- Can you withdraw from public school during the year?
- Can a director refuse to grant permission?
- Must I follow the Luxembourgish curriculum ?
- Luxembourgish Curriculum (primary school only)
- How does homeschooling work, or what does it look like in practice?
- Which correspondence courses and teaching materials can I choose?
- Can I go back to school after leaving school?
- How are the homeschooled years or diplomas recognized?
- Are we preparing our children for a better future by withdrawing from public school
- Should public education be followed to avoid the emergence of parallel societies?
- Should children of allophone families stay in the public school system to integrate them?
- How many children are homeschooled in Luxembourg?
- The socialization of homeschooled children
1. Can you withdraw from public school during the year?
As stipulated in the law of 29.08.1953 approving the Paris Convention of 20 March 1952, the State, in the exercise of its functions in the field of education and teaching, shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in accordance with their religious and philosophical convictions. The above-mentioned law implies that young people subject to it do not necessarily have to attend a public school.
We found nothing in the law stating that withdrawing from public school during the year is not allowed and this would be in contradiction with this right to homeschool.
We know families who have dropped out of school during the year. In practice, however, when the request is made during the year, some directors have dragged their feet to give permission, so if possible, it is best to do so in advance.
2. Can a director refuse to grant permission?
A director may not arbitrarily refuse to give authorization, without having a serious reason to do so, for example, that it is not in the best interests of the child. If that were the case, there would be recourse.
Recently, some allophone families – that is to say not speaking any of the local official languages – with children under 10 years of age, were refused permission to homeschool because the parents could not prove that they would be leaving Luxembourg in the short term (fixed-term employment contract for expatriates, for example), nor could they prove that they could ensure the learning of local languages, in this case Luxembourgish for the youngest and German and French for the older ones.
If the young person does not thrive in school, the situation is different, the best interests of the child must always be a primary consideration in all decisions affecting the young person.
These refusals are highly debatable from one point of view to another. However, the draft bill provides more flexibility with regard to languages.
3. Must I follow the Luxembourg curriculum?
According to Art. 21 (elementary/primary education): « … Homeschooling must target the acquisition of the foundational skills defined by the curriculum. In duly justified circumstances, in particular if the parents intend to have their child take correspondence courses (please note that this should not be understood as a condition but as an example), the district director may grant an exemption from teaching one or more of the subjects provided for in Article 7 of the School Act. »
Legal text (page 86)
It is therefore possible to follow a curriculum other than the Luxembourgish curriculum, subject to the agreement of the director.
It should also be noted that targeting the acquisition of the fundamental skills defined in the curriculum does not mean that it is compulsory to reach them. The child must be given the opportunity to reach them, because he has the right to education, but no one can be forced to learn. Not all students in schools reach these fundamental skills.
However, the curriculum is relatively flexible in relation to the different rhythms of the children by providing for a low, medium and high level.
On the other hand, there are strong empirical and scientific arguments against forcing learning or requiring the acquisition of certain skills by a given age, and the draft bill provides more flexibility with respect to these standards.
For example, if a child cannot read by age 10, this does not predict poor future reading skills. It would not be admissible, however, to not allow him to develop this skill.
However, natural learning enthusiasts have to be well-informed of the law in order to defend their position against the authorities.
4. Luxemburgish Curriculum (primary school only)
5. How does homeschooling work, or what does it look like in practice?
Homeschooling must target the acquisition of the fundamental skills defined by the curriculum. In practice, parents educate according to their own convictions and abilities.
In general, parents educate their children themselves by adapting to the personality of the child they usually know well. They follow specific methods or teach based on everyday events. Very often, parents start homeschooling in a fairly formal way but end up educating through more informal methods that prove more satisfactory. Depending on the circumstances, they find a balance between the two by adapting to the child and his particularities and interests.
It all depends on their ideology or beliefs, how they see the child, and their ability to let go of normative expectations.
Some families delegate some or all (rare) instruction to external teachers, depending on their income, availability and skills. Many parents opt for correspondence courses. According to the law of 06.02.2009, however, this is not an obligation (see question above).
Homeschooling is subject to inspection by the school district director. If the education provided does not meet the criteria defined above, the pupil is automatically enrolled in the school in his commune of residence. The same applies if you refuse the director’s inspection.
In the end, everything depends on the school district director. Everything is debatable, especially from a legal and pedagogical point of view, but ideally all parties can collaborate well. In general, inspections go well when everyone does their part.
6. Which correspondence courses and teaching materials can I choose?
In reading Article 21, we can understand that correspondence courses in French or German are possible, insofar as most of the subjects in Article 7 are covered. For Anglophones, some English courses may be accepted depending on the particular situation of the family and the director.
Legal text (Art. 7 page 86)
In the event the director refuses the choice of correspondence courses or teaching materials, this will be debatable insofar as the courses meet the criteria of the law.
Indeed, as stipulated in Article 3 of the law of 6 February 2009 on compulsory education, the school’s missions must prepare children for their adult life and certain social values. It is within this framework that the choice of curriculum must be evaluated.
Missions of the School
Art. 3. School education promotes children’s development, creativity and confidence in their abilities. It enables them to acquire a general culture, prepares them for professional life and the exercise of their responsibilities as citizens in a democratic society. It educates them in the ethical values based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and leads them to respect equality between girls and boys. It is the foundation of lifelong learning. Families are involved in carrying out these objectives. To promote equity of opportunity, appropriate provisions make it possible for everyone to have access, according to their aptitudes and particular needs, to the different types or levels of school education.
Below are some references of correspondence courses as examples:
In French: CNED, Hattemer, Legendre, Vallais, EAD (Belgique), Sainte-Anne, PI, Cours Académiques, KerLann, Clonlara …
In German: Clonlara Schule , www.flex-fernschule.de, www.kern-bildung.de, www.web-individualschule.de , www.vhs.de, www.methodos-ev.org
In English: Clonlara, West River Academy, … given that homeschooling is well established in the United States, there are many online or correspondence classes in English.
In Luxembourg, there are e-learning possibilities at the high school level so check www.ecampus.lu.
Although most correspondence courses are often expensive, the Belgian EAD is reasonably priced but it does not issue a proof of participation or school certificate.
The draft law intend to solve the problem of bridging the gap between homeschooling, school qualifications and access to diplomas.
7. Can I go back to school after leaving school?
Many children who have never been to school may want to go one day, or for some reason must go. We do not know of any young person for whom this has posed a problem, either in terms of adapting to school pace or in terms of the young individual’s skills.
It is sometimes necessary, however, to have educational qualifications or equivalences in order to be able to integrate certain schools. It is therefore better to be well informed according to the curriculum that one wants to follow as long as the question of bridging between homeschooling (without correspondence courses) and reintegration into the school system is not regulated by law. Indeed, this is a point that must be addressed in the bill.
8. How are the homeschooled years or diplomas recognized?
Although there are always ways to catch up, some can be more tedious than others. This is an important point that should be discussed with the Ministry of Education.
In France, for example, it is possible to take the baccalaureate as an independent candidate. Often young people take the baccalaureate exam by re-entering high school in the year of graduation, or earlier, to build up the academic record necessary for appplications to some institutions. In the case of correspondence courses issuing a certificate of schooling, the problem of the validation of competencies will be avoided. But remember, it’s not so much the diplomas as the skills that really matter.
In Luxembourg, we can cite the e-learning platform www.ecampus.lu for secondary education. The following organisation is also aimed at children educated at home but we have no feedback: reussit school
9. Are we preparing our children for a better future by withdrawing from public school?
Every parent generally wants the best for their child’s future and the question that often arises is whether children will perform better academically by being educated as a family.
There is an important dogma to deconstruct, that of believing that individual teaching will be more effective than collective teaching. The researcher Alan Thomas began his research on family teaching to study the effectiveness of individual teaching and he discovered the richness of informal teaching (which does not prevent from using formal tools that can be very useful).
It is also wrong to believe that one system will be better than another; everything depends on what one lives and how one lives it. The following two American sites are proponents for homeschooling and encourage good practices.
Some of the witnesses complained that homeschooling was not sufficiently regulated in the USA and that they had suffered from it. It is indeed necessary to warn against abuse whether in or out of school. In Luxembourg, homeschooling is monitored and there are options in case of non-compliance with basic laws by the authorities, whether within public schooling or homeschooling. Thus, one must be well informed about one’s rights and options, for even a well-meaning government cannot guarantee that all its public officials behave in an exemplary manner and in accordance with the ethical values of the law.
The debate, school or no school, public school or homeschool, will never be resolved, because it is up to each individual to decide what he prefers (formal/informal, free/structured) and to choose the way in which he wants to learn.
It is important to ensure that both homeschool and public school do not prevent individuals from developing their potential, whether in academic or other form. This in no way means trying to make little geniuses of them, because don’t real geniuses always end up being discovered, graduate or not?
10. Should public education be followed to avoid the emergence of parallel societies?
In Germany, the “Schulzwang” inherited from Hitler’s youth is still in force, under the pretext of avoiding the emergence of parallel societies. Other countries question freedom of education to combat radicalism.
However, these positions are questionable. As the Swiss pediatrician Remo H. Largo points out in an article in German entitled “We already have children in burn-out” , one begins to see in the biography of terrorists that it is the lack of security, of established social status, of self-determination and the feeling of exclusion that lead them to commit to ISIL where they finally feel they exist.
« … You can see this in the biographies of terrorists, as they become more well-known. They have not experienced security and sufficient social recognition, they have no fixed social status and feel marginalized. They do not feel self-determined. When they go to ISIL, they’re finally somebody. This is not even a new phenomenon, as it was already observed in the 17th century during the Thirty Years’ War. People lacked security, had no permanent social position in the community and were also hungry and sick. So they went to war.»
Moreover, are there really more parallel societies and radicalism in England than in Germany, where not only is school not compulsory, but no curriculum is imposed either to homeschoolers? Finally, what proves that the educational institution, as it exists, prevents the emergence of parallel societies and radicalization?
11. Should children of allophone families stay in the public school system to integrate them?
(An allophone is someone who does not speak the language of the country. In this case, that means they don’t speak French, German, or Luxembourgish)
This question arose because some allophone families did not obtain permission to homeschool their children because they could not transmit the Luxembourgish language to their young children. This position is difficult to defend, according to the current school law, because the derogation is granted by the school district director giving the authorization, so they must prove that it is not in the best interest of the child (eg. like if the child is traumatized at school).
Indeed, is it really worth embarking on a legal battle to assert human rights? In fact, claiming parental rights in a court is practically a lost cause in this context and what lawyer would be willing to defend a child as a human rights subject? Which judge would be open enough to recognize this freedom of choice? In our society, the views of children as subjects are rarely taken seriously, especially when they are very young. Nor can anyone prove that it is not in the interest of these children for their social integration to attend school so that they can easily learn Luxembourgish when this is not possible within the family or elsewhere.
However, the refusals and what they implied, were bad experiences for these families who felt they were left no choice but to leave the country.
Nevertheless, the Ministry’s website clearly shows that in a country where 47.7% of the total population did not have Luxembourg nationality as of 1 January 2017 , and where there are 170 different nationalities, language teaching occupies a central place in the Luxembourg education system. But public schools also offer non-Luxembourgish courses, so once again all this is debatable.
Having said that, according to what has been reported to us, the bill proposes more flexibility on this point and it must be noted that foreign children living in the country can nevertheless learn the languages of that country, provided they have sufficient contact with these languages.
12. How many children are homeschooled in Luxembourg?
According to a Ministerial Question of 2011, there were about twenty, 18 more precisely in 2011/2012 according to an article in the daily newspaper Wort of 16.11.2016 and 70 in 2016/2017 against 50 in January 2016, that is to say approximately 1 individual per thousand in elementary/primary school.
By way of comparison, in the USA in the country where there are the most homeschoolers, this number reaches about 2 million people, or more than 3% of the American school population.
In Luxembourg, the trend is growing but this choice remains very marginal. Few parents want or feel able to take responsibility for their child’s education.
13. The socialization of homeschooled children
The essential is said in this article on Wikipedia :
A frequent fear – more common among the general public than among parents who practice homeschooling – would be the potential isolation experienced by children deprived of contact with other school children. Homeschool associations all raise the subject on their websites. Many parents are fleeing precisely this “socialization” of conformism, social pressure from other school children, bullying and bad influences.
For most homeschool advocates, their choice actually improves their children’s social development. Indeed, for them, the years spent in an establishment are the only years during which school children will be artificially separated into groups of the same age (for economic efficiency and not for quality reasons). These advocates argue that children educated at home experience healthier and more natural socialization because they interact more with people of all ages. This leads to increased adult influence and less influence from other children, resulting in more mature young citizens.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, a number of studies, often funded by homeschool advocacy organizations, attempt to assess the impact of homeschooling on children’s ‘sociability’. The results are generally extremely positive (studies by Larry Shynes & alt.).
Some authors, such as Robert Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, consider that the extension of compulsory schooling and the “parking” of adolescents among themselves infantilizes them, while personalized instruction in closer contact with adults, such as instruction at home, allows for more rapid maturation and avoids the crisis of adolescence. This crisis is largely a consequence of this long compulsory schooling during which adolescents are treated like children and only have other adolescents as role models and companions.
In her recent book published by Broché, “L’école à la maison au Québec : Un projet familial, social et démocratique”, researcher Christine Brabant also reviews numerous studies on this subject with impartiality.
According to the independent study by Kunzmann and Gaither of 2013, socialisation, which is often considered as a weak point of homeschooling, is in fact one of the areas where homeschoolers are rather strong.