A school district is fixed for each public school. In the case of the primary schools it is the municipal school council which determines the school districts. They are distributed geographically so that there are roughly equal-sized classes in each district. If kindergarten and primary classes are amalgamated, the municipal school council determines the applicable school district (Ordinance on the Organisation of Public Schools, Art. 3).
The children are in principle allotted to the primary school of their residential community. If there are special reasons (cf. choice of school below (LINK), the Education Office can dispense with this ruling (School Law Art. 6, 2).
Where necessary, the municipalities organise transport arrangements (school buses) for the children and cover the costs.
Admission requirements and choice of school
Choice of school
There is no option to choose a school in the public school system. Children attend the primary school in the municipality in which they live, or alternatively are allotted to the most appropriate primary school. In special cases (e.g. if a child is being looked after in a day-care centre or with a registered carer in another municipality), a request for the child to attend a different primary school may be granted.
Start of compulsory schooling
Towards the end of the kindergarten stage a child’s readiness for school is assessed and a decision is made as to whether the child can start school or must wait another year. The relevant factors are age, stage of development, and the family circumstances of the child.
School attendance is compulsory for all children who live in Liechtenstein and have reached the age of six years by the cut-off date (30 June). There is a discretionary period of four months i.e. parents can freely decide on their child’s entry into the primary school up to two months before and two months after the cut-off date (cf. table below). If the child reaches the age of six in the two months after the cut-off date, admission is provisory (trial period up to the autumn holidays) (School Law, Art. 74 ff).
At the request of the parents, the head of school, with the involvement of an educational psychologist, may admit to school prematurely a child who is neither obliged nor entitled to start school; or may defer entry to school, by a year, of a child who is of school age but who is deemed not to be ready for school (School Law, Art. 74ff., 86).
Special preparatory classes
Children who are judged to be not ready for school in certain aspects can attend special classes where they receive specific help to prepare them for school. The decision-making process involves teachers, the parents and, if necessary, an educational psychologist. The specific classes prepares children based on targeted diagnostics under conditions of the maximum possible individual attention for the demands of the first or second stage of the primary school.
Special Preparatory Classes begins when a child becomes of obligatory schooling age and lasts one or two school years. After the one-year Special Preparation the child will move into the first level of the primary school; after the two-year Special Preparation into level 2 of the primary school. The time spent in the special preparatory classes is counted towards the school time required for satisfying the mandatory minimum schooling requirements.
Preparatory classes can take place in special classes or in the context of supplementary classes (Ordinance on special educational measures, paedagogic-therapeutic measures, special education and the educational psychology service, Art.7ff).
Age levels and grouping of pupils
Classes or levels are normally organised according to age groups or grades. At the primary level, as well as in kindergartens, day schools and sports classes, classes may be formed, when necessary, which span more than one grade or even more than one type of school. In three small primary schools - out of the total of 14 primaries in the country - there are currently classes which span two grades.
The primary classes are taught by teachers who have been trained as generalists. These teachers teach all, or most, of the subjects. The class teacher looks after and bears responsibility for the class. By agreement with the municipal school council, the function of the class teacher can be carried out by two teachers, as long as each teacher spends at least 40% of their time with the class.
If necessary, specialist teachers can be employed for certain subject areas, for remedial teaching or for the teaching of children with special educational needs.
The class size guidelines are set by the government. In the primary school, the minimum class size is 12 pupils, the average is 20, and the maximum 24 (Ordinance on the Organisation of Public Schools, Appendix 1).
Organisation of the school year
The school year is divided into two terms and lasts between 38 and 40 weeks overall - around 200 school days between mid-August and the beginning of July (School Law, Art. 12). School holidays are in summer, autumn, at Christmas, in February and in the spring (Ordinance on the Organisation of the Public Schools; Ordinance on the Organisation of Public Schools, Appendix 2, Art. 7a, para.1) and are organized as follows:
|Autumn holidays||First Saturday in October||2 weeks|
If 24 December falls on a Tuesday, the holidays begin on 21 December
Until 6 January.
If 6 January falls on a Thursday, the holidays will end on 9 January
|Second term of the school year|
If 2nd February falls on a Tuesday, the 1st February is also a holiday. If 2nd February falls on a Thursday, the 3rd February is also a holiday
|Sports holidays||Saturday of Carnival Week||Sunday in Lent|
|Easter holidays||Midday on Maundy Thursday||Until the Sunday of the second week after Easter|
|Long weekend Ascension Thursday||Sunday after Ascension|
|Long weekend Feast of Corpus Christi||Sunday after Corpus Christi|
|Summer holidays||First Saturday in July|
If the first Saturday of July falls on the first day of the month, the holidays will begin on the second Saturday in July
The national holiday calender is published on the website of the Office of Education
Organisation of the school day and week
The number of lessons per week and subject is set out in the Ordinance on the Organisation of Public School:
- 23 in the first class
- 26 in the second class
- 28 in the third class and
- 30 in the fourth and fifth classes.
Each lesson lasts 45 minutes.
In the morning, there is a break of 20 minutes after the second lesson and another break of 15 minutes after the second lesson in the afternoon.
In the kindergarten and the primary school lessons do not start before 8 am and the lunch break lasts at least 75 minutes.
Compulsory or voluntary-compulsory lessons may not take place during the lunch break (except for home economics where lunch is taken during the lesson). In the first and second years of primary school, there is an extra afternoon with no lessons in addition to the regular free afternoon on Wednesdays (Ordinance on the Organisation of Public Schools, Art. 8).
|Monday||determined according to school provision, dependent on availability of care service provisions||Start not before 8 am||at least 70 minutes; in the case of schools which provide lunch at least 40 minutes (normally 11.30 at the latest until 13.30 at the earliest)||compulsory and voluntary-compulsory lessons finish at 5 pm at the latest||determined according to school provision, dependent on availability of care service provisions|
|Thursday||compulsory and voluntary-compulsory lessons finish at 5 pm at the latest|
Supplementary child care
Supplementary child care services outside of Schools falls within the remit of the Office of Social Affairs and is governed by the relevant laws and decrees for out-of-home supervision and care. The care staff are employed by the municipalities, which also cover the costs (Ordinance on out-of-home Supervision and Care of Children and young Persons).
In Liechtenstein there are two models for supplementary care for school children, as follows:
Day care centres: Responsibility for certification/approval and supervision rests with the Office of Social Services. The providers (mostly associations) are responsible for the day-to-day operation. The municipalities make available buildings and infrastructure. So far, day centre provision in Liechtenstein is mainly organised by the Association of Childrens’ Day Centres. Their range of services covers the following areas: kindergartens and primary schools with flexible starting times, help with school homework, as well as providing lunch and childcare before and after lessons. The supplementary care provision is free and parents can opt in and out as they wish (à la carte system).
Day schools: In respect of municipal schools, responsibility for the teaching staff and the syllabus rests with the Office of Education, while responsibility for nursery/after-school care staff and infrastructure rests with the municipality. In the case of country schools, full responsibility rests with the Office of Education. Day schools are based on a particular educational model. Lessons and care/supervision flow into each other. During lesson times, the day school is obligatory for all from Monday to Friday (except for a maximum of two afternoons). Day schools are governed by two principles: voluntary participation and absence of fees. Currently there are two day schools in Liechtenstein (Schaan and Vaduz) offering a whole day programme (National Concept for Day Care Provisions).