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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Primary education


5.Primary education

Last update: 1 June 2023


In Austria, general compulsory schooling starts on 1 September following a child’s sixth birthday. In the first four school years, compulsory schooling is generally accomplished by attending primary school. Primary school has the mission to provide a common primary education for all pupils in the first four school years with due consideration of the social integration of children with disabilities.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction in Austria is German. The following exceptions apply:

  • schools specifically designated for linguistic minorities,
  • private schools which select their pupils by language,
  • schools which – upon approval by the school authority of first instance – use a modern foreign language as their language of instruction (working language).

Education policy focuses

The focus of the education policy in the primary sector is on:

  • enhancing equality of opportunity in access to education irrespective of the first language or a disability,
  • newly regulating the transition from kindergarten to primary school by recording and considering the level of development and language skills of each individual child with a view to individual support,
  • extending school autonomy in decisions regarding the organisation of teaching (classes with homogeneous or heterogeneous age groups) and the pupils’ performance assessment (numerical marks or descriptions),
  • extending all-day schools.

Of the 2,953 primary schools in Austria (school year: 2021/22), more than 96 percent are public schools. Their maintenance is almost exclusively within the sphere of competence of the respective municipalities or associations of municipalities. The remaining four percent are private schools maintained by religious communities (mostly the Roman Catholic Church) and various associations. Public compulsory schools do not charge tuition fees. For public transport, a contribution of EUR 19.60 needs to be paid per pupil and school year. School textbooks are procured by the schools (in primary schools up to a value of EUR 50) and provided free of charge to the children.

Legislation references