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Old 11.10.2011, 11:31
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Admission of new students to international schools

Is everyone aware of this ruling:

Posted 09/29/2011 09:11AM
Dear Parents

The Cantonal Education Authority (Bildungsdirektion) has been drafting regulations which define categories of students (age 4-15) who may enroll at international schools rather than being required to attend public or private Swiss schools. Until 1998 families were required to furnish proof that they were “internationally mobile” before their children were permitted to attend an international rather than a Swiss school. In a move to liberalize this restrictive practice, the education authorities waived this requirement in 1998 and argued that an international school education should be open to anyone who wished to opt for this choice, provided the school was recognized as a bona fide institution by the authorities. The Zurich area international schools applauded this step as forward-looking, progressive and in keeping with the trend towards globalization and internationalism.

However, in February 2005 a new Cantonal Primary School law was passed. According to this new law the education authority must establish criteria which govern the admission of students to international and non-German speaking schools in the Canton. The Canton proposed several regulation drafts and invited comments from the affected schools. The Zurich area international schools vigorously opposed these drafts as we considered them regressive, impractical and contrary to the spirit of the conclusions reached in 1998. We urged the education authorities to consider the potential implications for the Canton if it were to impose undue conditions for admission, especially in light of the fact that none of the surrounding Cantons limit the right of parents to enroll their children at an international school. Some, but not all of our specific objections were taken into account in the final version of the new regulations; overall, however, the regulations unfortunately abandon the liberal practice implemented in 1998.

Thus, we were informed this week that the following criteria will apply to the admission of new students to international schools as of the 2012/13 school year:
  • Children may attend a non-German speaking international school if
    • their parents plan to live in the Canton Zurich only temporarily;
    • families residing in the Canton Zurich can “credibly” establish that they intend to move abroad;
    • parents want their children to complete schooling begun in a non-German speaking Canton or country.
  • The administration of the respective international school is responsible for implementing these regulations and for submitting an annual report to the Cantonal Education Authority.
There is “good” news and “bad” news in these regulations. The “bad” news is that it will become more difficult for permanent residents to enroll their children in an international school (note: the regulations do not differentiate between a child’s passport or mother tongue or language spoken at home!). Thankfully, however, there is more “good” than “bad” news in the regulations, and here are the main implications:
  • The new regulations apply only to new students admitted as of 2012/13. All currently enrolled students are “grandfathered” and may continue their education regardless of whether they meet the above criteria or not.
  • There is some “fuzziness” in the language of the new regulations: they do not specify, for example, what is meant by “temporarily”, nor do they specify the nature or scope of “credible” evidence which must be furnished to substantiate a future, “probable” move abroad. In other words, there is “room for interpretation”.
  • That children who were already enrolled in a non-German speaking educational program before arriving in Zurich may continue this education irrespective of the intended duration of their stay in Zurich, is a significant and welcome concession on the part of the authorities.
  • The regulations do not apply to students entering ZIS from Grade 10 upwards since the Canton has no authority to regulate education beyond Grade 9.
Obviously, the Zurich area international schools are unanimous in their opinion that the liberal solution arrived at in 1998 should have been maintained and that the new regulations represent a backward step. One of the more bizarre consequences is that students living in one of the neighboring Cantons are permitted to enroll in an international school in the Canton Zurich even if they are not “internationally mobile” and have no intention of leaving Switzerland, while the same is not possible for students living in Zurich!

The Zurich area international school heads will meet shortly to discuss the common process by which we will ask parents of prospective students to establish their “international mobility” and the common format through which we will submit annual statistical information to the Education Authority. We are encouraged by comments which suggest that the authorities wish to make the implementation of the new regulations as “unbureaucratic” and “pragmatic” as possible.
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Old 11.10.2011, 14:10
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

May I ask who sent this "Dear Parents" letter?

I think this information only applies to the canton of Zurich.
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Old 11.10.2011, 14:16
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

I don't know about Zurich international schools, but what I know about Basel ones is more negative than positive based on feedback from people who've sent their children there as well as teachers.

The main complaint being that they are driven by financial gain and there are no oversight committees/board of directors to review the school's academic performance - unlike, say UK private fee-paying schools.

For parents who are indeed mobile, I can see the need for such schools. For those planing a permanent stay... more fool them...
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Old 11.10.2011, 14:28
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

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May I ask who sent this "Dear Parents" letter?

I think this information only applies to the canton of Zurich.
It does. I think the opening lines should read: "Is everyone in Zürich ( who may want their child to go to an international school ) aware of this ruling?"
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Old 11.10.2011, 15:03
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

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It does. I think the opening lines should read: "Is everyone in Zürich ( who may want their child to go to an international school ) aware of this ruling?"
yes you are right.
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Old 11.10.2011, 15:11
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

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The main complaint being that they are driven by financial gain and there are no oversight committees/board of directors to review the school's academic performance - unlike, say UK private fee-paying schools.
That may or may not be true. However since the main selling point of international schools is their exam results and success into getting students into very competitive universities, it would be a pretty short-sighted school management team that did not pay attention to these results.
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Old 11.10.2011, 15:16
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

OK, so, just to get this absolutely straight: this information / ruling applies ONLY to canton Zurich right?

In Basel at the moment the integration department has big objective number 1 as getting "international" kids into Swiss school. They are really pushing it and have reached out to several of the the ex-pat groups in the area to try and help them in their initiative - they even dared to say that we "must" support them. I'm a committee member for one of these groups and we have been in discussion with them, and we have been encouraging information sharing in terms of giving expats the facts about Swiss school which they might not otherwise be able to access. But we've resisted any idea that we could (or would ever want to ) influence the choice of parents.

The fact is that a lot of parents who are here for the long haul (perhaps not permanent, but for "a long time") may still choose an international education if they can afford it - for lots of different reasons - too many to list here, that's a whole other discussion that we've had many times on EF.

But I agree wholeheartedly with the 1998 decision that parents (Swiss or international) ought to have the right to choose a private school if they wish - and to choose any private school. It seems to me crazy that there should be a special ruling for international schools. I bet there are no enforced "requirements" for kids who would be allowed to enter a waldorf/steiner school - or a German speaking private school - what about French speaking schools (I'll bet there's one of those too)? Bilingual schools are they also under this ruling? Montessori schools?

Any idea what's behind this - I mean, perhaps this is also the same initiative of the integration dept to get international kids into Swiss school? Be interested to hear opinions on that.
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Old 11.10.2011, 15:29
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

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That may or may not be true. However since the main selling point of international schools is their exam results and success into getting students into very competitive universities, it would be a pretty short-sighted school management team that did not pay attention to these results.
Thanks for the laugh.
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Old 11.10.2011, 15:32
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

OK, so maybe I should read a bit more carefully as there are some statements about what type of school is included.

So....

Private Swiss (German speaking) school = OK your kid can go there

Private French speaking school = only if you lived in a French speaking place / are "internationally mobile" or whatever the thing was.

Private bilingual school... not so sure since these are also German speaking partially....
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Old 11.10.2011, 15:55
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

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Thanks for the laugh.
Did you read your own post again or something?
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Old 11.10.2011, 17:39
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

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Did you read your own post again or something?
That I highlighted what made me laugh in your post seems to have passed you by, as your comeback is, let's face it, weak. Don't give up the day job, as the saying goes.

If you think international schools around Basel are there "to get kids into top universities" to paraphrase you, you know nothing about schooling in this area or are smoking some heavy stuff, or both. They are here to milk the international pharma industry for all it is worth. High prices, no oversight and all safe in the knowledge that most children will be gone within 3-4 years before the proverbial hits the fan as the parents will have been rotated out of Basel.

As you are based in Vaud, I'll assume that you are thinking of schools like Beau Soleil and Aiglon College - don't make the mistake of thinking that schools like the ISB are anywhere near that league...
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Old 11.10.2011, 18:06
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

I can only point out that the ISB is owned by the various pharma firms plus the BIZ plus teachers and parents (for these latter two the shares are held by an association). So, if the pharmaceuticals are being milked it is with their full knowledge and consent as their reps sit on the board of directors and the school finance committee.

Academically, acreditation and perfomance is monitored and measured by the International Bacalaureate Organisation. Actually, students from the ISB do do well at getting into goid Universities but this could well be due to having a very academic intake or benefitying from the children's previous educational experiences, rather than that ISB is a particularly good school.
Carlos R, Have you had any experiences with the ISB that causes you to feel like this?
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Old 11.10.2011, 18:32
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

I'm surprised at the scorn directed at international schools. Are there any parents of kids in international schools on the forum that feel the education offered is worth the cost ( if they were paying rather than employers)? it seems to me that international schools are the only realistic option for non German speakers who arrive in Switzerland too late to do well enough to get into Gymni or Sek A. Surely it would not be better from an academic perspective to send kids to a "lower" level school than to send them to international school for secondary?
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Old 11.10.2011, 18:38
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

No only personal feedback gathered. We were considering private school options across Basel for our brood.

The amount of negative outweighed positive by some way, the only positive being - we need to keep our children there as we are not here (in CH) for long and at least we aren't paying.

I had several stories about complaints from parents being fobbed off, as well as teachers being told to tow the line and not upset parents through disciplining their children.

But hey, this thread is about Zurich's policy and not my limited market research about private schools around Basel
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Old 11.10.2011, 19:11
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

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I'm surprised at the scorn directed at international schools. Are there any parents of kids in international schools on the forum that feel the education offered is worth the cost ( if they were paying rather than employers)? it seems to me that international schools are the only realistic option for non German speakers who arrive in Switzerland too late to do well enough to get into Gymni or Sek A. Surely it would not be better from an academic perspective to send kids to a "lower" level school than to send them to international school for secondary?
This was exactly our situation - our oldest two children are in the international school because they were 'too old' when we moved here. Our youngest is in the local school. Our internatinal school has its strengths and weaknesses like any school and often it depends a lot on the child which system suits best. I like the IB system and think it's a good preparation for life after Uni.
I think that restricting parental choice wrt schooling will really make people think hard about relocating - regardless of what the reality might be (e.g. Really widely interpreted rules, lax control etc), if you suggest that at some point parents may be forced to put children into a school system they don't agree with then that will cause deep concern.
Interestingly, in Basel the third biggest national group (after Brits and Yanks) are the Swiss - who presumably see something in the international system that they value higher than their own school system.
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Old 12.10.2011, 20:41
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

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That I highlighted what made me laugh in your post seems to have passed you by, as your comeback is, let's face it, weak. Don't give up the day job, as the saying goes.
Lighten up, it's a throwaway remark.

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As you are based in Vaud, I'll assume that you are thinking of schools like Beau Soleil and Aiglon College - don't make the mistake of thinking that schools like the ISB are anywhere near that league...
Guilty as charged. Actually it gets worse. I teach in one of the international schools in Vaud. I did visit SIS-Basel last year when they hosted an SGIS ( Swiss Group of International Schools ) meeting.

It is interesting as a teacher to visit schools because inevitably one draws comparisons with ones own school and also the things we look for and notice are not necessarily the ones that parents will notice or think of as important. My initial views of the school were reasonably positive, although the school was lacking in facilities and some of their policies were curious.

Back to the original post. What is the purpose of this edict? Is it because the good people of Zurich fear that Johnny Foreigner will allow his offspring to dwell in their midst and pollute the air with Anglo-Saxon mutterings, leading the sad and inevitable demise of the glorious Swiss German language?
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Old 17.10.2011, 15:11
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Re: Admission of new students to international schools

Also being discussed here:
http://www.englishforum.ch/swiss-new...l-schools.html


FS: We felt a merge was contraindicated this time, leave The Local's news threads in their own subforum where they can be more conveniently perused/ignored/enjoyed/decried/ignored [delete as appropriate]. Thanks for the heads-up on subject duplication though!
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