If you’re moving to Luxembourg, here’s a guide to help enroll your child into the Luxembourg school system from primary to secondary school.
Understanding the education system in Luxembourg can be a daunting task; it can be more difficult if there’s a language barrier. However, you can choose from a range of national and international schools to enroll your child in the education system in Luxembourg.
The government runs most schools in Luxembourg for free. School is mandatory between ages 4 to 16 years old. Nearly every school is a multilingual melting pot of French, German, Luxembourgish, and some English. This guide takes you through the options of Luxembourg’s fundamental education from age 3 to 11 years old as well as secondary education from ages 12 to 17 or 18 years old.
Fundamental Education in Luxembourg (enseignement fondamental) is a concept combining pre-school and elementary schools. There are four cycles or grade levels each child goes through beginning at about age three or four and ending at age 11. The enrolment age for each cycle breaks down into the following groups:
- 1: children ages 3 to 5
- 2: ages 6 to 7
- 3: ages 8 to 9
- 4: ages 10 to 11
Luxembourg education: Cycle 1
Cycle 1 is an early childhood education that begins with an optional year and ends with two mandatory pre-school years. These pre-school years consist mostly of working on a child’s social skills and learning Luxembourgish as a way to communicate (beyond the most basic phrases in Luxembourgish, of course). Gradually, topics covered include logic and mathematical reasoning, sensory development, learning about health and body, cultural and life values. Cycle 1 courses are usually Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8am to 4pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8am to 11:45am. Children usually come home for lunch; if both parents work, then lunch is available at the Maison Relais (Foyer du Jour) daycare facility near the school grounds. The school year generally begins on 15 September and ends on 15 July each year.
While the first year is optional, it’s important to maintain their presence in class once they start. The two mandatory years (pre-school) are for children turning four years of age before 1 September. Admissions usually begin in August. If a family moves to Luxembourg later in the year, admission begins in the upcoming quarter. The norm is to register your child at least three months before school begins. To enroll, go to your commune’s education department (Service de l’Enseignement) and bring family residence certificates, the child’s birth certificate, as well as a registration form.
Luxembourg education: Cycle 2 to 4
These primary school or elementary school cycles each last two years. At the end of each cycle, students must acquire a set of key learning skills in order to advance. Up to age six, the learning focus is about increasing attention span, motor skills through games and puzzles, with light sums and lettering. After age 6, education focuses on literacy in addition to learning languages like German, French, and Luxembourgish. All schools use the same textbooks for mathematics, science, natural science, and history.
Music, culture, community life, and behavior are other available subjects. Art and recreational activities are part of the school system. Some optional classes after school hours focus on specific topics are known as controlled studies. Also, two hours of study is either for religious studies or moral social studies. Before and after-school care is available from the Maison Relais with daily activities.
Like Cycle 1, the school year generally begins on 15 September and ends on 15 July. School transport is free throughout Luxembourg. Classes run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8am to 4pm with a break between noon and 2pm; on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they run from 8am to noon.
These cycles are available at public, private, and international schools in Luxembourg. There are just over 150 fundamental schools in Luxembourg. To register, go to the municipality secretary or service of education of the school district, depending on the location. The family must provide the registration certificate, the child’s birth certificate, as well as the registration form. Similar to Cycle 1, changing schools is also possible in writing.
Advancing early or prolonging a cycle are both possible. There is also individualized support for students with learning disabilities.
Fundamental schools are public and usually chosen by the town of residence where you live in Luxembourg. Your family must register in the municipality as a resident to attend school. If you enroll your child outside of your school district, however, parents must request this in writing from the local school municipality department. Reasons of child custody, family workplace location, or moving to another location are a few examples. Prepare for a possible waitlist and a fee for out-of-district enrolment. Keep in mind that children across the country are learning from the same textbooks and working at the same pace. Individual school ratings are private, however, and are unavailable to parents. Children are also free to attend early education in schools abroad, private schools, and European or international schools.
Luxembourgish and integrating with multilingual schools
In Luxembourg, the communication language is Luxembourgish (in Cycle 1). At school, literacy is taught in German in Cycle 2, French in Cycle 3, and basic school teaching languages are a combination of Luxembourgish, German and French by Cycle 4.
If you’re from a country with no knowledge of these languages, consider an intensive home course before your child enrolls. The goal with home courses is to begin schooling for your child with the linguistic background necessary for following regular classes. In addition, it helps integrate them better with their peers and students in their age group. These are host courses, and Luxembourg offers an array of options. From intensive learning German with an introduction to French, to the other way around, or an initial learning of Luxembourgish, the number of language lessons gradually decreased and are replaced with the actual school courses taught in the new languages. For even more information, here is a list of language courses in Luxembourg.
What comes next
At the end of Cycle 4, students go to the next step of school that best matches their aspirations and abilities. National tests (les épreuves communes) in German, French, and Mathematics are sat in March, in order to understand your child’s progress in relation to all the other sixth year children in Luxembourg. Classical system schools, called lycées, focus on preparing students for university. The years offer the general foundation of courses within the topics of human sciences, literature, mathematics, and natural sciences. On the other hand, technical system schools (Lycées techniques) pursue studies at more focused vocational careers. This is determined by a combination of factors, such as the student’s personal expected levels of proficiency, their results of tests, their interests and strengths, and the parents’ opinion.
Private and alternative fundamental schools
The Luxembourg government set up several new schools outside of the mainstream public systems, with innovative teaching methods like the Lycée Ermesinde, Eis Schoul, the École de la 2e chance, and the Deutsch-Luxemburgisches Schengen-Lyzeum Perl. International and private fundamental schools also opened, and new pedagogical education methods expanded into other options for learning. In 2015, Luxembourg had 156 public basic schools, some with alternative educational approaches such as:
- Eis Schoul: www.eisschoul.lu
- Jean-Jaurès: continuous day school in Esch-sur-Alzette: www.ecolejeanjaures.lu
- Notre Dame (St. Sophia) private school offers the same curriculum as public schools with an emphasis on French as the lingua franca: www.epnd.lu
- Deutsch-Luxemburgisches Schengen-Lyzeum Perl is an all-day private school with an emphasis on German and Luxembourgish as the multi-lingua franca and German study system: www.schengenlyzeum.eu
The following private schools apply a different curriculum than public schools, and also receive subsidies from the state to make enrollment affordable.
- Eschool Charlemagne: www.ecole-charlemagne.org
- Vauban French School of Luxembourg (EFL) www.vauban.lu
- Maria Montessori School: www.ecole-montessori.lu/
- Fräi-ëffentlech Waldorfschoul Lëtzebuerg: www.waldorf.lu
- International School of Luxembourg (ISL): www.islux.lu
- Over The Rainbow: www.overtherainbowschool.lu
- St. George’s International School Luxembourg: www.st-georges.lu
European School of Luxembourg in Kirchberg and Mamer are private-sponsored public schools controlled jointly by the governments of the Member States of the European Union with a European perspective on multilingual and multicultural education for nursery, primary, and secondary level students.
Secondary education: Lycées and Lycées techniques
At the end of fundamental school, or primary/elementary, students are directed to a secondary school, called lycées that best matches their aspirations and abilities. Most lycées have viewing days where prospective students can tour the campus as well as receive information about courses.
About 40% of students from primary school move on to Lycées secondaire, also known as the classical system school. This school system is for students intending to go to university. Studies offer a general foundation of courses within the topics of human sciences, literature, mathematics, and natural sciences.
The remaining 60% attend technical system schools, called Lycées techniques, pursue studies at more focused vocational careers like technician, engineering, accountancy, nursing, medicine, architecture, etc., and are still eligible for university as well. A combination of factors determines which school is the most suitable for a student. The student’s personal expected levels of proficiency, their results of tests, as well as the parents’ opinion are the main influences.
Enrolling in secondary school
Each lycée must accept any child living in its region, however, parent must still submit an application. The usual choice is for children to attend the secondary school closest to home. However, enrolling in a school elsewhere must be confirmed by your local municipal director.
Registration takes place at schools in summer between mid-June and early July. A listing of all secondary schools in Luxembourg is available here. When enrolling your child after deciding which secondary school to attend, they need the following:
- An avis d’orientation, from the initial lycée orientation provided by the current primary school teacher.
- A copy grade results from the first half of year 6, provided by the current primary school teacher.
- A completed registration form, available from the lycée or the lycée’s website.
- Extrait de registre de la population, your child’s proof of residence.
Secondary school usually lasts seven years. Children may legally leave school at the age of 15 with either a general or technical education after their examinations. The general education is a preparation for higher education, whereas the technical education allows them to learn a trade, receive an aptitude certificate and technical instruction to prep for an applicable university course.
Courses of Lycée Classique
The numerical titles of years descend, starting with year 7 and counting down to one. The initial year is an adjustment year for students to transition from primary to secondary education. It also helps determine whether the classique system is appropriate for the student. Following this, subjects in the first three years are languages, mathematics, history, art, music, natural science, physical education, geography, religious and moral instruction, or moral and social education.
Tests occur throughout the year and determine student’s progress. Students can choose to study English or Latin in year six, and some learn English in year five. Year four also helps shape direction as to what options students concentrate on for the next year. Students repeat what they’ve learned up to now, while biology, physics, chemistry, and economics are introduced. French is the lingua franca of teachers.
Years three, two, and one hone in on the specialization of students that will direct them towards a future career. There are seven subject categories, including topics such as:
- A: Languages
- B: Mathematics and Computer Science
- C: Natural Science and Mathematics
- D: Economics and Mathematics
- E: Visual Arts
- F: Music
- G: Humanities and Social Sciences
The national examinations of written and oral tests are at the end of the final year. In fact, they make up two-thirds of the marks for the Diplôme de fin d’études secondaires.
Lycée Technical courses
Technical lycée gives access to higher education and for professional life. Subjects are taught in German (in classique lycee, it is French), although students still learn French and English. The years of study are numbered in ascending order, opposite to the classique; students begin with their seventh year and end in their thirteenth. Obligatory education ends at year nine.
In years seven through nine, students complete their general understanding of topics matching their interests. Practical classes, work experience, workshops, as well as visits to businesses are possible. Year seven consolidates core subjects (e.g., language, math, science, history) in parallel to technical subjects (e.g., mechanics, electronics, textiles) in their eighth year, English, physics, and chemistry are added to the criteria. Test scores, participation, homework, and general attitude are all factors evaluated throughout the year.
In year nine, there are distinct levels such as:
- Théorique (9TE) is technical training and theory; English and mathematics, German, and French are prominent.
- Pratique (9PR) is vocational training with a practical emphasis; German and French are prominent.
- Polyvalente (9PO) is a balance of the top two that emphasizes on all three languages with German or French a first language.
Mandatory education finishes at the end of the ninth year. Most go on to earn a qualification degree.
After Year 9 at a Lycée Technical
Students who pass Théorique (9TE) go on to Régime Technique and its following categories:
- Technique Générale: A four-year course of mathematics, general, and technical education
- Administrative et Commerciale: A four-year course split into two parts, Cycle Moyen (Year 10 and 11) offers a general education plus administrative skills, health paramedical, and educational professions. Cycle Supérieur (Year 12 and 13) specialized commercial studies. Studying educational includes working in institutions with children, adults, the elderly, or special needs. Further studies are necessary for students considering a career as a social worker, psychologist, or sociologist.
- Professions de Santé et Professions Sociales: Five years leaning towards a vocation in the health or social services, from nursing to veterinary, surgeon, or pharmacist.
Students who pass 9TE or 9PO can go on further to the Régime Technicien, a four-year commitment combining theoretical study with practical experience. Students graduate with a Diplôme de Technician. Common fields of work include administration, art, agriculture, chemistry, electronics, engineering, hospitality management, IT, and mechanics.
Lastly, Régime Professionnel is an apprenticeship scheme available to all students who graduated their ninth year. Training is in the form of a 12-week internship or apprenticeship and lasting up to three years. At this point, students graduate with a Diplôme d’Aptitude Professionnelle (DAP).
A lot of hours focus on languages in Luxembourg, enough to equal half of a student’s total learning time. While Luxembourgish is taught in pre-school, and a mix of German and French are focused on in fundamental school, multilingualism is in full effect come secondary school. Reading, writing, and understanding these languages by the age of eight sounds like an impossible feat but the intensive learning and multilingual environment are successfully encouraging. German and French remain the main languages in secondary education, French with classic and German with technical lycées. English is also available in secondary school, as well as a second language of choice.
The lycée issues a travel pass to each student, enabling them to travel between home and school for free, in fact. Bus services that run popular school routes in Luxembourg are also available from local communes and the nearest schools.
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 assess the most suitable school for children who speak a foreign language as well as provide information in a number of languages for parents.
If you would like to contact the Ministry of Education:
Ministry of Education, Children and Youth
29 rue Aldringen, L-1118 – Luxembourg
Mailing Address: L-2926 Luxembourg
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Tel. (352) 247-85125
Fax (+352) 247-85123
E-mail [email protected]