(Editor’s note: Terry Boyd also contributed to this post.)
One of the bigger challenges for English-speaking expat families – even for well-paid corporate nomads – is finding a satisfactory, English-language international school.
Such schools cater to expat students, with curricula tied to the host nation in question, or an international education organization such as Edexcel, Cambridge International Examinations, and International Baccalaureate; if you’re curious about the International Baccalaureate program, by the by, Dispatches Europe has a primer for your convenience.
Wherever you’re headed, do not wait to get there before starting the application process with your preferred international school, which can be lengthy.
With business growing ever more global, many international schools have more applications than spaces. This is particularly true in tiny Luxembourg City, which despite its compact size is one of the most important financial centers on the planet, not to mention one of the capitals of the European Union along with Brussels and Strasbourg.
You might also want to check out the schools in person and interview parents in case the reality fails to live up to the promotional literature and beautiful photos of campus life at a given international school.
Luxembourg City is the capital of Luxembourg, and the country’s most populous commune (around 116,000 as of January 2016 in the city, 180,000-plus in the metro area). The city began life as a fortified tower overwatching the crossing of two roads during the Roman era. In 963 CE, an exchange treaty between Saint Maximin, Siegfried I and Emperor Otto the Great established the foundation for what would become Luxembourg; Siegfried built the small castle Lucilinburhuc on a site mentioned in the treaty. A marketplace in front of the Church of the Redemption built around 987 would be the beginning of the namesake city.
Today, Luxembourg City is the seat of several institutions related to the E.U. including the European Court of Justice and the European Investment Bank. The city has been named European Capital of Culture in 1995 (by itself) and 2007 (as part of a cross-border arrangement with locales in Germany, France and Belgium).
The Central Bank of Luxembourg, ArcelorMittal, BGN BNP Paribas and Advanzia Bank are some of the nationals and multi-nationals headquartered in the city. Cultural sites include the Luxembourg City History Museum, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, and itself; it was entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994, due to the historic significance of the city’s fortifications.
It is a very posh little city in a super-wealthy country that spends the most on education out of all the nations in Europe. Like … by a mile!
St. George’s International School: More than 750 students between 3 and 18 from over 50 nations attend our first school in the list, St. George’s International School. St. George’s began life as St. George’s British School in 1990, changing its name in 1998 when more than 50 percent of its growing student body no longer came from the United Kingdom.
The school believes learning should be both accessible and personalized, where students are given “challenging academic opportunities” on a foundation of “strong values, based on mutual understanding, tolerance and respect.” Accreditation is through the Council of British International Schools, The Society of Heads, The Council of Independent Schools, and the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools; curriculum includes offerings from Cambridge and Edexcel.
- Fees (2016-17 academic year): €750 one-time application fee (per student); €450 one-time refundable deposit; €660 annual building fund fee; €1,100 annual stability fund fee; €6,470 – €13,125 annual tuition, depending on grade level; full schedule of fees here
- Requirements: Complete and submit application with current school reports and other information (if needed), along with application fee
- Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
- Contact: [email protected]
- Website: st-georges.lu
International School of Luxembourg: More than 1,300 students from more than 45 nations attend the International School of Luxembourg, with 15 percent hailing from the United States. ISL is an International Baccalaureate World School, and has offered the IB Diploma since 1998; it also offers the Cambridge IGCSE programme.
English is the main language spoken at the school, with French and German taught from K through 12 and 6 through 12, respectively. ISL’s mission is to “provide an outstanding education in a caring international environment,” equipping its students with the tools necessary to “function successfully within both the community of our school and the multilingual, multicultural societies” outside.
- Famous Alumni: Singer Brian Molko and bassist/guitarist Stefan Olsdal of Placebo (they crossed paths after ISL); British ice hockey player Colm Cannon; British dancer Kendra Horsburgh; and Prince Sébastien of Luxembourg (currently fifth in line for the throne of Luxembourg)
- Fees (2016-17 academic year): €300 one-time application fee; €3,000 one-time registration and capital fee; €350 annual school growth fund fee (per child); €1,250 annual stability reserve fund fee (per child); €11,650 – €16,400 annual tuition; depending on grade level; €1,250 non-refundable annual tuition deposit, credited to full tuition fee
- Requirements: Submit and complete all required applications with required documentation; visit campus for meeting and testing
- Application Deadline: On-going for mid-year entry; full details here
- Contact: Via online inquiry form
- Website: islux.lu
European School Luxembourg: European School Luxembourg was founded in October 1953 “on the initiative of officials of the European Coal and Steel Community, with the support of the Community’s institutions and the Luxembourg Government.” ESL shares its mission with the other European Schools throughout the continent: to create Europeans who still hold “love and pride” for their homelands, and will “consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.” The school caters mainly to students whose parents are part of a European organization, while those who work for multi-nationals can have their tuition paid by their employer (via special agreement). Others can enroll, but will have to pay out-of-pocket.
- Fees (2016-17 academic year): €7,021.34 – €13,165.16 annual tuition (Category III students only), depending on grade level; €500 application fee (Category II and III students only); contact school for fee information
- Requirements: Complete and submit application with required documentation and application fee, if required
- Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
- Contact: [email protected]
- Website: euroschool.lu
Over the Rainbow International School: Okay, the name made us think this was a pre-school. But when we pulled up the website, we realized this is a full-blown international school. As far as we can tell, Judy Garland never went here.
Anyway, this five-year-old international school with classes in French and English starts with 3 year olds in preschool and goes through 18 year olds in lycée. OTRIS just opened in a renovated building at 7, Val Ste Croix in Luxembourg-Belair. just west of the center of this financial center.
From the Over the Rainbow website:
After the acquisition and transformation of our new building, “Over The Rainbow School” will stand among the most modern international bilingual (English and French) schools of our City, structured and adapted according to the latest architectural and pedagogical concepts and thus ready to accommodate a maximum number 270 students of different nationalities.
The philosophy is to give students the stability of spending their early years at one familiar institution. Over the Rainbow also stresses the value of being bilingual and learning a second language at an early age as a step toward developing more sophisticated ways of understanding the world.
The school philosophy is:
- To teach respect for others as well as for themselves
- To nurture open-mindedness
- To mobilize and develop all the child’s capabilities using diversified methods that lead to self-sufficiency
- To teach basic learning by adapting to the personality and pace of each child
- To make every child, a key players in their own education and socialisation
- To emphasise the School year with various outings and excursions in order to enrich their childhood
- To involve parents in the education of their children through tight school/family cooperation in order to help their children grow
And like everything in Luxembourg, a good education doesn’t come cheap.
- Fees (2016-17 academic year): Fees start at €8,500 per year for pre-school, €9,500 for the primary school and €10,000 for the secondary school.
- Requirements: Enrollment is limited, with waiting lists. Classes are in English or French, with certified language instructors. The choice of the selected language must correspond to the native or the usually spoken language of the child. Fluency may be assessed through testing. OTRIS adheres to the objectives set forth in the Luxembourgish National Education Program published by the Ministry of National Education.
- Application Deadline: N/A, but school officials stress that the earlier you apply, the better.
- Contact: [email protected] or call cc 352.26.09.45.42.
- Website: http://overtherainbow.lu/