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Guide to Secondary Education

It is difficult to decide where to send a secondary school age child when arriving in a new country.  Here is a brief overview of what your options for secondary education in an around Lucerne are:

State Schools (in the canton of Lucerne)

One obvious benefit of a state run secondary school would be the cost, as it is funded by taxes without any additional cost to you. Pupils will also benefit from quicker and deeper integration into the German and Swiss languages, local culture and customs as well as a group of friends that are less likely to be transient.

After the obligatory 6 years in primary school children are streamed into one of two paths. Students aspiring to an academic career (about 20% of all children) will attend the Langzeitgymnasium to achieve a Matura/Baccalaureate within six years that allows them direct access to a Swiss university. The Kantonsschule Luzern Alpenquai offers a bilingual Matura cursus with a section of the classes being taught in English.

Children who are less likely to pursue an academic education will attend the Sekundarschule that lasts 3 years and is divided into 3 levels appropriate to the pupil’s ability. In addition to the general secondary education in Sekundarschule, pupils are to develop and explore their interests in what profession they would like to pick up. After Sekundarschule pupils on level A can attempt to join the Kurzzeitgymnasium (which lasts for four years) and go on to do the Matura/Baccalaurate. The others will choose a profession and begin an apprenticeship or attend an occupational training school that prepares them for that profession.

Private Schools

There are many different private schools that offer secondary education in and around Lucerne. In contrast to the state schools, you will need to cover tuition fees for sending your child to a private school. Some private schools are following a different pedagogy, cater to pupils with special educational needs or are run as boarding schools.

International School Education

Some private schools offer an internationally accredited education. If you are planning to stay in Switzerland for a short time only this may be the right choice for your child. The International Baccalaureate (IB) or the Advanced Placement (AP) program are such curriculums that are offered in international schools in and around Lucerne and facilitate a transfer to schools with the same education systems if you move on or return home. Some of these schools teach only English, others are bilingual. The schools generally help pupils and their families to integrate quickly into their system and social activities.

Visit the websites of the state and private schools, talk to admissions, take the opportunity to tour the schools and talk to others in the community for recommendations to help you make the right choice for your situation and your child.

This article is from our Summer Magazine which you can download here.