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Old 14.07.2009, 09:35
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Vaud Education System

I have tried to collect as much information about education system in Switzerland (Specifically in the canton of Vaud). But still missing some answers.

1. At what age will children get assessed and split in to different streams in Vaud? (university stream or vocational training stream)

2. Are there possibilities that children go back to the university stream somehow if they were put on the other stream at the start?

3. How will children who do not speak French get assessed?

4. Is it possible for children to do the IGCSE or IB no matter in which stream they are in the Swiss education system?

My kids are 8 & 10 and Speak English only and there is no way for internation school (budget reasons).

Apprecite your feedback.
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Old 14.07.2009, 18:39
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Re: Vaud Education System

Any answers please ?
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Old 14.07.2009, 18:54
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Re: Vaud Education System

As you haven't exactly been inundated with answers, I can only suggest you go through the Threads already here. This is one which has several references to Vaud. There are probably several more.
Not everyone agrees on the best method of integrating children and every village seems to have its own rules anyway!
Some General Information about schooling is in this Thread too.
You could also go through Threads and if you see a poster writing about schools who is resident in canton Waadt (Vaud) you could try sending them a personal message to ask for more details about their experiences.
I hope you find the info you need.
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Old 14.07.2009, 19:27
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Re: Vaud Education System

I don't have kids so can't be of much help, but there seems to be a wealth of information on the official website of Canton Vaud:
http://www.vd.ch/fr/themes/formation...e-obligatoire/

After 4 years of "primary" school, children enter a 2-year "transition cycle" around the age of 10. Towards the end of this transition cycle (i.e. when the children are approx. 12 y.o.), it is determined which of 3 different secondary school streams they will enter into (the parents are consulted as well):
  • VSO -- secondary school with "options", geared towards the slower students
  • VSG -- general secondary school
  • VSB -- the secondary school cycle that prepares for the baccalaureat and ultimately will give access to higher education
For children in the VSG cycle, the possibility exists to do an additional year ("raccordement") to still obtain the VSB certificate and so get prepared for the baccalaureat.

After the secondary school cycle, children with VSB certificate can then continue at the "Gymnasium" for another 3 years to obtain their baccalaureat. At that point, they'll be approx. 18 y.o. and ready to start higher education.

Since your kids are 8 and 10 respectively, it seems that they still have time to learn the language and be ready by the time they are 12 to enter the VSB stream, or the VSG stream + 1 year raccordement to still obtain to VSG certificate.

Hope this helps.
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Old 14.07.2009, 20:35
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Re: Vaud Education System

I actully just brought my son to the school in Bussigny to sign him up to attend this coming year. He is going into the 7th year and also only speaks english. The director actually gave me a general over view of the school system and how it works, and the information he gave me just so happens to answer your questions 1-3. So here it goes.


1. They are accessed over a two year period, during the 5th and 6th year. At end of 6th year they are placed in one of the 3 streams based on performance.

2. There are 3 streams, VSO, VSG, and VSB.
VSO: Basic Studies. Students only required learn French only. Studies completed at the end of 9th year. They can attend and extra 10th year and received the next higher level diploma (VSG). After 9th year they can enter professional training in form of an apprenticeship.

VSG: General Studies. Students are required to learn both French and German. Studies completed at the end of 9th year. They can attend and extra 10th and received the next higher level diploma (VSB). Going an extra year to achieve VSB diploma enables them to attend High school (Gymnase) after which they can attend a technical school (college).

VSG: Preparation for higher studies. Students are required to learn French and German. Additionally they have a pick a concentration in Italian, Latin, Science and Math, or Economics, and will stay with that concentration thorugh year 7th - 9th. Studies completed at the end of 9th year, then attend Gymnase, the after an University.

3. I was told that during the first year he would not be graded. He would follow are the classes, do all the work, etc. But not actually be graded. He would be evaluated at the end of the year to gage whether or not he is progressing adequately bearing in mind, he would be shorting off not knowing the language.

Hopefully my recollection of the meeting and what the school director told me are correct.
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Old 15.07.2009, 01:35
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Re: Vaud Education System

The other posters have covered off most of what you asked, but here's a couple more things that might be useful. Firstly, my son started school just over a year ago aged 8, and has now done one term in 2nd Year and a whole school year in 3rd Year. He is being assessed in all his subjects except French, where he gets 'let off' for two years, which is lucky as the French is not coming particularly easily to him. I don't know if the 2 years is a standard Vaud thing, though, or specific to this school. And of course he is currently only being assessed at a 'something to write on a school report' sort of level, rather than for educational decisions.

Secondly, although redoubling a year is quite common and often recommended for non-French speakers, it is apparently almost impossible for kids to redouble Grades 5 and 6 (the transition/grading cycle) for any reason other than, say, missing great big chunks of school due to a medical problem. We've been categorically told that once he's in those years, he's being assessed like the others - otherwise EVERYONE would have their kids redouble to get a better mark! - so if it proves necessary he may either redouble Year 4 or Year 7 (where it seems to be possible to jump up a stream by redoing Year 7 in the new, higher one).

Hope this helps - I expect to be a total expert this time next year, as we decide what's best to do for him!

Oh, and I'm not aware of any way to do the IB within the Swiss schooling system... anyone else..?

kodokan
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Old 15.07.2009, 09:28
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Re: Vaud Education System

Thank you very much for your replies. We are just too worried about the assessment process and its impact on the future of our kids. I think our 10 years old will have 2 years in the system before this assessment as I understand and hopefully he will pick the language by then. The good thing is that he likes French, we have a private tutor for him and his brother to lay the foundation of the language before we arrive end of September. I hope this will help.
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Old 15.07.2009, 10:29
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Re: Vaud Education System

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I don't know if the 2 years is a standard Vaud thing, though, or specific to this school. And of course he is currently only being assessed at a 'something to write on a school report' sort of level, rather than for educational decisions.

kodokan
Yes, 2 years assessment is valid through out Vaud, however, the last four months performance weigh the most(around 45% of total assessment).

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Thank you very much for your replies. We are just too worried about the assessment process and its impact on the future of our kids. I think our 10 years old will have 2 years in the system before this assessment as I understand and hopefully he will pick the language by then. The good thing is that he likes French, we have a private tutor for him and his brother to lay the foundation of the language before we arrive end of September. I hope this will help.
If your kids like French, picking up the language shouldn't be a problem for them. There are many sociocultural centers in Vaud and if there is one next to your appartment, its best to enroll your kids there, its very very cheap(starting from 20Fr/year) and kids get to do a lot of activities while learning French.

You can talk to the teachers on a regular basis to monitor their performace in the class, sometimes teachers tell very good points in a parent-teacher meeting which they sometime avoid writing in student's diary/agenda.

Last edited by zyxel; 15.07.2009 at 12:20. Reason: Spelling
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Old 15.07.2009, 11:59
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Re: Vaud Education System

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Yes, 2 years assessment is valid through out Vaud, however, the last four months performance weigh the most(around 45% of total assessment).
Sorry, I was talking about the 2 years in which my son won't have to take class tests in French, and be evaluated in terms of things like being able to pass into the next 2 yr cycle. I guess you're talking about the Transition Cycle assessment - if so, that's useful to know!

Since we're on the subject and there's a bunch of informed people on thread... I understand that the key subjects for assessment for streaming are French, Maths and German, and that out of a possible top score of 18 (6 per subject) that a child must get 15 to be considered for the VSB stream.

Does this mean that a child who didn't have native French could scrape a 4 or so in French, but do super well in the other two subjects and still get in? (With the expectation that their French will continue to improve over time.) And does the system consider any other subjects as well, either directly for marks, or just for general background to help make the decision?

kodokan
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Old 15.07.2009, 12:09
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Re: Vaud Education System

This is a SUPER useful thread! Mods, could it be made into a Sticky?

Thanks
Nats
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Old 15.07.2009, 12:17
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Re: Vaud Education System

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Sorry, I was talking about the 2 years in which my son won't have to take class tests in French, and be evaluated in terms of things like being able to pass into the next 2 yr cycle.

I guess you're talking about the Transition Cycle assessment - if so, that's useful to know!

kodokan
Was I still sleepy when I read your post, its indeed about the Transition Cycle assessment
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Old 15.07.2009, 13:13
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Re: Vaud Education System

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Since we're on the subject and there's a bunch of informed people on thread... I understand that the key subjects for assessment for streaming are French, Maths and German, and that out of a possible top score of 18 (6 per subject) that a child must get 15 to be considered for the VSB stream.

Does this mean that a child who didn't have native French could scrape a 4 or so in French, but do super well in the other two subjects and still get in? (With the expectation that their French will continue to improve over time.) And does the system consider any other subjects as well, either directly for marks, or just for general background to help make the decision?
I have found this document now, it explains how the assessment is done. did someone go through this process?


I wonder what happens if a student comes to Switzerland at age of 15 or 16 for example, whch stream will he be placed in?
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Old 17.07.2009, 17:50
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Re: Vaud Education System

Right, I've been trundling around the web researching more about schooling over the past few days, and these are my findings.

Here's a very nice diagram of the whole system. This diagram is particularly helpful, as it shows the qualifications that can be achieved at each stage of secondary education, what is needed to get to the next stage above, and at what points you can cross over from one stream to another:

http://www.vd.ch/fileadmin/user_uplo...pdf/formVD.pdf

For example, here are the conclusions I've come to as regards my son. He's going into Year 4 in August, and is not a particularly strong French speaker yet. Of course, he may make miraculous progress in the next 12 months, go into the transition cycle and make the top VSB stream. But let's assume that won't happen - so:

(a) he redoubles Year 4. I've seen my friend's kid's Year 4 work, and this may be a good foundation year to re-do - they cover off a lot of the different verb tenses here and my son may struggle in the future if he doesn't have these very solidly in place.

(b) he redoubles Year 7. This assumes that he moves up in the transition cycle (Yrs 5/6), at the end of which he is put into VSG as his French lets him down. But he continues to make French progress and gets excellent grades in maths, etc, and at the end of Yr 7 is able to upgrade into the VSB stream by redoubling Yr 7 in VSB.

(c) he redoubles Year 9. At the end of the VSG stream, he could do what's called a 'raccordement' known as Rac II, which would take one year and give him the VSB certificate, allowing him to go to Gymnase from age 15-18 and hence to university.

(d) he redoubles Year 12. Continuing in the VSG stream, he goes into the 'école de culture générale et de commerce', at the end of which he gets a 'maturité professionale'. A one year additional course, called 'passerelle Dubs' then converts this into a 'maturité gymnasiale', which is the magic key that gets you into university.

There are many things to consider here. For example, he may not be VSB material anyway - he truly is intelligent, but at present not at all hard-working, so may struggle in this stream regardless of how bright he is. And I notice that he can get a degree anyway from a 'haute école pedagogique/spécialisée' (HES), which I imagine are a bit like polytechnics used to be in the UK, offering the more vocational degree subjects. The syllabus in the VSB/gymnase stream is quite 'classics', with emphasis on things like Latin, Economics, etc, whereas at present if I had to pick a future career for my son it would be something in engineering or sciences. So perhaps the VSG, etc stream might be a better fit anyway.

But if he is going to redouble, when's best? Should we do it at an early age, whilst he's still quite malleable? I imagine you'd have a harder battle convincing a 15 yr old that it was really important to do an extra year of school after all his friends had moved up. And running alongside is the constant keeping an eye on the syllabus back in the UK - we're planning to stay here for the foreseeable future, but an expat friend of mine's husband has recently lost his overseas job and they're heading back to the UK for the first time in 15 years with their school-age kids. These things happen. If he's redoubled, then would he be significantly out of step with his age peers in the UK?

But overall I'm very relieved to have done this research. I like the system, I really do. It seems to have a lot more flexibility than I previously thought - their life really isn't decided for ever at age 12. I like it that my son can be placed with like-minded kids, depending on his aptitude for hard work and the sort of subjects he wants to study.

The only thing I now don't quite understand is why there is this universal belief that going to a university is so important. It seems to be - the whole system is geared towards giving the kids a leg-up at key points if they're later developers, and certainly the feeling amongst parents - particularly expat ones - is that it's essential. Yet you can apparently get degrees from the HES's. But perhaps the subjects available differ - medicine, law, 'professions' subjects are only offered by 'real' universities? Or is it just a status and perception thing? Anyone know..?

(Edit: just found the answer to this, and yes, it seems that you have to imagine it a little like the UK 50+ years ago, when university was only for middle-class people destined to become doctors, lawyers, vets, etc; a fraction of the population. Nowadays, of course, we have the ludicrous situation where anything above burger flipping the UK requires a university degree, whereas here people can still access perfectly solid careers like radiographers, teachers, architects and engineers simply by going to the haute école places (which I think of as equivalent to old-style UK polytechnics): http://www.vd.ch/fr/themes/formation/orientation/questions-frequentes-faq/universite-epf-hes/. I think my favourite bit of the comparison of the two is that unis are somehow 'better' because they do lectures on a grand scale in auditoriums whereas the HES's do their teaching in classrooms. I note that HES's have links with industry to offer practical training and experience very much as part of the courses, whereas uni students have to organise any actual work experience themselves, or volunteer, or something. In the UK, the traditional university education, solely theoretical training in which students spend 3-4 years sipping coffee and capping each other's witty quips in Greek, has become something of an anachronism, a luxurious waste of earning potential in which people leave very well-rounded individuals but unable to actually do a job. It will be very interesting to see if the same notion gains ground here.

So, here 'university' seems to be equivalent to what in the UK would be the Oxbridge-type establishments, or I guess the US Ivy Leagues. I am now certainly not going to worry if my then 12 yr old isn't placed in the Cambridge/ Oxford stream, and that having to slum it and get a degree from a second-tier establishment would mean his life was effectively over. After all, we seem to be doing pretty well as a family based on my husband's engineering qualifications from a no-name UK ex-polytechnic :-)

(Another edit: just found a list of all sorts of jobs, and the qualifications necessary to do them: http://www.orientation.vd.ch/content...sions/dmde.php. This is ever so interesting - there are literally hundreds of excellent careers I'd be delighted to see my children going into that don't require attendence at one of Switzerland's handful of pure universities but instead follow training in a HES. Lots of opportunities to trade up throughout the education process, solid careers even without university attendance - I'm MUCH less paranoid about the shaky French language/streaming at age 12 thing now.)

Overall, though, I'm fretting a lot less now. Of course, I'm only basing all this on reading all the documents, and haven't actually got a child who's been through it yet. If I've got something horribly wrong, do please let me know and I'll amend my post!

kodokan

Last edited by kodokan; 18.07.2009 at 02:10. Reason: Continued the research
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Old 18.07.2009, 01:46
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Re: Vaud Education System

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The only thing I now don't quite understand is why there is this universal belief that going to a university is so important.
kodokan
It was certainly quite hard at 1st for me to shed my British contemporaries' belief that one "automatically goes to university or else your education was a failure".

However, don't forget that the apprenticeship system in Switzerland is really very good and available whatever VSB/VSG/VSO stream a child was put into. It's usually 1 or 2 days at college + the other days in a company, learning the real job.

Both my sons are very happy to be out of full-time education. 1 has finished his apprenticeship, despite having the qualifications to have continued school, the other is starting 2nd year apprenticeship and really enjoying it. After (or during) the apprenticeship, there is the possibilty to do the "maturité professionelle" and go on to higher education, but it's not a necessity or indeed to everyone's taste.

Don't worry if your kids aren't put in the top stream: gymnase + university is not the only path to a satisfying job.
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Old 19.07.2009, 23:38
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Re: Vaud Education System

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I wonder what happens if a student comes to Switzerland at age of 15 or 16 for example, whch stream will he be placed in?
As a very general statement: The mandatory school years have ended at that age and families would have more responsibility, liberty and hopefully also choices.
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Old 20.07.2009, 07:23
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Re: Vaud Education System

I have another valid question:

Is it our choice to let our child drop one year or will we be forced to do so?

i.e. my 10 years old son should go to grade 5 according to his age, but he still has to learn French. He is very hard working and I would like to take the risk of him doing the critical 5&6 grade with kids of his age. Will school let me do this or they will force him to re-do grade 4??

I just need to know the enrollment procedures for foreign kids and our rights as a family.
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Old 20.07.2009, 08:44
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Re: Vaud Education System

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Since we're on the subject and there's a bunch of informed people on thread... I understand that the key subjects for assessment for streaming are French, Maths and German, and that out of a possible top score of 18 (6 per subject) that a child must get 15 to be considered for the VSB stream.
kodokan
Hi,
We went through the process last year.
The assessment at the end of year 6 was based on the academic performance AND on the evaluation of the "maturity" of the child by the theachers that had followed the years 5 and 6.
This system has a good side to it cos' it takes into consideration both the ability of the child to learn and whether the child is ready for a more intensive schedule. The less good side is that if the head teacher does not, for some reason, like the child then ....
The initial placement can be contested and the parents have a chance to argue that the recommended level is not appropriate.
Final decision on placement rests with the school.
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Old 20.07.2009, 11:47
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Re: Vaud Education System

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I have another valid question:

Is it our choice to let our child drop one year or will we be forced to do so?

i.e. my 10 years old son should go to grade 5 according to his age, but he still has to learn French. He is very hard working and I would like to take the risk of him doing the critical 5&6 grade with kids of his age. Will school let me do this or they will force him to re-do grade 4??

I just need to know the enrollment procedures for foreign kids and our rights as a family.
A friend of mine had her non-French speaking 10 yr old placed in Year 4 when they arrived last summer. They were only going to be here for one year anyway and were happy to go along with the school's recommendation; I don't know if they would have been able to contest it. My impression is that the school will listen politely but then make the final decision themselves.

Do keep an open mind on it, and see what the school says once you know where you will be living. The school here explained to my friend that there is a huge jump in responsibility and expectation from Year 4 to 5, and that her child (who is very bright and has done better with the French this year than any other child I know, but even so is still not fluent) would be struggling and unhappy.

Also, under the present system Year 5 is considered the start of secondary school - a child would have to cope with having different teachers for various subjects, which could be harder than developing a relationship with one understanding adult. And it's also more likely that the school for Yr 5 will be out of your village/district and involve a bus journey - 4 times a day - so your boys would be unable to help each other in the early days. So it's not just about the academic level or the language - that sort of thing could be a lot to cope with for a child new to a country/language.

And don't forget that as well as French, your son will also need good German in order to be successfully graded into the more academic streams for Year 7 (it's largely the grades in French, German and Maths that count). The kids here start German in Yr 3, so it would be a hefty make-up for him to catch up 2 years of German AND become simultaneously fluent in French.

I've found our school and its staff here to be helpful and sympathetic - they've done things like making it possible to meet my son's teacher in the classroom during the holidays before he started to put him more at ease; knowing my husband has no French, they organised the English teacher from higher up the school to attend our parents' meetings; they truly do seem dedicated professionals who want the best for the children. If they recommend that your son goes into Yr 4 rather than 5, I'm sure they'll be more than happy to explain why they believe that to be the best thing for him.

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Old 05.09.2011, 00:17
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Re: Vaud Education System

Votation today, LEO won, Ecole2010 lost. In other words: UDC/SVP/PPS lost.

Grades come back in 3rd grade
end of special classes of drop offs
two secondaires instead of three

It will take at least two years to organise the new system. It was basically everybody against UDC/SVP/PPS, so even with 55%, it's a good base to get peace for a while.
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Old 05.09.2011, 09:56
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Re: Vaud Education System

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two secondaires instead of three
Will the split between the two new strams retain the 1/3 split? Until now, on average (with some degree of variation between schools) the pupils population was split more-or-less evenly between the three streams.
http://www0.dfj.vd.ch/ursp/activites.../CYT_02_A4.pdf
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