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Reader question: Is home schooling legal in Austria?

Homeschooling is banned or heavily restricted in several European countries. What’s the situation in Austria?

Homeschooling is permitted in Austria according to certain rules. Picture by Element5 on Unsplash
Homeschooling is permitted in Austria according to certain rules. Picture by Element5 on Unsplash

Due to geographical problems accessing schools or the special needs of a child – as well as other practical and ideological differences –  parents have sometimes seen homeschooling as an alternative. 

For parents from other parts of the world, particularly English-speaking countries, they are used to rules for home schooling children which are relatively relaxed.

In Europe however, the rules can be strict – or homeschooling can be banned entirely. 

While it is constitutionally guaranteed in Italy and Ireland, other countries like the Netherlands and Sweden ban the practice.

Neighbouring Germany has completely banned homeschooling, while in Switzerland it depends on the canton. 

EXPLAINED: What are the rules for homeschooling children in Switzerland?

Common justifications for banning homeschooling include a need to ensure children receive the same moral and ideological foundation, a desire to ensure school attendance, a lack of social skills among homeschooled children and concerns about the standard of education.

Can you homeschool your children in Austria? 

Homeschooling is permitted in Austria. A right to homeschool your kids has been enshrined in Austrian law as part of the Compulsory Education Act of 1985.

Private schools or homeschooling must be “at least equivalent” to the education a person receives at state schools. 

Parents who want to homeschool their kids need to inform the regional school board (Bezirksschulrat) at the start of each year. 

Generally, these requests will be approved unless it is established that the homeschooling is not equivalent to that of the public system. 

If the request is rejected, parents can appeal to the local education commission (Landesschulrat) to have their case heard. 

Parents do not need any special qualifications to homeschool their kids. 

Standards are maintained by a requirement for each child to pass annual state exams – the same exams sat by children attending schools. 

If the homeschooled child fails the exam, he or she is required to attend school the following year. 

Is homeschooling common in Austria? 

Although it is legally allowed, homeschooling is relatively rare in Austria. 

Only around 2,300 children are homeschooled in Austria, although this figure has risen since the pandemic – particularly among Covid sceptic parents who oppose vaccinations and/or mask rules.* 

While numbers are uncertain, there are believed to be a handful of German children homeschooled in Austria due to the former country’s ban on the practice. 

Why do people homeschool in Austria? 

Of course, the reasons for homeschooling your kids are the same in every country, but one added element which is relevant to Local readers is the desire to teach your kids in English or another language. 

While this may appeal to parents from elsewhere, keep in mind that the annual exams must be in German. 

*This refers to genuine homeschooling and not students who were taught from home due to Covid-related school closures and associated restrictions. 

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FAMILY

These were Vienna’s most popular baby names in 2021

People born in 2021 will forever be known as pandemic babies, but what about their real names? Here are the most popular baby names in Vienna.

Baby
What would this baby be most likely to be called if they were born in Vienna last year? Photo: Filip Mroz/Unsplash

The City of Vienna has revealed the top baby names from 2021, ahead of Statistics Austria’s publication of the nationwide results in June 2022.

Data from Vienna’s population register was used to determine the most popular baby names in the capital city, with Emilia and Leon taking the top spot for girls and boys respectively, with 112 Emilias and 128 Leons born last year.

For girls, Mia came second (95 babies or 1.1 percent of newborn girls), followed by Lea in third place (90 babies or 1.0 percent). In the boys category, David was in second place (112, 1.2 percent) and Maximilian was third (111, 1.2 percent).

READ MORE: ‘Safety phase’: Which measures will be in place when Austria’s schools reopen?

However, the City of Vienna has published two lists of top baby names – one with the exact registered names and one as a ‘phonetic summary’, including common variations on each name. The latter combines baby names that are spelt differently but sound the same. 

For example, in the phonetic summary of girls’ names, Hanna and Hannah have been combined. This means the name is in third place, but on the “exact spelling” list the name doesn’t even make it into the top 10.

Here are the full results of the most popular names in Vienna in 2021.

In 2020, the most popular baby names in the country were Marie and Jakob, according to Statistics Austria. 

Marie was chosen 734 times (1.8 percent of all female baby names) and Jakob was registered 794 times (1.8 percent), becoming the most popular name for a boy in Austria for the first time.

Marie has been in the top ten most popular girl’s names in Austria every year from 2009 to 2020, but fell out of the top ten last year. 

FOR MEMBERS: How to understand your payslip in Austria

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