Understanding the integrated secondary schooling system

Photo by Thomas Kolnowski

Up until now the talk among international parents with kids in the local school system has been whether their child has the grades to make it into the “*Kanti” cantonal school. Frustratingly in Switzerland, grades become important from the 5th grade, i.e. when the child is 10 and the perception is that here it is Kanti or nothing as parents are afraid that  their children would then not be able to make it into university. An explanation of the “new” secondary school system will hopefully allay people’s fears.

The canton of Lucerne offers 3 types of secondary school systems: integrative, cooperative and separated.

The separated system means that children are funneled into one of 3 sections: A, B or C and this according to their marks. They will have all of their classes with peers who are at the same level as them.

The cooperative system means that kids are placed into either an A/B or a C level for German, Maths, English and French. Geography, History and Biology are taught together.

The integrative system means that the kids are not split into different levels, all classes are taught at the same time except for English and French where children are taught with their same level peers. Each child gets given an individual programme and marking (example German B, English A, Maths A, History C). This has the advantage that kids get the teaching their level requires. It also means that every semester they are evaluated and can be moved up or down a level. Thus ensuring that it is easier for children to switch from the secondary school to the “kanti” should they wish to do so. In order to do this they need to have a level A: (average 4.5) in 4 subjects (or 3 level A subject marked min. 4.5 and 1 level B subject marked 5).

The integrative system has been in place in the city of Lucerne since 2016, as well as in other towns around the canton. On the map integrative schools are shown in green.

A child can go over to the kanti in the second and third year of “Sekundar” school. They have one semester of transitioning before being integrated into kanti.

So what does this mean? Our children are able to reach their potential at their rhythm, the individual marking enables them to be met where their learning needs are and it takes the pressure off of them having to study like crazy in 5th & 6th grade in order to reach the needed grades for going to cantonal school.

If you want to find out more here is the presentation (in German) given to parents of 5th graders by the city of Luzern.


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