Assess education options

Overview

Arriving in Switzerland with children adds another major decision to your relocation. Are you coming short term or making Switzerland your home for the foreseeable future?

Education varies in style, price and language of instruction. There are multiple options ranging from excellent public schools in the official language of the canton to an extensive variety of semi-private, private and international establishments.

Responsibility for public education lies primarily with the cantons, with several requirements standardised nationally. The EDK provides detailed information, in English, about the Swiss education system and structure. 

Choosing the right school for your children requires you to be well-informed, organized and open-minded. There are many important factors which require your consideration in order to make the right decision. 

 
 
Checklist
 
  • Assess education options

Need to know

Key factors in the decision process

  • Age and birth date of your children
  • Your child's personality
  • Prior school experience
  • Languages spoken
  • How long you are here and where you are going next
  • Where your child's future will be centred
  • If your financial position (including corporate support) allows for private school tuition

 

Local public school

Pros

  • Free schooling
  • Local integration into the community
  • Excellent facilities
  • Proximity to home or access by public transport
  • Guaranteed admission for students of (mandatory) school age
  • Extra language assistance provided for foreign students during transition period (up to around 1 year)

Things to consider

  • Instruction potentially in a foreign language
  • Child's age and personality - adaptability, independence and self motivation are important for success
  • Non-continuous school days can pose a challenge – mid-day and after-school care options vary by area
  • Future education/career options are focused on the Swiss system: advanced studies/university path (Matura
  • high school qualifi cation), business or apprenticeship options are determined by academic performance at an early age (12-15). Competitive university streams are limited to only 20-30% of student body

Private and international schools

Pros

  • Compatibility of school program to home country
  • Choice of language of instruction – English, German, French, etc. or bi-lingual
  • Continual school day with lunch at school
  • Option of after-school care at selected schools (at an extra charge)
  • International environment for multi-cultural background, programs oriented to continued higher education via the International Baccalaureate (European/worldwide) or Advance Placement (USA) programmes

Things to consider

  • Private fees are costly, and they vary by school
  • Transportation is required - school buses are usually are available at an extra charge
  • Application for admission is required – acceptance is dependent on whether places are available
  • Early application is recommended. Some schools may have prerequisites for national programmes

How to proceed

Private and international schools

  • Start the process 6-12 months prior to admission
  • File admission applications as soon as possible. Multiple applications to different schools may be advisable
  • Decisions for entrance are taken in March/April for the new school year, which begins in mid-August
  • Enrolment fees are due on confirmation of admission

Top bilingual education

Andrea Furgler is the CEO of SIS Swiss International Schools Schweiz AG, an education group with 8 private bilingual day schools. Andrea and his team of educators are here to help you choose the best bilingual school for your child.

 

Local public school

  • The process starts when you register on arrival in Switzerland (no advance registration required). School registration is processed with the residency permit application procedure for your children. Ideally to be completed one month before class attendance begins
  • There is no choice of school - admission is based on your Swiss place of residence, so your local address determines what school children will attend
  • There are no school fees for public schools
  • Some schools will require placement examinations

 

Expected timeframe

Private and international schools

  • Start the process 6 to 12 months prior to admission, if possible
  • File admission applications as soon as possible. Placing multiple applications at different schools may be advisable
  • Decisions for entrance are taken in March/April for the new school year, which begins in mid-August

Local public schools

  • The process starts when you register on arrival in Switzerland (no advance registration required). School registration is processed with the residency permit application procedure for your children. Ideally to be completed one month before class attendance begins

Where to find help

For professional advice and guidance - particularly when time-sensitive – it is worth contacting an education specialist.

If you do not already have access to an education specialist through your employer or your relocation services provider, Hello Switzerland‘s free Relocation Helpline offers advice and support:

Swiss Relocation Helpline

- free advice from locals

 

Swiss or international schooling - what's best for your children?

Call +41 58 356 17 77 (regular rates)
Skype: helloswitzerland.helpline (free)
Email: helpline@helloswitzerland.ch
Web: www.helloswitzerland.ch/helpline

 

How much does it cost

Local schools

  • Public education: free

 

Private and international schools

  • Private and international school application fees vary by school, averaging CHF 250 to 500 per student
  • Private and international schools sometimes apply a "capital investment fee" which can range from CHF 0 to 5,000 per child as a one-off non-refundable charge. Always check first before making a decision
  • Annual fees at private and international schools are approximately CHF 15'000 to CHF 30'000+ per student/year. The fees vary by grade level and by school

 

Hello Switzerland‘s free Relocation Helpline offers advice and support:

Swiss Relocation Helpline

- free advice from locals

 

Swiss or international schooling - what's best for your children?

Call +41 58 356 17 77 (regular rates)
Skype: helloswitzerland.helpline (free)
Email: helpline@helloswitzerland.ch
Web: www.helloswitzerland.ch/helpline

 

 
 

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