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Old 22.01.2012, 18:59
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Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

I have got an offer to work in Zurich. I have two sons, aged 14 & 9 years. They have been studying in English medium schools. From whatever I have read in various relevant threads, it is going to be very difficult, specially for my elder son to make a successful transition. Can I get some feedback on this, specially from parents who have faced similar situation?
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Old 22.01.2012, 19:48
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

Hi
I don't know anyone with children older than 7/8 years old who have successfully integrated their children into swiss local schools. My children went to local schoolfrom age 8 and 10 to learn the language until secondary school and then we switched to private bi lingual, after an abortive year with secondary school.
Of course, it depends where you live. Bit different in Zürich but out in sticks, they have got the system set up for junior school with language training, but after that the Secondary schools, have no interest or flexibility. After the appeal procedure my daughter was "allowed" to go to Secondary "A" instead of the Realschule. Her teacher told me that "in 15 years of teaching he had never had an Auslander child in his class" and could not help her in anyway in case he was accused by other parents of favouritism. This was because we asked for him to tell my daughter the subject of the lessons a day in advance so she could read up the vocab for volcanos/biology etc before the class!
It needs to a be a factor in deciding where to live.
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Old 22.01.2012, 21:37
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

I too have been researching this issue, due to move out in August. We have decided that for our eldest two 14 and 13 , the only option is International School as we wish to give both the option of attending a British University for further education, they currently go to a Grammar school (academically selective) in Britian. We were in Switzerland for a few days in December and visited 6 International Schools. Most are full at the moment but strong possibility of places in August. The 14 year old may struggle to get into ZIS we have been told but as this is one of OH least favourites this isn't a problem for us.

For our youngest children who will be 7 and 9 when we move then we have no choice but to put them into a state school. It would be our preferred choice anyway as this could be a permanent move and we are hoping they are young enough to integrate fully. That said if the youngest doesn't get into a Berziksschule at 11 with the option of Kantonsschule at 14 then we will have to slot him into the International system. By then our eldest will have left so it will be just about affordable.



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Old 23.01.2012, 01:30
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

Hi there,
We moved to Zurich in August 2010. Our daughter was 11 and our son 8. As we came from NZ with the intention of staying permanently (and without the funds to afford international school), we put them both into the local school. They have both received a huge amount of extra help with their German and have managed in the last year and a bit to integrate ok.
Our son will be 10 this year and has undoubtedly had the easier time of it (girls appear to be catty and mean no matter where you live). My daughter will be 13 soon which means starting at high school after the summer holidays and she is understandably concerned about the longer hours and bigger pressures. We have been advised not to attempt to get her into the "gymi" system until her German is better and I actually believe there are many more options available to kids of this age group now. The difference between my son and daughter (not including the obvious) is their confidence...my son doesn't care if he makes mistakes and will rabbit on in German whereas my daughter is more reserved like me and she has taken longer to pick things up. As the teachers like the kids to really 'participate' in class we have had a few issues here. I hope you find the answers you need here and I am always happy to discuss our experiences so far a little more fully. Good luck
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Old 23.01.2012, 19:30
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

I want to thank Ukheidi, Karenin and Kiwifamily for their inputs.
Karenin's has summarized the matter precisely, thanks again. A follow up query is - after finishing their schooling from an International School, the medium being english, would it not cause any problem in university or do you plan to shift them to a British univ later?
KiwiFamily, thanks for sharing your experience. Shall come back to you specific queries.
and
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Old 23.01.2012, 19:38
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

Hi

It certainly does not seem to. I know lots of kids with IB who got into English University.The International Schools are very helpful with this.

A bit more of a problem with the Swiss Matura to get UK entrance since there seems to be bit of a misunderstanding of the marking system, with demands for grades just not awarded very often .Oh, and if you are in Swiss school, even as native speakers, I have heard of people having to sit papers to test English competence for UK entrance. Probably fair since my son writes English sentences with German word order and German phoenetics despite being a big (English) reader..
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Old 23.01.2012, 19:43
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

My impression is that if kids go to english schools and don't have academic-level German/French then an undergraduate degree is not going to be an option in Switzerland. However, when you get to the masters level (and generally around the university) English is the main language and most university people are multi-lingual...

This is one of the reasons why we are apprehensive about sending our daughter to the local high school - she is academically capable in English, but lacks confidence in German, and just like Kiwifamily, our eldest has found it difficult to cope socially, whereas our son took to it easily, enjoyed about 6 months of being a 'novelty' in the class and by then had developed a great relationship with his teachers and adapted to the language challenges.

A friend of ours brought her son in at 12, he had finished his primary schooling, they put him the first year in the Realschule because that was where the intensive language support was given. He is an academically capable and responsible/independent fellow. They were told he could 'easily' move to the secondary school the following year, but they declined to do that because the secondary would not have given any additional language support. So he has done two extra years of "realschule" school now - ultimately I'm quite sure he will go to university (if he isn't a football star before then), but in the meantime his parents have adapted to the idea that he may still be finishing high school at 19 or 20.

In the long run, it's worth thinking about how you will feel when your child needs 1, 2, 3, extra years to finish their schooling than if you were back home - our daughter would have started high school back home already, but she gets almost an extra year in the swiss primary school, and I have to say the change in her in the past 6 months has actually been quite good, so I'm all for taking the extra time that the kids need to make the best from the situation.

We are planning to send our daughter to an english-speaking high school. However, our two sons came to Switzerland early enough to adapt to the language - one was nearly 7, the other 8 months when we arrived... the eldest was just turning 9.
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Old 23.01.2012, 20:43
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

MP29 we think that is more than likely that our eldest children will return to Britain for University. They will still have strong links in this country and although we will try and facilitate them learning Swiss German/ German as far as possible any degree they do would have to be through the medium of English.

Sweetpea , thank you for your post. Initially I had envisaged my third son going through the Swiss system but the more I am reading on this forum the more I am realising this may have been rather optimistic of me. He also has some form of dyslexia which could cause further problems with assimilating into the system. Thankfully we will have a couple of years grace before we have to make any firm decisions in regards to where he finishes his education.
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Old 24.01.2012, 19:51
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

I think Swisspea is right about the "taking longer" being ok. In NZ, my daughter would have started high school now too, but it does not seem to be a big deal in her current class that she is older than most of her peers. You would not have that luxury in NZ - she would be teased and possibly ostracized. It is nice to be able to take your time which is one of the reasons I enjoyed home-schooling when we lived in the UK. The thing I find the hardest here, is the lack of 'parent involvement' in the school. As I already mentioned - I home-schooled for two years in the UK and for the 3 years we were back in NZ, I was a librarian volunteer and was in and out of both kids classes helping with all kinds of things. We were encouraged to come on all the school outings and really be involved. I knew, when they started at swiss school, that I would find it hard to understand the work that they were bringing home - but I did not realize that I would be expected to step back from their whole school lives. I don't know if this is just the area that we live in, but it seems to be a fairly common theme amongst the parents I have spoken to. I was wondering Swisspea about the english high school...is it an international school? I have no idea where to find out about our 'high school' options, as we were led to believe that she had to carry on to the high school in our area. I wanted to thank you for your post, but am not sure how to do this yet, as I am still fairly new at this forum thing....so thanks.
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Old 24.01.2012, 23:56
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

Karenin
Just to say that it may not be as bleak a picture as it seems at this stage. It is impossible to know all the options until you get here I think. I have found (swiss) parents at international school to be a great source of knowedge on education and schools. Once you are here you will be able to tap into that knowledge I'm sure and find the best way forward for your children.
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Old 25.01.2012, 14:48
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

Thanks for that Clonskeagh.

I notice you live in Zug and at the moment it is the Zug/ luzern International school that is looking the more likely option for our two eldest. I have received great advice from Scottydog on this school but anymore would be appreciate including negative if any.

I am also keen on the Montana school because it offers IGCSE'S so if anyone can give me their own experiences or reliable information on how both compare that would be great. We need to make a decision soon.

The one advantage we do have with our third is that he is a June baby therefore young for his year and unlike our eldest two there is a whole school year separating the two younger ones. Therefore staying back a year will be an option if it gets him into the right school for him in the end.
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Old 26.01.2012, 13:42
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

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MP29 we think that is more than likely that our eldest children will return to Britain for University. They will still have strong links in this country and although we will try and facilitate them learning Swiss German/ German as far as possible any degree they do would have to be through the medium of English.
Interesting. I am British and went to a UK university. However, without a huge scholarship (do they exist for undergrads) there's no way I'd consider UK university for mine, due to cost. Currently you're talking 29K GBP min in fees (36K if they opt for a four year course like I did) and that's without any living expenses. I would definitely look elsewhere in the English speaking world, and also check out France (ours are at the moment French bi-lingual although we live in the German part of CH) if university in CH was not possible and they had the marks to do higher education.

No criticism implied or meant, it's just for me UK university is no longer an option
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Old 26.01.2012, 15:46
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

Karenin
We looked at ISZ as well but decided to go for a bilingual school in Luzern because I thought the children would never learn German in an all English school and home environment. They were younger than yours however which makes a big difference . we visited Montana as well but the Junior school was so small that I felt it would not be right for us. From other parents I have met I have heard that ISZ is fine but a lot of churn in students so a bit unsettling and they may not leave fluent in German, which may or may not be important depending on future plans. Montana high school is a different proposition, less english, and it has boarders so a different feel but I have heard it is also fine,( maybe a bit rich-kid?) I don't think you will get the academic rigour or sports facilities you might expect , comparing the fees to an english public school, from what I have heard but I think that is a fact of life here. There are other advantages for kids, outdoor activities, wintersports etc.
PM me if you would like to discuss specifics. good luck!
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Old 26.01.2012, 16:07
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

we have 3 kids at Zug, and have found the school to be more or less a perfect fit. ZIS tends to be the more "gringo" as between ZIS and ISZL, and despite our gringo roots we much preferred the location, staff and approach at ISZL. the most difficult thing Brits and gringos struggle with in the transition to the international schools is the "relaxed" curriculum and perceived lack of pressure on the kids. much of the issue is perception - we gringos view phys-ed and the arts as a waste if time when kids should be learning math, science and writing, whereas there is a strong focus on phys-ed and the arts in the international schools. the week-long "development" trips every fall to exotic locales around the world doesn't help the perception, either : )

at the primary school the kids study German 2 times a week, at the middle and high school they study German as well as one additional language (on top of the English). given that all of the instruction is in English, it will be very difficult for any of our 3 kids to become fluent in German or any other language, but that is why we try to be active with the language at home and encourage the kids to speak as much as possible when out in public.

we know several families whose kids went through ISZL and ZIS and ended up at very good universities in either the States or the UK. because all 3 of our kids will almost certainly go to university in the States and at least 2 of the 3 will finish their primary schooling back home, the Swiss schools were never an option for us.
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Old 02.02.2012, 19:10
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

Interesting stat from The Independent article 'Teenagers turn their backs on a university education' http://www.independent.co.uk/news/ed...-6297253.html: "Many students appear to be casting their eyes further afield to secure a good-value education. Maastricht University in the Netherlands said yesterday that it had 152 per cent more applications from British students than it did at this time last year. The university, which charges £1,500 a year and teaches all courses in English, expects about 600 young people from the UK to apply this year."
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Old 02.02.2012, 19:44
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

Hi we have 2kids at ISZL and they LOVE it! No major negatives from us so far except the cost!! Thy have been at ISZL for 18 mths. As with all IB schools we worry they may have a bit of catching up to do on our return to uk....but all the other benefits of living here and having an international education far outweigh that. Good luck with the move
(I also heard Montana is a bit 'rich kid' but no first hand experience!!)
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Old 05.02.2012, 19:14
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

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Interesting. I am British and went to a UK university. However, without a huge scholarship (do they exist for undergrads) there's no way I'd consider UK university for mine, due to cost. Currently you're talking 29K GBP min in fees (36K if they opt for a four year course like I did) and that's without any living expenses. I would definitely look elsewhere in the English speaking world, and also check out France (ours are at the moment French bi-lingual although we live in the German part of CH) if university in CH was not possible and they had the marks to do higher education.

No criticism implied or meant, it's just for me UK university is no longer an option
Apparently EU students are entitled to the same loans as British students. They haven't actually worked out how they are going to collect the money if the student then moves back to a European country. The system is an ill- though out shambles at the moment. You never know it may stay that way and end up being a very cheap option

They have decided on ISZL as after a chat with their current headmaster I am happy for them to do the IB. Just hoping we can still get a place.
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Old 05.02.2012, 19:52
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Re: Planning to Move to Zurich - Information on School & Education

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Interesting. I am British and went to a UK university. However, without a huge scholarship (do they exist for undergrads) there's no way I'd consider UK university for mine, due to cost. Currently you're talking 29K GBP min in fees (36K if they opt for a four year course like I did) and that's without any living expenses. I would definitely look elsewhere in the English speaking world, and also check out France (ours are at the moment French bi-lingual although we live in the German part of CH) if university in CH was not possible and they had the marks to do higher education.

No criticism implied or meant, it's just for me UK university is no longer an option
I think that students in Britain have had it easy for a long time. Elsewhere in the English speaking world, you'll be paying a lot more for university fees.

For example, in New Zealand, a 4 year degree will cost you $25k - $30k for fees if you're a citizen. If you're a foreigner, you're looking at spending at least $100k (GBP53k) on fees. I know that Australia and the US are even more expensive. Canada, I'm not sure about.

So really, university in the UK isn't that expensive, if you're a citizen.
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