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Old 28.08.2011, 00:07
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Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Hello everyone!

Our family is moving to Switzerland for good following my husband who got a permanent job. He has a choice of locations -- Lausanne or Fribourg. We have a boy 10 yo and 6 yo daughter. After reading the forum for a while (although this is my first post) we are thinking about putting our kids into a public school (or at least try to do it). Both of them are almost fluent French speakers, so language should not be a big problem.

We have been in Switzerland many times before and I certainly like Lausanne area with the lake and the Alps on the other side. I am less familiar with Fribourg area. Yet I've seen some reports saying that Vaud is the worst canton for public schooling and Fribourg is one of the best. I could not find any comment on this subject on the forum, if the topic has been discussed I would appreciate anyone directing me here, or just giving your opinion.

Thank you in advance,
Ktzv
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Old 28.08.2011, 15:19
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

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..and do not chase up the slacking pupils.
This is very true, most don't since they expect people to we well aware of the impact of early streaming, to know the system of VSO, VSB, VSG, etc.

I think I would go for Vaud since I know it, it is close to Geneva when one flies or needs more life, Lausanne is pretty hopping too, etc. I just talked to my sweet local neighbor yesterday who has a kiddo through VD system and now studying in uni and she said VD, hands down. Maybe we are biased, though. On the other hand, there are differences, between sticks and la Cote, it seems like. Friburgh I would like due to the bilingual opportunity and because it is very pretty there, low key. But schools, it really depends on each school and each teacher.
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Old 28.08.2011, 15:27
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Thank you, Ittigen. I do understand that the schooling very much depends on the teacher. Yet I am also interested in the differences in cantons' programs and general attitude. I've also read some notes from a research done at EPFL that claims that public schools in Vaud are the worst in Switzerland. I would be very very interested in comments of people who have some information on that, or first hand experience (moved between cantons with their kids).

Another thing that I noticed (please correct me if I am wrong) -- it is not easy to identify "good" and "rough" areas in Switzerland. I do understand that area around Renens is kind of rough. What I mean is that it is not always easy to understand what is the demographics and social composition of a population in certain areas, be it Le Mont sur Lausanne, Epalinges or suburbs of Fribourg. In US it's pretty clearly reflected in the house prices and the quality of the schools correlate with them often almost perfectly. Here while all the schools teach the same, I would expect that many things at school depend on the kids who attend them, and thus, indirectly, on aspirations of their parents. But I have been not successful to find places where, for instance, people from EPFL cluster together...

In any case, thank you very much for reading my questions and I will greatly appreciate if you could share your thoughts. Another (and the last) question I have here -- I've put the thread into daily life forum, but I guess that it fits more into family life section. I am sorry for the mistake but I do not know if and how I can move the thread.

Thank you!
KTZV
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Old 28.08.2011, 16:33
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

I will move the thread to family forum, since it deals with edu.

To your question, I am not sure if you can find answers, really. Since EPFL employs people from all over, living all over. There aren't really segregated areas where there would be higher chance of having a good quality primary/secondary/high school because people would work at certain places. The key is to supervise your kids so they perform well in the local system so they get a chance to continue to gymnase, should they want to enter uni. And then you have parenst who place their kids in private schools, etc. Some are better than public system, some worse.

People who have high income live in areas with spectacular view, or big houses, say St Sulspice, for example. But if the school there is better than a neighboring one, it really depends if you kid has good work ethics, as much as his/her teacher. Also, what we consider of successful students might be different to what public system here considers a successful student. A uni one? Or one that is immersed in working enviroment, finds a good apprentisage, is equipped with languages but does not go to uni? Has work opportunities, immediately? Grades?

You have high aspiration parents who live in low key, cheap areas, and parents with no aspirations who are rich. You can't really import this kind of US strata assessment here.
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Old 28.08.2011, 18:15
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Thank you, MusicChick for your reply and your help in moving the thread! I kind of understand that my question does not have definite answer, just hope that perhaps there are people on forum who has moved and thus have some experience with the systems in both cantons.

Another insight I am seeking is about areas like St Sulpice (around Lausanne or Fribourg), but not St Sulpice itself. We considered SS, although we are not really high income family, yet we were told that St Sulpice has really small local primary school and after that the pupils gets ferried to Chavannes-sur-Lausanne, or some other place closeby. I guess ALL people living in St Sulpice send their kids to Champittet (?) ...

KTZV
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Old 28.08.2011, 18:19
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

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Thank you, MusicChick for your reply and your help in moving the thread! I kind of understand that my question does not have definite answer, just hope that perhaps there are people on forum who has moved and thus have some experience with the systems in both cantons.

Another insight I am seeking is about areas like St Sulpice (around Lausanne or Fribourg), but not St Sulpice itself. We considered SS, although we are not really high income family, yet we were told that St Sulpice has really small local primary school and after that the pupils gets ferried to Chavannes-sur-Lausanne, or some other place closeby. I guess ALL people living in St Sulpice send their kids to Champittet (?) ...

KTZV
The transfers to secondaire are frequent, we will have to change school in order to get to secondaire as well.

Then people who moved between FR and VD won't tell you much, either, me thinks, since they will only have epxeriences with a specific school in VD and another specific school in FR, you see? Even schools in different Communes (districts) within one canton are very different. It is not really a cantonal thing, though I have both heard praises and criticism of my own cantonal edu, for sure. Usually people praise specific teachers. But wait up, maybe somebody will pop by and know more.
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Old 28.08.2011, 18:38
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

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I've also read some notes from a research done at EPFL that claims that public schools in Vaud are the worst in Switzerland.
KTZV
Hello Kutuzov and welcome!

I don't have any useful info for you. My kid has just started at the local school (we are located in Lausanne, fairly centrally). It was a conscious decision to sent kiddo to the local place, even though most of the English speakers I know here have chosen the international schools or other private schools instead.

Do you know if this study by EPFL is available for the general public to read? Is it something I could Google Translate? I would be really interested to learn about the specific issues in Vaud that effect the schooling.

I am quite keen to find out all I can about public schools here in Vaud! I'm embarrassed to admit I had NO idea there is NO school in Lausanne on Wednesdays for the first two years....I only realised when I translated the letter they handed out last week !

Last edited by lemondrizzle; 28.08.2011 at 18:56. Reason: I meant :No school on Weds for the first 2 years in Lausanne only, and not the whole of Vaud
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Old 29.08.2011, 10:13
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Well, Fribourg and Vaud are lovely places to choose between.

My children have been in the public schools in Lutry/Pully for a year and a week, now. My husband and I are both academics, so education is important to us. We have been happy in general with the quality of schooling that the children are receiving.

I have heard that Fribourg public schools provide a better math education. At the same time, my oldest child, age 14, is gifted in math and he says that the math here in Vaud is more advanced and rigorous than the math he was studying in his - excellent - school in the U.S.

When we chose to move to Lutry, it was after reading previous posts on EF recommending the schools in Lutry, Pully, some in Lausanne, Blonay and St. Legier. We are delighted with our choice. Our realtor cautioned us to avoid the Vevey schools, although I don't know if that is fair.

A large part of our decision was based on a previous experience with public schooling in a small village outside of Montpelier, France. The school system/families there were not accustomed to foreigners, and certainly not Americans. This impacted our children's education. Their teachers did not have any experience in helping children going through a language/cultural transition and weren't particularly sympathetic...

I don't know how many foreigners specifically live in Fribourg. Here we find a healthy mix of locals and foreigners. Our children are friends with the locals, primarily, but they are not in any way ostracized for being relatively new to the language and culture.

We miss some aspects of an American education, but the children - all 4 of them - are happy and have adjusted very well. They are conscientious about their schoolwork, as they are with friends who are also good students, and I don't feel that we have needed to push them at all.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 29.08.2011, 15:32
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Not a comparison, but a few things to point out.

Both Vaud and Fribourg, have joined HarmoS, the initiative to harmonise certain aspects of schooling, so on that front I would consider them quite equal. Although VD implements HarmoS in 2012, not sure when Fribourg does. There is supposed to be harmonised education plans for the language regions under HarmoS, ie. French speaking area, so this should help further, but I haven't seen it yet (assuming french speaking part of Fribourg).

Have heard on the radio last week, that Fribourg expected 700 new students this year, and this was creating a teacher shortage. Thus, they were reportedly using a lot of new, or like teachers aides in the school in lieu of experienced teachers.

On the Vaud side, they have the highest repetition rate of any swiss canton, which sort of speaks for itself. I personally am not impressed with Vaud public schools, and many swiss german families I know in particular criticise the Vaud schools all the time. Keep in mind, the Vaud schools will change tremendously, one way or the other, due to the school reform vote on September 4. The two proposals are Ecole 2010, or LEO. See the thread I started on voting in Vaud in September with the link to the 2 iniatives for more information. Both will change the Vaud schools quite a lot in my opinon, for better for worse, but it will take time to implement.
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Old 29.08.2011, 15:56
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Standing up for Vaud schools here - we have 4 children in public school in Vaud, I cannot speak highly enough of the system we have seen so far - we've been here since Dec 2008, and our eldest child is now in 8eme, VSB. The school provided excellent services for us as non native french speakers starting off, and ever since then there has been extra resources available to help as and when the teachers think there is a problem. As others have pointed out, its down to the school in the commune specifically, ours attend the Elisabeth de Portes, which is a primary and secondary school system with kids from the proximal 6 communes.

Compared to where I came from (Ireland) I would rate this particular public schools as better than equivalent fee paying private schools in Ireland for quality of infrastructure& services. Teaching quality is a different thing, there are motivated and demotivated teachers in every school, and that is really lucky dip regardless of where the school is.
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Old 29.08.2011, 16:16
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

From a Fribourg perspective, both our girls are attending the local schools and, apart from a minor blip in one semester, their teachers have been excellent. They are very efficient and clear in presenting the year's objectives and there are regular opportunities to discuss your child's progress.
Having said that, your mileage may vary from school to school. My wife's colleague's son went through half a dozen teachers in the space of a year and consequently most of the class performed poorly in the PPO exam at the end of year 6 (PPO is the exam to help stream the children in High School).
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Old 29.08.2011, 17:08
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

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Not a comparison, but a few things to point out.

Both Vaud and Fribourg, have joined HarmoS, the initiative to harmonise certain aspects of schooling, so on that front I would consider them quite equal. Although VD implements HarmoS in 2012, not sure when Fribourg does. There is supposed to be harmonised education plans for the language regions under HarmoS, ie. French speaking area, so this should help further, but I haven't seen it yet (assuming french speaking part of Fribourg).

Have heard on the radio last week, that Fribourg expected 700 new students this year, and this was creating a teacher shortage. Thus, they were reportedly using a lot of new, or like teachers aides in the school in lieu of experienced teachers.

On the Vaud side, they have the highest repetition rate of any swiss canton, which sort of speaks for itself. I personally am not impressed with Vaud public schools, and many swiss german families I know in particular criticise the Vaud schools all the time. Keep in mind, the Vaud schools will change tremendously, one way or the other, due to the school reform vote on September 4. The two proposals are Ecole 2010, or LEO. See the thread I started on voting in Vaud in September with the link to the 2 iniatives for more information. Both will change the Vaud schools quite a lot in my opinon, for better for worse, but it will take time to implement.
I would say high repetition rate in a canton with high rate of foreign students does not speak for itself in the way it would speak for itself in other cantons. I would not compare Swiss German schools with Swiss Romande, for example. Just my angle at it, since I work in the system, and at a level of exactly that, repeating a class, 10th year if you want. Between high school and secondaire.

Repeating class does not have the same stigma here as it does elsewhere, it can often be an efficient way to immerse foreign kid who is slipping back into the system, often giving chances way more than if the kiddo stayed put in his old class.

The parent who praised Lutry edu environment sounds similar to my la Cote experience. Super high percentage of foreign kids, but very well thrown into the game, even though they might have to repeat the class, in order to make it to Gymnase, for example. To gain points, skills, language aptitude, to make themselves comfortable, because parents often do not know what the system is about, so if kids do not succeed, by the time they are done repeating, they know themselves what they need to do and do not have to rely on parents pushing them.

Implementing HarmoS and the the new voting results will take years in order to fully function. I actually do not mind slower changes in the system, once they work well, with all the important details they need to take, including having enough well prepared teachers. HEP is, by the way, reacting very quickly to the new demands. DFJC, the edu dept in VD, for example, is acting quickly too. You cannot first implement the changes on school level, when you do not have the new group of newly educated teachers ready, or the old ones reeducated. The whole reform takes time on multiple level, and right now, there is a lot going on for teachers, in terms of edu requirements and obligatory licensing.

I would say, go for either canton, but where there is tolerance for multicultures, since the schools will be ready already now, to deal with challenges that multicultural school population means. I am so far happy with the la Cote VD school we are in, the creche level was fab. It looks like the success of the kiddo depends mainly on parental involvement, kid's attitude and teachers interest. Like anywhere else. There is not much point in comparing cantons, though, since the schools vary in the school population and teachers vary in their objectives. Just like kids and their folks. I would not, though, forget, that what parents do with kids at home matters a lot. Homework, etc. it can neutralize a negative impact that comes from official schooling, more so considering that kids have one teacher per one school year, mostly.
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Old 30.08.2011, 12:30
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Well if you should decide on Vaud, and perhaps Lausanne, and then sous-gare Ouchy, your kids will eventually have the coolest teacher at Elysee College - Jon Ferguson!

Those of us ex-pats who have lived here long enough, Jon is a darker horse among the dark horses! Love his drole articles, too, in 24 Heures.
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Old 06.09.2011, 12:19
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Thank you guys for your replies! I do not have the tight to add thanks on the thread yet, I apologize for doing it in bulk! :-))

I do understand that my question is a bit broad and on the other hand there are not too many people who have experience in both cantons so not too much choice of the opinions. I would expect that with time it will change -- I was amazed how affordable is Fribourg compared to Lake Leman, it does not have the same views but it is also quite nice. I would think that it might be a destination choice later for more families if the lake area gets really really crowded (isn't it already ? ;-)

Again, thanks a lot to chiming in!
KTZV
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Old 06.09.2011, 12:28
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Lemondrizzle, I apologize but I could not locate the article about Vaud education I mentioned previously, apparently I lost it. It was given to me by a friend who works at EPFL but the actual article was in a newspaper that people living around Lausanne get for free to their mailboxes (something like "Lausanne et environs"?). If I manage to find it later, I will pm you for sure.

Sorry again,
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Old 06.09.2011, 23:25
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Kutuzov,
I wonder how you were able to find out that Renens is not the most desirable place? I am living in VD for a while an still the locals had to tell me the same :-)
I don't speak French, BTW. Was this the rental prices?

Regarding housing, well, Fribourg isn't cheap as well - if my yardstick is Aargau.
VD is very aggressively luring investors with tax deals - so it is neither Zug nor Luzern, but still has a lot of recently settled companies which inflated the housing market.
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Old 19.01.2012, 14:55
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Re: Public schools in Friburg vs Vaud

Hello , I have just arrived in the canton of Fribourg, around the Gruyeres region. My daaughter is 13 and we are visiting some international schools this week which can accomodate her but I would be very interested in sending here to the local public schools. Can you tell me how you got information on the location and quality of local schools. Would be so grateful for any feedback!!
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Well, Fribourg and Vaud are lovely places to choose between.

My children have been in the public schools in Lutry/Pully for a year and a week, now. My husband and I are both academics, so education is important to us. We have been happy in general with the quality of schooling that the children are receiving.

I have heard that Fribourg public schools provide a better math education. At the same time, my oldest child, age 14, is gifted in math and he says that the math here in Vaud is more advanced and rigorous than the math he was studying in his - excellent - school in the U.S.

When we chose to move to Lutry, it was after reading previous posts on EF recommending the schools in Lutry, Pully, some in Lausanne, Blonay and St. Legier. We are delighted with our choice. Our realtor cautioned us to avoid the Vevey schools, although I don't know if that is fair.

A large part of our decision was based on a previous experience with public schooling in a small village outside of Montpelier, France. The school system/families there were not accustomed to foreigners, and certainly not Americans. This impacted our children's education. Their teachers did not have any experience in helping children going through a language/cultural transition and weren't particularly sympathetic...

I don't know how many foreigners specifically live in Fribourg. Here we find a healthy mix of locals and foreigners. Our children are friends with the locals, primarily, but they are not in any way ostracized for being relatively new to the language and culture.

We miss some aspects of an American education, but the children - all 4 of them - are happy and have adjusted very well. They are conscientious about their schoolwork, as they are with friends who are also good students, and I don't feel that we have needed to push them at all.

Good luck with your decision!
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