Educational programme

The three cycles of secondary education

Pupils normally enter the secondary school in the calendar year in which they turn 11, following the successful completion of the European School’s primary course or an equivalent course duly certified by an officially recognised school.

The seven years of secondary education are divided into three stages, or cycles:


Observation cycle 1-3 Secondary classes
Pre-orientation cycle 4-5 Secondary classes
Orientation cycle 6-7 Secondary classes


A multilingual program

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.

Starting from the first year of the Secondary cycle, all students chose a second foreign language (L3), and in the fourth class they are allowed, if they wish, to choose a third foreign language (LIV) as an optional subject.

Arts, music and physical education classes are always composed of pupils from different linguistic sections. By the third year of secondary school, humanities courses and Religion or Moral/Ethics classes are taught in the student’s foreign language (L2).

In the second year, Latin can be chosen as an optional subject. In the third year, pupils either continue to study Latin or start a computer science class (ICT).

In fourth and fifth years, the general sciences course (compulsory) is subdivided into Physics, Biology or Chemistry, and the humanities course into History and Geography. About the Mathematics, pupils can choose between 4 periods and 6 periods classes. Other course options include Economics (taught in the L2), L4 (third foreign language), Latin, Arts, Music, and ICT.

The sixth and the seventh years of Secondary school form the third cycle of studies, leading to the Baccalaureate. There is still a compulsory core curriculum (that includes first language, first foreign language (L2), Mathematics, one of the sciences, Philosophy, Sports, History and Geography), students may also choose from a wide array of elective classes of two periods, four periods, or advanced level.

Students are regularly evaluated, with reports cards being distributed three or four times each year. Assessment are based on both class work and exam results (official exams are not given during the observation  cycle). At the end of the school year, specific criteria set by the Board of Governors are used to determine a student’s eligibility to pass into the next grade level.

The European Baccalaureate

The European Baccalaureate include the last two years of the Secondary School (S6 and S7), in the European Schools or in schools accredited by the Board of Governors.

The core curriculum consists of the following compulsory subjects, some of which can be chosen at different level of complexity:

  • At least two language subjects (the L1 and another one).
  • Mathematics, either 3 periods/week or 5 periods/week.
  • One scientific subject, either Biology 2 periods/weeks or any other 4 periods scientific subject in Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
  • History and geography, either 2 periods/week or 4periods/week, which are taught through a different language from the dominant one, either in French, English or German.
  • Philosophy, either 2 periods/week or 4 periods/week.
  • Physical education.
  • Moral/Ethics or Religion.


In addition to the core curriculum, pupils have a wide range of options and complementary subjects they can choose from to complete their program, which must total a minimum of 31 periods per week and a maximum of 35.