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Old 10.09.2009, 09:47
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Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

Someone has just said that if we want to put our 2 yr old into a private school at 4 that we need to start looking for a place now.

We're not sure what is the best option?

In the UK, though much most expensive sometimes it would make better sense to have your child in a private system - smaller classes, rubbish local schools etc.

...But what about in Switzerland? Are the local schools good? What are the class sizes like? What are the benefits of putting your child through the private system in Switzerland?

Anyone with any expereince of having to make the same choice? What did you do?

Thanks
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Old 10.09.2009, 09:53
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

What is I am guessing you have started a thread whereby parents will contentiously debate their perspectives and points of view and at the end of it, you probably won't find enough factual and non-biased opinion to make a decision.

But anyway good luck, and I am sure it is a very stressful time for you as we were at this stage 2 years back.
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Old 10.09.2009, 09:53
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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Someone has just said that if we want to put our 2 yr old into a private school at 4 that we need to start looking for a place now.

We're not sure what is the best option?

In the UK, though much most expensive sometimes it would make better sense to have your child in a private system - smaller classes, rubbish local schools etc.

...But what about in Switzerland? Are the local schools good? What are the class sizes like? What are the benefits of putting your child through the private system in Switzerland?

Anyone with any expereince of having to make the same choice? What did you do?

Thanks
school age here is 6 not 4.

local schools are fine, our son goes to the local school (he is 10 now) they taught him german and he is doing really well.

His class size is about 20, but this will of course vary from school to school as we live in a smallish village.

I know I'll get groaned at, but we found private schools here to be a complete and total rip off, set up to bleed as much money out of companies as possible with many fee's payable upfront and minimum lenghts etc etc.
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Old 10.09.2009, 09:59
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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school age here is 6 not 4.

local schools are fine, our son goes to the local school (he is 10 now) they taught him german and he is doing really well.

His class size is about 20, but this will of course vary from school to school as we live in a smallish village.

I know I'll get groaned at, but we found private schools here to be a complete and total rip off, set up to bleed as much money out of companies as possible with many fee's payable upfront and minimum lenghts etc etc.
I can't disagree with this. It just about sums our own experience too.
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Old 10.09.2009, 09:59
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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school age here is 6 not 4.
I think the OP means kindergarten which starts at four.

We are going to put our little one into the local system. Having spoken to some of the parents round by us, they are all really happy with the local schools and kindergartens. Living in Zurich there is always a mix of expats and locals going to the schools and I imagine it is spreading outside of the cities, too.

My husband and his siblings went through the Swiss system and are all well educated professionals (lawyers, architects and economists in the family).

Perhaps the downside nowadays is because there are so many nationalities in the local system, the different levels of language can maybe hold the class back a bit but I believe they arrange special classes for kids struggling in this area.

For international schools, I believe there is a high turnover of kids (owing to the amount of expats who are often here only temporarily) so if your little one is going to be here permanently he or she should get used to friends in flux.

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I know I'll get groaned at, but we found private schools here to be a complete and total rip off, set up to bleed as much money out of companies as possible with many fee's payable upfront and minimum lenghts etc etc.
I have heard this from two expat work colleagues, too, so you are not on your own.

Last edited by Sandgrounder; 10.09.2009 at 10:02. Reason: Additional info.
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Old 10.09.2009, 10:01
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

My two cents...

Our four year old daughter just started in a local kindergarten. We are very happy with everything about it so far. The teacher is fantastic, as are the support staff. There is also an additional teacher who is also a qualified German as a foreign language specialist, and she is in the classroom on and off throughout the week. Our daughter has also just started having two 45 minute German lessons with one other little girl. I went to a parent evening last week and was very impressed with the kindergarten curriculum and how it is taught to the kids.

We never considered international school but did briefly toy with the idea of a bilingual school. But our daughter's fate was sealed when we discovered a wonderful Kinderkrippe near us and we decided to send her there for two days each week so she could become comfortable with the idea of Swiss German and also with the way things are done. This was a great decision and she is now extremely comfortable with doing everything in Swiss German.

The other key thing for us is that by sending her to the local kindergarten we now have the opportunity to become part of the local community. She can also play with kids with whom she goes to school.

We will probably provide some additional English lessons, although not just yet. She is also going to a music class run by the local music school. We are both musicians and very impressed with the way the music school is run, too, and the way it links in with the kindergarten and school.

I also like the fact that kindergarten doesn't include much formal learning. I firmly believe there is plenty of time for that to take place, but I also think my daughter is still being challenged in class and there is a very interesting range of activities that take place.

But as with schools in any country, (we're Australian but also lived in the UK) I think the quality depends greatly on the teachers and on the approach taken by the Gemeinde, (or council). I would talk to other parents in your area and see what they say. They really are your best source of information.

Good luck with your decision.

Kate
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Old 10.09.2009, 10:11
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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Someone has just said that if we want to put our 2 yr old into a private school at 4 that we need to start looking for a place now.

We're not sure what is the best option?

...But what about in Switzerland? Are the local schools good? What are the class sizes like? What are the benefits of putting your child through the private system in Switzerland?.
Yes, the local schools are very good. They provide language classes to students who don't speak local language, have parents teachers meeting from time to time, do many activities at school.

Not sure about the private school but for the local school, you will recieve a letter from school authorities once your child completes his 4years.

The size of a class is normally 20 but it can be extended upto 23 students if the number of schools in the area are less. No class in (Vaud at least) consists of more than 23 students. The school timings of local schools are a bit weird so if you and your partner are working and don't have too much time during the school hours(and have good bank balance), private school may be the right option.



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I know I'll get groaned at, but we found private schools here to be a complete and total rip off, set up to bleed as much money out of companies as possible with many fee's payable upfront and minimum lenghts etc etc.
I agree with bigblue2

Last edited by zyxel; 10.09.2009 at 10:20. Reason: Sentence correction
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Old 10.09.2009, 10:12
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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I think the OP means kindergarten which starts at four.
Depends on the Gemeinde. Kindergarten starts at age 6 where we live (we're kind of backwards here though).

Our kids go to public schools. If we we're only going to be here for a few years, we might consider private schools.
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Old 10.09.2009, 10:47
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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I think the OP means kindergarten which starts at four.


Perhaps the downside nowadays is because there are so many nationalities in the local system, the different levels of language can maybe hold the class back a bit but I believe they arrange special classes for kids struggling in this area.

.
I'm not sure i really agree with the above statement- there is some diversity in terms of nationalities in the public school system, but definitely not as much as we are used to- and in order for children in public schools to be in a 'normal' class, they have to have a certain knowledge of French. If they are still learning the language, as my son is, they are put in a welcoming class- which is smaller in size and concentrates on learning language (French) through the academic subjects. So, different levels of languages shouldn't have any bearing on the classroom work itself. And, as a teacher myself, within a classroom there are always varying levels at work- different levels of reading skills, different levels of writing skills, different levels of language skills, so the teacher is trained in and must be sensitive to navigating all the mixed levels to acquiring skills according to his/her own level.

As well, one important point to remember as parents, is that all of our children have varying levels of things they are strong/weak in. I'm a little too sensitive to statements like this (sorry sandgrounder!) after teaching ESL and inclusion classes, but it is also important for students to understand that not everyone has the same skills and everyone needs a little help sometimes.


ok. that being said so far, i'm very happy with the support, info and education that my we have received. i wouldn't even dream of sending him to a private school, i agree the money is ridiculous and the education is not better. plus i like the idea of him being with his friends in the neighborhood- it definitely helps to build a community feeling!
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Old 10.09.2009, 10:56
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

My daughter is now in her second year of Kindergarten and her class only consists of 13 kids. So far she's happy and we are happy too.
The only downside of local school is more for working parents because of the class schedule and timing.
But there is always a Kinderhort to each school where parents can send their kids to outside the schooling hours, and this is what I am doing currently.
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Old 10.09.2009, 11:00
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

I have said before - i have a 14yr old in private school and i honestly think its a bit of a rip off- very high fees, short terms, high turnover of teachers and children

we have a 2nd child - he will not be going into provate schooling at all
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Old 10.09.2009, 11:03
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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I'm not sure i really agree with the above statement- there is some diversity in terms of nationalities in the public school system, but definitely not as much as we are used to- and in order for children in public schools to be in a 'normal' class, they have to have a certain knowledge of French. If they are still learning the language, as my son is, they are put in a welcoming class- which is smaller in size and concentrates on learning language (French) through the academic subjects. So, different levels of languages shouldn't have any bearing on the classroom work itself. And, as a teacher myself, within a classroom there are always varying levels at work- different levels of reading skills, different levels of writing skills, different levels of language skills, so the teacher is trained in and must be sensitive to navigating all the mixed levels to acquiring skills according to his/her own level.

As well, one important point to remember as parents, is that all of our children have varying levels of things they are strong/weak in. I'm a little too sensitive to statements like this (sorry sandgrounder!) after teaching ESL and inclusion classes, but it is also important for students to understand that not everyone has the same skills and everyone needs a little help sometimes.


ok. that being said so far, i'm very happy with the support, info and education that my we have received. i wouldn't even dream of sending him to a private school, i agree the money is ridiculous and the education is not better. plus i like the idea of him being with his friends in the neighborhood- it definitely helps to build a community feeling!
Obviously I cannot speak for Lausanne...

I was actually para-phrasing a conversation I had with a head teacher of one of the local schools here in Zurich and his wife. My husband has been friends with him for years.

His wife is a long-serving kindergarten teacher and she said it was incredibly frustrating that parents had made no attempt to expose their pre-kindergarten kids to the local language so they used to have to spend the first term with a mixture of hand gestures and a stack of dictionaries from the kids' various languages in order for the teachers to communicate.

The problem of differing levels of German is beginning to decrease because of the extra language classes but it was definitely there, plus there is a higher density of bilingual nurseries in Zurich now so it seems it is coming up to speed.

I wasn't making any reference to differing abilities in other general educational skills.
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Old 10.09.2009, 11:09
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

Hi

From my experience (and a load of expat mates) it's a fairly simple decision matrix..

Planning to only stay a few years and the company will pay.. choose Private

Planning to stay indefinitely.. choose State

Planning to only stay a few years and the company wont pay then consider Private if you can afford around 30k per child per year and State if you can't
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Old 10.09.2009, 11:13
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

Scroll down to the links at the bottom of the page. This topic has been done to death.
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Old 10.09.2009, 11:13
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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Hi

From my experience (and a load of expat mates) it's a fairly simple decision matrix..

Planning to only stay a few years and the company will pay.. choose Private

Planning to stay indefinitely.. choose State

Planning to only stay a few years and the company wont pay then consider Private if you can afford around 30k per child per year and State if you can't
It would be important to look at the different factors besides the financial implications, though, wouldn't it? The private and state systems have lots of different qualities, and pros and cons which should be examined first.
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Old 10.09.2009, 18:56
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

Hi Goombie

Do you mean private Swiss (French-speaking), or private international (English-speaking)?

If you mean private Swiss, then I haven't met a single person yet who sees any point to this. I've been told - just what I've heard, don't blame me - that over here it's different than in the UK:

UK private schools - for well-off middle class who want smaller classes, more 'control' over their children's education, and don't want little Jemima to get the wrong accent. Or the financially desperate choice of people who live in an area with awful state schools.

Swiss private schools - for kids who aren't cutting it in the state systems, for reasons of ability or behaviour.

Schools in Morges seem fine, and will be stuffed full of expat kids. I went through a stage of going round Morges and stopping strangers in parks and supermarkets to canvas opinion when we were thinking of moving over, and the consensus was that the local schools were a no-brainer for at least the whole of primary (and there's nothing wrong with the secondary level, just depends what people's job/life plans are).

Class sizes are around 2/3 of that in the UK - my daughter's 2nd yr enfantine class is about 18, I think, and my son's 4th grade primary is 23. If it helps, I've found that almost all teachers seem able to speak English, from a basic communication to totally fluent level.

And the teachers are so kind and dedicated - all my kids' teachers so far have freely given up time for (a) an initial 'moving over' meeting at school for my son in the Easter Holidays, so he would have met her and seen the classroom before starting, (b) parent conferences, just for us, in excess of an hour. At first, until they realised I could speak adequate French, they arranged to have the English teacher from the neighbouring secondary school come along to help out - how thoughtful is that! You have their home phone numbers and can call at any time, or arrange a meeting at any time.

My daughter started enfantine last August with NO French, and is now borderline fluent. Her teachers have been fabulous about this, doing things like having her bring in familiar books from home and translating the English story into French for her (obviously requires teachers with good English!) and patiently modelling sentences for her.

I stumbled through a 'thank you, I'm so grateful, I know it's such a lot of extra work for you' speech a while after she started, and the teacher replied that it was no trouble at all, just part of the job, that every child in the class would need extra help with something during their time there, and that this just happened to be my daughter's turn. So gracious and kind.

Ultimately, it's down to cost, how long you think you'll be here, child's age, your personal comfort zone with the language, etc. Personally, we decided to put kids of 8 and 4 into local schooling because it seemed to be missing the point of living overseas not to, because we'd better integrate with other people in the village (VERY true), and there isn't much they'd miss at that age that couldn't be made up later.

My husband's job is a local hire one, not expat contract, so the possibility's there that we may be here a long time. If so, the kids need to go local. And if not, and we move back in a few years, what's the harm? They would perhaps need a couple of months of make-up classes on English grammar, and they'd have fluent French for free.

And frankly, it's not an irrevocable decision: we decided if it went horribly wrong, we'd suck up the cost and move them into international and they'd barely remember it in years to come. It would be a tiny chapter in their lives - kids really do live so much in the moment. But the other way round, starting them in international and moving into local later on? Much more stressing!

kodokan

PS: If you'd like to pop over for a coffee one day, I can bore on about the school system for ages! Just PM me, I'm free most mornings, and have got lots of Duplo your little one could play with.
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Old 10.09.2009, 19:02
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

kodokan, that's really great to hear how well your child's teachers work with her. was she placed in a special classroom the first year to learn french or was she in an all french classroom and given extra support?
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Old 10.09.2009, 19:03
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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I know I'll get groaned at, but we found private schools here to be a complete and total rip off, set up to bleed as much money out of companies as possible with many fee's payable upfront and minimum lenghts etc etc.
The clue here is companies. Without companies around to susbsidize them, many private schools (or at least the international category thereof) would have closed a long time ago. This is a significant difference to the UK where most people who choose to put their kids into private schools also pay the fees out of their own pocket. This creates more accountability and responsibility.
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Old 10.09.2009, 19:11
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

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Swiss private schools - for kids who aren't cutting it in the state systems, for reasons of ability or behaviour.
Or also schools such as the Steiner schools and similar who are not necessarily filled with problem kids but whose parents send them there for other reasons ranging from ideology to feeling good. Having said that, most people who I know whose kids have been there were very satisfied. A good friend of mine did the Steiner school in Adliswil and is now a succesful consultant.
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Old 10.09.2009, 19:33
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Re: Private schools versus local Swiss schools?

Alaska public schools (nothing to write home about).
High falutin' midwestern liberal arts college (no, definitely not the one in Penthouse Forum letters).
Pricey east-coast grad school.

Just sayin'. I'll let you draw your own conclusions about values instilled by your parents vis-a-vis learning and education and paying someone else to do it.

Some of the finest minds I've met are the product of US public schools and state universities. Some of the most worthless screwups are the product of pricey boarding schools.

It's not the school that will make your child an academic success, it's the parents. You don't need to stand over them with a stick, just teach them to love learning and figuring out how things work and having a sense of wonder about the world. You can't do that while you pay someone else to mind your little Bratleigh and Snotleigh while you work 36 hours a day making sacks of money for some sketchy reason known only to you and to God. My dad could have easily made a million dollars a year back in the 80's selling real estate. He chose not to in order to spend time with us and get us out in the world.
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