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  #21  
Old 16.04.2018, 10:27
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

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Are they really more expensive than private schools in the UK, especially in London area?
I am not familiar with prices in UK either, I simply saw the annual cost was like 25-40% of my annual ex-salary and that was sufficient to stop considering.

A lot of money which can be use, in my humble opinion, more efficiently elsewhere* (and which I don't have anyway ).


*Of course, talking about education, not buying property or cars
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  #22  
Old 16.04.2018, 11:50
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

If you're only here for 2 years it makes absolute sense to go to a private school if you can afford it as it's not very cheap, and depending on the school, more expensive than a private school in the UK.

In order for them to continue their education in the UK, and to be able to carry the credits over and not have to do an extra year, make sure it's a Cambridge accredited school. This is very important. I see the one in ZUrich North is but have attached a link to the Cambridge site.

They'll be in the company of many other kids in a similar situation so will be able to be well integrated socially. However, i would advise some basis german lessons as they will need it when travelling about Zurich and chatting/playing with local children.

http://www.cambridgeinternational.or...bridge-school/

http://www.iszn.ch/iszn/en/
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  #23  
Old 16.04.2018, 14:05
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

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So while the opinions about the local system are welcome, it is not exactly fit our needs at this point.
Fair enough, and I won't push the notion of local schools any longer, since you seem to already be sure about what you want.

However, I'd like to answer this part of your post:
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I'm not sure why people assume we would be in an expat bubble.
The reason is that your children, if they go to an international school, are likely to have classmates from all over, yes, particularly from the USA, but no local children.

Given this, they will have the best of being in the international bubble, but it will be very hard for them to have the best of the Swiss world.

They may have lovely times with their class-mates, (and perhaps with those class-mates' lovely expat parents) but they will be hard put to socialise with any local children or adult neighbours. Because, with few exceptions, the local schools are really very good here, the children in the street where you live will probably go to the local schools, and will speak Swiss German or High German, and cannot be counted on to speak English.

The reasoning goes like this:
If your children learn German, then they have a chance at socialising.
If they could attend a local school, then they'd have a better chance at learning German.
If, on the other hand, they go to an English-language, private, high fee-paying school attended by no local children, they will be living in the expat bubble.

The only way not to remain in that expat bubble is to make a concerted, intensive effort to learn German beyond the level that will be taught in the international school.

The same applies, by analogy, to the adults.
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  #24  
Old 16.04.2018, 14:44
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

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Here the list of all Private schools in canton Zurich:
https://vsa.zh.ch/internet/bildungsd...gister_plz.pdf

If it says "Fremdsprachige Schule" the number of local students will be limited.
This is a comprehensive list. Just one (I.e. the OP) should not get too excited by the many schools on the list, most of these "schools" are pre-school options and/or have a religious background.
In Kanton Zürich there might be 2-3 options for Intl. expat needs. It's not greater London here, it's Switzerland (relatively large share of intl expats, but still a small number overall). All expats (children) I know from work with similar needs as the OP (and where the company paid for the school fees) went to the International School (I think ISZN or the one at the other side of the lake)
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Old 16.04.2018, 15:31
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

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I've never heard of any British curriculum schools in Zurich, as you'd find in the Middle/Far East. Even ISZN does the IB programme up until GCSE. UK boarding school is a popular option for A Levels.

ISZN only has a couple of hundred students from ages 3-18, naturally this will somewhat limit educational/social opportunities for older secondary students. It is a small school, which for some students would be perfect, but it is in an industrial development by a busy motorway.

My friend's Swiss son had a good experience at Hull's School, it is popular with students who've been to local schools who are strong on either sciences/humanities and would struggle to get the Swiss Matura. But the vast majority of students are Swiss, I'm not sure how it would be for a non German speaking student.

If you'd consider IB then ZIS has a good reputation.
Thanks, those are things to consider. From what I have seen here and on other sites, we will be probably be looking into ISZN, Hull, and ZIS, and seeing which one of those three will be the best fit for us.

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If you're only here for 2 years it makes absolute sense to go to a private school if you can afford it as it's not very cheap, and depending on the school, more expensive than a private school in the UK.

In order for them to continue their education in the UK, and to be able to carry the credits over and not have to do an extra year, make sure it's a Cambridge accredited school. This is very important. I see the one in ZUrich North is but have attached a link to the Cambridge site.

They'll be in the company of many other kids in a similar situation so will be able to be well integrated socially. However, i would advise some basis german lessons as they will need it when travelling about Zurich and chatting/playing with local children.

http://www.cambridgeinternational.or...bridge-school/

http://www.iszn.ch/iszn/en/
We do plan on only being here for 2 years. Lucky for us, my husband's employer will be covering the school expenses as part of our package.

Hopefully we can get our kids some German language lessons, either offered by the school or private tutor if we have to. As long as it doesn't interfere with the other languages they are learning.

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Fair enough, and I won't push the notion of local schools any longer, since you seem to already be sure about what you want.

However, I'd like to answer this part of your post:

The reason is that your children, if they go to an international school, are likely to have classmates from all over, yes, particularly from the USA, but no local children.

Given this, they will have the best of being in the international bubble, but it will be very hard for them to have the best of the Swiss world.

They may have lovely times with their class-mates, (and perhaps with those class-mates' lovely expat parents) but they will be hard put to socialise with any local children or adult neighbours. Because, with few exceptions, the local schools are really very good here, the children in the street where you live will probably go to the local schools, and will speak Swiss German or High German, and cannot be counted on to speak English.

The reasoning goes like this:
If your children learn German, then they have a chance at socialising.
If they could attend a local school, then they'd have a better chance at learning German.
If, on the other hand, they go to an English-language, private, high fee-paying school attended by no local children, they will be living in the expat bubble.

The only way not to remain in that expat bubble is to make a concerted, intensive effort to learn German beyond the level that will be taught in the international school.

The same applies, by analogy, to the adults.
I suppose it depends on how you look at it. They might miss out *maybe* on not being able to interact with local kids, but given the international and diverse student populations at the international schools, there are some benefits to exposing your children to a diverse set of people as well. All of us made great friends from the UK, but we also did the same with the locals and others from around the world, which I believe was just as beneficial to not just my kids, but to me and my spouse as well.

If my kids, myself and my spouse could still interact with locals and befriend them while still having my kids attend an international school in Kuwait - a country, society, and culture much more removed than my own than Switzerland's, and far more insular - I think we can manage Switzerland.

At the end of the day, if you put in the time and effort, you will be rewarded.
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  #26  
Old 16.04.2018, 16:42
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

Not always easy to make choices hey.

I remember one EF member who described how hard it became for their kids later on. They too thought they would only be here for a couple of years- but turned to be much longer. After compulsory schooling in English Private School, the kids found it extremely difficult, and, if I remember correctly, for one almost impossible- to continue to study and find an apprenticeship in Switzerland- because they were not integrated and never really learnt the language.
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  #27  
Old 16.04.2018, 18:14
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

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If my kids, myself and my spouse could still interact with locals and befriend them while still having my kids attend an international school in Kuwait - a country, society, and culture much more removed than my own than Switzerland's, and far more insular - I think we can manage Switzerland.
The big difference, tiffspencer, is that the people you were interacting with in Kuwait, were speaking... I guess... English. You were, presumably, dealing with those who were already stepping out of their primary society and culture. Unless, of course, you all also speak Arabic.

Yes, you will surely manage in Switzerland, and here, too, you will easily find people who speak English. They will be the other expats.

What you and your children will not be able to do is interact with the locals, follow the nuances of the local media, participate in local cultural events, and make yourself properly understood in the shops and libraries. Having a German class once a week does not typically give one that kind of fluency.


Being without local interaction might not matter to you (as you might be happy in the expat bubble, and many really do, indeed, feel content there) and that's fine if you and your children can be happy that way. And yes, you will find some kind of contact with those rare locals (or foreigners working in these positions) who will feel comfortable conducting the entire relationship in English instead of the local language, and who will still take you seriously over time even if you do not switch to the local language. There are many multilingual people here, but one can by no means safely assume that English is always one of the languages they speak.

I, too, know people who ended up in exactly the situation Odile described.

In fact, though you are certain that you'll be here for only two years, Odile and I, as long-termers, have seen soooo many people coming to Switzerland saying just that, but then, contrary to all their expectations at the start, their stay in Switzerland ended up being for much longer than the two years they had imagined. (You see, it is so nice here!) And when the children completed their international school, even with flying colours in the foreign school-leaving certificate, they had considerable trouble gaining entrance to any Swiss further education, for lack of local language skills, not just on the level one can have from a tutor, but the real, solid command that comes from daily interactions with the locals.

In one case I know, after eighteen months the husband's employer unexpectedly folded, so the school-fees for the international school fell away abruptly. As he was not able to find work, neither here nor in their country of origin, though he tried, he had no realistic option other than to stay in Switzerland to claim unemployment benefits here. The children had to switch to the local school, where they were well-received in the integration classes. By the time the unemployment money had run out, the wife found a job here. By this time the children were in their teens, falling in love, mobile across the country by train, having such great experiences with their local non-expat friends, that no way, no how were they willing to leave Switzerland. Mainly, they were extremely angry at their parents for having robbed them of all these opportunities during that first year-and-a-half. That's how they saw it. By the time the father did find work, the children had - thanks to their later years in the local Schools - been able to move on to a Swiss university and apprenticeships, respectively, and they are still here.

I realise that none of this may apply to you, and that you may already have a definite contract lined up in your next country, or your country of origin, or your husband's next transfer after two years may already be a signed and sealed fact.

Please, therefore, if you find the cautionary tales annoying, just click past them, okay? It is hard to skip telling them here because, though you may not realise it, you are speaking the very words we have heard so many times before. And which turned out to be spoken at the beginning of a much longer stay in Switzerland than originally intended.

Of course, though, you probably know better (after all, we don't know you, and write only out of our experience, and with goodwill) what you have planned for your next move, when you leave Switzerland.

Whatever choices you make, I wish you and your family well.
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  #28  
Old 16.04.2018, 20:03
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

I am a long term resident of Switzerland, having lived here for 18 years. I was married to a Swiss man for 12 years and have a son born and raised here who attended the Swiss schooling system and is currently doing a Berufsmatura.

I understand Swiss German, can speak German and have integrated via joining a Swiss Verein to which I have belonged for 17 years and where I spent 5 years on the Stiftungsrat (Board of Directors) where I was fortunate to make good friends with people from all over Switzerland.

I say this because I haven't lived in an expat bubble, never did.

I'm also a teacher and have worked in the International System for 10 years at a school following the IGCSE's and A levels (International UK curriculum). My background is in English and Linguistics, I'm a fully qualified teacher of Special Ed and an academic advisor.

When families come to Switzerland with children aged 14+ and those kids have zero German it is, on the whole, (not always, but on the whole) very difficult and also a little unfair on those teenagers to place them in a local school where no amount of extra German lessons and integration classes are going to make up for the pretty substantial shortfall those kids will experience in their education. Sure there is always the occasional example which defies the odds, but on the whole, it can cause so many problems.


Here is something many people don't know, but it's a fact.

International/UK qualifications IGCSE/A levels are recognised and accepted by Swiss Universities as being the equivalent to a Swiss Matura and therefore non-Swiss teenagers can gain entry to Swiss University with them. I know it, because I work with it and see it each year.

Here is what Swiss Universities (apart from ETH) require. ETH require A's across the board.

3 X A levels at grade C+ (One MUST be German, one MUST be a Maths or natural science subject) the third subject is optional

1x A/S level

3 x IGCSE's

In the above 6 subject set Swiss Universities require

1 Math or Science at A level
Must include 1 foreign language subject
Must include 1 humanities subject (History, Geography or Economics)


So - in reply to those who seem to have a rather negative take on what might happen to teens who land in Switzerland and then whose families find they stay a lot longer, while many of the teens go to Universities back in the UK or US or wherever, as long as they have been given good academic advice teenagers can indeed continue into Higher Ed in Switzerland without a Swiss Matura taken in Swiss Public Schools. Once they get to University they usually integrate without a problem with their fellow undergraduates.

I wanted to communicate this because it is important to have the full picture!

Another excellent way for teens to integrate into the local community and get to know local teens is through joining sports clubs. Again, I see this all the time. Tennis and football are particularly popular.

The Swiss education system has huge strengths, it also has its own shortcomings and difficulties. The international education system too. Careful examination of them both with knowledge of the full facts is pretty important before making decisions.
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  #29  
Old 16.04.2018, 21:34
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

Thank you, Moorsholm, for an excellent post, full of the actual facts with which you work.

In the cases of which I know (in German-speaking cantons), it was always the good command of German (or lack thereof) which ended up being the determining factor of whether the teenager or young adult fulfilling all the other relevant pre-requisites could (or could not) enter the Swiss post-school educational system, be it to do an apprenticeship, attend a technical college, or go to university.

Thank you for supplying names and grades.
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Old 16.04.2018, 22:00
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

Depending on the subject, University is relatively easy, yes.

In the cases I mentionned, the youngsters involved turned out not to be particularly academic- it is much more difficult for an apprenticeship for sure.
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Old 16.04.2018, 22:38
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

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Hopefully we can get our kids some German language lessons, either offered by the school or private tutor if we have to. As long as it doesn't interfere with the other languages they are learning.
Would you seriously prioritise your children learning other foreign languages over the language of the country your children will be living in? I arrived here speaking no German and struggled, for a teenager wanting to be independent it really can't be easy, it simply isn't an English speaking country.

We are an English family, I have a 14 year old in local school, who travels by public transport around Switzerland, goes to concerts, goes out for dinner or skiing with friends, shopping etc, I'm not sure such freedom would be possible without the language.

My child is in a sports team with some ZIS students from US/UK. They need most instructions translated, the coach doesn't speak English and relies on the the bilingual kids to translate. It kind of works, but it's frustrating for the English speakers and a bit annoying for the bilingual ones, it would all be much easier if they made more progress/effort in German! The swiss school kids are quite jealous of all the overseas trips the ZIS students get to go on though!
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Old 16.04.2018, 22:43
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

It's true that options for apprenticeships or non academic routes would be more restrictive for student without a good command of German (or French).
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Old 17.04.2018, 07:04
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

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The big difference, tiffspencer, is that the people you were interacting with in Kuwait, were speaking... I guess... English. You were, presumably, dealing with those who were already stepping out of their primary society and culture. Unless, of course, you all also speak Arabic.
Why would you assume that? Or assume that nobody in my family speaks more than one language? Or that we didn't learn a bit of Arabic ourselves? (Well, me and my husband, at least).

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What you and your children will not be able to do is interact with the locals, follow the nuances of the local media, participate in local cultural events, and make yourself properly understood in the shops and libraries. Having a German class once a week does not typically give one that kind of fluency.
We seemed to do ok in other places we have lived, I think we can manage in Switzerland for a couple of years.

Why would you assume we would only be taking German classes once a week? You really should not be so quick to judge others.

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Being without local interaction might not matter to you (as you might be happy in the expat bubble, and many really do, indeed, feel content there) and that's fine if you and your children can be happy that way. And yes, you will find some kind of contact with those rare locals (or foreigners working in these positions) who will feel comfortable conducting the entire relationship in English instead of the local language, and who will still take you seriously over time even if you do not switch to the local language. There are many multilingual people here, but one can by no means safely assume that English is always one of the languages they speak.
When did I ever say being without local interaction doesn't matter to me? I've already said the contrary.

And again, you keep making unfounded assumptions about me - again about how many languages I speak, not everyone in the UK only speaks English - in order to make a point, however erroneous it seems to be.

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In fact, though you are certain that you'll be here for only two years, Odile and I, as long-termers, have seen soooo many people coming to Switzerland saying just that, but then, contrary to all their expectations at the start, their stay in Switzerland ended up being for much longer than the two years they had imagined. (You see, it is so nice here!) And when the children completed their international school, even with flying colours in the foreign school-leaving certificate, they had considerable trouble gaining entrance to any Swiss further education, for lack of local language skills, not just on the level one can have from a tutor, but the real, solid command that comes from daily interactions with the locals.
Anecdotal evidence is wonderful, but I'm sure there are just as many, if not more, expats who have come to Switzerland, did their time, then moved on, either back to either their home country or a whole new country altogether. I know people who did that and moved back to the UK after their contracts were up (sadly, none of them in Zurich, so I can't ask them for advice on this topic).

What worked for you and Odile isn't necessarily applicable to everyone else.

Given that one comment I have seen repeatedly from people regarding the transient nature of the student body in international schools suggests that more than a few expats leave Switzerland when they can. Otherwise, it would be nice to see actual statistics, rather than:

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In one case I know, after eighteen months the husband's employer unexpectedly folded, so the school-fees for the international school fell away abruptly. As he was not able to find work, neither here nor in their country of origin, though he tried, he had no realistic option other than to stay in Switzerland to claim unemployment benefits here. The children had to switch to the local school, where they were well-received in the integration classes. By the time the unemployment money had run out, the wife found a job here. By this time the children were in their teens, falling in love, mobile across the country by train, having such great experiences with their local non-expat friends, that no way, no how were they willing to leave Switzerland. Mainly, they were extremely angry at their parents for having robbed them of all these opportunities during that first year-and-a-half. That's how they saw it. By the time the father did find work, the children had - thanks to their later years in the local Schools - been able to move on to a Swiss university and apprenticeships, respectively, and they are still here.
The most extreme anecdotal example you can think of?

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Please, therefore, if you find the cautionary tales annoying, just click past them, okay?
With all due respect, wouldn't it be easier for you to just click past a topic you obviously have no interest in discussing?

I started the topic asking about suitable schools in Zurich that offered and/or followed a British curriculum. Other people - Nanapug, omtatsat, Rayne, aSwissInTheUS, LuganoPirate - all offered their advice on the topic. You seem more interested in staying off-topic, and trying to hijack this thread.

As appreciated as your advice is, there are other threads pertaining to the issue of local vs private schooling, expat life here, etc.

What I did not see was any recent information regarding British schools in Zurich, hence my starting this topic.

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Of course, though, you probably know better (after all, we don't know you, and write only out of our experience, and with goodwill) what you have planned for your next move, when you leave Switzerland.
And yet, you keep wanting to lecture me about how wrong I am.

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Whatever choices you make, I wish you and your family well.
Your contrarian tone aside, thank you.

And I do apologize if I come off rather defensive about the issue, and while your unsolicited advice is appreciated, this isn't mine or my family's first rodeo overseas or living in a foreign country. As lovely as Switzerland is (and we have visited other parts of the country), and as great as the education system here seems to be, we really have no desire to emigrate here. If our children decided to attend uni here after they graduate from school, well, that is up to them, but more likely than not, they will be graduating in the UK.

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I am a long term resident of Switzerland, having lived here for 18 years. I was married to a Swiss man for 12 years and have a son born and raised here who attended the Swiss schooling system and is currently doing a Berufsmatura.

I understand Swiss German, can speak German and have integrated via joining a Swiss Verein to which I have belonged for 17 years and where I spent 5 years on the Stiftungsrat (Board of Directors) where I was fortunate to make good friends with people from all over Switzerland.

I say this because I haven't lived in an expat bubble, never did.

I'm also a teacher and have worked in the International System for 10 years at a school following the IGCSE's and A levels (International UK curriculum). My background is in English and Linguistics, I'm a fully qualified teacher of Special Ed and an academic advisor.
Moorsholm, thanks for your post. Any advice or knowledge you might have about ISZN, ZIS, and Hull's would be appreciated (pros, cons, strengths of each school, etc).

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Would you seriously prioritise your children learning other foreign languages over the language of the country your children will be living in? I arrived here speaking no German and struggled, for a teenager wanting to be independent it really can't be easy, it simply isn't an English speaking country.

We are an English family, I have a 14 year old in local school, who travels by public transport around Switzerland, goes to concerts, goes out for dinner or skiing with friends, shopping etc, I'm not sure such freedom would be possible without the language.

My child is in a sports team with some ZIS students from US/UK. They need most instructions translated, the coach doesn't speak English and relies on the the bilingual kids to translate. It kind of works, but it's frustrating for the English speakers and a bit annoying for the bilingual ones, it would all be much easier if they made more progress/effort in German! The swiss school kids are quite jealous of all the overseas trips the ZIS students get to go on though!
As we are only here for a 2 year stay, yes, I would prefer they focus and what they are already learning and prioritize that. It is for the same reason I would want them in a school system as close as possible to the British one, so as to not disrupt their academic education and progress any more than we already are with this move.

My oldest, for example, is already on her third language. I'd much rather she focus on that if possible, rather than start taking intensive German lessons for 2 years, then resuming that third language once we return to the UK and ending her German lessons. Obviously, in the end, it is up to her, and if she wants to switch to German, that is her choice. But I do think it might be better for her to keep working on that third language after spending 4 years on it.
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Old 17.04.2018, 07:40
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

Boy, are you in for a surprise :-) Well godspeed to you and enjoy your two years in Switzerland.

And do please come back and let us know when you learn the true meaning of "selber schuld".

Last edited by Tilia; 17.04.2018 at 07:50.
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  #35  
Old 17.04.2018, 08:07
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

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Boy, are you in for a surprise :-) Well godspeed to you and enjoy your two years in Switzerland.

And do please come back and let us know when you learn the true meaning of "selber schuld".
Only if you promise you won't dislocate your ankle while dismounting off of your high horse while saying "Ich habe es dir gesagt" (or whatever the Swiss-German equivalent is) :-)
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  #36  
Old 17.04.2018, 16:35
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

Hi - based on what you have described ISZ would probably not be the school for you.

The ISZ is a big school geared towards AP and IB exams. They do not offer the IGCSE's. The problem a lot of British families have with entering an IB only school is if they are re-located back to the UK before their kids sit the IB the kids leave with no official recognisable qualification.

Your choice in Zurich appears to be between ISZN and Hulls School. I do believe that academia are opening a college in Zurich which offers IGCSE's too. Check them out just to see where they are at with those plans so that you have all the options.

It's difficult to comment on ISZB and Hulls. I have heard that Hulls School does have a fairly high proportion of Swiss students but this absolutely should not deter from the quality of educational provision. What I would do in your shoes is go along and visit both schools with your kids. Go and get a feel for them. Often this is what counts in the end. There could be countless posts about a negative experience here or there, or a positive here or there, ultimately each family indeed each child is unique and it boils down to where you feel is better for your children.

All the best with your move!
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Old 17.04.2018, 19:55
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

A lot of international schools here just offer IB. However, transferring from an IB school to a UK school shouldn't be a problem unless your children would be returning to the UK in the middle of GCSE courses. Moving at the end of Grade 10 ( the end of MYP) to go into Years 12 & 13 to do A levels would also be fine.

We're here long term, we have chosen international school and don't feel that we're missing out on anything. I think you have to have experienced international school life to understand what diverse and amazing communities they are. If you've managed Kuwait, Switzerland will be a doddle.
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Old 17.04.2018, 20:24
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

Hi again tiffspencer
It was not my intention to offend or upset you, merely to contribute to the various perspectives. I am sorry that my post came across as annoying to you.
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Old 17.04.2018, 20:27
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

Jamol,

I think it could be potentially problematic to move back to the UK without any paper qualifications for youngsters aged 16 and expect that they are able to start straight into A levels.

Moving back to the UK at the end of MYP means they have no officially recognised qualifications and it is a risk. Universities ask for GCSE's (Minimum 5) and A levels or the IB. Schools and colleges which offer A levels often ask for grades A/B at GCSE or IGCSE to progress to those A level courses.


Of course there might be some institutions who accept an internal report or internally marked set of exams at MYP level and a mixing of systems - but I wouldn't want to take that gamble if I were in the position of perhaps having to move back to the UK with kids wanting to take A levels.
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Old 17.04.2018, 21:28
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Re: Top British Schools in Zurich

MYP students receive an MYP certificate if they score 28 points across subjects with no 2's in any subject area. MYP is recognised by Ofqual. Uk schools seem ok with this from my experience, although perhaps the students in schools I've taught in might choose schools that offer IB and A levels.
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