The first installation of our series, “International Education Nuances”, highlights schooling in Luxembourg. When relocating with children to Luxembourg, it is important to know that the school system varies from other countries around the world. Nuances range from what children wear to interactions with teachers to what time school is held during the day.
A typical day at school has two sessions. The first starts at 8 a.m. and lasts until 11:30 a.m. for younger students, and 12 p.m. for older students. During the morning session there is typically a 10 a.m. break where students will bring a sandwich or light snack. However, they are not allowed to bring chips, chocolate, or juice to school. After the morning session, students have a two hour lunch-break when they have the option to stay in school to eat, or take a school bus back home for lunch.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays students have long days where they attend school from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or noon, and then by 2 p.m. the school bus brings the students back to school where they stay until 4 p.m. for their second session of the day. Tuesdays and Thursdays are short days where children only attend from 8 a.m. until noon.
Teachers have a face-to face meeting with parents each term to discuss their children’s progress in school. Normally there are two teachers per class, with only a small number of students in the class. This offers more hands-on teaching and special attention can be given to students if needed. Parents may also join the teacher-parent council which holds gatherings roughly twice per year to keep both parents and teachers informed about the school and its students. Luxembourg schools typically do not have a school director, but there is a principal teacher who may step in where there is a disagreement between a teacher and a parent.
School takes place from September to July, with a break every six weeks. Typically students will go to school for six weeks, then have a one to two week break, and then go for another six weeks. This cycle continues until the end of the school year.
In Luxembourg, students aren’t required to wear uniforms in order to attend school. Even private and international schools do not require uniforms for their students. Books, transportation, and weekly swimming classes, which are mandatory in primary school for 4 year-olds to 12 year-olds, are free for students. Teachers will also buy the same stationary for all the students in their class, so no student is discriminated against.
Children do not receive grades for the work they do in class. The teacher evaluates the child according to his/her ability to learn the material. Unfortunately, this may result in disagreements between the teacher and the parents.
During the first year, children may only write with pencils and are allowed to spell out words how they hear them (phonetically). Teachers are told not to correct the spelling mistakes, as it may discourage the children from learning how to spell in the future. When signing their children up for school, parents can choose between “moral values” or “religious education” courses.