Assessment and recommendations

The Luxembourg government has a long-term commitment to ensuring greater access for all children across society to early childhood education and care (ECEC). This is split between the schooling system or formal sector, and the non-formal sector, which serves young children before compulsory school age (4 years old) and school-aged children during out-of-school hours.

In 2009, the government introduced a subsidy funding scheme (chèques-service accueil, CSA) for non-formal education to increase access to high-quality ECEC and to advance goals to improve equity. The scheme grants price reductions to families according to their household incomes and composition. All children aged 0-12 living in Luxembourg and children from cross-border families with one of the parents working in Luxembourg can benefit from the CSA. As a result, the non-formal sector has expanded considerably, with contracted places for children (delivered mainly by municipalities or non-profit organisations) more than doubling between 2009 and 2019. Non-contracted places (delivered by for-profit providers) have also grown more than five times in the same period.

Free access to pre-primary education is also long-standing in Luxembourg. Recently, the government has explored ways to extend this to the non-formal sector. As of 2017, all children from age 1 to 4 benefit from 20 free hours per week (if in ECEC centres), as well as the subsidy funding scheme. In 2022, out-of-school services will also be free to families from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on school days.

In 2019, approximately 61% of children under age 3 were enrolled in non-formal ECEC in Luxembourg, which is above the OECD average of 25% for participation in ISCED 0. Furthermore, 87% of children aged 3-5 were enrolled in the ECEC sector in 2018.

In 2013, non-formal ECEC was integrated into the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MENJE) to bring together all programmes and support a coherent system of accountability and quality improvement. Consequently, the single ministry has aligned and developed complementary curriculum frameworks for both sectors. This includes an ambitious curriculum framework for non-formal ECEC that complements the formal education curriculum. Furthermore, the compulsory framework includes a major focus on multilingualism through an innovative approach, a flagship of Luxembourgish education and culture. A comprehensive quality assurance system was also developed to support the framework.

However, MENJE faces some co-ordination challenges between formal and non-formal education departments, including assigning responsibilities, building workforces and creating approaches to quality monitoring. Strengthening communication across departments and building mechanisms for learning from mutual experience are essential to efficiently capitalising on Luxembourg’s investments in ECEC.

Many areas could benefit from greater collaboration, especially in a time of pedagogical innovation and ongoing reforms within the non-formal sector. Sharing feedback on multilingual programmes, parents’ participation, in-service training and monitoring would help foster a common culture and vision and contribute to achieving high-quality ECEC. MENJE needs to ensure that all efforts for both sectors are bi-directional, equally valued and mutually recognised and implemented.


Strengthen co-ordination across departments within the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth.

Develop mechanisms to support stronger communication and alignment across departments with responsibility for the formal and non-formal sectors.

Bring together knowledge on ECEC quality across the formal and non-formal sectors to build collaboration and create connections for children and families.

In the non-formal sector, the funding scheme differs depending on whether the status of the provider is “contracted” or “non-contracted” (“conventionné” or “non-conventionné”). While contracted providers refer to historic providers, non-profit organisations or municipalities, non-contracted status concerns mostly for-profit providers.

Both types of providers are eligible for the subsidy funding scheme, but contracted providers receive additional funding from the government, while non-contracted providers rely more heavily on parental participation.

In 2022, the expansion of continuous professional development funding for ECEC staff in the non-contracted sector is a step towards reducing the gap in funding. However, parental fees remain unregulated in the non-contracted sector, whereas they are capped at the amount of the CSA (EUR 6 per hour) for contracted providers.

The 20 free hours measure has, however, introduced more equity in the system. Nevertheless, parents with low incomes who need more than 20 hours per week or care for children younger than 1 year may still have to pay extra fees in non-contracted settings. In contracted settings, access can be entirely free for children older than 1 year. Price differences may lead families to choose a setting according to their background and could directly impact social mixing.

Significantly lower staff wages in the non-contracted sector are also an issue, leading to difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified staff (especially staff who speak Luxembourgish). High turnover and low-qualified staff directly affect the quality of the provision of the curriculum and multilingual programme. Ensuring that all types of ECEC are of high quality is foundational for building equity.

In-depth analysis needs to be conducted to better understand how the funding scheme plays a role in the disparities in quality and equity beyond the minimum requirements that need to be fulfilled, or if those disparities are inherent to the split between the contracted and non-contracted parts of the sector. This includes collecting and analysing data on the cost of ECEC provision in the non-contracted sector and resources such as parental fees to understand why certain settings offer wages below those of the contracted sector. Depending on the findings, the allocation of public investment between contracted and non-contracted settings might need to be revisited. Additional support for key policy goals, such as the multilingual programme, might need to be more carefully targeted to ECEC settings serving children from socio-economically disadvantaged and language minority backgrounds.

The monitoring system also plays a vital role in ensuring that public funding translates into high quality across the sector and incentivises wage increases in non-contracted settings to foster staff retention and high-quality ECEC.


Investigate the costs of providing high-quality ECEC and ensure investments are allocated efficiently across different types of ECEC provision, particularly in the non-formal sector between contracted and non-contracted settings.

Prioritise investments in quality improvement for settings serving larger numbers of children from socio-economically disadvantaged and language minority backgrounds.

ECEC professionals are key agents in supporting the quality of the ECEC system and shaping children’s learning, development and well-being. By law, Luxembourg requires specific ECEC staff qualifications, but there is significant variation between the formal and non-formal sectors. In non-formal ECEC, only 60% of staff need to hold a minimum ISCED Level 3 qualification in social or educational sciences, which is a relatively low level of qualification. In formal ECEC, teachers are required to have a bachelor’s qualification (ISCED Level 6) in educational sciences or an equivalent qualification from abroad.

The ECEC workforce can choose between three Luxembourgish staff training degrees, but none of these has a strong focus on ECEC, and all of them cover all age groups under 12. The two degrees targeting the non-formal sector have a broad focus on social work. Additionally, in pre-training for both the formal and non-formal sectors, teachers and staff are not familiarised with the non-formal sector curriculum framework.

Creating specialised programmes would better prepare new staff to implement the non-formal curriculum framework and could allow existing ECEC staff to advance towards higher levels of qualification. The MENJE is working to implement a new one-year vocational training diploma (ISCED Level 3) starting in September 2022, focusing specifically on ECEC in the non-formal sector. The programme would target students who graduated from secondary school, home-based providers and working adults with no qualifications. The aim is to strengthen their skills and knowledge and thus the quality of their interactions with children, and facilitate their career progression.

Introducing additional specialised programmes at higher education levels (ISCED Levels 4 and 5) would also help to better distinguish between different roles and responsibilities such as leadership functions or cross-functional pedagogical tasks for pedagogical referents of the multilingual programme.

Other potential options include introducing specialisation in ECEC for the upper secondary (ISCED Level 3) qualification programme in the social field or adding years for specialisation that could lead to diplomas at higher levels of education.

To better prepare the workforce, there also needs to be more practical ECEC experience during initial training and familiarisation with the non-formal sector curriculum. All this could also help to ensure a smoother transition for children between non-formal and formal education.


Strengthen the integration of the national ECEC curriculum frameworks into initial education programmes (ISCED Levels 3 and 6 degrees).

Explore the possibility of developing ECEC-specific initial education programmes that provide qualifications at various levels of education (ISCED Levels 4 and 5).

Consider the possibility of introducing specialisation in ECEC in the upper secondary (ISCED Level 3) qualification programme (Lycée Technique pour Professions Educatives et Sociales).

Continuous professional development is an important way to help strengthen the competencies and knowledge of the non-formal education staff in Luxembourg. The sector currently faces significant variation in staff qualification levels and types. In 2016 MENJE enforced minimum continuous professional development requirements for ECEC providers to be eligible for the subsidy scheme. As part of the 2022 reforms, the government is now seeking to tackle uneven participation in training and raise the quality of training in the non-formal sector. This includes revisiting the content and format of courses and developing training offers for leaders as well. Training will also be freely accessible to ECEC staff and leaders from both contracted and non-contracted providers.

Each setting will be granted a credit of training hours (equivalent to 24 hours per full-time staff) that may be adapted to the needs of each staff member (including leaders and staff not working directly with children) insofar as legal requirements per staff are respected.

The government’s sponsorship of training courses in all types of settings can help to reduce the disparity between the two sectors and support continuous professional development in non-contracted and small settings. Additionally, the inclusion of home-based providers in the plan is an important step in professionalising the non-formal sector and advancing skills.

The remaining barriers for staff to attend training include the need for providers to cover for staff time and difficulties finding replacements for staff in training.


Ensure that the reimbursement of the cost of continuous professional development for all types of settings and staff helps reduce the gap in staff preparedness between the contracted and non-contracted sectors.

The 2022 reform also intends to develop a coherent and diverse set of courses and to adjust the content to staff and leader training needs. Information gathered from site visits and confirmed by a survey issued by the National Youth Service (Service national de la jeunesse, SNJ) demonstrate the need for more training on curriculum implementation, particularly for the multilingual programme.

A commission chaired by SNJ, the “Further Training Commission”, is charged with overseeing reform of the system, co-ordinating the provision of training from agencies, accrediting course content and trainer qualifications, and ensuring that continuous professional development responds to the needs of the sector.

With this new approach, care needs to be taken to ensure that mechanisms are in place to assess staff and leader training needs and that systematic mechanisms are established to monitor the quality of training provision.

Furthermore, as formats such as mentoring, coaching and group training have been shown to lead to more effective interactions with young children and will benefit from public funding through the reform, the focus needs to be on ensuring that these formats are proposed and used by ECEC centres.

Continuous professional development does not currently provide formal certifications enabling staff to obtain higher qualifications. Doing so could enhance career pathways in Luxembourg and raise the formal qualifications of ECEC staff. This would entail strengthening co-operation between professional development and initial training providers and developing systems of micro-credits for participation in modules. Such a system could both increase the quality of professional development while also providing incentives to staff to participate in acquiring higher qualifications and potentially higher wages.


In line with the objectives of the reform, ensure that the offer of continuous professional development responds to staff training needs. It needs also to increase the training offer on curriculum framework implementation, inclusion and multilingual education.

Ensure that the reform leads to the provision of training in a diversity of languages and through alternative professional development formats, including mentoring, coaching and induction programmes.

Ensure that effective mechanisms for monitoring the quality of professional development provision are in place.

Design mechanisms to raise staff qualifications through continuous professional development.

The plurality of ECEC settings and the status of provision has led to heterogeneous working conditions within the non-formal sector, between contracted and non-contracted settings, and between centre-based staff and home-based providers.

In particular, staff working in contracted settings benefit from a collective pay agreement with regular increases. Staff working in non-contracted settings are only protected by the national minimum wage. Wages are also negotiated at a lower level in non-contracted settings.

These disparities translate into differences in staff profiles. Non-contracted settings rely more on a low-qualified and predominantly foreign workforce. This makes it challenging for non-contracted providers to fulfil the requirement to have a fluent speaker of Luxembourgish on staff and support the multilingual focus of the curriculum.

As discussed above, reviewing the funding system and enhancing professional development across the non-formal sector would help to mitigate gaps in wages and qualifications.

Discussions are ongoing to review the status of home-based providers to improve their working conditions and the quality of their services. However, it will be important also to respect the specificity of home-based providers and ensure that the new arrangement provides parents with the flexibility they may seek with home-based provision.


Review the funding and monitoring systems to support an alignment of wages with qualifications and roles. Ensure that staff with similar profiles have similar wages in contracted and non-contracted settings within the non-formal sector.

To expand the pool of potential candidates for the multilingual pedagogical referents, ensure that staff who need to develop their language skills participate in relevant training.

Continue discussions in the sector on changing the status of home-based providers to improve their working conditions and the quality of their services.

In Luxembourg, national quality assurance arrangements for ECEC, such as registration, regulation, inspection and quality assurance, exist for all types of ECEC provision, including formal and non-formal education providers, and centre-based as well as home-based provision.

More recently, the country has also made quality assurance in non-formal education central to its ECEC policy. For example, since 2017, the quality assurance system in non-formal education is now linked to the ECEC subsidy scheme. Settings that wish to be recognised by MENJE must meet a number of conditions. These include implementing the national curriculum framework and the multilingual education programme, meeting continuous professional development requirements and accepting regular external evaluations.

The current system also now integrates home-based providers in the quality assurance and improvement for the non-formal sector, where both structural and process aspects of quality are monitored.

ECEC providers of non-formal education are supported by a team of 32 regional officers working under SNJ to focus on process quality and improvement of care. This complements the existing body of MENJE inspectors, who are predominantly focused on structural quality and compliance with regulatory standards.

Regional officers are trained to exchange with settings and explore pedagogical approaches and practices. However, as the curriculum framework for non-formal education is relatively new and regional officers are also new to their jobs, there is still a period of adjustment. Regional officers rely heavily on discussions with the centre leader, analysis of documents prepared in advance of visits and the quality of the physical environment.

New guidelines for monitoring procedures were introduced at the end of 2021, with a stronger focus on pedagogical approaches, setting environment and materials, staff-child interactions, interactions with parents and the quality of management. In addition, indicators have been developed for each area to help regional officers in their evaluations.

There are other ways that the framework could be enhanced to strengthen knowledge on process quality. For example, ensuring that regional officers have a diverse range of information sources during their visits, such as information from discussions with staff members on the challenges they face when implementing the curriculum framework. Other options could include the introduction of systematic observations of staff and children during everyday activities.


Engage ECEC staff, parents and children in monitoring visits to broaden and deepen knowledge of process quality.

Develop systematic observations of staff interactions with children as well as children’s interactions with one another, and introduce observational monitoring tools to assess process quality.

It is important that as the curriculum framework continues to evolve, there is a continuous focus on supporting interactions that foster child well-being and development, such as socio-emotional skills, emotional resilience, use of multiple languages and respect for diversity.

SNJ has paid specific attention to building regional officer team capacity. Each regional officer needs to hold a master’s degree in pedagogics or equivalent, receive two months of initial training and be regularly monitored by two co-ordinators.

However, regional officers do not necessarily have specific experience or training in child education or ECEC. As the system is still relatively new, delivering sound advice in terms of pedagogy, meaningful interactions and curriculum implementation can still be a challenge.

Regional officers also need to have a greater knowledge or experience of ECEC through further training and/or work experience. This would help to deepen their understanding of ECEC quality implementation and provide feedback to settings that is linked to their assessment results.

Providing feedback to centre leaders and helping design self-improvement strategies are two other ways to improve the system.


Offer further training for regional officers on making recommendations for improvement and supporting providers to draw up their own self-improvement plans.

Self-evaluations are internationally recognised as key to ensuring quality of provision in the ECEC sector. The Luxembourgish assurance quality system for non-formal education includes the documentation of practices by centre staff in a logbook and other self-assessment measures. Nevertheless, centre leaders often carry out self-assessments, thus not reflecting the voice of all staff.

As indicators are being developed to guide ECEC settings, it will be important that new tools for self-reflection are used by a range of ECEC staff with different backgrounds and experiences in self-assessment processes. Centre leaders could also share results of external monitoring more widely with staff and involve them in designing improvement plans.

Documenting children’s learning journeys would also offer a valuable opportunity to engage with parents and enhance communication with schools for children enrolled in formal education. For example, monitoring an individual child’s multilingual learning experience could be useful and strengthen parent-ECEC provider relationships.


Encourage centre leaders to share the results of external monitoring with ECEC staff members and involve staff in designing improvement plans. Strengthen the capacity of the staff to undertake self-evaluation.

Introduce recommendations for ECEC staff to document children’s engagement in learning experiences to aid identification of children’s needs and interests, and communicate this to parents and schools for children enrolled in formal education.

Luxembourg is striving for a clearer separation between the monitoring purposes of control versus support in quality improvement by separating inspector responsibilities between the Department for Children and SNJ. However, there are certain overlaps in their roles, causing some tensions, particularly in relation to the role of regional officers.

The government has clarified the responsibilities between the two monitoring bodies for the non-formal sector and released regional officers from some duties to monitor compliance. However, co-operation can be further strengthened, especially in the case of a continued breach of regulations, to ensure that providers address concerns of non-compliance. Furthermore, if the control function of regional officers is further reduced, MENJE will need to further consider the role of its agents (Department for Children) in monitoring compliance with regulations.

Tailoring monitoring efforts to the needs of providers may also enhance the efficiency of processes. A risk-based approach to monitoring visits ensures that efforts are proportionate and focussed on where they can have the greatest impact. Such an approach could free up regional officers to focus on the follow-up of improvement plans with settings and include observations in their visits.

Professional development is one area that could benefit from enhanced monitoring. If results on quality are shared with educational training institutions and external training agencies, in-service and pre-service training can then be adapted accordingly to meet the professional and practical needs of staff.


Improve communication of the new responsibilities of the two monitoring bodies in their roles of control versus support to enhance the work of both, and the capacities of regional officers to support quality improvement in the sector.

Review the steps available to put in place when a provider consistently falls short of expected levels of quality.

Investigate better ways to channel information about gaps in process quality to the training institutions so that monitoring feeds directly into future in-service and pre-service training.

Consider using monitoring results to adopt a risk-based, proportionate approach to monitoring visit programming, which will help channel monitoring resources.

Assessing whether the Luxembourg ECEC system is accessible and high-quality requires access to a wide range of data. For non-formal education, efforts are made to link data collected from registration processes, structural quality monitoring and process quality monitoring results. The integration of further quantitative data on enrolment, staffing and users of ECEC should also be considered.

The linking of quantitative data, together with monitoring process outcomes, can provide valuable evidence of the strengths and weaknesses of the ECEC system to help identify gaps that need to be addressed and further guide policy development.

For example, understanding patterns of ECEC participation among families according to their income or language profiles can help focus human and financial resources, particularly to support equity and multilingual ambitions.

When building the platform, attention should be given to how much additional workload is created both internally and for providers. In addition, steps will be needed to ensure data reliability and to assign responsibility within MENJE for carrying out data analysis.


Prioritise work on the centrally organised, systematic collection of information on the sufficiency of ECEC provision, characteristics of children and families participating in ECEC and the diversity of the workforce, including the language profiles of children, families and staff.

Use data to identify patterns of ECEC participation among diverse families, including use of home-based versus centre-based ECEC, enrolment in contracted versus non-contracted settings, as well as reasons for forgoing participation in the first year of formal education (éducation précoce).

In Luxembourg, parents are viewed as key partners in ECEC settings, and their involvement in sharing their languages and cultures is a core pillar of the multilingual programme. Therefore, discussing with users and hearing their voices is crucial to building an ECEC system that addresses their needs and expectations and reflects the diversity of families and children in the country.

The 2021 revision of the curriculum framework, as well as the publication of materials targeted to parents, are noteworthy examples of how SNJ is trying to enhance accessibility and understanding of the curriculum framework. SNJ could also more actively engage families in the process of reviewing the curriculum framework and creating resources for families.

Engagement with families, particularly on the educational objectives of the non-formal sector, should also include those with children not currently in the system.

Monitoring can further contribute to quality improvement if monitoring results are shared with parents. At a setting’s level, parents can provide valuable feedback on the quality of ECEC provision and their understanding of the curriculum framework. Visits of regional officers could also include discussions with parents and feedback from parental surveys. Luxembourg currently has plans to introduce a mandatory parent council for non-formal education at the national level, which could help build greater parental involvement.


Continue to inform the public about the educational objectives of the non-formal sector, including through outreach to families who are not engaged with this system.

Increase the possibilities for parental engagement and involvement in non-formal ECEC by creating clear expectations for the sector to prioritise this dimension of quality.

Introduce a requirement to publish (for example, on a parent portal or through formal communication to a structure’s “parent committee”) condensed information on the monitoring results (e.g. improvement plans and progress towards achieving goals).

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