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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Primary education


5.Primary education

Last update: 28 May 2024


In Austria, children who are age 6 by September 1st are required to begin formal education. In the first four school years, compulsory schooling is generally accomplished by attending primary school. Primary school’s mission is 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 exist:

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


Education policy focuses

The focus of education policy in the primary sector includes:

  • 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 providing individual support,
  • extending school autonomy in decisions regarding the organisation of teaching (classes with homogeneous or heterogeneous age groups) as well as the allocation and the extent of subjects throughout the four years depending on the schools' individual teaching and learning focus,
  • extending all-day schools.

Out of the 2.952 primary schools in Austria (Education in Figures: school year 2022/23), 96 percent are public schools. Their maintenance is almost exclusively within the purview 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 per school year. School textbooks are procured by the schools (in primary schools up to a value of EUR 60 + EUR 9.00 for Religious Education - school year 2024/25) and provided free of charge to the children.

Legislation references