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Old 23.09.2019, 03:07
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Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

Hello all!
I'm new to the forum and considering school logistics for our move to Geneva. I like the idea of enrolling our kids in Swiss local/state schools, but am concerned they'll be the only racial minorities in the local schools. I thought that perhaps, if we enroll them in international/private school, they'll see more kids from diverse ethnic backgrounds and not feel like they stick out like sore thumbs. Does anyone know if the state schools have any diversity? Or is it pretty much just swiss kids attending the local schools?
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Old 23.09.2019, 09:07
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

Can only comment on schools here in Basel (where we send our 12 & 7 year old girls), but they are as diverse as the population surrounding the area where the school is located!

There are also a significant number of “diverse” families who choose not to afford the international school price tag, or wish for their children to experience a broader cross section of their new “home country” than what one experiences in the private schools. In that regards, local schools are potentially MORE diverse!

We’ve done both (international & local) in the almost 5 years we’ve been here, and would not hesitate to recommend the local schools for anyone considering doing so!
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Old 23.09.2019, 09:38
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

Unless you are planning on living in a small place somewhere in the depths of central Switzerland there will definitely be some cultural diversity in the class in a Swiss school.

We are in a relatively small village in Neuchâtel and around 50% of the kids in my son’t class were either not Swiss or had a least one parent who wasn’t Swiss.

Geneva is a culturally diverse city so the chances of you kids ending up in a class exclusively made up of Swiss kids is very slim.
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Old 23.09.2019, 10:16
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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Hello all!
I'm new to the forum and considering school logistics for our move to Geneva. I like the idea of enrolling our kids in Swiss local/state schools, but am concerned they'll be the only racial minorities in the local schools. I thought that perhaps, if we enroll them in international/private school, they'll see more kids from diverse ethnic backgrounds and not feel like they stick out like sore thumbs. Does anyone know if the state schools have any diversity? Or is it pretty much just swiss kids attending the local schools?



With 24% of the population made up of foreigners.......
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Old 23.09.2019, 10:24
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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With 24% of the population made up of foreigners.......
40% in Geneva!

To the OP: we live in the back end of nowhere and the school population includes Indian kids, Sri Lankan kids, Eritrean kids and Brits. In Geneva, you'll blend in like a plate of sausage and leeks!
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Old 23.09.2019, 10:48
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

We chose the local school here in Basel and our son (Spanish/English) fits in perfectly, plus the school has several other nationalities and skin colours.

Other points that we considered when choosing between local/international ...

We wanted him to have friends local to where we live and this is evident now after a couple of years, i.e. when walking down the street he regularly bumps into kids from his school/class. If we had chosen the international school, this would probably not happen, as they are not close by.

We wanted him to have longer term friends. We had the feeling that the international schools are mostly occupied by expats, who are here for a short-ish period of time, so the friends potentially disappear.

The local school is very convenient to get to from home, plus has a very good reputation.

The money factor never came into the equation.
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Old 23.09.2019, 10:58
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

Even in Valais I seem to see a lot of diversity while I'm out so I don't think you'll have issues in Geneva


On the other hand, I find it odd that you move to a different country and expect to live in a parallel society where your kids don't need to mingle with the local people, their culture and ways of living...
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:08
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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Even in Valais I seem to see a lot of diversity while I'm out so I don't think you'll have issues in Geneva


On the other hand, I find it odd that you move to a different country and expect to live in a parallel society where your kids don't need to mingle with the local people, their culture and ways of living...
The OP never said such a thing.
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:10
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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Unless you are planning on living in a small place somewhere in the depths of central Switzerland there will definitely be some cultural diversity in the class in a Swiss school.
Agreed.

None whatsoever in the school my kids go to in central Switzerland apart from a couple of dual nationality families.
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:14
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

There's a lot of assumptions in this response. But just so you know, where we live now, our children are the ONLY racial minorities in their entire school. So we're actually not looking for a "parallel" experience as you assumed. We're looking for a better experience. Especially knowing what our children have suffered as a result of their current situation. If you are a Parent, you might understand that desire.
You're also assuming that we think our children don't "need" to mingle with locals, their culture or way of living. I'm not sure why you assumed that. My post said nothing of the sort.
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:14
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

So there we are: dear OP, don't move to some dreadful kaff in central Switzerland, and you'll be fine.

Fortunately, Geneva is as far from some dreadful kaff in central Switzerland as it's possible to be!
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:17
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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Even in Valais I seem to see a lot of diversity while I'm out so I don't think you'll have issues in Geneva


On the other hand, I find it odd that you move to a different country and expect to live in a parallel society where your kids don't need to mingle with the local people, their culture and ways of living...
There's a lot of assumptions in this response. But just so you know, where we live now, our children are the ONLY racial minorities in their entire school. So we're actually not looking for a "parallel" experience as you assumed. We're looking for a better experience. Especially knowing what our children have suffered as a result of their current situation. If you are a Parent, you might understand that desire.
You're also assuming that we think our children don't "need" to mingle with locals, their culture or way of living. I'm not sure why you assumed that. My post said nothing of the sort.
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:23
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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We chose the local school here in Basel and our son (Spanish/English) fits in perfectly, plus the school has several other nationalities and skin colours.

Other points that we considered when choosing between local/international ...

We wanted him to have friends local to where we live and this is evident now after a couple of years, i.e. when walking down the street he regularly bumps into kids from his school/class. If we had chosen the international school, this would probably not happen, as they are not close by.

We wanted him to have longer term friends. We had the feeling that the international schools are mostly occupied by expats, who are here for a short-ish period of time, so the friends potentially disappear.

The local school is very convenient to get to from home, plus has a very good reputation.

The money factor never came into the equation.
Thank you so much for this response! It's such a relief to hear! I've also been told that the local schools are much higher quality than even the private and international schools! Do you think that's true? Also, has having a child in the local school helped you to make friends with the other parents of Swiss kids? I've heard it's been quite tough to make friends with other Swiss adults and I wondered if having kids in the same school could help with that.
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:24
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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The OP never said such a thing.
Thank you!
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:28
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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Can only comment on schools here in Basel (where we send our 12 & 7 year old girls), but they are as diverse as the population surrounding the area where the school is located!

There are also a significant number of “diverse” families who choose not to afford the international school price tag, or wish for their children to experience a broader cross section of their new “home country” than what one experiences in the private schools. In that regards, local schools are potentially MORE diverse!

We’ve done both (international & local) in the almost 5 years we’ve been here, and would not hesitate to recommend the local schools for anyone considering doing so!
Thank you! How did your girls adjust to learning in a new language of instruction? Did the school provide support?
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:28
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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There's a lot of assumptions in this response. But just so you know, where we live now, our children are the ONLY racial minorities in their entire school. So we're actually not looking for a "parallel" experience as you assumed. We're looking for a better experience. Especially knowing what our children have suffered as a result of their current situation. If you are a Parent, you might understand that desire.
You're also assuming that we think our children don't "need" to mingle with locals, their culture or way of living. I'm not sure why you assumed that. My post said nothing of the sort.

I empathize with your situation, since I assume you and your kids have suffered due to their difference. Personally I think it's a much better long term strategy to help your kids integrate (i.e. adapt to the environment) than to change the environment for them. But I understand it might be difficult. Good luck.
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:31
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

From my experience, the vast majority of parents (Swiss and expats) who send their kids to International schools are twats. On the other hand, only a small minority of the parents of the kids that go to local schools are twats. Kids will be kids in either schools but you should have a better chance of meeting nice people from the local side of things.
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Old 23.09.2019, 11:34
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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Thank you! How did your girls adjust to learning in a new language of instruction? Did the school provide support?
Hi, the School will do if if they can - what I mean is we have three children in local school and I live in proper village level stuff. Our first got intesive french to bring her up to speed quickly. The other two they wanted to, but they didnt have enough space / money for it. So its the same kind of things you experience in any other country - state education is as good as it can be given its budget. However just to add, they are so exposed to French all the time, then they pick it up fast anyway.

In terms of minorities, we're low on minorities in our school (to be expected when you look at local population / diversity) but we don't see any visible discrimination, in fact the one child who is known as a complete pain, is a swiss white lad.
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Old 23.09.2019, 12:00
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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Thank you so much for this response! It's such a relief to hear! I've also been told that the local schools are much higher quality than even the private and international schools! Do you think that's true? Also, has having a child in the local school helped you to make friends with the other parents of Swiss kids? I've heard it's been quite tough to make friends with other Swiss adults and I wondered if having kids in the same school could help with that.
The challenges "WE" face are:
- we don't speak German, so parent evenings (with all parents) is a challenge and typically results in us asking English or Spanish speaking parents, what was discussed and what is important.
- in our case the teachers speak English, so 1-on-1 is fine, but just a problem when in the large groups.
- a lot of parents do speak English, but not all.

Cannot comment about the quality of education local vs international, but we are also do not out-source all teaching to the teachers ... we practice numbers/reading with him as well

We have made friends with the other parents, which are a English, Spanish and Swiss.
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Old 23.09.2019, 12:23
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Re: Diversity in Swiss Local Schools?

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Hello all!
I'm new to the forum and considering school logistics for our move to Geneva. I like the idea of enrolling our kids in Swiss local/state schools, but am concerned they'll be the only racial minorities in the local schools. I thought that perhaps, if we enroll them in international/private school, they'll see more kids from diverse ethnic backgrounds and not feel like they stick out like sore thumbs. Does anyone know if the state schools have any diversity? Or is it pretty much just swiss kids attending the local schools?
Private schools are filled with kids whose parents can afford the costs. Personally, I see private schools less as a diversity issue and more as an educational institution that is geared towards the UK/US education system thus allowing children to be taught in English interim without losing time and momentum in their studies.

Locals don't usually send their kids to private German-speaking schools although private schools do exist. From a local school's point of view, adding a student whose language skills aren't up to par with their schoolmates can be daunting for everyone, although this depends on the teacher and the mix of students. It's also an additional cost for the taxpayers as schools assign extra help for these students.

HOWEVER, I'm not saying it's wrong to send these kids to local schools; in fact it can be a fabulous experience for all. Ultimately, it's important to be balanced in your decision which comes down to: what is best for my child?

Living in the heart of the Innerschwyz (and being related to half of the area), your conundrum of choosing a school due to wider diversification comes across rather condescending. However, as with everything, context is the key to understanding and your added information makes things clearer.

I can't speak for Geneva (which may make my whole post moot), but I can assure you that there is a wide range of diversity in our classrooms, even in the depths of the wilds in my area.

Now if we were to talk about the politics, I'd have to admit many locals (God bless them) are too right-leaning for my liking but I won't give up on being the tedious devil's advocate.

Good luck.
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