your children enter an Austrian secondary school without any knowledge of German, they can attend classes from the beginning. They are usually given at least one year of time to learn German before being graded. Often students can be graded earlier in certain subjects. As school attendance is compulsory, the child must attend school immediately after your arrival in Austria.

International schools in Austria

Private schools can be competitive and offer a high quality of education, so if you are moving to Austria, it is best to apply early to a school for your child to attend. Some local students may attend these schools, but they are mainly designed to cater to international students from expatriate families.

International schools in Austria include:

American International School Vienna

International Christian School of Vienna

American International School Salzburg

Lycée Français de Vienne

Childcare in Austria

If you have young children in Austria, there is a wide range of preschool and childcare facilities that offer a high standard of care, which includes socialization, learning, meals, and supervised playtime. Kindergartens provide supplementary family care for children from the age of three until they start school. Parents can enrol their child in kindergarten through the local council from age five for free, although parents will have to pay for childcare for children younger than five. Many parents also consider the option of a nanny or au-pair, who can live in the home and provide childcare assistance for younger children. Most Austrian residents are eligible to receive a childcare allowance, to assist with the cost of childcare.

Find out more about this subject in our article “Pregnancy in Austria”.

Activities with children in Austria

Austria is very family- and child-friendly, with children welcome in most places. In larger cities, such as Vienna, consider exploring the children's museum, the local amusement park called Prater, and visit one of the many public parks. The Innsbruck area is also popular with families, who can enjoy the Alpine Zoo and outdoor activities, such as hiking, swimming, skiing, and the toboggan course.

In restaurants, children are also welcome, with most restaurants offering child menus or smaller portions for young diners. Children usually enjoy Austrian cuisine, but casual foods such as pizza, sandwiches, and chocolates are also easy to find.

Child adoption policies in Austria

Foreign parents can adopt Austrian children under certain conditions. However, a limited number of children are waiting to be adopted, and there is often a long list of Austrian families. If you do not have personal connections to Austria, the waiting time can be very long. It is therefore recommended to hire an Austrian lawyer with power of attorney who can assist with locating a child for adoption.

Married couples in Austria must adopt jointly, and adopting parents must be at least 18 years older than the child they are adopting. The processing time for adoption is at least 12 months.

Useful links:

Directory of schools (search)

Nursery school – General information

Family-friendly attractions

Teenagers in Austria

Scholaro - School system Austria

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