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13/09/2011Education in Luxembourg: Primary and secondary schools
Here is our guide to the education system in Luxembourg, with information on European, international and national schools.
The Luxembourg constitution allows the state to organise education. This means most schools are public and tuitions do not have to be paid. There are, however, some private schools that follow a similar programme.
Early learning is available and is aimed at children from the age of three. It helps children to learn how to socialise. It is especially helpful to children from expat families to help them integrate properly. Early learning is not mandatory, but it is higly recommended by the Ministry of Education. No child can be refused for reasons of race, sex, language or religion.
Children must be aged three on 1 September to enroll at a nursery school, and be registered on the citizens' register of the Bureau de Population. Education is usually provided in Luxembourgish. Usually, parents receive an enrollment letter from the commune where they reside, which must be sent back before 1 April. Newcomers to Luxembourg should contact their local Municipal office for information on the enrollment procedures.
Your kids will start primary school at the age of six, and this will last six years. It is typical for their schedule on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to start at eight in the morning until four in the afternoon. However, at noon they are given two hours for lunch; this allows most kids to eat at home with their family. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, school finishes at noon.
After primary, the children move on to secondary school. This usually last seven years, but children will legally be allowed to leave school at the age of 15. They receive either general or technical education and complete their studies with examinations. The general education is a preparation for higher education. There are two divisions; a lower and an upper level. Technical education has three cycles; the first allows them to learn a trade, the second leads to an aptitude certificate and the last includes technical instruction that prepares them for a university course.
If your children are not fluent in French or German but they are young, they are likely to pick up the new languages quickly in primary school. At a typical school in Luxembourg your children benefit from learning all three administrative languages. They will learn to read and write in German from the first year in primary school. In their second year, they will learn French and then Luxembourgish grammar. Therefore, at the age of eight, your children will be learning three languages.
German is the main language in primary school and the first few years of secondary education. French is the dominant language in classical secondary education. In secondary school, they will also learn English and a second language of choice. The number of hours they spend learning languages accounts for half of the time they are taught during their whole education. Religion, moral and social classes are also compulsory classes.
If your children are slightly older and not fluent in both German and French, there are alternatives to the Luxembourgish system: two European schools, a French Lycée and two international schools.
The Luxembourg European school is the largest school in the country, and was one of the first European schools. The school is located in the Kirchberg area of Luxembourg City. A second European school (Luxembourg II) was built in the nearby Mamer region.
The Lycée Vauban, in Luxembourg City’s Limpertsberg district, meets the needs of fluent French students.
The International School of Luxembourg (ISL) is another school in the capital. It boasts a modern, central campus, with students of more than 45 nationalities and faculty from over 20 countries. . Primary school starts at the age of three, and education continues from grade one to five in primary and six to 12 in secondary.
ISL leads its students towards the globally recognised International Baccalaureate or IB certificate. For non-English speakers, an English as an Additional Language programme helps students integrate into the curriculum and social life at school. The school also hosts several after-school activities for those who want to practice their mother-tongue. There are courses in Japanese, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Italian, German and Icelandic. Other activities include sports and choral, as well as instrumental music.
The second international option is St Georges International School, recently moved to a newly built school in Hamm. The school is a member of the European Council of International Schools and COBIS (The Council for British Independent Schools). Education starts at the age of three and students usually graduate at the age of 18. The system, however, is similar to the UK curriculum. For this reason, British children make up most of the student body. The school has a reputation amongst international families in Luxembourg for being a very welcoming institution. The education of the students is enriched by the provision of a number of after-school clubs and social activities.
The Luxembourg Ministry of Education provides a service for newly arrived pupils in Luxembourg, known as the CASNA (Cellule d'accueil scolaire pour élèves nouveaux arrivants). CASNA helps to assess the most suitable school for children who speak a foreigh language, and provide information in a number of languages (including English) for parents.
Comprehensive information on the Luxembourg school system from the Luxembourg Ministry of Education is available here: http://www.men.public.lu/publications/enfants_etrangers/pub_anglais/081021_casna_anglais/081021_casna_en_web.pdf
Check out this useful PDF in English for foreign parents and students, prepared by the Education Department.
Petya Vetseva / Expatica
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