My son is in the equivalent of 6th grade in the USA. He goes to a gymnasium, which means he is being schooled for the university route in Austria. 4th grade is a big deal over here because those report cards basically decide if you are university material, plus additional testing...and personal interviews. Stress. At the age of 10. At an older age you can try retesting again to get into a better school, BUT I really think those students are at a disadvantage by then and it is even harder at that point.
The system is that you can only apply to 1 school at a time. And yes, there is official government paperwork to keep track of it all. If your child does not get into the 1st choice of school, then it is a scramble to see what the availability is at other schools. And after that...well then, your neighborhood school is required to accept students from the neighborhood or the town officials assign a school based on remaining availability. This is basically my understanding of the whole process.
So, my son got into his 1st choice gymnasium and started last year This is year 2. They have a full schedule including lots of Math, German, Biology, Physics, Geometry, etc. It is normal for him to study 12 hours for a Math test. And English? I can have a full conversation with any of his classmates (age 12) and they hold their own...as a 2nd language. Next year they started French.
Hard core, right? No time for the Arts? Wrong! He still has several hours of gym EVERY week (thankfully). A big outdoor recess every day, plus a smaller pause. The German class is going to a children's production at the theater in a week or so. He has 3D Art where they make things with clay, wood, or sew.
And they still have drawing, painting Art. I am thankful for all of this because it gives his mind a break from stressfull studies and allows him to relax...and create.
His Art teacher told me that he gets very caught up on smaller details...I would say it is almost a form of meditation for him. He does not have to be the best artist to please the teacher. So no stress! She is looking for involvement and creativity.
Above is a photo of his water color, with details in fine line marker, that he brought back to school today. It is a group project because 2 other classmates will be adding their segments to the picture. Homework in Art!
I am a strong believer of keeping Arts in schools. I read more and more about schools cutting the Arts and I just do not agree! Art is just as important as any other subject. Keeping Art on the schedule does not hold my son's class back in any other subject. I would say they are all doing well. So fight to keep Art in schools!
The Art teacher gave them the picture below for inspiration.