Curriculum, subjects, number of hours
The core curricula of secondary education are defined by the ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MENJE; ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de l'Enfance et de la Jeunesse).
For each discipline, there is a national syllabus commission (CNP; commission nationale des programmes). This commission has been established following the 2011 regulation (règlement grand-ducal du 30 juillet 2011) and includes representatives from every secondary school where the discipline is being taught.
Each CNP proposes a syllabus, general methodological guidelines and information on competences to be acquired by the learners. It also issues a list of school textbooks, of which some may be compulsory and others to be selected from a limited choice. The CNP's syllabus proposal is submitted for validation to the minister of Education.
Syllabus and number of lessons
The number of lessons allocated per subject is annually defined by grand-ducal regulation, for all levels of secondary education. Time grids are available online with the application 'Timetables and syllabuses' (Horaires et programmes) on the educational portal.
Programmes and textbooks of all subjects and classes are published on the application eSchoolBooks, which is part of the educational portal education.lu.
A breakdown of the teaching time allocated to each subject is provided by the Eurydice publication on recommended annual instruction time in full-time compulsory education in Europe.
Specific aspects concerning language teaching
Due to the diversity of Luxembourg's cultural influences, languages play an important part in education policy.
Language learning is supported by a comparatively high number of language lessons, as well as by content and language integrated learning, i.e. the teaching of non-linguistic subjects in foreign languages.
Whereas in primary education the languages of instruction are both German and Luxembourgish, with French as 'language 2', in secondary education thelanguage of instruction gradually tends to become mainly French, with German as 'language 2' and English as 'language 3'. Additional languages may also be learned, depending on the individual pathway chosen by the student.
During the first 3 years of general secondary education, the language of instruction is German except in mathematics, which is taught in French. In the subsequent years, the language of instruction remains mainly German, except for some disciplines taught in French.
In ESG 'general' secondary education, the learners may follow language teaching at different levels. Indeed, since the introduction in 2018 of 'basic' and 'advanced' courses in languages (French and German) learners have the opportunity to work at a level of requirement corresponding to their abilities and skills. Students with difficulties in French or German are thus more likely to obtain a general secondary school diploma.
Language-related educational provision
Depending on the language skills and age of newly arrived students, there are different possible pathways (more information on providers [in French] on the webpage on classic and general secondary education).
Language-specific provision in ESC 'classic' secondary education
Students with a very good academic level in maths but lacking competences in either French or German, there are specific possibilities applicable to the 3 lower years of classic secondary education (grades 7e to 5e):
- 'ALLET' classes (with German as a foreign language, and extra German lessons): for students with a very good level in French and mathematics, but some weakness in German
- 'Français Plus' classes (with additional French lessons in support of the normal timetable lessons): for students with a very good general level in German and mathematics, but some weakness in French
- Classes taught in French (or 'LVF' classes, where French is the main language of instruction), with all non-language subjects taught in French, and German taught at the same level as in the regular classes: for students who are more at ease in French
- Gradual integration for 12 to 16-year-olds: for learners coming from primary and/or secondary education of another country.
These classes aim at integrating learners into the upper classes of regular classic secondary education.
Language-specific provision in ESG 'general' secondary education
Specific classes have been designed for students newly arrived to the country and aged 12-15 years:
- 'Welcome classes': for students having no or insufficient skills in the languages of the national education system; these classes offer intensive training in French or German and initiation courses in the Luxembourgish language
- 'Insertion classes': for students in the lower years of general secondary education, who have a very good level of education in their home country, but no or little skills in the languages of instruction used in Luxembourg; these students follow complementary language classes alongside the other disciplines taught in the 3 first years of general secondary education
- 'RLS' classes are general secondary classes, including vocational education, where the language of instruction is either French or English instead of German. The 2019/20 provision is presented jointly by the ministry of Education and the Employment agency (in French).
Provision in alternative public education systems
Other pathways with different linguistic choices are available in the public offer of international education. International classes apply different syllabuses and use other languages as first medium of instruction (see subchapter 6.10 Organisational Variations).
Teaching methods and materials
Some of the manuals recommended by the syllabus commission are compulsory; others are to be selected by the teacher according to their pedagogical relevance in the specific class. The list of manuels is available via eSchoolBooks. The learners are entitled to obtain their textbooks free of costs.
As to the teaching methods, the ministry of Education defines guidelines and recommendations related to general transversal issues and specific educational concerns, for instance:
- Cultural education
- Sustainable development education
- Media education
- Values education
- Promotion of reading
- Promotion of health and well-being.
Schools are relatively free to choose the methods that best fit their students’ needs.
Since 2015, a strategy for digital education (Digital (4) Education) has been defined (see presentation) and is being implemented at present. Its objective is to give all students equal access to ICT tools while promoting the use of ICT in education. A number of national campaigns concerning ICT security have since been initiated, and the schools have been participating in mandatory information sessions.