Is your child turning 3 or 4? Have you been looking at school options? They grow so fast! Here to help is the City Savvy guide* to the local primary system or Education Fondamentale in Luxembourg.
School Factsheet: What you need to know
- School is compulsory for all children aged 4 to 16. It is possible to enrol your child at 3 and follow up to 18 and beyond.
- Your local school will be within your commune; under normal circumstances, you cannot choose for your child to attend a school from a different one. If you do wish to do so, it is worth making a request to the commune concerned, but be aware that much will depend on places available and you will have to pay a fee for this privilege. There is the option to utilise the free bus service, if required.
- The Ministry of Education provides teachers with a national curriculum to ensure a common standard is met each year across the country. Children all over Luxembourg will use the same textbooks and be working at the same pace. School performance scores are not divulged, so you will not be able to check ‘league tables’.
- Children tend to come home for lunch. There is usually the option to have lunch provided at the Maison Relais or Foyer du Jour. Note that priority is given to where both parents are working so there may not always be space for your child. There is a small fee for this service which is paid for through Chèque-Service.
- Pupils usually have Tuesday and Thursday afternoons off. A typical school week looks like this:
Monday to Friday mornings: Arrival between 08:00-09:00 to 11:45-12:00, when children can go home for lunch (the exact time can vary depending on the school).
Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons: Return to school from 14:00 to 16:00.
- Pre- and post- school care is offered by the Maison Relais or Foyer du Jour (again, priority is given to children whose parents are both working). There are a number of after-school activities available in the country specifically for Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
- Local schools will practice trilingualism in Luxembourgish, French and German.
- Schools are public and tuition does not need to be paid. There is a fee for the Maison Relais and Foyer du Jour.
Education Fondamentale: The Cycles
|Stage||Age-group||Main Language of Instruction|
|Cycle 1 – Préscolaire –|
|3-5 year olds||Luxembourgish|
|Cycle 2 – Primaire||6-7 year olds||German introduced and consolidated. French introduced.|
|Cycle 3 – Primaire||8-9 year olds|
|Cycle 4 – Primaire||10-11 year olds|
German and French
Each cycle is composed of two compulsory years (aside from précoce, which is one year and there is the option to go in at 3 years old). At the end of a cycle, children move on to the next cycle provided they have acquired the necessary level of competence. In exceptional circumstances, a child may repeat a year of a cycle or skip a year. Regular appointments are set up each year by teachers to inform parents of the child’s progress and any problems encountered. At the end of the third and fourth cycle, a national test is taken by all children.
To enrol your child into the local system, it is necessary for them to be registered on the citizens’ register of the Bureau de Population. You must go to your commune’s education department (Service de l’Enseignement) at least three months before the start of the school year. Newcomers to Luxembourg should contact their local Municipal office for information on the enrolment procedure. If you wish your child to go to a school outside of their commune of residence, it is necessary to request this from that commune’s mayor or Bourgmestre.
For your child to enter précoce, they must be aged three on 1 September; by law, your child is obliged to start school in the September following their 4th birthday. In some communes, children who are four between 1st September and 31st December are able to start school early; please contact the municipal office if you wish to investigate this option. You will receive an enrollment letter from the Administration Communale (commune), which must be completed by April 1st. It should also state the address of the school your child would attend and the date and time for the first day.
Education Préscolaire: 3-6 year olds
Class size: 25 children maximum
Teachers: usually 2 (one nursery teacher and one teaching assistant; can be 3 if numbers are high enough).
Weekly Attendance: for précoce usually a minimum of 3 specified half days to a maximum of 8 specified half-days (commune dependent); for Spillschoul children must attend full-time as per the timetable above.
Development Updates: Parents receive a school report at the end of the first and third term each year, informing them of the progress and development of their child. There may be additional meetings throughout the year and you are entitled to request extra meetings.
Précoce (Pre-school) – Age 3-4 years
All communes have to provide nursery education for children over the age of three; however, attendance is not compulsory at this stage. Only you can decide what’s right for your family. The aim of education précoce is to stimulate the child’s social, linguistic and intellectual development through play. Of course, it also provides an early start to Luxembourgish for your child, as well as interaction with local children of the same age so it is well worth considering if your child has no knowledge of Luxembourgish yet.
Spillschoul: (Pre-primary) – Age 4-6 years
Spillschoul education consists of a two-year cycle, both years being compulsory. In most Spillschouls, first and second year children are mixed together in the same class, although it is worth checking with your local school to see what applies to you.
Learning is primarily done through play, with a focus on increasing attention span and fine motor skills through the use of puzzles, crafts, singing and games. Spillschoul does literally mean play school after all! While there is no ‘formal’ teaching of reading, writing or arithmetic; schools will often touch on those subject or use a set monthly topic to approach simple sums or letter forming.
Primarschoul Cycles 2-4 (Primary): Age 6+
Primary school education in Luxembourg follows a national curriculum. The Ministry of Education informs teachers throughout the country as to the work they are obliged to cover with their classes each term. Children at all schools will, therefore, have the same textbooks and cover the same material at a similar pace, to arrive at a common standard at the end of the academic year. Obviously, this makes moving communes (and therefore schools) an easier undertaking and ensures that approximately the same level of teaching is maintained irrespective of area.
Teachers are qualified to teach in any class from the first to the sixth year primary. As a general rule, teachers will keep the same class for two years running (first and second, third and fourth, fifth and sixth).
During these years, your child will learn to read and write in German and French. They will also cover maths, history, geography and science. There will also be two hours dedicated to either religious studies or moral and social studies (your choice). During the 3rd year of primary school, many of the children will take their first Roman Catholic communion; this is a big day for them, so it’s worth anticipating it with your child, who may feel left out if you are not Roman Catholic.
The sixth year is the year that your child’s secondary education path is decided. A combination of results, expert advice and consultation with the parents informs whether your child’s education should be continued at lycée classique, lycée technique or régime préparatoire.
Crudely speaking, the secondary schools of Luxembourg fall into two categories:
Enseignement secondaire, (colloquial: Lycée classique) or the ‘classical’ system. This is geared towards university education, offers a general, all-round approach. The objective is for the students to acquire fundamental knowledge of human sciences, literature, mathematics and natural sciences.
Enseignement secondaire technique (colloquial: Lycée technique) or the ‘technical system’. This has an emphasis on vocational education, but can also allow access to university studies.
Based on the performance over the entire primary school year, the pupil’s attitude and participation, the teachers will have a good idea of your child’s performance and can discuss this with you. 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.
A meeting is held between teachers from each type of secondary school, the class teacher and the school inspector to decide an appropriate route for your child to follow. The opinion of the class teacher, as the person who knows your child intimately, is important. A psychologist will also have conducted a series of tests and assessments for the class; they will advise the committee, but have no vote.
This is just a brief run-down of primary education in Luxembourg. For a deeper insight, please check out The Luxembourgish Schools Support Group. They have a dedicated information pack for Education Fondamentale. There is also Eskils (English Speaking Kids in Luxembourg Schools) which arranges meet-ups for English speaking kids in the local public schools, as well as providing support and information events for parents.
For the City Savvy Guide to Secondary Education in Luxembourg click here.
Have we missed something? Do let us know in the comments – we want this to be the best resource on schooling in Luxembourg for you!
*NB: We have no specific recommendations, neither do we endorse this system above others; we just intend to provide information so that you can make an informed choice.