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Objections to change in pupil transfer;Briefing

Germany. International.

THE independence of Berlin's education system is threatened by the shift of government from Bonn by summer 1999.

Berlin and neighbouring Brandenburg are the only two federal states where pupils transfer to secondary schools after year 6 (age 11) at primary level. In all others, pupils transfer after year 4.

In Berlin, just 16 out of 127 grammar schools have state permission to take pupils from year 5. All emphasise the classics or music and are highly sought after by parents.

Federal politicians from Bonn, many of whose own children will transfer to Berlin next year, want the entire system changed to match Bonn's more closely.

A compromise move by Berlin's education senator, Ingrid Stahmer, to preserve the system but allow five more grammars to start from year 5 - and give priority for places to pupils from Bonn - has caused uproar. Berlin parents are threatening to take the education authority to court for discrimination.

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