Luxembourg has public schools offering European and international baccalaureates, Luxembourg diplomas and professional qualifications, IGCSEs and A’levels.
While this number of options is awesome, it can also be intimidating deciding what type of graduation diploma is best for your child. Last week, we discussed Luxembourgish diplomas and professional qualifications. This week we dive into the European Baccalaureate.
Originally, this qualification was put in place for European schools which catered for the children of employees who worked in the EU institutions, in part to allow the youngest to receive an education comparable to the one they would receive. in their country of origin if they decide to return, but above all to promote a multilingual program in humanities, arts and sciences at secondary level.
However, in Luxembourg, there are now several high schools where it is possible to take this school diploma in the basic languages of English, French and German (and Portuguese at the International School of Differdange / Esch) . If you want a wider choice of languages, you should consider applying for a Category 3 space at the two schools that host employees of the European institutions at Lux I and Lux II. Category 3 seats are chargeable.
These latter schools specialize in additional languages (see website links above for a list of these) either as regular classes (subjects taught in that language) or as a ‘language-less section’ where for primary and / or secondary, children follow lessons in their second language (English, French or German) and follow additional lessons in their mother tongue. Note that this only includes the official languages of the 27 EU countries plus English.
Nursery and primary education options
Schools run by EU institutions
For the first years, children can enroll in the Lux I and II European schools from 3 to 4 years old (nursery / reception) and from 5 to 6 years old for primary. The school year by age runs from January to December, but there is flexibility in this depending on your child’s language and learning abilities.
Primary education is shorter than in the local system, children complete 5 years of primary school before going to secondary school.
General courses are in language 1 for mathematics, science and discovery, history, art, sport and language 2 courses start from the first year of primary school (English, French or German to choose from). When regular lessons are not offered in a specific language, a child will study in their second language, but receive additional lessons in their mother tongue or first. So, for example, a Slovak child will take regular lessons in English / French / German, but will have separate lessons in Slovak (language, culture and history). It is also possible for Irish and Maltese children to take additional language lessons.
International State Schools
Lycée Lënster has an international section offering the European Baccalaureate in English, French and German
Photo credit: Serge Daleiden
In public international schools where primary education is provided, children enter at age 6 and finish primary school at age 12. School age remains the same as with the local system, and children must be 6 years old before entering primary school. The program includes Luxembourgish and language 2 (optional English, French and German).
Some schools, such as the Lycée Lënster section Internationale, also have nursery classes. Children can attend from 4 to 6 years old.
How EB works
The European Baccalaureate (EB) cycle corresponds to the last two years of secondary school – S6 and S7. It is a multilingual program and students at the school are expected to take a combination of languages, literature and science and be taught in multiple languages.
The first years
Children in schools run by EU institutions normally start secondary school at the age of 11 (although some are younger at 10). In Luxembourg public schools which offer this option, the normal age for starting secondary school is 12, in accordance with the local system.
However, if a child has completed primary education (i.e. is in a private school or school run by an EU institution and will complete their education at age 11), they can apply in state-run international schools.
In the first years of secondary school, children learn a core curriculum in their mother tongue which includes mathematics, ICT, science, humanities (history and geography), music, art, ethics or religion. and sports.
Pupils also have lessons for their second language and start learning a third language from the first year of secondary school. The choice of the third language will depend on the school.
In international schools run by the state, it will be English, German, French (depending on which language is not taken as first or second, and in some schools, Portuguese). In schools run by the European institutions, the third language may include other languages such as Italian or Spanish, in addition to the three basic languages, but this will depend on the availability of education.
In both systems, children can choose the option of taking Latin in second grade, and in subsequent years there are options for another language (L4). In public international schools, Luxembourgish is also compulsory during the first years, whereas it is currently not offered as a language option in schools run by the European institutions.
In year 3, students learn humanities (geography and history) in their second language, and in the following years, some subjects are also offered only in their second language, for example economics.
Course in recent years
The common core comprises a set of compulsory subjects, which can be adapted to different levels of complexity.
- At least two linguistic subjects (the dominant language plus another, generally a choice between French, German and English) Mathematics (standard at 3 periods per week or level above 5 periods per week)
- A scientific subject (biology for a minimum of 2 periods per week) or biology and / or chemistry and / or physics for 4 periods per week each.
- The humanities (history and geography) are taught in the second language and must be taken at least 2 periods per week or at most 4 periods per week.
- Philosophy can be studied at a standard or higher level.
- Physical and ethical education or religion.
Students can then choose optional or complementary subjects amount to a minimum of 31 periods per week and a maximum of 35 periods. Not all options are available at all schools, so this is something parents and kids should check out first. These often include art, music, lab science (for each science subject), advanced languages or math, additional languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese or Latin – but this will depend on the languages offered by the school) and sociology and economics.
There is, however, a tradeoff with what can be chosen for each bucket of options. The choices are explained in the table here and you can find more information about its operation in recent years here at the Lux I European School.
Examinations take place at the end of S7 and students will take five written tests (compulsory for mathematics and languages 1 and 2), and three oral tests (also L1, L2 and a subject taught in a second language such as history or economics). The aim is to demonstrate written and oral fluency in at least two languages.
The exams are based on the syllabus of the final year, but also take into account the knowledge, skills and attitude demonstrated in S6, and both types of exams are scored twice – once by the teacher and once. another by an external reviewer. If these scores vary considerably, then a third examiner will be called.
Fifty percent of the mark for the European Baccalaureate is obtained before the final exams. It consists of a mixture of the child’s attitude, attention and participation in class, his school and homework, and short written and oral tests, as well as the results of his pre-exams. Bac generally supervised, timed and taken in a specific room. Final written exams account for an additional 35% and oral examinations for 15%.
The following are managed by the state:
International School Differdange / Esch-sur-Alzette
Lënster International School
Mondorf-les-Bains International School
Edward Steichen Clervaux International School
Mersch Anne Beffort International School
International School Luxembourg City – not yet open, find out more here.
The following are Managed by the EU institutions but have category 3 spaces (paid)
Lux I European School (Kirchberg)
European School Lux II (Mamer / Betrange)
For more information on schools, read our article Finding the right school and the Luxembourg school system. For more information on Luxembourg Professional Diplomas and Qualifications, you can read the first in this series, here. Articles covering the International Baccalaureate and IGCSE and A ‘will be published in the coming weeks.
The Luxembourg Times has a new LinkedIn page, follow us here! Get the Luxembourg Times delivered to your inbox twice a day. Sign up here to receive your free newsletters.