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Old 31.01.2011, 15:18
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Relocating from UK to Geneva Area... School Questions Need help!

Hello

I've been reading on the forum about relocating/schools etc and really could use some help and words of wisdom!

We are moving from the UK [buckinghamshire] in April and I currently have 3 boys, a 6 year old and 10 year old at a great preparatory school and a 15 year old at grammar school in year 10 [1/2 way through gcses].

Im confused... I have read as much as my brain will allow... but I cant seem to work out what school options I should be looking at.

My worst nightmare would be 3 boys at 3 different schools. my best scenario would be 3 boys at 1 school.

I must have emailed 20 schools and had some replies but now I feel stuck.
Its not like the way the schools work in uk.

We plan to settle either in Vaud, or just over the border in france. I am not getting much luck with the state schools search.

One of my boys is on the gifted & talented register in uk and gets a scholarship - but it seems there are no such things in Switzerland?

Any help much appreciated.

Clare
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Old 31.01.2011, 19:48
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Re: Relocating from UK to Geneva Area... School Questions Need help!

I think it would help if you could give us an idea whether you are going to be able to pay for private education for any of your boys, also whether they (particularly the two older ones) already speak French. Also are you settling here for a reasonably long time, or is it only a 2 or 3 years kind of thing.

I have absolutely no idea what the French schools are like in the area you mention, but state education can be pretty tough and chaotic and if you will be wanting your sons to go to university I would really reccommend you settle in Switzerland. I realise France is cheaper, but if you are going for state education, Swiss schools are generally more humane and better equipped.

Obviously you will have the least problems with your youngest. Swiss schooling starts rather slowly so he will be able to become fluent in French before things speed up. He might even be ahead of his class in some areas but don't let that worry you because things speed up and he will have a chance to gain complete fluency before they do.

For the middle boy, much will depend on how quickly he gains fluency and this is quite important as he will need to be taking the entrance exams to get into a decent secondary school.

The question is what best to do for your eldest son. I am afraid that he is probably going to have to face up to an extra year of schooling compared to what he would have had in the UK. Unless his French is pretty fluent he would have to do some kind of transition year where he would gradually slot into the Maturite (sorry about lack of French accent) classes. Check out the sort of Maturite he ought to do and see what subjects he would need to study. If money is no object, I would probably advise you to send him one of the private schools where he can do the IB which would get him to any decent European university.

I could go on, but without knowing a bit more about your particular circumstances, this is probably enough for now. One other thing, My advice would be to get the school question sorted before you decide where to live because you don't want to find a great place only to discover that you are miles away from decent schools.
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Old 01.02.2011, 12:41
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Re: Relocating from UK to Geneva Area... School Questions Need help!

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For the middle boy, much will depend on how quickly he gains fluency and this is quite important as he will need to be taking the entrance exams to get into a decent secondary school.
In Vaud, there's no one-off exam to determine which stream a child goes into for secondary; it's based on continuous assessment throughout 5th and 6th grades, especially during 6th, plus they also take into account the child's ability to work autonomously, their attitude to study and so on.

But... also in Vaud, a non-French speaking child is exempt from being officially graded in French for the first two years after arrival.

Technically his performance in French cannot therefore be used to determine streaming. I'm not quite sure how the school would play this in practice - there's 'officially we can't judge' and 'unofficially it be silly to disregard his progress' - but it would definitely be something to ask about when visiting.

Also be prepared that every single 10 yr old I know of who's arrived in our school district has been placed in the grade a year below, to give them the best chance for French fluency before the more difficult 5th and 6th grades. 4th grade is the end of primary with one teacher; beyond that it's like UK secondary with multiple teachers and classrooms, and homework well in excess of an hour a day. It's a massive step in expectations, especially for a non-French speaker.

Don't forget the more unusual solutions, like your 15 yr old staying in the UK with family and visiting for long weekends and hols, or even boarding there, assuming that you're more likely to rustle up fees for one than all three. International fees are comparable to top UK boarding school charges, including the boarding, so you may consider prioritising any spare money for the oldest as the younger ones would manage perfectly well in the local schools.
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Old 01.02.2011, 13:54
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Re: Relocating from UK to Geneva Area... School Questions Need help!

My advised would be to see stay in England with the boys until the end of the school year, start them of here in September (which is the school year). When we moved across to Switzerland we came in April as well, had a lot of schools that would not accept our daughter as it was to close to their final exams. For your younger children i would recommend a local school vbut for the older one if he is not fluent in French I would recommend a English speaking school.
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Old 02.02.2011, 16:17
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Re: Relocating from UK to Geneva Area... School Questions Need help!

I would recommend you do a bit of self-assessment and determine what you as parents want or desire for your childrens' future education. Of course this will be partially dependent on whether your time in CH is short term or indefinite.

For example, what type of curriculum or final degree would you like them to have? if goind for UK O-A-levels, then continuing in this stream here at least for the older one would probably be preferable; Swiss maturity--this may be out of reach for an older child with no french, but might be possible for younger children with dedication; French bacc. probably possible if live in France and pick up language; or IB, many private schools offer this option here.

A second question, what type of higher education or not, would they likely follow? university in UK, no university at all, or swiss university or other european?

Given the two above assessments, it should give you a match up with what is on offer with any number of schools in the GE/VD area. Then it probably can be further narrowed to which one has primary through secondary classes, which one are closer to your residence, and importantlly which ones have available space.
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Old 02.02.2011, 18:36
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Re: Relocating from UK to Geneva Area... School Questions Need help!

It all depends on where you will live, how long you will there, and how much you are willing to pay. You mentioned your priority is to get all the kids in one school. If so, then whether you live in Vaud or France, the chances are your 15 year old will be going to a different state school location. He could take the bus though.

With a private school, you have more chance to have the boys in one school, but they are very expensive. If you can afford them, then you have the choice of anglophone or francophone private schools.

If you could give more info about your requirements, then I can tell you about the private schools in the Geneva area.
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Old 02.02.2011, 19:01
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Re: Relocating from UK to Geneva Area... School Questions Need help!

A few replies here have sensibly considered the possibility of sending your eldest son to private school to continue his UK style education and the two youngest going into the state system.

This was something we considered a couple of years back for our eldest son, whilst thinking our youngest would join the Swiss state system. It then dawned on us that if they both stayed the course through school, we would have one child that could move throughout Europe/US with his international qualification and the other child would be so much more rooted in Switzerland, linguistically and educational qualifications. This really worried me .. perhaps wrongly .. but I just had visions of our family being "split up" because they both had received such different educations. Of course, children move all over the world even when they have received identical schooling (I should realise that, out of my 4 siblings, I am here and another brother is in UAE and we all went to the same school!) but it was enough of a concern to tip the balance towards the same system for all. Of course this does not take into account other more pressing issues such as affordability or age, and certainly at 15, integration into another linguistic and scholastic system would appear to be the more difficult option, although not impossible.

Good luck.
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