Ensuring the right to education and equal opportunities is a comprehensive school support programme in Luxembourg. The main priority of the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth is to provide a wide range of options and equal educational opportunities for all children and young people in the Grand Duchy. In this article, we will present three of the many ongoing projects: the inclusion of pupils with special needs, diversification in types of schooling and financial support for families.
For parents who wish to take advantage of the option, and where feasible, the Luxembourg government guarantees schooling to children and young people with special educational needs in the "regular" education system, as well as care in childcare facilities and the chance to take part in youth activities. A child or young person with special educational needs (SEN) has more difficulty learning than the majority of pupils of the same age and may have particular impairments or difficulties. As such, the child’s care cannot be provided by the means normally available to the teacher or educator who takes care of the child in question. These needs may include motor, visual, language or hearing, cognitive or behavioural development.
In primary school education, different types of support are made available and adapted accordingly:
- adapting the teaching in class with the educational team;
- following certain courses in other classes;
- spreading the learning cycle over three years;
- realistic adjustments;
- assistance from a specialised professional, etc.
If you are the parent of a child with special needs and you have specific questions, do not hesitate to ask the class teacher or the teaching staff who will be able to advise you and refer you to specialised professionals.
In secondary school a student with special needs may receive support from,
- academic assistants for topics on the school curriculum;
- assistance in class;
- psychological support;
- the training plan and on a personal level;
- integration in a special needs class or
- a specialised class, etc.
The first point of contact is the teacher and the class teacher. Specialised services and teams are available to implement appropriate follow-up procedures in consultation with the student and his/her parents.
In addition to these measures, children and young people can sign up to a special learning workshop within the school or in a special education class at a Competence Centre or an institution outside Luxembourg.
The eight Competence Centres in Special Educational Psychology, the National Inclusion Commission (CNI), the Special Needs Support Teams (ESEB), the teachers specialised in the supervision and care of these pupils, the Regional Inclusion Commissions and the School Inclusion Commissions of the secondary schools are currently helping to integrate children and young people as well as ensuring their well-being. For more information on the new programmes, support and future assistance, see here!
For pupils, the rate of attendance in specialised centres is less than 1% in Luxembourg, showing that inclusion efforts are very successful.
Offering a broader, more diverse and flexible schooling
The school population in Luxembourg is as cosmopolitan as its population. Over 60% of pupils do not have Luxembourgish as their mother tongue and each year more than 2,000 youngsters enter the school system for the first time. In order to give every child and young person a chance to succeed, the government is focusing on diversifying the type of schooling available by adapting the education programme to different profiles.
Luxembourg is a trilingual country: the national language is Luxembourgish and the legislative language is French, while French, German and Luxembourgish are the three administrative and judicial languages. The education system also uses all three languages. This is an advantage for youngsters, but also a challenge for students from diverse linguistic backgrounds. The school policy fosters diversification in education in order to provide greater flexibility in language learning for all students:
- Several state-run international schools now available
Several international state schools – operating according to European school curricula, academic criteria and timetables – give students the opportunity to choose a flexible language pathway, by offering teaching in their main language or mother tongue. These schools are open and free to all.
Several state schools also offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) in French or English. The International School Michel Lucius teaches the British curriculum accredited by the University of Cambridge for primary and secondary education and the German-Luxembourg High School in Schengen combines the school curriculum of Luxembourg and Germany.
- Teaching in French
Regardless of background, an individual’s mother tongue, socio-economic status or merely the desire to evaluate in an international environment, multicultural and multilingual public education presents opportunities for everyone. In September 2022, the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth launched a pilot French literacy project in four primary schools across the country. Pupils learn to read and write more easily in a language whose structure they have already mastered or which is closer to their mother tongue. The programme is based on the experience gathered in state international schools that follow the European school curriculum.
Immigration is a key factor in Luxembourg. In fact, almost half the population does not have Luxembourg nationality. Schooling is compulsory from the age of 4 to 18, and all children must be enrolled in school, regardless of their parents' residential status. Newly arrived children in Luxembourg, between the ages of 6 and 11, are enrolled into a regular class according to their academic record, their educational background, their age and the results of evaluation tests in mathematics and their mother tongue. They may also attend a state international school. Parents of children aged 3 to 11 and must contact their municipality of residence to register. Teenagers aged 12 or over must make an appointment at the Department for the Schooling of Foreign Children (SECAM). SECAM gives information about school systems, support, school enrolment and where necessary intercultural mediation. It assesses the young people's language skills and educational achievements and guides them towards the appropriate class or training. The same applies to young adults aged 18 to 24: adapted training to learn at least two official languages or prepare for integration into regular classes. Occupational training is also available.
Easy access to quality support
Regardless of their socio-economic status, Luxembourg aims to provide easy access to quality education and care for all children. In this regard, the Grand Duchy contributes to fostering equal opportunities for all through a series of free and discounted measures for parents.
- Non-formal education accessible to all
Through the childcare service voucher system, the State contributes financially to child care in educational and care facilities, mini-nurseries and parental assistants. The State contribution is based on the specific situation of each family.
Regardless of their parents' income, all children aged 1 to 4 (not yet enrolled in school) can benefit from 20 hours of free childcare spread over 46 weeks per year in any educational or childcare facility that is a CSA service provider.
Children enrolled in primary education are accommodated free of charge during school periods in non-formal education facilities. Lunch is also provided.
- Help with homework, support classes and summer school
From the 2022-2023 school year, the childcare centre (maison relais), day-care centre (foyer scolaire) or parental assistants organise a quality help-with-homework scheme for children in cycles 2 to 4 of primary school in order to support and promote social justice by relieving families and reducing the pressure and stress at home.
At the end of the summer school holidays, state schools offer free optional catch-up classes via Summerschool.lu. Students and parents can also find the relevant information here. Access is free and everyone can take advantage of this initiative. The new programme is available from 15 July!
- Music for all
Music education nurtures personal growth and development. A student can increase their level of concentration, broaden their creativity, stimulate their curiosity and strengthen their self-esteem. In order to ensure that as many young people as possible can take advantage of this initiative, a large proportion of the music, vocal arts and dance courses in the music schools in the municipal sector have been free since the start of the 2022-2023 school year. This free tuition is supplemented by additional financial subsidies from the State and is valid for initial musical education (from the age of 4) until the first level of the diploma.
Every child in Luxembourg has the right to a quality education. This is how we can provide equal opportunities for all.
Claude Meisch, Minister of Education, Children and Youth