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Old 01.04.2012, 03:25
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Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Due to a permanent job offer in Dattwil - Baden, I am planning to relocate my family (including 3 kids - ages 11yrs, 8yrs & 1+yr) from the UK (this summer) to Aargau Kanton.

Our goal is to find a good area in Aargau where the community have experience with integrating International children into the local primary school, and ideally a nearby “Sek A”/Grammar school.

Although we would like to consider the International schools, we understand that they can be very expensive, so we are targeting the “Sek A” or Grammar schools for our 11yr old. However, as we speak English only, our main concern is for our oldest son who is already on route to a top grammar school in the UK this Sept (having just passed the 11+ exams). We are uncertain if a high proficiency in German can be developed quickly in order to target the “Sek A” or Grammar schools in one year or so?

We think the younger kids should be OK in terms of time to pick up German (as they are not a critical stage yet in their education).

If you have a similar experience or you have any useful information (e.g. good areas in the Aargau Kanton, good schools, if there are school performance tables, your experience with “Sek A”, etc), we would appreciate your contribution.

Thank you in advance and look forward to hearing you soon.
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Old 01.04.2012, 07:09
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Congratulations on the job and all the best for the move, there are a lot of expats around the Dättwil, Baden area so I am sure there will be people that can help with the schools.

I don't have any experience of the local schools yet as my daughter is very young, but I know a couple of families that lived in our village (Oberrohrdorf - couple of villages up the ridge from Dättwil) whose non german speaking kids integrated into the schools ok.
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Old 01.04.2012, 18:47
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

I've just finished writing a book about Swiss schooling (Going local - your guide to Swiss schooling) that will be available at the beginning of June. What I can say from my research around the country is that some kids do indeed learn the language reasonably well in one year. The authorities may suggest putting your 11-year-old back a year in order to focus fully on learning the language for one year. Many kids repeat a year somewhere. Then he might make it into Bezirksschule in 6th class, the academic track leading to the Kantonsschule in 10th class. Entrance to the Bezirksschule is based on the teacher's judgment and class marks.

It is a good idea to make an appointment with the school authorities in the place you choose to live, to look at your children's academic profiles and discuss the language programme they need. They are very approachable.

All the best with your search!
Margaret Oertig
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Old 01.04.2012, 23:00
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Hi,
I am in the same position.. but moving to Zug with 11 yr old and 8 yr old... wonder about what school is a good public swiss school... and will 11 yr old be able to go to gymnasium.. he doesnt know german.. but is a high academic achiever in UK.. would hate for him to go to middle school...
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Old 02.04.2012, 00:09
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Thank you Zenistar - It's really encouraging to hear of non-german speaking kids integrating ok into local schools.

Hi Writer's block - It will be interesting to read about the findings of your research and the conclusion when it becomes available.

Bunbury, Hi. It will be good to keep in touch to share best practices as we are in similar situation.

Further to my previous post, can someone advise on how to identify best schools in Baden for integrating expats kids? We would like to visit some schools asap but we do not know what schools to contact in Baden.
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Old 02.04.2012, 00:21
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

It's the local school board that decide where your children will be placed and that in turn depends on where you live. Look up the Baden website and there you should find the relevant contact addresses.
bunbury, if your child is bright and picks up German well perhaps over a couple of years can change upwards towards Gymnasium.
But as all schooling is in German usually it's necessary to stay back a year to learn the language anyway.
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Old 02.04.2012, 07:08
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

We moved here almost 4 years ago with a then, 2, 5 and 9 year old and the eldest two attended local school. As they had both attended school in Hong Kong where we had previously lived the number of years education they had already received were taken into account against how many years they would have already been in school had they been in Switzerland. Therefore my eldest was put two years ahead and the middle one 1 year. This put my eldest in the last year of primary when she should really have been in 3 rd class.She had 2 private German lessons a week provided by the Gemeinde. She completed the year and was sent to "sec " but after a short while the teacher realised that the work was too easy for her and so she was assessed to be moved up to "Bezirkschule". It was agreed that she should move up but we decided to wait until the beginning of the next school year as most of her classmates were two years older than her. She then started at Bez but repeated the first year again.
What I have found here is that the schools are (in our case anyway) kken to place children where they should be and that nothing is set in stone. I was extremely impressed that the teacher had recognised that my daughter was bored at school and did something about it.
It was decided my middle daughter needed no extra German as she entered the system in Kindergarten so by the time she got to 1st Class she had already picked it up.
As mentioned above there will more than likely be a need for a year to be repeated but I think that is better then to have your child struggle.
I believe putting mine through the local system, though it was pretty tough at first has been worth its weight in gold.
All 3 of mine are now fluent in German and Swiss German and put their old mum to shame!
All the best!
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Old 02.04.2012, 07:58
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Great to hear positive comments!! one question... what is "Berzikschule"? Is that Gymnasium?? and what is "sec"? I am unfamiliar with these names..
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Old 02.04.2012, 08:01
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

In our area the "Secondary" school is divided into 3 levels.
Real is the lowest level
Sekondar the middle
and Bezirkschule the top level.

From my understanding in order to attend Gymnasium which is the next phase of schooling after Secondary you must attend Bezirkschule.
I have only positive things to say about my daughters education, the only thing I would moan about would be the coming home for lunch!
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Old 02.04.2012, 20:39
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Foreign kids (not speaking German) in Baden beetween the age of 12-15 go to RIK.
http://www.schule-baden.ch/index.php?id=149

Our 12 years old started at RIK in October. At the moment she's got 15 German lessons/week and is able to communicate in everyday situations. Kids can stay only for one year in this class, and after the year they have to go to Real-, Sekundar- or Bezirksshule. They get help with German for a further 2 or 3 years.
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Old 02.04.2012, 21:24
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

It is not easy to find a house/apartment for 5 people around Baden. You might not be able to be very picky if you want space :-) Use homegate to see what is available. The villages are really nice though, and are used to having foreign children at the schools. The 8 year old should have enough time to integrate with German support at the local primary school. You normally need 2 years before the school split at the end of 5th grade in order to learn the language well enough.
For the 11 year old, have you though about a German immersion program for the summer? We really liked Humboldt Institute in Lindenberg, but I am not sure what age do the kids need to be (ours was 13 at the time). It should really help.
The Bezirkschule in Baden is quite tough (it is an excellent school though, for those who can be disciplined enough). I am not sure if the smaller schools in the surrounding areas are any easier? Endingen, Mellingen, Turgi all have local Bezirkschule. The reason I am wondering is that any time DS has a standardized test that is given for the whole canton, it is very easy (happened in math, french and german, always the same pattern) compared to the normal tests given by the bezirk teachers.
As the RIK teacher told us at the very beginning, a crucial success factor for a foreign child's success in the system here is whether the parents are willing to learn German. If you don't yet know the language, make sure you start and very seriously. Our kids needed our support on countless assignments, and it certainly makes a difference.
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Old 02.04.2012, 21:38
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We don't have kids (yet) but we do live in Turgi and like it very much. We're one stop away from Baden, 26 mins on the fast train to the HB, have a Spar which is open late, a big Coop (and a huge Coop and Coop Bau and Hobby less than 10 mons away), an Aldi, a Landi, a great bakery and pharmacy all within 5 mins. Plus there are plenty of walking trails for our dogs.

Ok it's not party central but that's not what we're after, but it is a great little area and can vouch for it if you're looking for a Baden suburb.
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Old 02.04.2012, 22:11
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Noella you seem to have had quite a different experience to us. Our child had years of school, could read, write and so on but was put back a year to be with kids closer to his own age. We tried to object but gave in as he was young, had the extra burden of learning German and so... Watching him do hundreds of combinations of 1+1=2 when he could have been multiplying and dividing and solving problems was hard to take though.
Bunbury Gymnasium is for really high achievers and good workers who are capable of university level studies (in Switzerland that is a much smaller proportion tof pupils than in other European countries), Sekundar A can move on to or switch over to Gymnasium if they work hard. Sek B would be your average secundary pupil or those who might study at a tech. Realschule was (?) for people with real challenges in formal education, not sure that it exists still or has it been renamed...?
I think Bezirkschule may be like Gymnasium, in which case there wouldn't be one locally, just in Baden perhaps?
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Old 03.04.2012, 14:47
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Bunbury,
Regarding names of schools, these are different in every canton!

In Aargau, after five years of primary school, children are sent (for four years) either to the
-Bezirksschule (heading for the Kantonsschule, the academic path, known elsewhere as Gymnasium),
- Sekundarschule (leading to demanding apprenticeships) or
- Realschule (leading to practically-focused apprenticeships).

If they are doing very well at one type of school, they can take a exam to move up to a more demanding school.
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Old 03.04.2012, 15:00
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Sorry, it was Vivo who was asking about Aargau.

Bunbury, regarding canton Zug, the 7th to 9th classes (not from the 6th like Aargau) are called
- Sekundarschule (the most demanding academically)
- Realschule
- Werkschule (the most practical)

In addition, very bright pupils can go straight to Gymnasium, known in canton Zug as Kantonsschule or Kanti from the 7th or 9th or 10th class. So if a pupil doesn't manage it after the 6th class around the age of 12, there are plenty more chances.

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Old 03.04.2012, 15:17
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Thanks you Writers Block for that information! I have searched alsorts of forums just to get a reply that is postive about whether my child would be able to go on to achieve academic qualifications. Am I right in assuming that if he doesnt attend a gymnasium then he wont come out with any internationally recognised qualifications? In Uk they have GCSE, what would his alternative be if he couldnt/didnt attend gymnasium. And then does that mean he is unable to attend FE course.. or Uni.. ?
What is the difference in Matura or IB?
Thanks
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Old 03.04.2012, 16:19
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Bunbury, you asked:
Am I right in assuming that if he doesnt attend a gymnasium then he wont come out with any internationally recognised qualifications? In Uk they have GCSE, what would his alternative be if he couldnt/didnt attend gymnasium.

The answer is, unfortunately, that no other qualifications than a Gymnasial Maturity will give him access to a university abroad. Ways round this are to go an apprenticeship route, get a vocational maturity, do the Passerelle to a Swiss uni (easier than the Gym. maturity), do one year at Swiss uni, then change to another country. But Swiss unis are top in the international rankings, so if they can pass a year here, it might be worth staying on!

You can have a great career here without a traditional uni degree. An apprenticeship followed by the vocational maturity gives you access to a UASA (Uni of Applied Sciences) to do a bachelors that IS internationally recognised.

The IB is tough, like the Gymnasial Maturity, but in a private school it is only in English, which can help if Gymnasium in German proves too hard.
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Old 03.04.2012, 17:01
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

[QUOTE=Writer's block;1530364]Sorry, it was Vivo who was asking about Aargau.

Bunbury, regarding canton Zug, the 7th to 9th classes (not from the 6th like Aargau) are called
- Sekundarschule (the most demanding academically)
- Realschule
- Werkschule (the most practical)

In addition, very bright pupils can go straight to Gymnasium, known in canton Zug as Kantonsschule or Kanti from the 7th or 9th or 10th class. So if a pupil doesn't manage it after the 6th class around the age of 12, there are plenty more chances.

Bunbury, just to add some Zug specific info, in my Zug Geminde there is a single secondary school rather than a sek plus real and werk. The brutal truth is that this school , perhaps because it is so mixed, is not academic. The Zug Kanti is very difficult to get into. There is no entrance exam, recommendations from the primary school plus results of class tests based on performance in 5th and 6 th grade decide which children may attend. The Rector of the Kanti told me at an information evening that without perfect German, it would be too hard for a child, even if he got a place. I did not challange him on this, I am just telling you what he said. The number of children that can enter the Kanti at later stages is subject to a reducing quota, so although there are chances it is not as open as might be hoped, even for bright kids. Sorry, I don't mean to be negative, there are other options as has been said. But the Gymnasium ( and therefore Swiss Uni) system from my limited experience as a Mother of a 6th grader, seems rather closed to non German Mother tounge speakers. There are exceptions I'm sure. I am talking about Gymnasium access for kids like mine, reasonably diligent and smart, but not exceptionally gifted in languages.
Best of luck in your move.
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Old 03.04.2012, 22:20
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

Sorry Bunbury my terms where more Zurich orientated, I actually thought they were the same in Zug.
I have to agree with what clonskeagh said-from the experience of families I know it is extremely hard to get in and more so for children who's parents don't have good German skills as well. But not impossible-there is evidence on the forum of success stories too!
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Old 03.04.2012, 22:38
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Re: Looking for a great place to Live/School in Aargau

JanerMacP

Thank you – I have pencilled Turgi in my list. I will need to find out about the schools in the area.
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