Conjuring up visions of golden hoards and imaginary kingdoms, the romantically named, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, has been helped by farsighted government policy and a liberal tax climate to become a global magnet for banking and financial services but, sadly, international schools are a bit of a rarity.
Just squeaking in under 1,000 square miles, this tiny, rich, expat-heavy country is in very easy reach of the more obvious financial centres of western Europe, so not everyone, who works here, lives here, particularly, as the cost of housing rivals London or Paris. However, the appeal of its manageable size, multilingual, multinational approach and more relaxed lifestyle has seduced increasing numbers of expats to settle here rather than just zip in and out.
Although there is more to Luxembourg than its city, including some very beautiful countryside, complete with fairy-tale castles and mediaeval architecture, most expats choose to live in the capital or in the surrounding towns and villages. Naturally, the international schools have chosen to spring up where this is captive audience is to be found, so they are all based in or around the city itself.
One of the joys of Luxembourg, for its well-paid refugees, is the relative ease that you can get from A to B (of course everyone complains about how much worse the traffic is compared to the ‘olden days’) but it’s a doddle compared to its rivals, London, Paris, Milan and Frankfurt. Basically, wherever you choose to live, whether in the west in Strasson, the south in Howald or the more central districts of Merl or Belair, 20 minutes maximum is, probably, all it takes to drive to any of the international schools.
The European School, Luxembourg, founded in 1953 was the first of the ‘European’ schools (primarily, set up to educate the children of families working in European institutions) and also the first international school to set up shop here. On two campuses (the second, outside the city, in the ancient town of Mamer to the west), it is now the largest international school in the country, teaching its own curriculum in each student’s mother tongue, culminating in the European Baccalaureate.
The Americans followed the Europeans’ lead and grasped that it would take a school offering an education, taught in English, to persuade somewhat spoilt and cosmopolitan executives to relocate to this Ruritanian mountain kingdom. Originally aimed at providing an American education, the International School of Luxembourg now teaches an adapted curriculum leading to IGCSEs and the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
Twenty years later (1985) the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) opened the doors of the Lycée Vauban, which has recently merged with the French School of Luxembourg and become the second largest international school in the country. Here, students also have the option of taking the academically rigorous OIB, which combines the French Baccalaureate with either British or German exams. There is also an English/French bilingual school, OTR International School, which teaches the IBMYP but ends at 15.
In 1990, St George’s International School arrived, offering a full, all-through English curriculum and is one of only two schools to teach the A Level syllabus (the other being the . The school sits in the more rural area to the east of the city but is still only ten minutes from the centre.
Increased demand persuaded the Lycée Michel Lucius in 2011, to run classes in English and this has metamorphosed into a full international school, called the Lycée | International School Michel Lucius teaching the Cambridge curriculum, including IGCSEs and A Levels. There are also the two less traditional options of the bilingual Maria Montessori School, teaching up to the age of 12 or the multilingual Waldorf School of Luxembourg, which offers the IB Diploma.
For more information on these schools, please go to each school’s individual entry on the GSGI database or The GSGI article 'Best schools in Luxembourg considered by expats'.
Luxembourg’s educational system is modelled on the French version and offers an internationally recognised Baccalaureate. Almost all state schools are free but there are a few private secondary schools, subsidised by the state, who supervise their curricula and teachers’ qualifications (similar to the approach of the AEFE).
This is a truly trilingual education started, by speaking and teaching Luxembourgish in pre-school, then learning to read and write in German at the age of six, with French introduced in the following year. German remains the teaching language (with mandatory English lessons) all the way through, except in the academic Lycées classiques where French takes over. This multi-lingual approach continues at the University of Luxembourg which teaches in English, French and German.
This country may seem an anachronism in the modern world, with its feudal head and High German dialect but don’t worry that your children will have a dated education, the schools compare favourably with their European counterparts.