Choose the right school in Switzerland Important factors to consider

There is an excellent variety of public and private schools in Switzerland.

Its tradition of excellence in schooling has given Switzerland a large selection of internationally recognized schools including local public, and private international schools

Choosing the right school for your children requires you to be well-informed, organised and open-minded. 

There are many important factors which require your consideration in order to make the right decision.

 Main considerations:

  • Age of your child
  • Your child's personality
  • Prior school experience
  • Languages spoken
  • How long you are planning to stay in Switzerland
  • Where you are going next - are entrance exams required?
  • Where do you believe/want your child's future to be centered
  • Do you have private school tuition support?

 Once you decide on a school, read the article Enrol in Swiss schools


Local Public School


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


  • Child's age and personality: adaptability, independence and self motivation
  • Non continuous school day: midday and after school care options are increasingly available in certain areas
  • Language of instruction in a "foreign" language: second official language competency by age 15
  • Future education options focused on Swiss system: university and apprenticeships
  • Advancement to pre-university preparation, Matura or Maturité option, determined by academic performance in early secondary school (age 12-15). Available to approximately 20-30% of student body depending on canton


Private International Schools


  • Familiarity: compatibility of school program to home country
  • Choice of language of instruction: English, German, French, etc. or bilingual (e.g. English and local language)
  • Continual school day with lunch options at school, possibility for after school care at selected schools at an extra charge
  • International environment with students who have multicultural backgrounds 
  • Preparation for continued international education, International Baccalaureate (European/worldwide) or Advance Placement (USA)
  • Bilingual international school: international outlook and close ties to local culture and community


  • Private fees are costly, varies by school
  • Transportation required: school buses available at extra charge
  • Application for admission required – acceptance dependent on places available
  • In general: conditions of acceptance are based on prior language of instruction and application date, not examination based. Earliest possible application completion recommended.
Author: Josephine Topping-Atkinson

Born in the USA, I came to Switzerland for 2 years as a trailing spouse, and gradually became one of the many long term expats in Geneva for the last 40 years. Raising four children in Geneva and navigating through local and international school systems in French and English, I became familiar with all the choices we must make in a new place. I am happy to share this process and insights with arriving families as they search for their personal solution to education for their families in the Geneva/Lausanne area.

Featured Partners Thanks to all supporting partners of Hello Switzerland