Pupils normally enter the secondary school in the calendar year in which they turn eleven, following the successful completion of the European school’s primary course or an equivalent course duly certified by an officially recognised school.
The seven classes of secondary education are organised in the following way: for the first three classes, pupils follow a common course, known as the observation cycle. Most subjects are taught in the mother tongue, although in the second class all must begin a second foreign language, and in the third class all begin to study history and geography in their "working language" (L2, either English, French or German). Latin is offered as an option in the third class.
In classes 4 and 5 the compulsory course in integrated science is subdivided into physics, chemistry and biology, and pupils may choose between the advanced or the normal course in mathematics. Other options include economics and a third foreign language.
Classes 6 and 7 form a unit which leads to the European Baccalaureate. Although there is a core of compulsory subjects including mother tongue, L2, mathematics, a science, philosophy, physical education, history and geography, students have a wide range of further options and may choose to study some subjects for two periods, four periods or at an advanced level.
Pupils are regularly assessed and reports are issued three or four times a year. Assessment is based equally on course-work and on examinations, although formal examinations do not form part of the observation cycle. Criteria established by the Board of Governors are used to decide whether a pupil may progress to the next class at the end of the school year. Pupils who do not meet these criteria have to repeat the year.
Secondary education level pupils may receive learning support if necessary, the arrangements for such provision being made by the school according to the requirements and the resources available.
For pupils with special educational needs requiring individualised provision of teaching and/or special equipment, appropriate arrangements may be made. In some cases this can entail the drawing up of a special agreement, signed by the parents and the school, setting out detailed arrangements for the child’s integration and education, within the limits of the school’s possibilities.
The syllabuses in all the language sections are – with the exception of mother tongue – identical and the same standards are insisted on. All programmes of study in the different sections lead to the same examination: the European Baccalaureate.
The certificate awarded is fully recognised in all the countries of the European Union, as well as in a number of others. Those awarded the certificate have the same rights and benefits as other holders of school-leaving certificates in their countries, including the same right as nationals with equivalent qualifications to seek admission to any university or institution of higher education in the European Union.
The Baccalaureate examination assesses performance in the subjects taught in the sixth and seventh classes, and to qualify for admission students must have completed at least the last two classes of the secondary course at the European school.
The assessment of each student consists of two elements:
1. A preliminary mark based on course-work, oral participation in class and tests during the seventh class, which counts for 40 per cent of the marks.
2. At the end of the seventh class:
- five written examinations, which represent 36 per cent of the marks, of which mother-tongue, first foreign language and mathematics are compulsory for all candidates.
- four oral examinations, which count for 24 per cent of the marks, of which mother tongue and the first foreign language are compulsory, as well as history or geography if the candidate has not already taken a written examination in these subjects.
To obtain the Baccalaureate, a candidate must obtain a minimum of 60 per cent.
The close scrutiny of the Examining Board, which demands double correction and may require a third, guarantees the high level and quality of the Baccalaureate. The certificate is thus awarded only to pupils having the competence and knowledge required to go on to tertiary education.
From: “The European Schools” (http://www.eursc.eu/fichiers/contenu_fichiers2/566/Brochure-en.pdf)