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  #41  
Old 12.11.2011, 10:06
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

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For many students the "Sek" is the appropriate level. Not all kids are cut out for the "BEZ". The SEK is not a dead end, not by any means.

I agree, and to be honest part of me wonders if this would set him back as would be a great deal harder for him. The SEK is definitely not dead end, oppportunities are still great and they can still achieve so much, really depends on the individual I would say not Aargau system.

Mrs Doolittle - I wonder what stories you have heard of children being put up to BEZ from SEK, how much harder is it? do they struggle with the whole situation? For my son he has already repeated Klasse 5 primar and if he goes to BEZ I'm assuming he would step back 1 yr and wonder then how this would be for him socially too? Just good to hear of others who have been in similar positions, thanks.
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  #42  
Old 12.11.2011, 10:40
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please...

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Nothing to do with 'taking a risk on your child, but FOR your child. In the UK, kids from immigrants who have not yet mastered the language can still do very well. And that is because a 'class' is only an administrative/social group- headed by a form tutor. Kids after registration, messages, etc, then go on to different lessons in set groupings, and not together as a 'class group'. Some will be in Set 1 for French, Set 2 for Maths and Set 3, say for science, etc, and any combination imaginable. So a kid who does not master English can excel in science, maths, etc. In Switzerland, although the system changes from one C'Kanton to another, generally a class is a group that moves around together to each subject. You are either in Set 1 for everything, or in Set 3 or whatever for everything. So a kid who does not master the language, even if very bright, will struggle in many subjects. Not sure if I'm making myself clear here, hope it makes sense. Later on at A'Level equivalent, kids do not choose 4 subjects for AS then 3 for A's. Like in the Scottish system, they have to continue all subjects.
With this in mind (and I totally agree that selection at 11 is far too early and wrong- whether here or still, in some parts of UK, or for many private schools) - it would be much much better to repeat THIS year- and concentrate on improving his/her language so that s/he can acquire the level required to go into a selection class at secondary school that will reflect his/her ability and allow him/her to develop full potential. A repeat now will pay huge dividends in the long run- and would indeed be a positive, not a negative step for the future. Hope it makes sense- good luck.

If at all possible, the above is a good reason to try and avoid moving to CH aged 10/11 if at all possible. The sooner they are into the system the better.
Most people only do a maximum of 5 highers and 3 advanced higher in Scotland. Hardly all the subjects!
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  #43  
Old 12.11.2011, 11:43
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

We are in Aargau. Primary school ends at grade 5 after which test scores and teacher recommendation channels kids into one of 4 levels:

Bezirkschule: only the top 10-20 percent go directly here. (This level is called Gymnasium in Kanton Zurich)
Sek A: bright but not top
Sek B: one level down
Real: Avoid at all costs

Our son was doing poorly in grade 3, and we made the decision to have him repeat it. The result was great, he blossomed, had a great teacher and now in the 5th class is headed towards Berzirkschule. The teacher really made all the difference, the one he had before just didn't believe in him, and as they have the same teacher for years, it was a dead end road.

Our daughter on the other hand always was at the top of her class and went directly to Bezirkschule, she is now in the 2nd year (out of 3). Bezirkschule is very tough with lots of homework. About 10 percent of kids who make it into Bezirkschule are sent back to Sek (you have to maintain good notes to stay in). It's really not for everyone, and kids can really suffer under the pressure.

We already had the parents evening to discuss the next steps, and even though it is the highest level, only 40 percent of kids in Bezirkschule are recommended to go on to Kantonalschule then University. The rest do an apprenticeship after which they typically go to trade school or Technische Hochschule.

The system here is quite brutal, but recognizes that there are only so many kids who have what it takes to survive university, so might as well start making the cut early. Plus, the system focuses on producing kids with hands-on skills ready to enter the workforce vs. hundreds of thousands of college grades with Psych, Politics or Business degrees who can't find a job (such as in the USA today).

Another reason: for those who make the cut to University here, it is effectively free (about 1500 CHF a year tuition). The Government can only finance so many. The alternative in the USA is a generation of kids graduating with massive student loan debt, and not being able to find a decent job to pay it back.

I reckon they also realize that Switzerland only needs so many doctors, lawyers, engineers, plumbers, carpenters, hairdressers, mechanics, truck drivers etc. so the school system is adapted to the needs of society once they finish.
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  #44  
Old 12.11.2011, 14:55
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

How strange, Karl. We are also in Aargau, and there is no Sek A, only Bez, Sek and Real where we are.
This is a big issue here, because if you look at the lists of available apprenticeships in Aargau posted on the web, you see how many of the solid vocational paths require Bez to even apply. Glendamwm, take a look at such postings, or even better, go to your local Berufsberatung office to better understand what actual options will your son have after your specific Sek program vs Bez. Many local parents (and a couple of experienced teachers) have told me last year how difficult the absence of an "intermediate" level (like Sek A in Zurich) makes it for the bright kids who are not ready for the Bez. Mrs. Doolittle's groan at my earlier post was really not deserved :-)

One more big difference between our local Sek and Bez: in the Sek it is Klassenlehrerprinzip, and in the Bez it is Fachlehrerprinzip. Of course, your local set up may be different.

We were told all kinds of scary stories about the workload before our son started Bez this year, but so far it is not too bad. Teachers coordinate homework assignments, so there is no more time spent on homework than in 5th grade. Since there is a lot less repetitive work, the assignments themselves are a lot more interesting than last year. Before every test there is a review packet, so we make sure we go over it with him. French was supposed to be really tough, but so far it is also ok. In this regard it is probably better to move up from the Sek this year, when the whole Bez 1 class is adjusting to the new environment.

I would listen to the teachers. They are not trying to set your son up for failure, so if they would recommend the move, then he is probably ready. Losing another year is, of course, an issue. The girls who transferred into my son's class must be suffering terribly from being around such babies :-) However, repeating a year is common here, so there is always a range of ages. Redirecting to a uni path after the Sek (if your son would like to do that later) would lose him more time that this shift.
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  #45  
Old 12.11.2011, 15:07
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

I stand corrected. In Aargau, at least where we are, there is no Sek A or B, only Sek.

Sorry about that.

Definitely the Bezirkschule is the goal to aim for. After some struggles our daughter is in (and recommended now for Kantonalschule), and our son is recommended for Bez. It's been a struggle. Having frequent contact with the teachers really helps, plus lots of tutoring and help by my wife.
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  #46  
Old 12.11.2011, 15:26
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

I read a study done from an university about the reason for the levels in the schools in Germany and Switzerland (and their quote) was that it is programed to provide a broad base of workers for the system. Lower schools provide lower workers, street etc, middle schools provide apprentiship students middle class and a select few get to higher universities for advanced positions. By seperating them at a early age it breaks their spirit I think. Also vitamin B does play some part but no one will admit it. I worked in the primary school here for 7 years, and asked the teacher why this kid wasn't going on to the better school as he was alot better than kidsin other class that was going. The teacher said he could only put two kids to the higher school, all he was allowed.
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  #47  
Old 12.11.2011, 16:22
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

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I read a study done from an university about the reason for the levels in the schools in Germany and Switzerland (and their quote) was that it is programed to provide a broad base of workers for the system. Lower schools provide lower workers, street etc, middle schools provide apprentiship students middle class and a select few get to higher universities for advanced positions. By seperating them at a early age it breaks their spirit I think. Also vitamin B does play some part but no one will admit it. I worked in the primary school here for 7 years, and asked the teacher why this kid wasn't going on to the better school as he was alot better than kidsin other class that was going. The teacher said he could only put two kids to the higher school, all he was allowed.
There definitely are quotas and maybe preferences. But, then, limited capacity of available institutions and service they provide is not a Swiss invention. Still, quotas are quotas, we fight them every day.
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  #48  
Old 12.11.2011, 18:41
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

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I agree, and to be honest part of me wonders if this would set him back as would be a great deal harder for him. The SEK is definitely not dead end, oppportunities are still great and they can still achieve so much, really depends on the individual I would say not Aargau system.

Mrs Doolittle - I wonder what stories you have heard of children being put up to BEZ from SEK, how much harder is it? do they struggle with the whole situation? For my son he has already repeated Klasse 5 primar and if he goes to BEZ I'm assuming he would step back 1 yr and wonder then how this would be for him socially too? Just good to hear of others who have been in similar positions, thanks.
I think it is important to distinguish between those children who do not have a parent of German tongue, in other words, where German is a foreign language. Secondly, the age a child entered the school system and begun learning German is also a factor, because at some point they will stop getting extra German tuition and will be graded on the same standard as their classmates.

While it is common to have an age spread in a class, two years older would be more than average. Fitting in is important to kids, and if there are problems socially, this may also lead to academic problems.

The Bez is tough, maybe the first year won't be, but it will get harder. Consider that manadatory schooling here finishes at 16, so if a child doesn't get through the Bez, there is no going back to the Sek at that point.

I know children who struggled in the Bez who moved back to the Sek and have gone on to do apprenticeships and attend a Fachhochschule.

I also know children who are at the Real, and yes, the parents accept this.
As parents we have hopes for our children, but I think it is also very important to be realistic about our childrens' abilities.
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  #49  
Old 12.11.2011, 18:46
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

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Consider that manadatory schooling here finishes at 16
15 in Ticino.

5 years elementary (starting at age 6), followed by four years of middle school (only one type here).

Tom
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Old 12.11.2011, 20:59
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

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The system here is quite brutal, but recognizes that there are only so many kids who have what it takes to survive university, so might as well start making the cut early. Plus, the system focuses on producing kids with hands-on skills ready to enter the workforce vs. hundreds of thousands of college grades with Psych, Politics or Business degrees who can't find a job (such as in the USA today).
I am so against this attitude and approach at every level.. seriously.
It's just

There are not enough Swiss kids (I include those who have grown up here) who attend our high-end, cutting-edge excellent universities !!

I'd love to see kids pushed ahead and get a higher education, or at least a chance to complete a Swiss Maturité. The Maturité/Matura is considered one of the best there is. It corresponds to the A levels in 11 subjects and a minimum of 3 languages.
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  #51  
Old 12.11.2011, 22:10
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

Not to hijack the thread, but it seems like this system is built for the world as it was 50 years ago. Now that a higher level of education is usually needed across the board, there are not enough "gymasium" and university graduates for the available jobs ... hence the importation of us "foreigners" to fill the huge gap.
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Old 12.11.2011, 22:13
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

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I read a study done from an university about the reason for the levels in the schools in Germany and Switzerland (and their quote) was that it is programed to provide a broad base of workers for the system. Lower schools provide lower workers, street etc, middle schools provide apprentiship students middle class and a select few get to higher universities for advanced positions. By seperating them at a early age it breaks their spirit I think. Also vitamin B does play some part but no one will admit it. I worked in the primary school here for 7 years, and asked the teacher why this kid wasn't going on to the better school as he was alot better than kidsin other class that was going. The teacher said he could only put two kids to the higher school, all he was allowed.
Interestingly, some areas of Germany are now letting parents decide the child's route. I don't know much about it or how widespread it is, but this is happening in a friend's school for the first time this year. I think this will have a radical effect on the German school system, and it does reflect the demands of the times.
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  #53  
Old 12.11.2011, 22:56
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

I know I wasn't in the top 10% in primary school. However I pulled my socks up when it mattered in high school, sailed through a bachelors and masters and started my phd at 22.

If I was educated in switzerland I'd probably be a lab technician with a god complex at this age.
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Old 12.11.2011, 23:15
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

It is sad that the system leads to wasting human potential. I’ve met a lot of bright Swiss people and was always surprised how ‘uneducated’ (in the formal meaning of the word) many of them were.
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  #55  
Old 17.11.2011, 19:26
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

An earlier comment stated that the country was training enough doctors and lawyers and engineers, but it is not. Those are a lot of the people immigrating here now. My husband's engineering group of about 30 has no Swiss in it because they couldn't find people to hire.

I raised this issue in another forum once - it seems to me that the Swiss would want to send more of their students to university to keep more of the higher paying jobs for their current population - and someone replied that the Swiss would rather have highly educated expats/immigrants and have their own people fill the lower level jobs. I was blown away!
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Old 17.11.2011, 20:02
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Re: Decision today on sons schooling? any advice please... and a year later.

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I raised this issue in another forum once - it seems to me that the Swiss would want to send more of their students to university to keep more of the higher paying jobs for their current population - and someone replied that the Swiss would rather have highly educated expats/immigrants and have their own people fill the lower level jobs. I was blown away!
The issue is a hot topic in the Gymnasien. The politicians in most cantons do not support expansion of this kind of schools. The cost is perhaps the main issue, but it is only implicit in the internal debate in the little world of teachers/schools. What I hear is mostly based on pedagogical and psycho-cognitive arguments. But it looks to me that nobody dares to speak about money openly. Not sure what to think, to be honest.
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