Luxembourg's school system is pretty complex. Here's all you need to know on how it works and how to enroll your child in a public English stream.

The ministry of education (MEN) has published a fairly comprehensive guide to Luxembourg's school system in English. The diagram on page 5 of that booklet is particularly useful (and confusing at first glance) as it provides you with an overview of Luxembourg's school system and the various streams available.

One quirk you may note here is that the years in the Luxembourgish system go from 1 to 6 (or cycles 2 to 4) in primary school, but backwards from 7 to 1 in secondary. Don't ask me why.

Primary school

If you look at the diagram mentioned above, you will note that there are essentially three options available for primary school - Luxembourgish primary, "UK-style" (key stages/KS, leading to A-levels) primary, or "European education" (leading to a European Baccalaureate).

The Luxembourgish system consists of four 'cycles' (cycle 1, 2, 3 and 4) each of which lasts two years. So cycle 1 is for ages 4 and 5, cycle 2 for ages 6 and 7, and so on.

Cycle 4 is particularly important as your child's performance at this stage (also true for equivalent UK/EU stages at age 11) will determine the options available to them for secondary school.

Read here if you want a little more information on the different cycles.

Secondary school

This is where things get a bit more complicated, because there are a multitude of options available. Again, it might be a good idea to take a look at the diagram (page 8). As noted earlier, I'm focusing predominantly on the options available within the Luxembourgish system in this guide.

Overview

Depending on your child's results, they will have access to one or more of the following options:

Academic focus

  • European Baccalaureate
  • A-levels
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Diploma of classic secondary studies (Luxembourgish system)

Technical/vocational focus (all Luxembourgish system)

  • Diploma of general secondary studies
  • Technical diploma
  • Professional aptitude diploma
  • Certificate of professional ability

Within the Luxembourgish system, only two diplomas will give your child access to university education - these are Diploma of classic secondary education and Diploma of general secondary studies. Those of you who have been here a while may know these by former associated school names, being "lycée classique" and "lycée technique".

The term "technique" is no longer in use, and the vocational stream is now called general secondary (secondaire générale). It is important to note that it is generally not possible to change streams - that is to say, if your child is enrolled in the stream that will lead to a professional aptitude diploma, they cannot change to for instance the technical diploma-stream without going back to an earlier year of study. This is because there is only limited overlap between courses and material taught, so your child would not have the prerequisite knowledge required to change streams.

Read here if you want a little more information on the Luxembourgish secondary schools.

Academically inclined streams

Academically inclined students who have done well in primary school may, should they and you wish, go to the down one of four academically intensive routes:

  • European Baccalaureate

Several public schools currently offer the EB curriculum taught in English, including École internationale Differdange & Esch-sur-AlzetteInternational School in JunglinsterInternational School in Mondorf-les-Bains, while International School Edward Steichen in Clervaux has French and German sections.

  • A-levels

Following the UK's GCE curriculum, A-levels are taught in English (with French and German as second and/or third languages) and are offered by Lycée Michel Lucius in Luxembourg City.

  • International Baccalaureate

This internationally recognised curriculum is available in two schools in Luxembourg. Lycée Technique du Centre in Luxembourg City teach it in French, while Athénée de Luxembourg, also in the City, offer an English version, as does Lycee de Garcons in Esch. You can find a list of schools (including private ones) that offer IB here.

  • Diploma of classic secondary studies

This is the most academically intensive option available within the Luxembourgish curriculum, and requires an excellent level of both French and German from the first year on.

Vocational streams

Students who are less academically inclined or who wish to focus more on practical skills and getting ready for the job market may opt for one of several vocational streams. These are what used to be called "lycee technique," but are now called general secondary education. That said, the diploma of general secondary studies (ESG) is less vocational than the others, and does have more of an academic focus.

The first three years of general secondary school are divided into two separate streams: orientation and preparation. The orientation stream is for students who have acquired all of the necessary skills and knowledge in primary school, while the preparation stream helps students who may be a bit behind catch up. Upon completion of the three initial years, students in the preparation stream will either join the orientation stream and pursue a diploma of general secondary education, or go to a vocational training stream.

The streams available after the first three years vary quite widely in content and focus on academic skills, and I will present them in order of entrance requirements (from higher to lower grades). Only the first one prepares students for higher education at university.

  • Diploma of general secondary studies (ESG)

This is the most academically intense stream under the general secondary education umbrella, and unlike the three other streams does prepare the student for further education at university. Students who graduate with this diploma are generally able to apply to and get a spot at university, assuming they meet the basic course criteria for the specific degree they wish to pursue of course.

The courses are a bit more narrowly focused than those taught under the classic stream, and might include e.g. nursing, social work, accounting, IT, and hospitality.

  • Technical diploma (DT)

A technical diploma gives graduates access to higher technical study in their area of specialisation. Available specialisations include e.g. accounting and management, logistics, agriculture, tourism, 3D and graphic design, gardening, and civil engineering technician (not engineer, mind, which requires university).

  • Professional aptitude diploma (DAP)

Completion of this stream provides graduates with access to the job market as a qualified employee in their area of specialisation. Further training is also a possibility, but they will have to complete preparatory modules first.  Available specialisations include administration and commerce, accounting, tourism, art (design), construction, IT, and mechanic subjects.

  • Certificate of professional ability (CCP)

During the course of this stream students acquire the basic social and vocational skills required for getting a job. Further study will require that they first complete a higher level of secondary education. Specialisations include e.g. agriculture, assistant florist, assistant cook/baker/butcher, and construction at the assistant level.

The list of specialisations for each level is rather long, and the above are just broad examples.

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Find the private school options here.