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Old 07.12.2011, 17:11
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Distance education in switzerland.

We are here for another year and my son (6yo) has not integrated at all into the swiss school system (for various reasons).

We come from Australia where it is common to have distance education. This is not exactly like homeschooling because its a proper registered school with a teacher and curriculum managed by the state. We were able to keep up with it fine while he was in kindergarten (because thats only 3-4 hours per day) but its hard with him in grade 1.

He and us have no interest in learning german since we are here for a limited time. We have written to the schulesekreteriat and explained that he is already enrolled in a distance school and wanted to withdraw him from the local school. They replied that they dont consider correspondence education as a valid form of schooling.

So I have a few questions here:
- Does anyone homeschool here or in a similar position? What have you done to get to do this?
- I heard that if you just dont turn up to school you get fined? How much is this fine? is it just the cost of doing business in Switzerland or does it make it uneconomical?
- What legal options are available to fight this? Do we just have to accept the kid will lose a year from his education for no reason?
- If we decide to send him to boarding school and him coming back regularly does this absolve him from going to school here?

It seems ridiculous to me that on the one hand the canton does not provide adequate or appropriate education (for expats) here, but of the other hand deny you with the opportunity to get this by other means. We already looked at international schooling and this is not an option for us due to the difficulty of getting in, cost and locations.
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Old 07.12.2011, 17:18
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Re: Distance education in switzerland.

I read a couple of weeks ago that the Swiss Government as made distance education for kids illegal. Sadly the newspaper has gone to recycling. Will try to find a link.
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Old 07.12.2011, 17:20
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Re: Distance education in switzerland.

What about boarding schools with really long holiday periods?
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Old 07.12.2011, 17:22
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Re: Distance education in switzerland.

Welcome to the forum.

Try these older threads as a guide:

Homeschooling in Switzerland?

Is Homeschooling the Solution for Awful Basel School Experience?

Homeschooling in Zurich

Homeschooling but for English only

Stadt Zürich ( ie city of Zürich ):

http://www.vsa.zh.ch/internet/bildun...schooling.html

Bildung zu Hause ( Homeschooling ):

http://www.bildungzuhause.ch/en/about-us.html

News article of 22.08.2011 ( DE translated to EN )

Swissinfo EN article
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Last edited by jrspet; 07.12.2011 at 17:34.
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Old 07.12.2011, 18:13
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Re: Distance education in switzerland.

According to this http://edudoc.ch/record/3782/files/Bussen-Sanctions.pdf fines in the canton of Zurich can go up to CHF 5000.
You have the option to send your child to a private school and pay for it.
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Old 07.12.2011, 18:26
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Re: Distance education in switzerland.

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It seems ridiculous to me that on the one hand the canton does not provide adequate or appropriate education (for expats) here, but of the other hand deny you with the opportunity to get this by other means.
No doubt that your bad experience is painful for your son. But this kind of generalization is hard to read.
I've known of very hard problems in Swiss schools. First hand and via colleagues. Primary school is a world for itself, I am not a specialist but still... I've seen so much being solved too. The solution is in the school, not out there.
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Old 07.12.2011, 19:53
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Re: Distance education in switzerland.

Hi mike1. Reading your post makes me both share your pain and wanting to pull my hair out at the same time.

I've lived in Australia for a significant part of my life and got a good idea how the education system works there. I am also only a few months away from being a teacher in the Swiss gymnasium system myself.

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We come from Australia where it is common to have distance education. This is not exactly like homeschooling because its a proper registered school with a teacher and curriculum managed by the state. We were able to keep up with it fine while he was in kindergarten (because thats only 3-4 hours per day) but its hard with him in grade 1.
Some of the things you say I completely agree. Home-schooling or distance schooling are nearly unheard of here and somewhat frowned upon. While I think it's generally a good idea for kids to go to school for various reasons (social, teaching methods, special subject content etc) I do think in some cases alternative schooling methods can be asked for and sometimes the schooling system here could really do with so a bit more flexibility. I have however seen some shocking cases of home- and distance education first hand (in Australia) where some kids future opportunities have become severely diminished by the (rather ignorant) wishes of their parents, which really makes me cringe.


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He and us have no interest in learning german...

It seems ridiculous to me that on the one hand the canton does not provide adequate or appropriate education (for expats) here...
Some of your statements on the other hand make me think that its probably time you get off your cloud and join us lot down here in the real world. Are you seriously asking for a government to provide a full education curriculum in a whole range of foreign languages? How many (government) primary schools in Australia offer schooling in German? Or French? How many primary school teachers even speak a foreign language? Get real...

The attitude of "we don't want to learn the language and neither should our kid" is not going to make you many friends. Nor should it. Regardless of the fact whether you stay here long-term or not, giving your child the opportunity to learn a foreign language may be the best thing for his long-term learning abilities. Swiss government will even pay it for you. By specialist teachers in small groups or even one-to-one if necessary. Not only have foreign languages been shown to hugely help people learn more about languages or other foreign languages later in life - they are also your gate to a whole new culture, world of ideas and not least a range of new job opportunities.

If you insist on not learning the language then send your kid to an international school. But please stop complaining about the system then if you're completely unwilling to take part of it.

One of the great things about our system is that it is far more flexible and individual than that of most countries. However, you will need to show some initiative and be prepared to work with your teachers, not against them. As said, the solution is out there.


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- I heard that if you just dont turn up to school you get fined? How much is this fine? is it just the cost of doing business in Switzerland or does it make it uneconomical?
Lastly, the refusal to send your kid to school will be taken VERY seriously. If it happens once or accidentally or by a misunderstanding you might get away with a fine of a couple of hundred francs or so. If you are found to refuse to send your kid to school despite being told otherwise you can face a fine of several thousand francs and court cost on top of it. Chances are that by then the teachers / principle / other parents may also not take you too seriously anymore or be prepared to make some compromises.

So for your and your teachers sake I'd recommend you show some flexibility and be prepared let your kid learn the language. It could be a huge get to a new world and culture for him/her. If there are other (social) issues at the school or with the kids, you could ask if a change of school might be possible.
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Old 07.12.2011, 20:38
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Re: Distance education in switzerland.

I am certainly no expert on the subject however if you have decided not to send the child to a swiss school then you need to go to pne of the private options. International school or a bilingual (which is unlikely as you seem to want to only consider english)

I also am from down under (name gives it away) however I am totally amazed at your comments which seem to show absolutely no desire to try. Why are you even here if you have decided the system you have the child in is no good and you have also ruled out the International option.


He and us have no interest in learning german since we are here for a limited time.

Your choice, unfortunate for your son as learning another language even to only a less then fluent level is a huge opportunity that could open up chances for your son.

- What legal options are available to fight this? Do we just have to accept the kid will lose a year from his education for no reason?

Bad choice effectively you will lose so work with the system. We saw someone try this in our first year they received a friendly visit from the Police and were basically forceably removed on the spot.


- If we decide to send him to boarding school and him coming back regularly does this absolve him from going to school here?

This is an option if its in another country meaning he no longer actually lives here but only valid if he leaves the country and deregisters formally

It seems ridiculous to me that on the one hand the canton does not provide adequate or appropriate education (for expats) here, but of the other hand deny you with the opportunity to get this by other means. We already looked at international schooling and this is not an option for us due to the difficulty of getting in, cost and locations.

There is a valid option for expats its called International schools or make the Swiss system work for you. Australia also doesn't provide a state system for german, french or italian speakers. In fact the only real option in Australia for 98% is english public school or english private school.
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