A Luxembourg state secondary school began a new chapter on Friday when it opened a primary, offering English-language schooling.
Sporting new backpacks and accompanied by their parents, 260 pupils representing 45 nationalities arrived on Friday for the first day of term at Lycée Michel Lucius’ new primary school in rue Charles IV, Luxembourg-Belair.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Pascale Petry, director of the Lycée Michel Lucius, which has offered English language education streams in secondary since 2011. She explained that the project was equal parts initiated by the education ministry and the lycée.
“We noticed that when families applied for their children they did not only have children starting in year 7,” she said on 15 September.
While Friday was the first official day of classes, the setting was not so very new as pupils, parents and teachers had already met on Thursday during an open day.
“As the time-frame was very short between setting up the school and the first day, the parents wanted to have quite a lot of information. That’s also why we opened yesterday, so they could tell us their concerns,” Petry said, adding “The feedback from parents was great.”
The school is currently temporarily housed in prefab containers, located in a quiet resident area of the leafy Belair suburb. Photo: JB
The director explained that the idea for the school took shape in 2016 when a new law was passed. “We had the OK from parliament in December 2016 and from December until now we were building up the school.”
It was an intense process--Petry jokes that any holidays had to be postponed--but, she stresses she had a good team behind her.
And it helped enormously that the list of requirements for teachers was adjusted. Previously, teachers in the Luxembourg state system had to speak all three national languages. This criteria was relaxed so that to qualify, teachers need only speak one national language to level B2, in addition to having the necessary qualifications and five years’ teaching experience. It means they were able to recruit teachers who already lived in and were working in Luxembourg.
The school teaches the Cambridge curriculum for all subjects except for languages, which follows a more European system, offering the first foreign language in year 3 and the second at secondary school. Furthermore, pupils will be taught Luxembourgish as a language of integration.
Among the parents who accompanied their children on the first day, one mum lavished praise on the facilities, particularly the extra-curricular workshops during lunch time and after school (maison relais), which included things like photography, arts and crafts and music and performance. Primary school head Daniel Redinger said that these activities, were coordinated with the teachers to reinforce classroom learning, enabling the school to adopt a no-homework policy.
For expediency, the school is currently temporarily housed in prefab containers, located in a quiet resident area of the leafy Belair suburb. Eventually, it will move to a more permanent building, but Redinger said it was too early to comment on where this would be.
“I expect the primary will continue to grow. It’s the same as with anything, we will have to adapt to demand both in terms of our recruitment of teachers and infrastructure,” he said. Demand for places at the school was extremely high, especially in the first year.
Among the 16 classes created, five are in year 1. What’s more, Petry said that the school received more than 450 applications. “We really tried to be fair and give those children who we thought would profit most from our school the chance to come. The building has limited space so it would be irresponsible for us to start with more children,” she explained.
The Lycée Michel Lucius secondary school starts the new school year on Monday when 500 students have enrolled in the English section.