Switzerland, a country with no natural resources, prides on having a sophisticated and skilled workforce at its disposal, courtesy its internationally acclaimed education system. The public schools funded by the Government are excellent while the private schools and residential campuses are reputed for their exceptional teaching, erudite curriculum and state of the art amenities. There are several international schools in cities like Lucerne, Zurich and Geneva too, with emphasis on either the International Baccalaureate programmes or the American SAT compatible curriculum.
In short, you don’t need to worry about your child’s education if you move from Britain to Switzerland. Along with the cheese and chocolate, education is one of the Swiss hallmarks and although you’ll find it expensive, unless you opt for public schools that are Government funded, the teaching is world class!
Public Schools in Switzerland
You must remember that Switzerland has a largely decentralized education system. The country is divided into “cantons” with different languages of instructions, individual curriculum and teaching methods, depending on which territory you are in. The languages of instruction are German, French, Italian and Romansh. English is an optional foreign language in most public schools and not much emphasis on learning it. Public schools are wonderful places to educate your child if you plan to live in Switzerland forever, if you are facing cash crunches or if your kids are still very young and can easily pick up local languages in schools.
Multilingual Schools in Switzerland
There are multilingual public schools coming up too, with two or more mediums of instruction, English being one of them. Most multilingual schools operate classes in English for a week and then revert back to the local Swiss languages for another week. The cycle continues through the year. However multilingual schools don’t come free of charge and require you to pay anywhere between 20,000 CHF to 25,000 CHF in tuition. Before opting for a multilingual school, make sure that English is one of the primary mediums of instruction and that the quality is perfect.
Private Schools in Switzerland
The private and international schools of Switzerland are brilliant educational institutions for your child, if you can spend approximately 40,000 CHF every year on tuition. They are prestigious and usually have notable alumni around the globe. They are located on both the mountain slopes and in the city suburbs, and contain a stimulating environment conducive to academic excellence. Most expats enroll their children in a private school with either an IB affiliation or a SAT complaint syllabus, so they are qualified to study further in the UK or USA, respectively.
You will find a myriad of schools, both public and private, in large cities like Bern, Lucerne, Geneva and Zurich. Since expat couples tend to work all day and these schools usually close down by 3:45 p.m., there are extended day care facilities available for your children. Weaker children also have the private tutor facility they can benefit from.
If you’re settled in rural Switzerland (places like GStaad, etc), you might have to opt for a private boarding school for your children or enroll them in some of the public schools located where you live. If you are looking for a comprehensive list of Swiss schools visit: www.switzerland.english-schools.org/index.htm.