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Old 25.08.2011, 14:42
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Mainstream schools

Hi,
Im new to this site and was hoping to find some well needed answers on schooling over in Switzerland from any of you who have experience or have been in a similar situation.
We are hoping to move over there in a few months and as we can't afford an international school we are trying to find out more about mainstream schools and what they can provide for English children, especially those with learning difficulties. Our eldest Son who is 8 suffered a head injury when he was very small and has ongoing developmental problems, for instance he is behind at school with his writing skills and has social problems as he has autistic tendencies.
I'm just wondering if mainstream schools will be able to provide him with the support he needs in his class's bearing in mind that the main language there im guessing will be German? Will he have any class's interpreted for him by anyone so he does not fall even further behind in his develpoment?
We are looking for schools in the surrounding Cantons of Zurich, or possibly in Zurich itself.

I would really appreciate some advise!
Thanks
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Old 25.08.2011, 23:05
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Re: Mainstream schools

Yes, schools in Zurich will be in (Swiss)German, although there may be other foreigners in your kids' classes since there are plenty of us! Have you started German lessons for the children already? If not, do it asap, just the basic stuff like where is the toilet, please thank you and so on. Having some basics will give them confidence although I'm sure the younger ones will pick it up in next to no time. (I was expatriated at age 7 and it did help to know I could say a couple of things).

For your eldest, this is pretty much a guess but hopefully will spur someone on to contradict me : I rather think having a personal interpreter in school is unlikely. It's more likely that if they think he can't cope they would hold him back a year or more (our neighbour's son, who just moved here, is 14 and currently in school with the 11-year olds due to lack of German). There may be special German-for-foreigners lessons at school too, certainly our school does them (free) but we're not in your canton and it varies a lot. We also have teachers who work with special needs kids for a couple of hours each week to help them catch up if necessary. The name for them is sozialheilpedagog(in), I think, so you could see if there is one of those at your school of choice - again, don't know how it works in Zurich.

If you search for "autism" or "learning difficulties" in the search box at the top right, you should come up with some helpful threads - which may be why no one has answered yet.

Sorry I can't be more helpful.
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Old 26.08.2011, 14:38
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Re: Mainstream schools

Caz

I think you should join the yahoo group on swiss schooling. It is a forum for English speaking parents regarding education in Switzerland. I do believe the moderator Carmen has experience of learning support for one of her children.

Good luck
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Old 26.08.2011, 15:12
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Re: Mainstream schools

There is also a yahoo group for kids with special needs, also moderated by Carmen. I can' think of the name of it, but if you join the swiss schools one you can then ask Carmen directly.

There are also other schooling options, which include what we would think of as special schools but also other schools that are somewhere in between.

I know a friend of mine has struggled to have her daughter accepted by the local school, and if the school states that a child will not be successfully integrated then it is up to the school to find and pay for an alternative. In my friend's case, the school area is now paying for her daughter to go to a school (one of the inbetween ones), but only after quite a bit of fighting and exhaustive research on the part of my friend.

So this is not an easy path to go down at all. But at least you know there are alternatives.

Whatever you decide to do, don't give up and know that your child, as far as the school system is concerned, is entitled to an appropriate education, so don't take the first 'no' as gospel.

Good luck with your search.
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Old 26.08.2011, 18:28
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Re: Mainstream schools

Thank you very much for your replies. Does anyone have the link for that yahoo group so I can contact the moderator?
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Old 26.08.2011, 19:01
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Re: Mainstream schools

Go to groups.yahoo.com and search for swiss-schooling. You have to apply to join but this is just a formality. Carmen will get back to you in a day or two with info on what to do next.
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