Lower secondary education follows on from the fifth and last grade of primary school and lasts four years (grades 6 - 9). It forms the second part of compulsory schooling. The secondary level comprises three types of schools (Oberschule, Realschule and Gymnasium) which follow the same curriculum but with differing levels of performance. The law sets out the following guidelines in relation to the allocation of pupils to the various school types: 28% to the Oberschule, 50% to the Realschule, and 22% to the Gymnasium. Within the four years of lower secondary education transition between types of schools is possible.
In the secondary schools the elementary education of the primary level is continued, with the emphasis on a wide general education and the development of the personality and self-reliance. With their varying approaches but with teaching based on a common curriculum, the secondary schools guide their pupils towards a decision about their further educational options. At the Oberschule, Realschule and Gymnasium, special sports classes are integrated into the normal curriculum for selected athletes. There is a special school which offers remedial and care provision for young people with greater need of curative educational intervention (cf. Chapter on Primary Education).
Types of institutions
Education at secondary level I takes place in classes organised according to age and ability. Pupils are allocated to the three types of school - Oberschule, Realschule and Gymnasium - according to their performance and learning abiltiy.
The Oberschule is a school type offering a general education for a range of abilities. Its task is to expand on the teaching material of the preceding school years and to promote in particular the practical talents of the pupils to prepare them for the demands of working life. The later school years serve also to clarify pupils’ inclinations towards a particular career and their suitability for it. Around 25% of pupils at each grade attend the Oberschule.
The Realschule is the school with the most heterogenous goup of pupils. Around 50% of the pupils in each year attend the Realschule. Its function is to provide an expanded and deepened education and to prepare pupils for more demanding educational options at the vocational or general upper secondary level. In order to meet the differing performance levels pupils within a given grade may be grouped/streamed for some subjects according to their abilities (A – advanced level / B – standard level).
Gymnasium (lower level)
Education at the Liechtenstein Gymnasium takes seven years. It is subdivided into a lower and upper level and therewith covers lower and upper secondary education.
The task of the Gymnasium is to prepare them for study at a higher education institution. An important expectation is that pupils develop responsibility for their own learning. At its upper level, the Gymnasium offers five different ‘profiles’ leading to the Matura. The choice of profile does not determine a specific study orientation. Optional courses account for only 10-20% of the subject palette.
As of the beginning of the 2010/2011 school year, a bilingual Matura has been offered on a trial basis.
Education at the Gymnasium ends with the Matura, which qualifies students to enter any form of higher education in Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Austria without having to take another entry exam.
Liechtenstein sports school
The Liechtenstein Sports School offers students who are aiming for a professional sports career special conditions to enable them to balance the time demands of training and competition with their normal education at the Oberschule, Realschule or Gymnasium. The Sports School is integrated into regular secondary schools.
Schaan special educational day school
Special education offers children and young people whose development is impaired and who as a result have special educational needs a free education based on a curative approach.
The only special school in Liechtenstein is the Special Educational Day School. It belongs to the Curative Education Centre of the Principality of Liechtenstein (HPZ). The HPZ offers people with special needs of all ages support, companionship and care, as well as various forms of therapy and educational opportunities.
Each public school is assigned to a school district. For secondary level schools, the school district is designated by the government. The allocation of pupils to schools is based on geographic criteria.
Secondary schools are separated spatially from primary schools. Whereas every municipality has at least one primary school, this is not true for secondary schools. At the secondary level, a school district covers several municipalities.
Currently, Liechtenstein has the following schools at the lower secondary level:
- School Campus Mühleholz I and II (Vaduz)
- School Campus Unterland (Eschen)
- Schaan Realschule (former Convent of St. Elisabeth)
- School Campus Triesen
- Balzers Realschule
- Optional 10th School Year (Vaduz)
For transport to and from a school which is not in the municipality where a pupil lives, school buses are deployed in the morning, at midday and in the afternoon/evening. All pupils receive a yearly travel pass for the public transport options.
Admission requirements and choice of school
Admission to a Lower Secondary school is determined by a pupil’s performance/level of achievement at the end of the Primary Level, the recommendation of the teacher (arrived at in consultation with the parent(s) or guardian), and in special cases an entrance examination (cf. Chapter 5.3 on the Primary Level).
Admission to the Optional 10th School Year is open to all students from the Oberschule, Realschule and Gymnasium who have completed the 9th grade/compulsory education.
Within the public school system there is no choice of school. Pupils must attend the school that is in their own municipality. However, the School Office may dispense with this rule if there are special grounds for doing so.
Age levels and grouping of pupils
Lessons at lower secondary level are given in year classes or grades. There is streaming for ability in some subjects within an age group.
Teaching is normally carried out by specialist teachers. General supervision of a class is the responsibility of the class teacher.
Class sizes for the Realschulen and the Gymnasium are set at a minimum of 12, an average of 20 and a maximum of 24 pupils. For the Oberschule these are: minimum 8, maximum 16.
Organisation of the school year
The school year is divided into two semesters and lasts between 38 and 40 weeks (roughly 200 school days) between mid-August and the beginning of July.
School holidays are regulated nationally. They are are in summer, autumn, at Christmas, in February and in spring.
(Cf. Chapter on the Primary School.)
Organisation of the school day and week
Lessons take place from Monday to Friday at secondary level I. Wednesday afternoon is generally free.
The number of lessons per week per subject and grade are regulated by law.
- Ordinance of 23rd March 1999 on the Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School Curriculum
- Ordinance of 14th August 2001 on the Curriculum of, Progression through and School Leaving Examination in the Upper Secondary Level of the Liechtenstein Gymnasium
The number of compulsory lessons per week is 34, with a maximum of 38. All lessons last 45 minutes. In the morning there is an integrated break of 20 minutes and one of 15 minutes in the afternoon, but only when there are more than two afternoon lessons. There are also at least two breaks between lessons of five minutes each.
In the secondary schools lessons do not begin before 7.30 a.m. and the lunch break lasts at least 75 minutes. In school campuses where meals are provided the midday break can be reduced to 40 minutes to allow for optional classes. No compulsory or compulsory-optional lessons are allowed during the lunch break, other than in the case of home economics, when lunch is taken as part of the lesson. Optional and compulsory-optional lessons must end at the latest by 5 p.m.