The European Schools are official educational establishments controlled jointly by the governments of the Member States of the European Union. In all these countries they are legally regarded as public institutions.
The mission of the European Schools is to provide a multilingual and multicultural education for nursery, primary and secondary level pupils.
The European School system consists of two years of early education (nursery cycle), five years of primary education (primary cycle) and seven years of secondary education (secondary cycle).
'EARLY EDUCATION' (Nursery cycle)
Pupils are admitted to the nursery cycle at the beginning of the school year in September of the calendar year in which the child reaches four years of age.
The children aged four and five are often taught in mixed groups.
Early Education is designed to:
prepare children for a happy, healthy, responsible, and successful life
develop children’s personality and abilities
support children’s learning potential
build up respect for others and the environment
respect and appreciate children’s own cultural and social identity, its values and those of others
promote a European spirit.
Early Education is a fundamental part of lifelong education and learning and its central role is to support children’s growth into ethical and responsible members of society. Teaching and learning in the early years support and monitors children’s physical and psychological wellbeing, including social, cognitive, and emotional development and helps to prevent any difficulties that arise by creating the best possible learning opportunities.
Teaching and learning in the early years are holistic and the different areas of development are not separated. It is important to strengthen children’s healthy sense of self-esteem with the aid of positive learning experiences and to provide opportunities for diverse interaction with other people. Children’s world of experiences shall be enriched, and they should be assisted as they seek to find new areas of interest.
Pupils shall be admitted to primary year p1 at the beginning of the school year in September of the calendar year in which the child reaches six years of age.
In the Primary cycle the focus is on the mother tongue or dominant language (L1), Mathematics and the first foreign language (L2), but Art, Music, Physical Education, Discovery of the World and Religion/Ethics are important, as are the "European Hours", where children from the different sections with mixed nationalities meet for a variety of activities.
Primary cycle harmonised timetable
Secondary S1-S3 (Observation Cycle)
Pupils normally enter the Secondary cycle in the calendar year in which they turn 11, following the successful completion of the European School’s primary cycle or an equivalent course duly certified by an officially recognised school.
The seven years of secondary education are organised in the following way: for the first three years, pupils follow a common curriculum, in what is known as the observation cycle. Most subjects are taught in the mother tongue or dominant language (L1).
All pupils begin to study a second foreign language (L3) from secondary year S1 onwards.
In secondary year S3, all pupils study Human Sciences and Religion or Ethics in their first foreign language (L2).
In secondary year S2, Latin is offered as an option.
In secondary year S3, pupils who chose Latin in year S2 continue to study it.For the other pupils, ICT is offered as an option.
Overview of courses and periods: S1 to S3
Ancient Greek course is organised for pupils who take the Language 1 Greek course, from the second to the fifth year of secondary education. Ancient Greek is also an optional four-period course from secondary year S4 to secondary year S7 taught through Greek, in another L1, L2 or the Host Country Language.
Other National Language: Irish and Maltese are national languages of Ireland and Malta. Swedish and Finnish are national languages of Finland. All four languages can be taught as ONLs in the European Schools system. Irish and Maltese are taught in the English-speaking section to Irish and Maltese Nationals. Finnish in the Swedish section is taught to Finnish nationals and Swedish is taught to Swedish nationals in the Finnish section.
Secondary S4 and S5 (Pre-Orientation Cycle)
In years S4 and S5 sciences are taught separately through the following subjects: Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Pupils may also choose between an extended course in Mathematics (6 periods per week) or a basic course in Mathematics (4 periods per week). Other options include Economics, a third foreign language (L4) and Ancient Greek.
At the end of S3 pupils and parents will receive advice from the career’s advice teams in the school about subject choice. Subject chosen for S4 must be kept for S5. Pupils cannot drop or change subjects between S4 and S5. The only allowed change between S4 and S5 is from Mathematics 6 periods to Mathematics 4 periods provided the pupil retains the minimum number of periods or from Mathematics 4 periods to Mathematics 6 periods with the agreement of the Class Council.
Overview of courses and periods: S4 to S5
As an exception, pupils are allowed, with the agreement of the Class Council and the approval of the directorate, to have more than 35 periods per week if they wish to attend other existing courses which can be combined with their personal timetable.
Secondary S6 and S7 (Orientation or European Baccalaureate Cycle)
Years S6 and S7 form a unity known as the
European Baccalaureate cycle. No admissions can be accepted in year S7. Pupils must have completed without interruption not less than the final two years of secondary education in a European School or in a School Accredited by the Board of Governors to be eligible for obtaining the European Baccalaureate Diploma.
Although there is a core of compulsory subjects, including Language 1, Language 2, Mathematics, at least one scientific subject, Philosophy, Physical Education, History and Geography, pupils have a wide range of further options and may choose to study some subjects for two periods per week, four periods per week or add three periods per week advanced level courses in Language 1, Language 2 or Mathematics.
Different forms and levels of support are provided, designed to ensure appropriate help for pupils experiencing difficulties and having special educational needs at any point in their school career, to allow them to develop and progress according to their potential and to be successfully integrated (see
In the European School system, all the national languages of the 27 EU countries are taught. European Schools are organised in
. The minimum number of sections in a European School is 3. There are 16 EU languages that have a language section in at least one of the European Schools.
Pupils Without A Language Section (SWALS
) are integrated in one of the vehicular language sections (EN, FR, DE) or in the section of the host country language (HCL) of a school (ES, IT, NL). However, they follow their own L1 and the L2 is the language of the section they have been integrated.
Pupils start studying a first foreign language (L2) in primary year p1. That language may be English, French, or German. Schools may offer the language of the Host Country as Language 2. In this case, the language of the subjects taught in L2 will be the Host Country Language.
- Pupils start studying a second foreign language (L3) in secondary year S1.
- Pupils may start studying a third foreign language (L4) in secondary year S4.
- A fourth foreign language (L5) is a complementary course in secondary years S6 and S7.
- Latin is taught from year S2 and Ancient Greek is taught from year S4.
- L3, L4, L5 can, in principle, be any of the official EU languages provided there is a minimum number of requests.
Other National Languages: Irish and Maltese are national languages of Ireland and Malta. Swedish and Finnish are national languages of Finland. All four languages can be taught as ONLs in the European Schools system. Irish and Maltese are taught in the English-speaking section to Irish and Maltese Nationals. Finnish in the Swedish section is taught to Finnish nationals and Swedish is taught to Swedish nationals in the Finnish section.
Basic proficiency level in all modern languages according to the 'Common European Framework of Reference for Languages'
Use of languages
In P3-P5, the subject ‘European Hours’ is taught to mixed language groups, generally in the pupil’s L2 or in the language of the host country.
In S1-S5, Art, Music, Physical Education and, to an extent ICT, are taught in mixed language groups, i.e. groups formed with pupils from different language sections. The language of tuition will normally be the pupils’ L2 but it can also be any other language in the pupils’ curriculum. In S6-S7, Art, Music and Physical Education are taught in a language the pupil has the adequate level of competence.
In S3, Human Sciences courses and the Religion and Ethics courses are taught in L2 (DE, EN or FR or the Host Country Language, if the school offers it). From S4, History, Geography, Religion and Ethics courses and Economics courses are organised in L2 (DE, EN and FR or the Host Country Language, if the school offers it).
In S6-S7, if the 4-period option course in History and Geography cannot be organised in the pupil’s vehicular language (DE, EN, FR or HCL), the pupil may follow it in another vehicular language provided that this is not the pupil’s L1, with a favourable opinion of the Class Council and the approval of the directorate.
Pupils Without A Language Section – SWALS
(See document Language Policy
, on page 14)
SWALS are pupils whose mother tongue/dominant language is an official language of an EU Member State (except for Irish and Maltese) but for whom no language section in their mother tongue/dominant language (L1) exists in their school.
If one of the language sections of the European Schools corresponding to a category I or II pupil’s mother tongue/dominant language is not open in the school, this pupil is entitled to tuition in his/her L1, on the assumption that the school has at its disposal a duly qualified teacher, or can recruit one.
SWALS are normally enrolled in the English, French or German sections. The language of the section becomes the pupil’s L2. SWALS can also be enrolled in the language section of the host country. Their L2 should be English, French, or German, if the school does not offer the Host Country Language as L2.