FINDING THE RIGHT SCHOOL FOR YOUR CHILD IN SWITZERLAND
The educational system in Switzerland is diverse, offering a wide selection of programmes to choose from. Families often need help to understand these different paths and where they lead.
More than six years ago, Nicole Rieffel and Diane Bauer founded SCHOOLFINDERS as a neutral point of contact to advise local families, as well as families coming from abroad, on finding the best schools in Switzerland, including public, private, and boarding schools that follow both Swiss and international curricula.
They believe that identifying the right educational path depends on a thorough understanding of each child’s abilities and potential as well as the family’s situation and goals. By working closely with families, they help find the best environment for the student. We had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole and Diane and learning more about their approach.
What are the advantages of a Swiss education?
A Swiss education has a very good reputation and is highly recognised around the world. The system is also complex, offering many paths and diplomas based on both Swiss and international curricula. It’s worth noting that the structure of the Swiss curriculum is different to that of most other countries.
Another strength of a Swiss education stems from the country’s four national languages. In effect, students are used to learning foreign languages from an early age. By the end of primary school, they know German, French and English. Later, they may pick up another language, such as Italian or Spanish, as part of their studies at a Gymnasium (a more competitive secondary school). A clear benefit of the Gymnasium is that the Matura degree automatically qualifies the graduate for most Swiss state universities, which are highly regarded and significantly lower in cost than many comparable options.
We have also heard families say that they appreciate how safe the country and schools generally are. Children learn how to be independent and enjoy their freedom at an earlier age. Having a safe and relatively carefree childhood has immense value – and the school system is set up to allow every student to find an optimal path at his/her own pace.
Given the number of options, Schoolfinders always takes great care to explain the requirements and expectations for each grade, step by step, and the differences in curriculum compared with what the student has known. Even more important is understanding the decisive transition years: when they will come, how to prepare, what to expect, and why there are better times than others to consider making a change.