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Old 18.12.2010, 20:59
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Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Hello, apologies if I am posting in the wrong place.

My husband is starting work in Zurich in January. My daughter (11) is on the waiting list for the only international school that we liked when we visited.
So my husband is going to commute weekly back to the UK until my daughter gets the school place.
I am not thrilled by the idea of living apart during the week and am very keen to move to Zurich as soon as possible.
I am worried that my daughter might not be offered a place at the school.
Please give me your opinions and advice.

Thank you.
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Old 18.12.2010, 21:03
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Hi, it seems that your only option might be to put her name down at some other schools. Did you check out bilingual options as well as the international schools?
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Old 18.12.2010, 21:04
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

How long is the waiting list for your daughter to get a place?
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Old 18.12.2010, 21:16
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

She might not get in, so I really would suggest that you follow tildaoz's suggestion and put her name down for other international schools.
A few years in a school that perhaps is not your first choice will not make a difference.
Even try in the cantons around Zurich (your husband can commute).
I do agree with you it's not good for the family and for the couple to be far apart for long periods of time.

Try this link:
http://www.swiss-schools.ch/index.php?language=en
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Old 18.12.2010, 21:22
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Have you communicated to the school clearly that they are your preferred choice, and you are willing to do anything required to get the place ?

It's just a few days to Christmas, does the school also have a policy about entry times (many schools do intake maybe twice, or even once per year).

I would have no issue asking the school in a forward manner how long the waiting list is, and whether it is realistic within a set time frame (could they offer you a place in 1 month, 3 months, 6 months) ?

Have they actually said, yes we definitely will have a place for her in August (the beginning of the school year?) - if not, I'd say you are wasting your time - if you are on a waiting list and they can't tell you at all when the child can start....

But the thing is to be calm, polite and clear...

As others have said, there are plenty of school options in Zurich. How many did you look at ? How long are you planning to stay ?

If you don't look 'permanent' that will also affect your waiting list options...schools will naturally priorities families who seem to be committed for the longer term, unless they specifically cater for short-term expats... even if it's supposed to be a 'level playing field' it may not be that way in reality...

Are you trying to put her into an english-dominant school, or one where there is good bilingual language support, or a specific programme ?

Are you expecting she will stay also for high school (at 11 she would probably go into year 5 immediately and then year 6 from August 2011, in Zurich, and generally they complete year 6 and sit exams for entry to high school...

What criteria are you looking at when choosing a school - maybe forum members can make suggestions on other options that you might not have tried...

Personally, my children are in bilingual Montessori schools because we wanted to maintain their english as well as have them learn the local language/s and they were in Montessori in Australia so the transition educationally was not too dramatic for them...
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Old 18.12.2010, 21:22
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Have you thought about putting your daughter into a Swiss school maybe even until a place at International school becomes available?
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Old 18.12.2010, 21:49
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Thank you for the responses.

We are planning to stay in Switzerland until my 11 year old completes her secondary education, so would consider that in terms of school to be permanent.

She is pretty daunted about the move so I would like to get it over with as soon as possible.

My priority in a school for her is that they are pretty laid back, she is very conscientious and sensitive. She is strong academically and I trust her just to get on with making friends and having a nice time.

We can make another trip out to visit more schools. Would a bilingual school be appropriate for a child who only speaks English at her age?

My husband has serious concerns about state schools, due to the streaming, my daughter not speaking any German.

I am starting to think that a state school might be the best interim option. It would help her German get up to speed more quickly I think, but I would be miserable if she was.

She would have to attend school wouldn't she?

My mother has offered to look after her here so that I can move out with her much younger brother and sister, but neither of us like this idea at all.

Because we consider this to be a permanent move we didn't really want to compromise with our location, (we would like to be in Zurich, not Zug or Baden.)

We do have a relocation company to help us, they have also advised looking at more schools, so this is a definite, and they can speak to the schools as well.

I hate the idea of us being seperated until the summer/autumn, and I really want to live with my husband in Switzerland.

I'm sorry if i haven't addressed every point, especially Swisspea, but thanks again.
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Old 18.12.2010, 22:00
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Just a little food for thought. Don't want to over complicate things for you but by the same token the more info you have the better you will be able to make a decision to re-unite your family. So just thought I would share my experience here so far.

My son and I moved over to be with my partner in August. As we are intending to stay here we decided to send my son to Swiss school. He to is 11 years old. They have an integration class where all the immigrant children go to begin with. Here he has intensive German with the aim that he will be able to speak the language well enough to hold his own in a mainstream class.

So far the experience has been very positive. In fact I would go as far to say my son is having a ball. The style of teaching here is very different and the class is very small, currently there are 8 children in the class of different nationalities. They do so many things that they never would have experienced in the UK.

As for getting him in, I was a bit cheeky. Found the school on the internet and emailed the Headmaster.

Its just some info that maybe you may want to look in further, but if you are having trouble getting a place at an International school then I wouldn't discount a local Swiss school. You may be pleasantly surprised and find that you daughter then doesn't want to move to another school.

Good luck, and I hope that you find a solution soon
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Old 18.12.2010, 22:05
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Hi have you considered the international school of zug..i hear its very good
....don't get too concerned about your kids trust me they settle in pretty quickly as long as you are feeling good about life and not too stressed.

Good luck....and i think its very good advice to give them a ring and talk to them as one of the other posters suggested!
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Old 18.12.2010, 22:18
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Also, have a good search through the forum and find the threads discussing schooling. It definitely is a big issue for travelling families!

Personally, I'd be more inclined to immerse your daughter as quickly as possible, and look at options where she will be immersed in the local language, since your plan is long-term.

At 11 she should already have all the foundations for academics in English, and she will need to work fairly hard to match those in German (or French), however, in the longer term, the asset of learning the local language is a valuable one - in fact, it's one of the key reasons why we brought our family (including 3 children) over to Switzerland from the other side of the world...

Personally, I'd suggest as others, trying to find a really good immersion programme that she can start in January. 6 months full immersion will give her a decent start in the language, and if you can live locally to wherever the school is, then she can also make friends in the local community.

In fact, if I had to do it over again, I'd recommend going full immersion for 6-18 months before the other options. She could still transfer back to the 'international' (ie. English dominant) school, for year 7...if you could get the place...

One of the advantages of being in a bilingual school (English/German) is that as a parent I can expect to communicate with the school in English. That was a big issue for us particularly as our middle child has medical issues which have to be managed daily in the classroom. However, he picked up the language really fast, and probably would have been even better in a full immersion situation.

On the other hand, at the time, we were so stressed with the entire experience (and zero support networks) that for us it was the 'soft' option and it was about as much as we as a family could handle...
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Old 18.12.2010, 22:37
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Thank you.

So more schools, more information about the waiting list, talk to my husband about state schools again. I will also contact the relocation company about the alternative school options.

We both feel really positive about the move, our daughter doesn't, but she is a good girl with lots of friends, I'm sure when she is in situ that she will be fine. I don't like the idea of her stressing out about it for 6+months.

Thanks Clare-Jane, nice to hear a positive state school at that age story.

The reason we are planning on staying in Switzerland for 7 years is so that we don't have to disrupt her education again, so I think that whatever decision we make we will stick with, unless it is very very obviously wrong for her.

Again thanks for the responses, I was pretty nervous about posting here about this, in case I got sternly told to use the search facility.
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Old 19.12.2010, 01:05
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

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Again thanks for the responses, I was pretty nervous about posting here about this, in case I got sternly told to use the search facility.
Considering you are working with a relocation company, they should be doing all the searching for you, and coming up the options. That is, afterall, what they are being paid to do, right? If you were one of my clients, I'd feel I let you down if you posted here looking for alternatives.

Good luck with the move. I hope you find a solution that does not involve separating your family. There are cases where this can be necessary, usually when children are much older than 11 and at a very critical point in their schooling, and moving them makes no sense.
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Old 19.12.2010, 01:26
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Mrs Doolittle,

Thank you. We did tell the relocation company that we only liked one school, they have come back and said ...'well you might have to wait'
They did suggest that we looked into more schools, I don't really care but my daughter is not keen to look round more, I will have to twist her arm.
I think my expectations were too high and that we will have to consider alternatives.

It won't be really stressfull until after the new year when my husband is away.

We will just have to make the best of things and hope that it isn't too long before we can all live together in Switzerland.

I really appreciate all the responses by the way.
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Old 19.12.2010, 02:11
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

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Mrs Doolittle,

Thank you. We did tell the relocation company that we only liked one school, they have come back and said ...'well you might have to wait'
They did suggest that we looked into more schools, I don't really care but my daughter is not keen to look round more, I will have to twist her arm.
I think my expectations were too high and that we will have to consider alternatives.

It won't be really stressfull until after the new year when my husband is away.

We will just have to make the best of things and hope that it isn't too long before we can all live together in Switzerland.

I really appreciate all the responses by the way.
Your daughter is 11, this is not an easy age to move within your own city which may mean changing schools. At 11 you have education options as others have pointed out. Many families cannot afford international school and therefore opt for local schools. Others choose local schools because that's their preference. It can work.

Based on my own experience, it can be difficult to choose a school but that's one of the decisions parents need to make, not the child. Of course you don't want to have a battle with your daughter over this. That will just make things even harder on her. On the other hand, separating your family is not easy on anyone and I would highly recommend that you look at other schooling options. The only advantage I can think of by waiting is that your daughter would start school at the beginning of the academic year and not in the middle.
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Old 19.12.2010, 03:01
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Thanks for your response Mrs Doolittle.

I hate the idea that we are dictated to by our 11 year old. It's really not the case. No we don't want to upset her more than we have to and she did like one of the international schools. But now I think we have to look at the alternatives, whether she likes it or not.

I know we are lucky to be looking at expensive schools, even as a consideration, I really don't care about the status side, as long as my daughter is OK and I can live with my husband...I will be fine.

My daughter does not dictate to us, she is a sweet little girl that we would like to see be happy.

Thanks for all your help and food for thought.
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Old 19.12.2010, 09:43
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

Am I correct in thinking that you have not approached the international school directly yet? If so, then I would suggest that you do so as soon as possible. Visit the school, meet the Head, let him/her know your circumstances. Don't just go on the word of any relocation company.

I agree, that having her go into the Swiss local system, will help her pick up Greman faster and that yes, you could look to moving her to the INt. School after a year or so. However, the disadvantage is that the local school may not be too happy about being used just as a convenient lange school, before removing a child again.

If you do decide to look at local schools as a long term option though, keep in mind that if the German language skills are not considered high enough, then your child will not get into the gymnasium ( academic High school, aimed at getting intp uni) streamed high schools. Not really an issue with a younger child, but more relevent the closer your child is to that decision-making time, by the schools.

Finally, be reassured that most children do adapt well to school, house and country moves -often, better than parents do. THis is especially so, if the child is moving into an "International" environment where schools (such as the International one you are wanting) cater for children from various cultures, languages and expect that there will be movement in and out of the classes over the year. Also, the curriculum provided will lead to end of school qualifications that are recognised for getting into universities worldwide.
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Old 19.12.2010, 09:58
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

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...
My husband has serious concerns about state schools, due to the streaming, my daughter not speaking any German.
....
My son arrived here age 10 with no German. He's just graduated from Gymnasium with a a very high mark, and will be going to Basel University in October. With your daughter being one year older, maybe she could repeat a year. This is normal and without stigma in Swiss schools.

In Baselland, German marks are NOT considered during the first year of school, when determining streaming for children where German is not spoken at home - and can be discretionally not considered during later years. This may be true also in your canton of residence.

The money that you save by sending your child to Swiss school could be used for a considerable amount of private tutoring.

However... much depends on the teachers and the school administration. If your local admin, or the teacher has an attitude, it can be difficult. Ours were very sympathetic and helpful - and my son's first teacher had taught for seven years in the UK!
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Old 19.12.2010, 10:25
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

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In Baselland, German marks are NOT considered during the first year of school, when determining streaming for children where German is not spoken at home - and can be discretionally not considered during later years. This may be true also in your canton of residence.

However... much depends on the teachers and the school administration. If your local admin, or the teacher has an attitude, it can be difficult. Ours were very sympathetic and helpful - and my son's first teacher had taught for seven years in the UK!
That is part of the difficulty that parents have in making decisions here - there is a lack of consistency. A specific case I know of, where a child was not going to make the gymnasium, was IN Baselland. Despite having a sympathetic subject teacher, and high marks in other subjects, the school (Head?) was able to make the decision that was going to keep the child from proceeding to the gymnasium.
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Old 19.12.2010, 10:42
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

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Old 19.12.2010, 10:42
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Re: Waiting for International School place, husband commuting back to UK

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Because we consider this to be a permanent move we didn't really want to compromise with our location, (we would like to be in Zurich, not Zug or Baden.)
Then put your children in the state school system. Our twins were 10. The first 6 months are a struggle but stick with it. Now at 17 they are both doing really well, one in the Kantonschule and the other going the apprenticeship route. They both speak fluent Gemran and Swiss German and their French is way better than UK standards for their age.

If you don't do this then your children will be forever outsiders.

By the way, you may read that the Kanti test at 13 years old is a one off chance to get to the top level school. This is simply not true. Our boy started there at 15 - there are annual chances to get in from the age of 13.

Final word, do not proxy yourself in your daughter's position - us adults find this stuff way more scary than the children .
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