Is your child going through the local schooling system and you want to understand what the secondary school options are? Here’s the City Savvy guide to the lycées of Luxembourg!
School Factsheet: What you need to know
- The different types of secondary schools offered in the local system are roughly divided into two branches: the ‘Classical’ system (enseignement secondaire, or more colloquially, lycée classique) and the ‘Technical’ system (enseignement secondaire technique, or more colloquially, lycée technique). The latter is divided into further branches and then there are international options operating separately. Whether your child goes down the ‘classique’ or ‘technique’ route, they can still go to university.
- If the child has not achieved satisfactory grades during the school year they may repeat the year.
- Each secondary school, or lycée, is obliged to accept any child living in its catchment area but you still need to submit your application. If you prefer, you may apply to any other appropriate lycée. A listing of all secondary schools can be found here.
- Most lycées have Open Days, (known as portes ouvertes), where you can gather information about courses, educational approach and tour the buildings.
- The school will issue a travel pass, which entitles pupils to free travel between home and school, valid only at school times. Communes may also organise bus services to popular school routes – it’s worth asking the school.
- School Psychology and Orientation Service – Service de Psychologie et d’Orientation Scolaire (SPOS): Every lycée has SPOS personnel responsible for providing help for students (and their parents).
In the last year of primary education in Luxembourg, students undergo an academic guidance session (cycle d’orientation) in order to evaluate the best option for their secondary school education. Pupils will usually move on towards a lycée classique (general education) or a lycée technique (with a focus on technical education leading towards specific professions). The orientation is based on the child’s performance and abilities as well as their interests and aspirations; parents’ wishes, teachers’ advice, school results and the final national examination will all play a part in which school your child will go to. An appeal by the parents is possible.
Nearly 40% of students from the Luxembourgish primary schools progress to lycée secondaire, referred to in the past as classique, where successful completion of study results in a Diplôme de fin d’études secondaires or Baccalauréat, commonly known as the “Bac”. This qualification gains access to universities and other academic institutions. Students can transfer from a lycée secondaire to a lycée secondaire technique although it is better that this happens in the first two years before the gap becomes too great in terms of course content and teaching method.
Around 60% of students go on to lycée secondaire technique. The technical system, due to the diversity of the vocational programmes, is more complicated than the classical one. Many people assume that this route cannot lead to a university degree, but this is incorrect; the scope of the lycée secondaire technique is huge, with a recognised qualification: the Diplôme de fin d’études secondaires techniques or Baccalauréat Technique allows students entry to work placements, university and other higher education institutions.
Secondary School options in Luxembourg
There are many public schools, which follow the Luxembourgish system and also 5 private schools following the same program:-
École Privée Fieldgen (EPF)
École Privée Notre-Dame (Sainte-Sophie) (EPND) – École luxembourgeoise
Lycée Technique Privé Emile Metz (LTPEM)
École Privée Sainte-Anne (EPSA)
École Privée Marie-Consolatrice (EPMC)
Then there are five private international options:-
Enrolment at a secondary school
Children often attend the secondary school closest to their place of residence; parents wishing to enrol their child in a school outside of their commune must request a dérogation with the commune’s bourgmestre. Registration takes place at the school between mid-June and the beginning of July.
The following documents will be required:
- avis d’orientation, i.e. the original documentation from the lycée orientation (available from your child’s current teacher at primary school)
- a copy of the child’s results from the first half of year 6 (available from your child’s current teacher at primary school)
- a completed registration form (available from the lycée itself, often online)
- extrait de registre de la population, i.e. proof that your child is on the citizen’s register document (available from your commune)
Lycée Secondaire (classique)
The lycées secondaires follows a national curriculum, whereby students will be in class for around 30 hours a week. Confusingly, the year groups are numbered in descending order, so your child will enter at Year 7 and finish in Year 1. As your child progresses through the school, they will select or drop subjects according to their chosen career path.
Division inférieure: Years 7, 6 and 5
The first year, year 7, is really a consolidation and preparation year, where students can adjust to the change from primary education and see if they are really suited to the classique system. Subjects covered will usually be:-
Languages – German, French, Luxembourgish (the latter will be be studied for the last time in year 7)
Physical Education and Sport
Religious & Moral Instruction; or Moral and Social Education
Tests continue throughout the year as in primary school and determine future progress. At year 6, students make the choice to study English (following the so-called ‘moderne‘ stream) or Latin (thereby taking the ‘classique‘ stream); the classique streamers will also learn English in year 5, by the end of which each stream is meant to be at the same level.
Classe polyvalent: Year 4
This year serves to orient the students as to their options for the next year; the pupils will also repeats and consolidate what they’ve studied so far. Biology replaces ‘Natural Sciences’ and Physics, Chemistry and Economics will be introduced. French is now the only language of instruction, apart from languages which are taught in the language being learnt.
Cycle de spécialisation – Years 3, 2 and 1
As the name implies, this stage marks the specialisation of students towards their final career path. There are seven ‘subject categories’, labelled A to G, which lead on to higher education qualifications in different areas; examples of the careers aimed for within each category is listed in brackets. Two languages are the minimum studied in any category all the way up to Year 1.
- Section A: Languages
- Section B: Mathematics and Computer Science
- Section C: Natural Science and Mathematics
- Section D: Economics and Mathematics
- Section E: Visual Arts
- Section F: Musical Science*
- Section G: Humanities and Social Sciences
*N.B. The only school to offer this option is the Athénée de Luxembourg. Besides attending the lycée the student spends a large amount of time at a conservatoire (music school).
At the end of Year 1, the national examinations (written and oral) are held. These account for two-thirds of the marks that make up the Diplôme de fin d’études secondaires; the other third is based on continuous assessment during the final year.
Lycée Secondaire Technique
Technical secondary education provides access to higher education, as well as preparation for professional life. Unlike the lycées secondaires (classiques), most subjects are taught in German; students will still learn French and English and should be able to pursue further education courses in any one of these three languages.
In contrast to the classique, the years of study are numbered in ascending order, so the pupils start with in Year 7 and finish in Year 13. Compulsory education finishes at Year 9, so students who wish to enter working life may do so then.
Cycle inférieur – Years 7, 8 and 9
The aim of the cycle inférieur is to complete the students’ general education and to understand which trade matches their interests and talents. The syllabus features practical classes, workshops and visits to different businesses; it can even include work experience.
Year 7 is an extension of primary school, with consolidation education in the core subjects:
Mathematics (taught in French)
Physical Education and sport
In addition, there is the opportunity to study subjects offered in education technologique such as cookery, woodwork, metalwork, mechanics, electronics and textiles.
Assessments are carried out throughout this first year, based on test scores, participation, completion of homework and general attitude. The results determine future progression; the student may stay at the same level or move to a higher or lower stream. With very good marks it may be possible for the student to move to lycée secondaire, a move which may be more difficult after Year 7 as the courses diverge in both content and teaching methods.
In Year 8, English, Physics and Chemistry are introduced, earlier than in the classical system.
By Year 9, three distinct streams will have been formed, with different emphases on theoretical or practical aspects and taking into account academic ability.
Théorique (9TE) focusses more on technical training and theory. English is weighted equally with mathematics, German and French
Pratique (9PR) focusses on vocational training with a practical emphasis. German and French are taught, whilst English is dropped altogether.
Polyvalente (9PO) is a balance of the theory and practical elements of the education system. All three languages will be learnt, but either German or French must be selected as a ‘first language’ which is then more heavily weighted; the other language is given the same lower weighting as English and the marks for these two subjects are combined.
Le régime préparatoire (enseignement modulaire)
For those students who did not obtain the necessary grades in French, German or Mathematics in primary school, there is le régime préparatoire, more commonly referred to as modulaire. Here, the student is registered to a module that corresponds to their level and can then advance at their own pace, subsequently integrating into mainstream lycées.
Compulsory education finishes at the end of Year 9; all students may leave school to enter working life, but most will be encouraged to go on to obtain a qualification. There will be orientation training for students based on academic merit, advice from the teachers and the interest of the student. Those who wish to progress to the upper stage of the technique system will have to specialise to some extent.
Those wishing to follow an apprenticeship should contact the Service de I’orientation professionelle de l’ADEM (Administration de l’Emploi)
Cycle Moyen et Supérieur: Years 10-14
Students who have achieved the required standard in Year 9 théorique (9TE) can pursue the régime technique, which comprises three different options. After successfully completing this régime, they will be awarded the Diplôme de fin d’études secondaires techniques.
- Technique Générale
A four year course providing a thorough general and technical education (with an emphasis on Mathematics).
- Administrative et Commerciale
A four year course split into two parts. Cycle Moyen (Year 10 and 11) offers a further general education together with administrative skills; For Cycle Supérieur (Year 12 and 13), the student must chooses between particular commercial studies.
- Professions de Santé et Professions Sociales
A five year course, biased towards a vocation in the health or social services. Cycle Moyen combines general education with theoretical and practical preparation for the paramedical and educational professions. Years 12e, 13e and 14e are spent out of lycée in the practical field of choice.
The paramedical route will involve 3 years as a nurse in different hospital departments, whereupon students can further their studies through specialisation within the medical field; in certain cases it may even be possible to train as a doctor, veterinary surgeon or pharmacist.
The educational route will involve working in institutions caring for children, adults, the elderly or those with special needs. Further studies to become an éducateur gradué‚ social worker, psychologist or sociologist may then be undertaken.
Students who have completed the Year 9 théorique (9TE) or 9e polyvalente (9PO) to a required standard can move on to the régime technicien. This is a four year course combining advanced theoretical study at school with hands-on practical experience at a firm. Upon completion, students are awarded the Diplôme de Technicien, a qualification allowing students direct access to the workforce or higher technical education in their chosen field:
Administration and Commerce
Agriculture, Horticulture and Viniculture
Hotel Management and Tourism
Available to all students completing Year 9, this is an apprenticeship scheme, providing access to the labour market as skilled worker. The training is done under an apprenticeship contract or sub-contract internship (minimum 12 weeks internship during training). Generally lasting 3 years, the successful student is awarded a vocational aptitude diploma, Diplôme d’Aptitude Professionnelle (DAP).
This is intended for direct entry into the workplace but with further studies, it is possible to become a master craftsman by obtaining a brevet de maîtrise; or university.
Alternative Secondary School Systems
International Baccalaureate (IB)
The International Baccalaureate is a recognised by the law as an equivalent to the Luxembourgish school certificate (Diplôme de fin d’études secondaires). It is offered currently by 4 schools:-
(I)GCSEs and A-Levels
These form the official school accreditations in the United Kingdom: the (International) General Certificate of Secondary Education is generally completed at age 16; A(dvanced)-Levels at age 18. There qualifications are well worth looking at if you wish your child to go to school or university in the UK, but they are recognised globally. There are 3 schools offering these options, all in English:-
The European Baccalaureate (EB)
The European Schools are private schools providing nursery, primary and secondary education in multiple languages. They are established to provide education solely for children of personnel of the European Institutions and lead to the European Baccalaureate, awarded to students who pass the final year exam. The EB is made up of 50% continuous assesment in the final year (including course-work, oral participation in class and the results of tests) and 50% made up of examination marks (five written, three oral). There are 2 European schools in Luxembourg:-
The Lycée Ermesinde offers an alternative to the traditional educational system in existing lycées techniques and classiques. Autonomous learning is central to the approach and every student is strongly encouraged to work independently and feel responsible for his/her progress. The Lycée Ermesinde has classique, technique and préparatoire régimes. For more details about the school, click here.
As a school devoted to young athletes, the Sportlycée co-ordinates all academic and administrative operations to allow talented athletes to continue their studies, with 3 major aims: academic achievement, sporting success and normal social integration. Pupils must be nominated by their particular sports’ federation and pass a physical proficiency test. Click here for more details.
This is the French secondary school of Luxembourg and, as such, follows their national curriculum, culminating in the French Baccalaureate. Click here for details.
For further reading, we really recommend the Luxembourgish Schools Support Group who heavily informed this article. For more information on lycée education in English, please go to their fantastic link.
For the City Savvy Guide to Primary 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!
Photo: alamosbasement/flickr (file)