One of the first questions to ask yourself is how long you plan to stay in Luxembourg. Because if you plan to move to another country within a few years, then priority should go to ensuring the continuity of school programmes by opting for an education that can be pursued internationally.
Another criterion to consider when sending your children to school in Luxembourg is the language of instruction you have in mind for them. If you opt for the Luxembourg system, be aware that Cycle 1, for children aged 3 to 5 years old, is taught in Luxembourgish. From the age of 6, tuition is given in German, then French begins to be introduced from the age of 8.
Native French or English parents may therefore prefer to enrol their children in an educational system that offers tuition in their language. This is the choice Manon and her husband made for their children, whom they enrolled in the French school at the age of four.
“We had already lived in Luxembourg City for more than 6 years when the question of our children's schooling came up. I would have liked them to be able to go to the local school, just down the road from us in Bonnevoie, but since I don't speak Luxembourgish or German and I wanted to be able to help my children with their schoolwork, we opted for the French school.”
It may still strike you as looking too far ahead, but don't forget that the choice of educational system will determine their secondary school diploma.
The two most widespread are the IB -International Baccalaureate- whose schools are present in a large majority of the world's countries (150 countries out of 197 in the UN) and the French Baccalaureate, offered in the French school network, in 139 countries around the world. So whether you move to Great Britain, Indonesia or Ukraine, these two systems ensure consistency in your children's schooling.
While their reputation may be equivalent, the approach they take to teaching is quite different. On the French side, the teaching approach aims at a common core of knowledge through "open and rigorous teaching based on a perfect mastery of fundamental knowledge" while for the International Baccalaureate, pupils tend more to be invited to work in project mode, the programme is thus designed to "teach children to think critically and independently, and to conduct research in an organised and logical way”.
It is therefore up to you to choose the approach that best meets your expectations. For Manon, the choice of a more “academic” education for her children was a natural one. “I wanted them to have a French cultural background, to know who Rabelais is,” she laughs.
But then which education system should be chosen?
We put the question to Aurélie - director of communication at the French school in Toronto, who lived in Luxembourg for more than ten years - who gave this common sense answer: “Different children are likely to thrive better in one system or another, that is the overriding criterion.”
So, don't forget that in order for your child to have the widest possible choice of higher education institutions later on, “the real gateway is still a good school report", she says, reassuringly.
The Government's website provides an excellent overview of schooling options for foreign children. Do not hesitate to consult the embassy of your country of origin to find out about the international schools in Luxembourg.