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Old 10.04.2011, 21:15
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School in Arzier

Hi - Does anyone have any information on the local school in Arizer. My children (aged 7 and 10) might be going to the local in September 2011, after not getting a place in the International School in Founex - arghhh !! My 10 year old is bright but I understand she will have to take tests in French next year to be streamed into vocational or academic studies and am very anxious that this will be a disadvantage to her overall education in the long run if she doesn't do well in the tests because she won't be fluent in French by then. My 7 year old, on the other hand, struggles a little in school in the UK let alone being thrown into a French speaking Swiss school. We are questionning whether we move to Switzerland or not now which is a real shame!! We desparately want to make the move but not to the detriment of our childrens future. If anyone can give me any info on this school ie, are there any other english speaking students attending, are they accepting of english students, how quickly have other children settled in etc etc, I would be most grateful.
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Old 11.04.2011, 07:54
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Re: School in Arzier

Hi, and welcome.

I don't know the school in Arzier, but have kids of approximately the same age as yours in local school in Préverenges.

Things to consider:
- the streaming is done at age 12, at the end of the 6th grade (equivalent age-wise to end of Yr 7 in the UK). If you're planning to stay longterm, then don't worry, it is not a one-shot deal; there are several opportunities to jump up a stream later in the secondary years as language/ grades improve.
- non-French speaking kids who have been here less than 2 years are exempt from being graded in French, but all other subjects are graded during this time. I'm afraid I don't know how this would play out for streaming, but certainly something to ask
- BUT it's very, very likely that the school will place your child back a year: every single 10 yr old who's started at our school over the past few years has been placed in 4th rather than 5th (younger children are correctly grade-placed). This makes perfect sense - 4th grade is the final year of primary, all done in one classroom with one teacher. 5th grade is the start not only of the streaming process (2-year continuous assessment rather than a 1-yr test, with emphasis on performance in 6th grade) but also of secondary - often a different school in a nearby town, with moving between classrooms/ subjects/ teachers. I've found the homework load to be much tougher in 5th too; 1-2 hours a day as opposed to 1-2 hours a week before. It would be very, very difficult for a non-French speaker to cope with all that.

Why not try the local schools for 6-12 months, whilst staying on the waiting list for the international schools? That way, your kids will make local friends and have enough French to play with them at weekends/ holidays. It's easy to do an hour or so a week to keep up written English (and maths if your oldest is back a year), as the hours are practically part-time (Wed pm off, 2 hours at home for lunch daily).

The school will almost certainly have experience of and a process for non-French speakers - perhaps not English, though - so there will be support and extra classes during this time. And, slightly unfairly to non-Anglophones, the other kids and parents are typically very welcoming as speaking English has a high desirability status and is 'cool'.

For your younger one, it could work very well. The primary system here is slower than in the UK, so he will be up to a year ahead in maths and probably the best reader in the class! There is lots of emphasis on crafts, gym, singing and soft skills like teamwork and independence; fast-paced academics come later.

Oh, and it'll be August 2011, not September - the start date will probably be Monday 22 August.

Good luck with your decision making - remember that nothing is irrevocable!
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Old 11.04.2011, 09:52
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Re: School in Arzier

Have friends in Arzier, but the children go to a private school, so do not know much about the public school there, sorry.

On the issue of the internatonal school, Le Chat, at Founex, were you denied enrollment for this year or next? It would seem very strange for them not to give you a place for next year, as they are building a new primary school, and reportedly will double the capacity. Is it an issue of being on the waiting list for a short time? and then a place will open up and your children can go there. If so, I would hedge on a stop-gap plan. If you are set on Le Chat, I would push them to put on the wait list with an indication of how long. Then there could be a number of solutions, a. stay in home country for a period of time to not disrupt english education, b. look for another english speaking school in the area for the period of the wait list, and c. enroll in local school with perhaps keeping english work at home or with tutor.
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Old 11.04.2011, 12:49
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Re: School in Arzier

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Hi, and welcome.

I don't know the school in Arzier, but have kids of approximately the same age as yours in local school in Préverenges.

Things to consider:
- the streaming is done at age 12, at the end of the 6th grade (equivalent age-wise to end of Yr 7 in the UK). If you're planning to stay longterm, then don't worry, it is not a one-shot deal; there are several opportunities to jump up a stream later in the secondary years as language/ grades improve.
- non-French speaking kids who have been here less than 2 years are exempt from being graded in French, but all other subjects are graded during this time. I'm afraid I don't know how this would play out for streaming, but certainly something to ask
- BUT it's very, very likely that the school will place your child back a year: every single 10 yr old who's started at our school over the past few years has been placed in 4th rather than 5th (younger children are correctly grade-placed). This makes perfect sense - 4th grade is the final year of primary, all done in one classroom with one teacher. 5th grade is the start not only of the streaming process (2-year continuous assessment rather than a 1-yr test, with emphasis on performance in 6th grade) but also of secondary - often a different school in a nearby town, with moving between classrooms/ subjects/ teachers. I've found the homework load to be much tougher in 5th too; 1-2 hours a day as opposed to 1-2 hours a week before. It would be very, very difficult for a non-French speaker to cope with all that.

Why not try the local schools for 6-12 months, whilst staying on the waiting list for the international schools? That way, your kids will make local friends and have enough French to play with them at weekends/ holidays. It's easy to do an hour or so a week to keep up written English (and maths if your oldest is back a year), as the hours are practically part-time (Wed pm off, 2 hours at home for lunch daily).

The school will almost certainly have experience of and a process for non-French speakers - perhaps not English, though - so there will be support and extra classes during this time. And, slightly unfairly to non-Anglophones, the other kids and parents are typically very welcoming as speaking English has a high desirability status and is 'cool'.

For your younger one, it could work very well. The primary system here is slower than in the UK, so he will be up to a year ahead in maths and probably the best reader in the class! There is lots of emphasis on crafts, gym, singing and soft skills like teamwork and independence; fast-paced academics come later.

Oh, and it'll be August 2011, not September - the start date will probably be Monday 22 August.

Good luck with your decision making - remember that nothing is irrevocable!
Thanks for your help with this. I did not realise that the streaming was done in year 7 - that puts my mind at rest a little. I had read previously that it was likely that the children would be put back a year which I don't forsee as a problem. I had also assumed that they would start school in September so thank you for letting me know about the August start date.
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Old 11.04.2011, 12:58
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Re: School in Arzier

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Have friends in Arzier, but the children go to a private school, so do not know much about the public school there, sorry.

On the issue of the internatonal school, Le Chat, at Founex, were you denied enrollment for this year or next? It would seem very strange for them not to give you a place for next year, as they are building a new primary school, and reportedly will double the capacity. Is it an issue of being on the waiting list for a short time? and then a place will open up and your children can go there. If so, I would hedge on a stop-gap plan. If you are set on Le Chat, I would push them to put on the wait list with an indication of how long. Then there could be a number of solutions, a. stay in home country for a period of time to not disrupt english education, b. look for another english speaking school in the area for the period of the wait list, and c. enroll in local school with perhaps keeping english work at home or with tutor.
We needed places for this september 2011 (applied for places in autumn 2010) - yes they have built the new primary school and added another class to each year group (except two years but can't remember which ones they are) but all the places are taken already!!. We are now waiting to see if they will add yet another class (which we understand could be a possibility) or wait for existing pupils to leave. At the moment I want to leave them on the waiting list but need to find out about the local Arzier school because I can envisage them going there for a period of time before a space is availble at La Chat.
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Old 11.04.2011, 13:33
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Re: School in Arzier

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We needed places for this september 2011 (applied for places in autumn 2010) - yes they have built the new primary school and added another class to each year group (except two years but can't remember which ones they are) but all the places are taken already!!. We are now waiting to see if they will add yet another class (which we understand could be a possibility) or wait for existing pupils to leave. At the moment I want to leave them on the waiting list but need to find out about the local Arzier school because I can envisage them going there for a period of time before a space is availble at La Chat.
Lots of advantages to a spell in the local school before going international: local friends for them and for you, massive French boost, money of course (if you're paying), very family friendly timetable which gives the kids a midday break from their new environment, etc.

BUT I would suggest not mentioning that it's just a stopgap. People are people, and however kind and professional the teachers are (and all the ones I've met are wonderful, dedicated people) it would be difficult for them to throw themselves into helping your kids if they know that they're leaving in a month or two. Consider too not telling the kids it's only temporary, if they're the sort to therefore not bother trying too hard with the French

It's quite common here for people to cautiously give the local schooling a try for a year to see if they want to continue or go international; you could be one of those families.

The streaming process, just so you know, mostly takes place during 6th grade (UK Yr 7 equivalent age-wise). The decision is based on the child's academic abilities AND general class comportment - does he work willingly and independently, doesn't need continual hand-holding, seems to 'get' things quickly and so on. The main subjects for streaming decisions are French, German and Maths, with the others being looked at more for back-up to the decision.

A provisional decision about streaming will be given in January; the final one comes in May. There is a whole process of discussion and appeals if necessary (my impression is that it's mostly going through the motions and that the teachers' panel is unlikely to change their mind; but they do seem to put a lot of thought into the reasons for the initial decision).

It's possible for a child to jump up a stream at the end of a good 7th grade, by re-doing 7th grade in the higher stream. The decision here would be based on grades in French, Maths and a foreign language, which is great as by then the kids have started English

Oh, and remember that international waiting lists are usually done on sibling priority - once you get one child in, the other then bounds up the list for his/her year.
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Last edited by kodokan; 11.04.2011 at 19:07.
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Old 11.04.2011, 18:43
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Re: School in Arzier

Hi

We were in exactly the same position as you 12 months ago and opted to put the kids into local school and see how it goes........ and it has been a great success. So much so that although a week or so ago both kids were offered a place at La Chat, they both were adamant that they wanted to stay in their current school.

DD is 8years old (would be year 3 in UK) and DS is 9 years old (Year 4 in UK) and were both put in their correct year group here. Due to the UK system being slightly ahead than the CH system at this age group they were way ahead of their peers in maths and their reading level ( in english obviously) but this really helped them to settle in. Their french is coming along nicely, and it is not helped by both mine and my husband's complete lack of french.

The school, both teachers and pupils have been very welcoming and accepting of foreigners. In DS's class 75% of the class don't speak french at home (Spanish, swiss german, Italian, portugese, english) but nearly all are also fluent french speakers too.

The school organises french lessons each week for the non native speakers for up to 2 years and the kids have really benefitted from these.

As you may or may not know the CH schools do test the kids far more than the Uk, but not in a stressing kind of way. They are assessed in singing, painting, gluing & sticking, maths...... you name it if they can test it they do. The kids seem to manage all of this without problem and have passed everything, although for the french they do get extra help.

My 2 love to come home for lunch each day, and it is nice to be able to meet them at the beach and have picnic lunches with their school friends and mums and then send the kids back off to school again on the school bus.

Also, I am sure you know but La Chat is falling more in line with the CH system and will be having Wednesday afternoons off each week and in the primary section with have either a 50/50 or 60/40 english to french curriculum.

We haven't completely discounted transferring into the international system at a later date, as who knows how things will turn out but at the moment our local school is working out pretty well.

Please feel free to PM if you have any questions that you think I can help with. Lots of the advice I received on this forum before we made the move was invaluable and I know how it feels to be in your position. Big thanks to Kodakan for all her help!!!

A x

Last edited by itsme; 11.04.2011 at 18:43. Reason: typo
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