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Old 22.03.2012, 22:44
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Has anyone switched local schools?

Has anybody switched local schools and are able to offer any advice as to how to go about it?

Our situation is this: I have two children (5 and 7 years) who attend the local village school. My husband and I are committed to the idea of local schooling and both children are happy, accepted and doing well. We have generally been happy with our experience at the school so far. However, I am increasingly losing confidence with the school and would like them to switch to another local school in a neighbouring village.

Today we learned that both remaining grundstufe teachers have given their notice for the summer. The third teacher left last month with just 10 days notice. Obviously there are/have been some major issues but the school will not communicate to parents what these are. In addition, there has been plenty of movement staff wise in the primary school even though it is a small school with only a few teachers in total.

The headteacher seems ok though sadly she is just temporary. A new head will start in August on a 40% position (the rest of the time he is a farmer which in itself seems very odd) and although it is obviously ridiculously early to judge as he not even started his role, he has not struck people as being dynamic in any way.

My daughter currently has a great teacher and she was meant to be having her for the next two and a half years so we are greatly saddened by the news of her departure.The replacement teacher for my daughter will be a teacher who has just started to work in a part time position in the school and she too seems to lack energy, passion and motivation. Again, v. early to judge but I just don't have a good feeling. There seems to be a problem of recruiting/retaining good teachers and as a teacher myself I know how crucial this is.

As a poor German speaker I feel extremely disempowered to complain or go to meetings to discuss this with the school. I just don't think that this is a good school with such a high turnover and I don't feel confident placing my children's education in their hands.

So if anyone has any thoughts about this situation I would be happy to hear them. I am particularly interested in hearing from anyone who has attempted to switch schools or are able to offer any insight about this procedure.

Thanks for reading this!
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Old 22.03.2012, 22:56
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Re: Has anyone switched local schools?

There will clearly be others on here that are more qualified to answer, however my understanding is that you will need to first check with the Geminde if you are even permitted to switch schools.

In many areas when you are using a local school you are required to use a certain one based on you address. If you are in an area without a lot of local schools you may find that the question is already answered.

I would first find out if it is even permitted
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Old 22.03.2012, 23:15
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Re: Has anyone switched local schools?

Hi, I have a child in local CIN1 and work in public edu system, so will shed a bit of light, though not sure if that can give you some relief, I will try.

To start with, the general attitude to parents and school communication, is that school tries to do the best and most professional work they can, without troubling parents too much, without too much info going around, unless parents want to speak directly to the director or a specific teacher. It is to protect the parents from gossip, rumors, incorrect info going around, etc. It is not protectionistic, in my opinion, to hide something or make school work and function not transparent enough, but to make sure the institution works in peace, with the best objectives in mind. It is totally different then from school system I know and worked in, both home and in the US. The embargo on info, as we foreigners sometimes see it, is actually a sign of good will, and trust. As loads of things in CH, as you probably know.

Now. To change a school is difficult, because there aren't many seats, because the catchment are is set, because commune might be worried about spreading some seemingly bad reputation of that particular institution. But it has been done, for various reasons. I wouldn't do it, since it will make the child's life more difficult, friends wise, bday party wise, play dates wise, it is nice to be planted in the "domicile", helps them be more independent.

I will also try to explain a tad how different teacher's work load and hiring process is here. It is extremely hard to get full time position in a local school, for anyone, but people rarely do that. Part time position actually means that teacher might be qualified and experienced, but has kids to take care of at home, wants to take proper measures to work well and not stress, you name it. I don't have that many colleagues who actually do have full time position. I would really not judge, no matter how well I understand your motives and fears, before you actually get to experience that teacher and director fully immersed in their new work. The fact they are starting part time could simply only means they are from a different canton and are in a process of a degree recognition, or so. It can mean so many things, none of them might be that they would perform poorly. I would rather have a great part time director, than a sucky one full time, heh.

Another thing is, teachers rarely stay more than a year, or two, with the same child. It is completely normal to have a "maitresse de classe" one year only, people go on maternity leave, get ill, decrease their work load, a lot more flexible ways than what I am used to, when you slave 24/7, every day, year by year, until you collapse, but happy you have a secured job and you keep the same class for a couple of years. It is a bit different here, there is attention to detail, things get done slower, but there are sophisticated systems and strategies.

I understand that you are nervous, especially when you don't speak the language. Newcomers not only have to cross the barriers of languages but also get culture shock in terms of how different things are. But I know for sure, everything in a local school system is focused on kids, and their education, and the fact they don't want to get in such trouble that the parents would have to be too involved. I know it sounds strange, mais voilà.

The fact there is a new teacher and new director actually sounds great, that there is a will to fix stuff up. The number of teachers leaving, that's normal. Most teaching staff has only one year contract, in my experience. It is not up to the school, often, to keep staff they want, since canton has to approve the portfolios, and match the cantonal requirements with people's qualifications.

If you need more info, pm me. And don't worry, really, your kids will be ok, and if not, grab a friend, a parent from the same class, and go have coffee with your new director or one of their deans.
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Old 22.03.2012, 23:18
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Re: Has anyone switched local schools?

Search and you will find. I think this thread covers it.

kindergarten ouside your gemeinde

Basically from what I've heard and posted previously, you should have a valid reason for the change, like closer to caregiver, and often they will accomodate.
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Old 22.03.2012, 23:58
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Re: Has anyone switched local schools?

Well, we asked and pleaded with our Gemeinde to let my son go to school in the neighbouring Gemeinde, because they have afterschool care which isn't available in our Gemeinde currently. The answer was a flat out no. There are no places, no it's not possible, no no and just flaming no. They were totally unhelpful. We offered to pay - in fact we would have gladly paid. But they would not even consider it and they said it was never done and basically impossible.

However, my son did not go to the local Kindergarten - he went to the one next to the daycare as he was going there after kindergarten then - but that stops at age 7 where we are.

Of course I imagine that this is one of those things that varies greatly from area to area so it's always worth asking.
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Old 23.03.2012, 00:39
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Re: Has anyone switched local schools?

In our local school there have to be part time teachers because there are not enough children to fund having one teacher per each school year - so instead they employ one teacher for each school year but on part time basis so that together their time adds up to less than 5 teachers (hope that makes sense).

If your school numbers are small, this could be the reason for the part time working.
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Old 23.03.2012, 08:54
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Re: Has anyone switched local schools?

Thanks everyone for your insight!

The issue of part time teachers does not worry me, rather the lack of continuity and the bad feeling that is going around the school for both teachers and parents. For 32 children in the grundstufe there are three almost full time teachers so the funding and staff/pupil ration are all excellent in my eyes.

Over the past few years I feel I have really had to adjust my mind to what is a hugely different system and had got used to it, even liking it in lots of ways, but now I feel I am back to square one where I am unsure and questioning if it is the right environment for our children.

At almost eight years old my son is still playing every morning and only being more formally taught for two short afternoons a week so it is extreme even for Switzerland.

I am really worried but of course I don't really want to move schools for reasons that Music Chick writes and of course there may also be problems in another school too and as a foreigner I don't really have inside information and as was written the way the schools operate are a little less transparent.

Thanks for taking the time to write everyone.
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