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Old 02.04.2021, 06:48
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International School of Basel

Hello,


my wife and 2 daughyers (3 and 7 years old) are relocating to Basel this summer. We are french living in Chicago currently. Our daughters speak english and french fluently although they are more versed with English.



We are trying to decide what school to go to in Basel. The original idea was to send them to ISB so that they can both continue in English as well as learn German while still keeping French at home. However recently we were introduced to Ecole Francaise de Bale (efdb) that is french speaking with 8 hours of German and 3 to 5 h of English weekly and seemed to be quite organized and following kids closely. Were wondering if any of you had any experience with those 2 schools to help us make the right decision for our children


Thanks in advance
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Old 02.04.2021, 08:55
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Re: International School of Basel

ISB is fine. I don't know anything about École française de Bâle (perhaps ask on frenchforum.ch ) - but it looks to me like your decision needs to be based on how you want your kids to acquire language. In your situation, I'd probably tend towards EFDB - give all three languages a go.

Other possibilites are local Swiss school (much cheaper, and might well be the best option overall if you're planning to stay long term) or be a border worker and live in France.
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Old 02.04.2021, 13:07
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Re: International School of Basel

Is there is a reason you don't want to try the Swiss public school system? The Swiss school system is generally extremely good and you'll children and your family will be much better integrated in the neighborhood.

If your company is planning to pay for the children's schooling as part of your relocation package, perhaps you can negotiate for something else or put the school payments on hold, in case the integration into the local schools doesn't work out.
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Old 02.04.2021, 13:13
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Re: International School of Basel

Live in France and send them to state school??
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Old 05.04.2021, 11:19
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Re: International School of Basel

Hi,


thank you for your replies.
The main reason we were considering ISB was so that our kids could continue to speak English (particularly the young one who is just three) as we will be speaking French at home.
Yes the company will be paying part of the tuition


thanks
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Old 05.04.2021, 11:32
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Re: International School of Basel

If you stay here long enough, they'll be learning English at school anyway. You could always send them to one of the many English groups around Basel.

I think you just need to weigh the integration aspect against English fluency. I do know a French girl (born in the UK, left when 3) who went to Swiss school whose English is almost flawless. It's certainly accentless (for a given value of accentless...).
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Old 05.04.2021, 12:10
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Re: International School of Basel

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The main reason we were considering ISB was so that our kids could continue to speak English (particularly the young one who is just three) as we will be speaking French at home.
An option you might not have considered is to send the kids to state school in either Switzerland or France and try to keep up the English independently at home.

Way back when I first arrived in Switzerland I worked as a nanny for a French-speaking Swiss family who had just returned from the US with children aged 3 and 6 who had picked up English in the states. The parents were keen for the children to maintain their English language skills so they hired an English-speaking nanny (me) who provided care at home a few days a week, and from when they started school until they reached an age where English was taught in the state school the children received private English language lessons once per week. They also watched all movies in English, and would vacation at least once per year in an English speaking place where the children would interact with other English-speaking kids.

The girls I looked after are now grown and speak English with a close to native accent, despite always speaking French at home and doing all their schooling in the local schools. I would say this approach worked very well, the only tricky thing is finding a nanny who will speak to the kids in good English. After I left the family was lucky to have a Filipino nanny who also spoke English natively, but I know the parents found the nanny hunt a real challenge.
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Old 05.04.2021, 12:29
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Re: International School of Basel

Another option is the Ecole Internationale des 3 Frontieres in Saint Louis. It is based around the French core curriculum, but includes English and German lessons as well. There are a mix of native French and native English speaking children.



As an advantage over the Swiss international schools, tuition is much cheaper on the French side once the company stops paying.
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Old 05.04.2021, 13:13
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Re: International School of Basel

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Yes the company will be paying part of the tuition
In that case, you might try to have that budget paid for you do decide, freely, how you spend it on their education.

Compare those very high fees, per month, of a private school, to "part" that the company will be paying, and to the free state school, with integration to learn German, and the possibility to make friends.

Then, research what you could do with the budget, e.g.
  • pay a tutor to practice English
  • pay a tutor to practice French
  • buy learning materials in both languages
  • pay the fees of a play-group in English
  • take them to a sports club over the border (once Covid is over) to play in French,
  • take them to the movies and theatre in France
  • send them (not now, but as they grow older) to language courses or weekend events in France or in England.

If you send them to a local school and local sports and arts clubs, you get most of the above, for free or almost free, in German. Plus friends with whom to do the rest of such activities that are not part of the school programme.
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Old 05.04.2021, 19:52
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Re: International School of Basel

Most likely they are relocating here only temporarily ... no need to push them into local school if so.
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Old 09.04.2021, 12:28
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Re: International School of Basel

Check out academia international school in Basel. They're a good school with a strong track record. Much smaller than ISB but hugely engaged international staff.

They also offer education in English, follow the UK international system, have a strong German track and are a lot less expensive than ISB. The big companies also contribute/pay for fees there.

https://academia-international.ch/?g...hoCp7cQAvD_BwE
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Old 09.04.2021, 12:31
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Re: International School of Basel

Btw.

I've lived here 20+ years and my son went through the local system and did well there (berufsmatura track).

I've worked in education for 25 years. Transitioning to the local system suits some families. But I have seen absolute disasters where families have been 'strongly pushed' local particularly with kids who are older. It is definitely NOT a case of one choice fits all.
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Old 09.04.2021, 12:36
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Re: International School of Basel

Just to add

Ecole Francaise de Bale (efdb) has an excellent reputation here in Basel. I would highly recommend them too.
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Old 09.04.2021, 13:06
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Re: International School of Basel

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Btw.

I've lived here 20+ years and my son went through the local system and did well there (berufsmatura track).

I've worked in education for 25 years. Transitioning to the local system suits some families. But I have seen absolute disasters where families have been 'strongly pushed' local particularly with kids who are older. It is definitely NOT a case of one choice fits all.
Yes, I agree with this completely. And vice versa.

I think some newbies just assume that attending a local, government school will be impossible, without really knowing what's on offer. It seems they do so because
  • the government schools are awful in their own home country so they think they will be here, too, whereas they're mostly fine
  • they don't know that the local state schools support the incoming children with extra lessons to learn the language and to integrate into the Swiss way of doing things
  • they do not realise that the government schools are free, so they don't know that, just by not having to pay fees, they'd free up a part of their budget to do other educational and growth-promoting activities with their children.

I commend all parents who try to find out about both routes, to compare them. Sometimes, even within one family, one way can be good for one child, and the other for another.

I've seen several heart-breaking situations of children and teenagers who went to international schools and spent their social time (sport, music, clubs, church, etc.) with international children, too, or with the children of their parents' expat friends. In so doing, they never really joined in any Swiss activities, no local sports, no Swiss clubs or groups. Even when they just spent relaxed time hanging around with peers, these were not Swiss. This meant that, by the time they left school, they'd been living in a bubble for years, and didn't really know many Swiss people at all, and didn't have a solid enough command of the local language and culture to cope (scholastically, but also socially) with an apprenticeship, college or university. If such a young person then leaves Switzerland to study abroad, they may not get a permit later, as an adult (turning 18), to return to Switzerland where their parents still live.

Having said that, definitely, you're right that the other way works, too. There is at least one family here on the forum who started out in the local, free, government school, and their children were very happy there, and then did so much better altogether once they'd moved to private, fee-paying schools. I knew of one child who was rescued that way, too, and really came to life, as it were, in the international setting.

I think one centrally important factor is the personal commitment and attitude of the parents. If they are willing to learn the local language, and to put in the effort to understand how things work here, and are determined to make it work and - most especially - if the parents think that it's a great opportunity (or an awful burden), then that will the example their children are likely to follow. Of course, that's not all of it, but a part.

Last edited by doropfiz; 09.04.2021 at 16:39. Reason: grammar
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Old 09.04.2021, 23:44
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Re: International School of Basel

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I've seen several heart-breaking situations of children and teenagers who went to international schools and spent their social time (sport, music, clubs, church, etc.) with international children, too, or with the children of their parents' expat friends. In so doing, they never really joined in any Swiss activities, no local sports, no Swiss clubs or groups. Even when they just spent relaxed time hanging around with peers, these were not Swiss. This meant that, by the time they left school, they'd been living in a bubble for years, and didn't really know many Swiss people at all, and didn't have a solid enough command of the local language and culture to cope (scholastically, but also socially) with an apprenticeship, college or university. If such a young person then leaves Switzerland to study abroad, they may not get a permit later, as an adult (turning 18), to return to Switzerland where their parents still live.
Why is this heart-breaking? Also, what is a Swiss activity and what do you mean by Swiss people? You do realise that nowadays a great deal of what you call Swiss people are half-half or second/third generation and not only in urban areas. Which is a good thing in my opinion, diversity is one of Switzerland's greatest assets and is fully reflected in your typical Swiss state school classroom.
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Old 09.04.2021, 23:49
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Re: International School of Basel

Forgot to mention: not true your point about the permit and turning 18 and leaving to study abroad.

Swiss immigration law considers where one's center of vital interest is and a 19 year old studying abroad, returning home to their parents in Switzerland on vacation would continue holding a family reunification permit.
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Old 09.04.2021, 23:52
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Re: International School of Basel

PPS: many local Swiss attend international schools.

It is up to each family to chose which education system their children should pursue.
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Old 10.04.2021, 01:59
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Re: International School of Basel

Hello JulietteK, as a new username on the Forum.

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It is up to each family to chose which education system their children should pursue.
As long as their chosen education system conforms with the Swiss laws, yes, and indeed, both Moorsholm and I set out the importance of making that informed choice, above. I think it is very wise for parents (at least, those who can afford a fee-paying school, or whose employer will) to take the trouble to weigh up the positive and negative aspects of both routes.
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Old 10.04.2021, 01:59
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Re: International School of Basel

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what is a Swiss activity and what do you mean by Swiss people? You do realise that nowadays a great deal of what you call Swiss people are half-half or second/third generation and not only in urban areas. Which is a good thing in my opinion, diversity is one of Switzerland's greatest assets and is fully reflected in your typical Swiss state school classroom.
I suppose that, in using the phrase Swiss people, I meant the Eidgenossen, but also those born and bred here for several generations, at least whose parents or grandparents were not born abroad, but most especially those who speak a local Swiss language as their strongest language, and who thoroughly regard Switzerland as their home country, so that they have all their social and work connections here, and any other country from where their family immigrated, long ago, is no longer their reflex natural destination every school holiday. And by integrated people, I include, in addition, the many diverse people who are no longer completely dependent on the language and culture of their grandparents' former country, so that they can and do cope fully with living in Switzerland, and now make up it's rich tapestry.

In that sense, for me a Swiss activity is one (be it playing sport formally, or just kicking the ball around in the local park or school-grounds, attending music lessons, scouts, play-group, play dates, church, dance lessons, mucking out a stable, babysitting, playing with the neighbour's dog, selling things at the flea-market, attending a children's theatre or creative class, going to movies, playing cards or gaming) which can easily take place down the road from where one lives or with those who've grown up around here, and in the local Swiss language. This, as opposed to an activity for which the child and/or parents must travel across the town to reach a special, separate group that needs English as the medium for doing this activity.
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Old 10.04.2021, 02:00
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Re: International School of Basel

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Why is this heart-breaking?
The young people of whom I wrote spent their school years in an expat bubble. They went to international schools, all their extra-curricular activities were with other expats, and they and their parents socialised exclusively with other English-speaking people. As a result, they never got to know anyone who was not inside the expat bubble.

They could not, in any really practical sense, navigate around real life in Switzerland, because they did not really understand the basics that a teenager in the Swiss system learns about how life works here. They did not know anyone who spoke the local language with any ease, and their own command of a Swiss language was only as a second or third language at school, where it was regarded (as it was in their homes and by their parents at work) as largely irrelevant.

Once school was finished, they were faced with Real Life. And that had to take place outside of the protection of the international school. Suddenly they found themselves in a gap between their lives at school, and their parents' lives, since those parents were already qualified and working in their own expat space, but the teenagers needed to get their own education.

The non-academic of these youngsters needed to find an apprenticeship. They had great difficulty to compete with the Swiss teenagers, who already knew the local language and general way of being. They also came out rather poorly in comparison with the other school-leavers from Swiss schools who, as you rightly point out, are not Swiss, but whose participation in the local Swiss schools helped them to integrate and to understand how to apply for an apprenticeship and then how to pass the exams and qualify.

The academically oriented school-leavers found that, at least for some universities or some courses, they needed to demonstrate competence in a Swiss language at a level they had not anticipated, and which exceeded what they could deliver without considerable extra work. They also found themselves having lost quite a number of their friends, who then scattered into the anglophone world to study there, as opposed to the locals who completed Gymnasium, got their Matura, and went of to university with at least some of their school-friends.

Some had to leave, just to get into an English-speaking environment, even though they were emotionally not really ready to leave home, yet.
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