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Old 22.11.2019, 22:26
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Confused with secondary schools

Hi all,

I could really use some advice at the moment, I am really confused 🤯
We are looking to move houses and currently between choosing Birmensdorf or Bonstetten. Given our eldest is on the 5th class of primary school I tried to look a bit into the secondary schools of those areas. I was shocked to see how different they are! I thought all schools are similar but they seem worlds apart. Birmensdorf mentions that they offer ISF teaching is anyone familiar with the term? Anyone has any input regarding the specific two schools?
Last basic question: Do the kids have to go to the nearest sek school or given they differ from area to area they can chose?

thanks in advance for taking the time to read this and to anyone who can help me understand why secondary schools appear different.
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Old 23.11.2019, 01:44
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

ISF (Integrative Schulungsform)

This concept aims to avoid separating children with special needs out of the main streams, i.e. not to teach them in special classes. Instead, children deemed to be within the normal ranges, and children who are identified as having a special need, are taught together in the same class, so as to promote social interaction. This is what is meant by "integrative".

Depending on the abilities of any particular child with special needs, that child's special needs are addressed by the teacher (perhaps providing a modified form of instruction or tasks), and/or by a classroom assistant. Sometimes the child may attend some (but generally not most) individual lessons/therapies parallel to but separately from the rest of the class. Again, depending upon the child's range of abilities, it may be possible and seen as reasonable that, for at least some of the lessons, the child with special needs is fully integrated in the class, doing the same activities as the other children who do not have special needs, without any particular [need of] assistance.

The aim - or at least the lofty goal, not always attained - is to structure the assistance according to the specific child's needs, so as to promote as much good development as possible, together with all and as part of the whole bunch of kids of all sorts.
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Old 23.11.2019, 09:42
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

Unless there are unresolvable issues at one school, you normally do not have a choice. Exceptions can be made, but you'll have the speak to the school authorities.

We moved house while our son was half way through his last year of PG. We had to get agreement from his old school and the local school for him to finish his education at the old school. Being sensible, they readily agreed.
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Old 23.11.2019, 11:58
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

Bonstetten teaches in streams (A,B,C) whereas Birmensdorf has 'Niveaus' for different subjects. So in Birmensdorf if you're good at maths but struggle with French and German, you could study top level maths and a lower level of German. By contrast, in Bonstetten you'd have to study all subjects at the same level.
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Old 23.11.2019, 12:37
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

Thank you all for taking the time to reply!
@Doropfiz, wow, really thorough explanation, it cleared things up a lot. I find what they try to do really good. Not sure how it works in practice but in theory it sounds good. I had met a young man recently who is from Birmensdorf and had casually said that the Sek school in the area is ‚rough‘ but no idea what he meant by it...this is why i am finding it hard to chose between the areas. Just a comment from a local person that went to school there, is stalling my decision...
@Rayne, thank you for explaining the differences between the two schools. What is your personal view between the two different styles of schools? Is either of them limiting in any way for the child‘s future?
@Not all there, thank you for explaining. This made even clearer that we really have to pay attention to the type of secondary school an area since there is no choose of changing.
thanks again all, your responses have already helped a lot!
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Old 23.11.2019, 14:26
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

Here's a different thread started by someone else trying to get the sense of a school in a new area, and some tips of how to get a general impression.
https://www.englishforum.ch/housing-...ty-b-lach.html
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Old 23.11.2019, 20:34
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

remember that if you buy, you cannot change the school so you could be well and truly buggered if you have problems.


renting offers that option of moving somewhere else if it its not very good. schooling in CH is sooo hit and miss its unbelieveable so choose carefully.
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Old 23.11.2019, 20:42
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

yeah I agree...the more I look at it the more I get that feeling. We would be renting for now. So yes we could always move again, just growing a little tired of moving, plus kids are at an age it would be more difficult to move them next time if they settle and make new friends... If only there was a magic wand to tell me which of the two schools is better 😁 watching Harry Potter at the moment - obviously 😊
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Old 24.11.2019, 02:34
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

If the school is "rough", then there might be playground bullying - depending on the staff, this is sometimes ignored by the school and sometimes dealt with - with varying levels of effectiveness. If you know the young man who made the comment, maybe follow up with how the school reacts when something happens.

Regarding the two different systems (A / B / C class split or mixed classes with streaming for particular subjects) there are pros and cons to both.
A/B/C split: working with the same group of children in all subjects in the first year (and most in later years, when there could be elective subjects) could be a pro or a con, depending on the group ... but if you're particularly skilled in one area, but not in others, then you might be bored in some subjects but overwhelmed in others.
Subject streaming: you will have different groups in different subjects which, again, could be good or bad; generally not all subjects will be streamed, so there'll still be a mob lumped together for some subjects, but in the streamed subjects your child should get lessons at the right level.
Streaming is sometimes delivered by teachers presenting lessons to a mixed group, and the follow-up work is different for the different levels (a geography example: the children are taught about solstices/equinoxes and seasons, then shown a picture of the Earth at a solstice - the less academic group would have to talk about the current season in the northern hemisphere, while the more academic group would talk about the current season in the southern hemisphere).

One thing to remember: within the school system there is the flexibility to change classes if your child's work doesn't match the required academic level. This can be up or down, depending on the need, and most schools will have two or three dates to change in the first year, one or two in the second, and probably one in the third.

Another thing to remember about Swiss secondary schools is that, after two years, if your child is fluent enough in German (and French) and keen for the "fast road" to university they can try the Gymnasium test for the short Gymnasium (four-year programme). In the third year of secondary they can try it again, and there are other options which lead to tertiary study as well. Check out IMS (Informatik Mittelschule), FMS (Fachmittelschule), & HMS (Handelsmittelschule). They also have an entry test, but they're not as difficult as the Gymnasium test.

I have two children who have finished secondary school and are currently in IMS & FMS, while the third is going to enter secondary next year ... and I attend school info evenings, including ones which explain these options and show examples of the work.
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Old 28.11.2019, 22:38
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

Hi Araqyl, thank you so much for your input it was very helpful. I find the flexible system more appealing, with the opportunity to study at your own level and bring it up if possible. I hope I am not making the wrong choice, only time will tell 😊 I have seen the mittelstufe schools you mentioned and they do sound appealing if my kids would like to go that way. I hope they will 😊
thanks again for your helpful response.
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Old 28.11.2019, 23:08
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

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Bonstetten teaches in streams (A,B,C) whereas Birmensdorf has 'Niveaus' for different subjects. So in Birmensdorf if you're good at maths but struggle with French and German, you could study top level maths and a lower level of German. By contrast, in Bonstetten you'd have to study all subjects at the same level.
OP, move to Bonstetten. Back in them days, I had to go to boarding school to be able to study each subject according to my own speed!
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Old 29.11.2019, 09:46
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

Good luck with your move. You might find this English video series about Swiss secondary schools helpful. The Kanton plans to introduce new rules for getting in the Mittelschule starting from 2021, so not all of the information about Kurzgymnasium will apply.

https://swissfamilyfun.com/tag/zurich-school/
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Old 02.12.2019, 11:39
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Re: Confused with secondary schools

Thanks, that is very helpful 😊
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