The School System
How does the school system work? Where can you find supervised care outside of school hours? What options are available for assisting children with special needs?
You can listen to brief introductory information in your language here:
+ Public schools city of Lucerne
+ Educational system canton of Lucerne
+ Educational system key words
Frequently asked questions
All children and adolescents who live in the city of Lucerne can and must attend school. There are no fees for attending the public schools in Luzern, and school materials are free of charge. Private schools charge tuition. The school year lasts from mid-August through early July of the following year, for approximately 38 weeks, with vacation breaks during Fasnacht, in the spring, summer, fall, and over Christmas. In general, children attend school for 10 to 11 years.
+ School year and vacation schedule with contact list Lucerne Public Schools
The public school system programs consist of kindergarten; basic-level class; primary and secondary school, educational assistance, and supplementary supervision for kindergarten and primary-school children.
The kindergarten is an environment for experiencing and learning, whereby play is central in all learning activities. The city of Lucerne offers 2-year, mixed-age kindergarten or basic-level classes at the various school facilities. Children are entitled to attend kindergarten for two years; one year is compulsory. Admission is possible twice a year, in February or August. Children who have completed their fifth year before November 1st must begin the mandatory kindergarten or basic-level period in August of that year; children who are a year younger can begin the voluntary kindergarten year in August or February.
Children attend kindergarten or basic-level classes on five mornings per week during core times from 8:15-11:45 a.m. The parents and teacher decide together when the child will transfer from kindergarten or the basic-level class to primary school.
Children enter the first grade after kindergarten, or the third grade after the basic-level program. The primary-school curriculum lasts for 6 years. Instruction occurs during core times from 8:15 to 11:45 a.m. daily and on two to three afternoons per week from 1:45 until 4:20 p.m. at the latest. The transition process to the secondary-school level (Sekundarschule or long-term Gymnasium) begins in the fifth grade. The parents, teacher and child determine together, according to the child's abilities, which school he or she will attend after the sixth grade.
Secondary School (Sekundarschule)
Sekundarschule will prepare the child for entry into vocational training, an additional school, or the short-term Gymnasium. There are different levels of instruction (A, B, C). The curriculum lasts for 3 years; the transfer to the short-term Gymnasium occurs after the second or third year.
Information on transferring to a short-term Gymnasium or technical high school can be found here:
+ Admission procedures
A variety of vocational or academic options are available to the young person following completion of the public school program. The educational system is freely accessible, and there are many pathways to a career. You can find detailed information on the educational system in the canton of Luzern in different languages here:
+ Dienststelle Volksschulbildung
+ Dienststelle Berufs- und Weiterbildung
The music school is not a part of the compulsory public school program. Application for this optional program can be made at the Lucerne City Music School, which charges tuition.
+ Music school
All children and adolescents are required to attend a public or private school. The parents are responsible for ensuring that their child attends school; they can decide whether to enroll their child in a public school, or a private school that will charge tuition.
Parents have the right to be provided with information regarding their child’s progress in school as well as important plans pertaining to the curriculum and school programs. For their part, parents work together with the school. The teacher will invite them and their child at least once a year to discuss the child's performance. Participation in the parent-teacher discussions is mandatory for both the parents and the child.
Certain school activities (class outings, sports days, class camping, project weeks) are a part of the standard school Curriculum, and participation is mandatory for each child.
Instruction in the public schools is nondenominational. The parents decide whether their child will participate in the church-related religious instruction.
Parents also have certain rights. They decide whether their child will attend a public or a private school. They have the right to visit the classes and school events. They have the right to be provided with information regarding their child's development and behaviour in school, as well as important plans pertaining to the curriculum and school programs, at regular intervals.
Children in kindergarten and primary school can be registered for the public-school program of supplementary supervised care. The children attend on stipulated days during the school year and receive, depending on the time of day, breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon snack. Participation is voluntary, and a fee is charged. The parents' fee is based on the family's household income. Outside of the core school hours, the following supplementary care can be arranged:
7.00 – 8.15 a.m. Early morning
11.45 a.m.– 2.15 p.m. Lunch hour
1.45 – 3.30 p.m. Early afternoon
3.30 – 6.00 p.m. Late afternoon
Day-care is also available for children in kindergarten and primary school during 11 school-vacation weeks. A fee is charged. There is no supplementary care during the Christmas vacation and the first week of summer vacation.
Children and adolescents who only need homework assistance can be registered for homework and study supervision. This is available in all primary and secondary-school facilities, and a fee is charged.
+ Supervised care at public schools
+ Vacation day-care
+ Primary school
+ Secondary school
Children and adolescents whose knowledge of the German language is lacking or insufficient receive additional assistance at their school. Language instruction in the form of German as a Second Language (Deutsch als Zweitsprache, DaZ) is offered in individual or group lessons. In addition, special programs to facilitate learning the German language are available to non-native-speaking children in the integrative public schools (Integrative Volksschule).
Multilingual children can also attend supplementary classes in their native language and culture (Unterricht in Heimatlicher Sprache und Kultur, HSK) , conductet in their native language
Caritas Luzern and FABIA, the Department for Counseling and Integration of Foreign Nationals (Fachstelle für Beratung und Integration von Ausländerinnen und Ausländer), among other services, assist non-native-speaking parents in collaboration with the schools and offer them courses and translating services. Details on the services of Caritas und FABIA can be found here:
+ Caritas Luzern
A variety of information for parents is available from the Department of Public Education in different languages:
+ Translated documents for parents
For children with particular problems, the Public School Assistance Departement offers students and their parents counseling and therapeutic services.
The school psychologists counsel and assists children with problems in regard to learining, performance, and behavior.
The speech therapists assist and treat children with communication, language, speech, and voice disorders.
The psychomotor therapy service diagnose and treat children with psychomotor disorders.
The school social workers counsel students and their caregivers in regard to questions of social development, conflicts, and crises.
Every child who is a resident of Lucerne has the right and the obligation to attend school, regardless of his or her residence status. The schools exercise discretion in regard to the residence status and location of the parents.
+ Contact- and advisory service for Sans-Papiers Lucerne
Newcomers can call (Tel. 041 208 86 15 / firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the School Rector’s Office (Rektorat Volksschule, Winkelriedstrasse 12a) in Lucerne’s City Hall. You can also find all the registration forms and additional documentation on kindergarten, primary and secondary school, out-of-school supervision, and school-assistance services at www.volksschule.stadtluzern.ch