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Newcomers : how does the Luxembourgian education system work?

You have just arrived in Luxembourg and would like to inquire about the Luxembourgian educational system ? You are an expatriate and don't know in which school you should enroll your children or what procedure to follow?

Just Arrived explains here the rudiments according to the information provided on the website of the Ministry of National Education, Childhood and Youth!

In Luxembourg, education is compulsory. The compulsory schooling period covers twelve full-time years (preschool, basic and secondary education). Every child in age of compulsory schooling must be registered in a school, regardless of the parents’ status. No child may be denied, no matter its origin, sex, language or religion.

  1. Basic education (3-11 years)

In Luxembourg, basic education is provided by public schools, private schools and European schools. It concerns children aged from 3 to 11 years. Every child living in Luxembourg from the age of 4 years before the 1st September must attend the basic school. Children aged 3 years before the 1st September can, if the parents wish so, attend an early education class. All municipalities offer this optional year.

Basic education is organized in four learning cycles.

Cycle 1 corresponds to pre-school education, generally extends over three years and is aimed at children from 3 to 5 years old. The first year (early education) is optional. Parents must address the department of education or the secretariat of their municipality of residence.

Cycles 2 to 4 correspond to primary education. Parents must address the department of education or the secretariat of their municipality of residence.

  • Cycle 2 is for children from 6 to 7 years old
  • Cycle 3 is for children from 8 to 9 years old
  • Cycle 4 is for children from 10 to 11 years old

Each cycle lasts in principle two years. At the end of each cycle, the student must have acquired the key competences, i.e. the learning objectives, in order to get to the next cycle.

In exceptional cases, a student can go through a cycle in one year or will need three years to achieve the defined skills. This organization allows more flexibility concerning the learning management. The practical management of the organization of the cycle belongs to the schools. In the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, basic education is provided by public, private or international schools.

Currently, there are 156 public fundamental schools in Luxembourg, across the 105 municipalities of the country.

Among those 156 public fundamental schools, some offer alternative pedagogical approaches.

This is the case of the following schools :

  • Eis Schoul > a research school with inclusive education in Luxembourg-Kirchberg,
  • Jean-Jaurès > all-day school, in Esch-sur-Alzette.
  •  The private school Notre-Dame (Sainte-Sophie) > which offers classes applying the same program as the Luxembourgian public schools, as well as classes (from the first year of kindergarten to the CM2 class) which apply the French official programs.

The following private basic schools apply another program as the official program, while receiving grants from the State :

  • Charlemagne School
  • French school of Luxembourg (EFL)
  • Maria Montessori school
  • Fräi-ëffentlechWaldorfschoul Lëtzebuerg
  • International School of Luxembourg (ISL)
  • Over The Rainbow
  • St. George's International School Luxembourg

To these schools are to be added the nursery and primary classes of the two European schools of Luxembourg : the European school of Luxembourg I in Kirchberg and the European school of Luxembourg II, in Mamer.

  1. Secondary education

In the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, secondary and secondary technical education are provided by public institutions (mainly high schools), private institutions (applying the official programs from the Ministry), or other private institutions applying another program, as well as by European schools.

Newcomers aged 12 years and older must contact the CASNA (Cellule d’accueil scolaire pour élèves nouveaux arrivants), a reception center for new students, to be guided towards the school that best matches their profile and skills.

Public schools are aimed at adolescents from 12 years old. Up to 16 years, education is compulsory. A complete cycle in high school, without any grade repetition, includes 6 to 8 years. Various international and private schools offer other schooling possibilities, which include : the Francophone kindergarten and primary school and the Lycée Vauban (French language training), the International School of Luxembourg (English language training) and the European school (different language sections for children of European institutions officials).

In public education, there are two sections :

  • the so-called “classic” secondary education (ES),including studies, with a duration of seven years, leading to a secondary school diploma, and which primarily prepares to university studies ;
  • the technical secondary education (EST),which includes different training plans for a period of six to eight years depending on the selected orientation. Technical secondary education also includes the preparatory stream, a specific educational path for students who have not acquired the key skills required at the end of the cycle 4 of the basic education.

There are currently 32 public schools and 5 private high schools following the same programs. All apply the official program of the Ministry for the taught content, the assessment, the school time organization, etc. Each school may, however, in the context of its autonomy, offer specific classes or measures.

There are also alternative public institutions, which prefer an educational approach according to the needs and/or expectations of certain groups of students.

Within these public schools, several programs are offered to the newcomers in the country, this is for example the case of :

  • "German as foreign language" (ALLET) : the ALLET classes welcome pupils from the lower grades (7th to 5th) having a very good level in French and mathematics, but some weaknesses in German. German teaching is reinforced there with two weekly lessons. (also see the section Education of foreign students)
  • “French PLUS” : the “French PLUS” classes are intended for students who have a good general level, but who have weaknesses in French. In the 7th, 6th and 5th classes, students take two additional French lessons every week as a support beside the ordinary course.
  • International English/French baccalaureate : the International Baccalaureate diploma is a classic baccalaureate offered by 2210 high schools in 138 countries around the world. The degree offered at the technical high school of the Center and at the Athénée of Luxembourg is recognized by the Luxembourgian law as equivalent to a high school diploma.
  • The reception classes address students from 12 to 15 years arriving in the country and knowing neither German nor French. They follow an intensive French course and introductory courses of Luxembourgish.
  • The inclusive classes are intended for students who have acquired a good academic level in their country of origin, but who are not mastering or only a little the languages taught in Luxembourg. They follow there an intensive instruction in French (STF classes) or in German (STA).
  • Reception classes for young adults - CLIJA : These are reception classes for the 16- to 17-years-olds, recently arrived in the country.
  • Other schools for children with special needs are present in Luxembourg (speech therapy centers, integration centers, institutes for visually impaired or autistic disorders, institutes for children with cerebral palsy, etc... > info)

More info > here