FAQ (November 2017)
What is the procedure for enrolling a child at the school?
Enrolment is done by application only. Due to the current unprecedented demand for spaces, we are in the process of redesigning and optimising our application procedure in collaboration with other public international schools. In the early spring, we will offer a registration period, during which parents and pupils can visit both our primary and secondary schools to receive guidance on our curriculum. This will simultaneously allow us to meet prospective families. Following a close consideration of each application, families receive feedback from the school.
What are the entry requirements and how does the selection process work?
We carefully review each application, focusing on the child’s educational background, the family’s motivations for joining our school as well as the pupil’s aspirations and possible career plans. This review process is undertaken to ensure that the needs of the families joining our school can be met. We always aim to ensure that our school offer is the best option for any child that we enrol. While this is a time-consuming process, it is indispensable. Alongside the child’s educational background, the length of their stay in Luxembourg is also a relevant factor. For example, we may be the best option for a child who has just arrived in Luxembourg with no prior knowledge of Luxembourg’s school languages. Similarly, families looking for internationally recognised school qualifications, taught in English with flexible options for studying other languages may also be well suited to our school. On the other hand, students wishing to focus their studies on French and German with extensive exposure to Luxembourgish may not be well suited to our programme. We can’t have a UK curriculum and also have the languages of the Luxembourgish system taught at the same level.
What level of English does the child need to have before starting?
We would like children, as much as possible, to have a command of the English language. However, the required level depends on the point of entry. The older the children, the more important it is that they have a strong command of the language. However, we are able to enrol children who are not fluent speakers or who have little command of English. In these cases, we are able to put a range of measures in place, allowing them to develop the language, to access the curriculum, to integrate into the community and work with their peers. We operate based on an immersion model where pupils are fully exposed to the language. Alongside this we also offer English as an additional language support for selected children. We do some language testing for older applicants to ensure that we are the right choice for them, especially when they are looking at joining our A-level programme.
Is there a priority system in place if demand exceeds classroom capacity?
We check each child’s situation and see what alternatives there are. We work with other schools, for example EIDD in Differdange, allowing us to refer children to other schools and vice versa in case of limited spaces.
What is the maximum number of pupils to each class?
Primary is 18-20 and secondary is 24.
How many teachers are native speakers and how do you monitor the level of non-native speakers?
We have many native speakers alongside teachers who despite not being native speakers have the command of a native speaker. Many of our teachers have trained and previously worked in schools offering an English international programme. Alternatively, they may be completed their university studies in an English-speaking country. We value having some teachers who are not necessarily English native speakers but who have mastered the language to native-speaker level. We don’t just have native English speaking children so having some staff who have gone through similar experiences is an enrichment.
What is the policy for children joining the school after spending previous years at a different system, either in Luxembourg or abroad?
Again it is case by case. There are some moments when it’s more difficult and that’s higher up in secondary school, such as GCSE or A-level which are two-year programmes so mid-programme entry is more difficult. It depends on the child’s previous programme, the options they choose, when they apply and how much preparation they need to do to be ready.
What are the choices of foreign languages, from what age and how many hours a week?
From Year 1 in primary all children learn Luxembourgish for one hour a week as a language of communication and integration. From Year 3 until the end of primary they choose either French or German and then add the other language in secondary. Later on they can start to drop some languages – in GCSEs the minimum requirement is to do one, either French or German. At A Level, languages are entirely optional.
Is there a school canteen and after-school care?
In both primary and secondary we have school canteens. At our secondary school, we offer e a range of after-school clubs and activities free of charge. For primary pupils, we provide the option of a comprehensive day care package, from 7am to 7pm.
Is there school transport, from which areas and how much does it cost?
For secondary, there are school buses, coming to Limpertsberg from a range of communes across the country, including from the south of Luxembourg. Transportation is free. For primary, we have a bus shuttle starting from Kirchberg and the second stop is at the Glacis.
How much homework is there and are tasks submitted electronically or handwritten?
In primary, we have a no homework policy. However, we have had to reconsider it because the older primary pupils have requested homework, in order to be well prepared for secondary school. We have now started on projects that they do alone or in groups at home. In secondary, there’s more homework as students progress through the years. In the A-level programme, students have to work independently. They do not follow a traditional timetable in the sense that all of their time at school is filled with taught lessons, as they have a range of independent study periods. Working independently is an important skill that takes time to develop. A lot of the research work and the coursework which is sent away to the examining bodies are done electronically.
How do you prepare and guide students for academic choices which will define their options later in life?
Academic guidance is a crucial part of our international programme and we use a wide range of strategies to equip our students with the knowledge and confidence required to make the right choices. In Year 9, the year prior to having to choose IGCSE subjects, our staff guide students in identifying their strengths and future plans. Additionally, we run information sessions for parents together with the students where we present the various options, always in terms of what can they do the following year but also what it means for them when they go into the A-level programme or when they go to university. It’s quite early for them to make those choices but the choices they make will have a lasting impact. It’s always important to look at the full journey. Subject choices become more and more specialist as we go through. For GCSEs there are some mandatory subjects – they have to do English, maths, sciences, at least one humanity and at least one foreign language. Then for A-level there’s a lot of choice. That’s a difficult but interesting moment because they get to really tailor their schooling to what they want to do. They can mix and match, always bearing in mind what the requirements are for university in the country they want to go to.
How are they prepared for university?
The A-level programme is good preparation for university because it is not a programme that keeps students in the classroom every minute of the week. Learning to work independently and more autonomously is part of the programme. A number of the A-level programmes require coursework which is very much like first-year university type assignments where they have to do research, learn to reference, do a bibliography. Before they enter their A-level programme, we run study skills sessions with all students, developing a wide range of transferable skills such as skills, presentation skills and critical thinking skills. These sessions not only equip students with the right tools to succeed in a challenging school programme but also help with their transition to university. Another element we support students with is the university application process. In their AS year they start exploring different options, before we help them to narrow down their choices, and guide them through the application process with personal statements, references and predicted grades. Students take part in workshops, led by our university guidance team. Each student has a dedicated member of staff assigned to them who guides them through the entire process.
How do you expose them to different career paths?
They do work experience in Year 9 and at the end of the GCSE programme. After this there’s a reflection period during which students design posters, displaying their experiences, so the younger children can learn from their older peers’ experiences. Additionally, we have one lesson per week of tutor time in Years 7, 8 and 9 which is focused on discovering different professions and what students’ strengths and choices are. Every year we hold a Foire where we invite companies and student unions to talk to them face-to-face and some internships come out of the discussions and students have new ideas and discover different jobs.
What support structures do you have in place for students with learning difficulties?
We see ourselves as an inclusive school. In secondary we have a school policy so the procedures are clear if a teacher notices that a student might have special needs. Our SEN specialist guides teachers and works one-on-one or in small groups and with families. We are in the process of implementing similar procedures in our primary school.
Is there anything in place for very gifted students to push them further?
There are different activities in class or extra activities after school. We have to differentiate activities in the classroom. This is important for us as a school and is the reality of teaching and learning, as not all children, even though they are in the same class, work at the same level. So, it’s about challenging the ones who require the challenge and supporting the ones who need support. The important thing is that children are learning and progressing and excelling still challenged.
(Interview by Ms Helled Pritchard)