Local Swiss Schools for Expats?

Stephanie Katz's picture
By Stephanie Katz - Posted on
19 April 2011
Are local Swiss schools a good option for expats? My six-year-old will be starting out this coming year, and I'm wondering if sending him to an international school or a local school is a better option. Any expat parents who have had a similar experience and can advise?
Stephanie's picture
Last seen: 6 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: 19/04/2010

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Cape Town, South Africa

Charlotte, North Carolina (the USA)

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The main reason I decided to send my daughter to an international primary was the fact that local Swiss schools don't offer full-days. I'm a working mom and I couldn't arrange for anyone to be there during the time when children come for lunch or during the afternoons - like Wednesday - when there is no school at all.

I almost didn't realize this was the case when I was making the decision myself, so just thought I should share. 
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Anonymous's picture

Many educated swiss send their children to private school or international school. The locals have told me that other countries like the uk, netherlands, germany, and north america start meaningful education much earlier than the swiss. Here it is age 7 or 8 when school becomes fulltime. And there is a lot of pressure to catch up, so to speak. The better the gemiende or local community in terms of wealth the better the schools tend to be... I have heard too that class sizes in zurich public schools are 30 kids and only one level taught, so gifted kids are blked together with those with learning difficulties are in the same curriculum which could hold your
child back or overwhelm him. The schooling becomes competitive at 12 when they must take exams for secondary school placement and the future is decided. If the child does well, and meets the top 20% they qualify for the gymnasium which feeds universities. There is a lot of pressure to review this as this protocol is the reason why the swiss economy depends on expats. The good thing about the system is that your child has a trade or high level of education by 21 or 22, and few fall through the cracks. If children do not qualify for university track at 12, they can take the exam again at 14. And if still no success there are college type classes available which open up opprtunities to university.
Whether you choose public or private, your children must take the exams.
Being a third culture expat now as an adult i believe any school offering the IB curriculum is hogh quality and availbpable i. Both public and private realms. Good luck, i hope this helps.

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Anonymous's picture

We just move to Zurich area this summer, and I have a 12 year old who we decided he was going to an International School one year to catch up with German, so we put him into a bilingual English-German school very expensive but we think worth it!!!! The company my husband is working for is not paying for education so.....
But now we just realize that he has to take the exam to be located into the Swiss school sistem!!!!! He is not going to get that much of German in one year to go to Gymnasium!!!! What are our options? We are both professionits so is not in our mind he is not going to College that's not an option!!!! Help need some advise!!!

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