International schools in Switzerland
20th September 2011, 9 comments
Both local and international school systems in Switzerland offer excellent facilities and educational opportunities for students. Considerations for choosing between a local or international school include length of stay in Switzerland, age of student, priority of local integration, language preference, and scheduling. Swiss school options tend to be most appropriate for younger students, who can maintain their English in the home environment, and for students who do not require an equal development of both languages on a written level. It is recommended that families choose one system for all children to maintain compatible daily and vacation schedules.
Switzerland has 38 international schools, which together form the Swiss Group of International Schools (SGIS) www.sgischools.com. With a reputation for high teaching standards and strict discipline, Swiss international schools are among the best in the world.
Exams and diplomas in Switzerland
International schools offer students either nationally or internationally recognised qualification. The IB and GCE (A Levels) are both internationally recognised and are almost always prerequisites for entry into top universities.
The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and GCE (A Levels)
The IGCSE is a UK-based qualification administered by different exam boards such as EDEXCEL, OCR, AQA, WJEC and CIE. It is equivalent to school years 10 and 11. IGCSE requires students to study and take exams across a range of subjects including Maths, English, Sciences and Humanities. Students who complete IGCSEs have the option of studying for their A Levels (GCE) which are recognised by universities in the UK, North America and Europe.
The International Baccalaureate diploma (IB)
The International Baccalaureate originated at the International School of Geneva, and today over 1,700 schools in over 120 countries offer this diploma. It is considered equivalent to the British system of A Levels, and caters to students aged 16-19. The diploma requires students to study six subjects within two years, as well as additional academic courses in philosophy, creativity and service, and writing a final essay.
International schools in Gstaad
Gstaad, located in the Bernese Mountains, is known for its schools' high quality of teaching. Many families move here for their children's education and the proximity to both Berne and Geneva.
Institut Le Rosey
A Swiss boarding school with a strong tradition of academic excellence, Le Rosey consists of two campuses: Rolle in autumn and spring, and Gstaad in the winter. www.rosey.ch
John F. Kennedy International School
The John F. Kennedy International School is an English-language boarding and day school for children between five and 15 years old. The student body is made up of 65 students from over 20 different countries. www.jfk.ch
International schools throughout Switzerland
The International School of Berne is an English-language school offering three- to 19-year-old students the International Baccalaureate programme. www.isberne.ch
- The International School of Geneva: www.ecolint.ch
- Collège du Léman: www.cdl.ch
- The British School of Geneva is an English school in the centre of Geneva following the English national curriculum from the primary section to the A levels (5–19 years). www.britishschoolgeneva.ch
Brillantmont International School, located in the centre of Lausanne, is a family-owned boarding school for male and female students between 12 and 18 years old. www.brillantmont.ch
GEMS World Academy-Etoy is situated in Etoy, between Geneva and Lausanne. It opened in September 2013, initially from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 9 (ages 3–15). In January 2014, it opened its nursery section for children from age two. The school intends to offer the IB curriculum in English, and is currently a candidate school* for the PYP and an interested school* for the MYP Programmes. In due course, it intends to offer the IBDP and IBCC. The school will also pursue authorisation as an IB World School. www.gemsworldacademy-etoy.com
The International School of Schaffhausen is an IB world school and offers all three IB programmes – primary years, middle years and diploma programme – for 3 to 18 years old, leading to the IB diploma that gives access to universities worldwide. The school campus comprises separate primary and secondary school buildings and a sports hall. www.issh.ch
The International School Winterthur teaches four- to 16-year-olds of over 34 nationalities. www.iswinterthur.ch
The International School of Zug and Luzern is a day school spread over three campuses in and around Zug. Boys and girls are offered the International Baccalaureate programme. www.iszl.ch
- The Japanese School Zurich: www.jszurich.ch
- Swiss International School: www.international-school.ch
- Zurich International School: www.zis.ch
Zurich International School
Updated in cooperation with Mrs. Raji Sundaram, Principal of British School of Geneva
+41 (0) 22 795 7512 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.britishschoolgeneva.ch
Want a local opinion? Ask experienced expats on Expatica's forums for advice.
International School of Zurich based in Thalwil (for young children) and Wadenswil
9 comments on this article Add a comment
21st February 2012, 11:13:29 Kelvin posted:[moderator's note: this comment refers to www.swissinternationalschool.ch and not www.international-school.ch] Don’t make the same mistake I did, I would like to give a small advice to all parents considering putting their kids on SIS (Swiss international school) in Zürich. I have been living in Switzerland since 2008, and last year my daughter asked me if she could come and stay with me. We decided that the best would be to come and study on an international school. After two meetings with the SIS, where my daughter was participating in the first meeting, so they could get an idea of her English level. We trusted that the school was professional enough to judge whether or not she would be able to handle it. After the first week, it was clear that all majors was in German (Swiss German), which absolutely was not what we had been told after our meetings, I mean there is a reason why you chose an international school, first of all to learn, but also to meet different cultures. In the class of my daughter, 90% of the students were Swiss, which to me was a bit strange, but why not then chose a normal school in Switzerland, they are among the best schools in the world. The teacher might have the right education, but when it comes to students, they have absolutely no knowledge. And the impression my daughter got, was that if you did not speak Swiss German, you were a problem for the teachers, and was “black listed” When my daughter started, I took her to the class, and that was the last support she got from an adult on her first day. Nobody was helping her, and she did not get any support form the teachers. Most teachers were not even informed about that a new student was starting, and she did only have very little German knowledge. For lunch, it was the same, no one to help. When she started at the International school of Winterthur, she was connected with a student, who was helping her finding things, and making sure that she was not alone for lunch, or in the breaks. This kind of support means everything for a new student, and don’t have any cost’s for the school. To me it just backs-up my theory, that the Swiss International School doesn’t have any interests in the students, but are more focused on the turn-over. Unfortunally there are other examples of this. My daughter was in the class with another Danish girl, and it was her second year on the school and second year in the same class. She started as my daughter did, and her German also on a very low level, so she could of course not keep up as everything was is in German, so she was really unhappy, but nothing was done, and the school did not offer any help. I my case, I notified the principal that it was not what we signed up for, and that I expected we should find a solution for it. That was after the first week. The second week I did not hear anything from the school, not until I called and asked what the status was on this issue. I in my entire life never expected such an arrogant behavior like this. And that’s what you get for paying more then CHF 25.000 a year!! < So based on my experiencing, my recommendations would be to save your money, and give your kid a German course and then put them on a Swiss school. If you’re just planning on staying a year or two, and would like to have your kid on an international school, I can really recommend ISW (international School Winterthur) the fees are lower, close to Zürich, but most important, they care for our kids!! Your kid is not left alone, language is English, and the level of the teachers is really professional. It is my opinion that SIS is operated very un-professional and I would for sure not give this school my recommendations. If you look at the homepage you will also see that it is a private school, very much focused on profit, and satisfying the shareholders!! When looking at core values of the school, you will see honesty, and respect. They should start with them self, as they don’t know the meaning of those two words. A word that also repeats itself is partnership, but as soon as you as a parent need their help, the partnership disappears. Another thing that is quit interesting for SIS is, if you take a look at their job section, if you would like to have a job teaching at this “international school” you need to have German as your mother tongue how international is that??
11th September 2012, 13:43:48 Hayati posted:Thank you for the good info. It will help me alot as am also now trying to look for a good school for my daughter to continue her study in Switzerland.
11th November 2012, 13:32:44 madhu posted:Kelvin, Thanks for the info. I started my research to put my son in an international school in zurich.
13th January 2013, 22:44:17 JGaechter posted:I worked for a number of years at the International School of Zurich based in Thalwil for young children and Wadenswil from Grade two it is an excellent school with a wonderful ethos and classes are taught in English with specialist classes for German. They use the Primary Years Programme of International Baccaluareate and advocate inquiry based learning.
18th January 2013, 00:10:04 gaby posted:Thank you all for this valuable info. JGaechter, I am a teacher planning to visti ZIS in February and I have some questions about benefits of working there.
18th January 2013, 10:06:02 Kathie posted:We came from the UK 6 years ago and put our 3 girls into the ZIS in Waedenswil (this is the lower school section). JGaechter posted re this school, but called it the International School of Zurich? The younger kids start slow (and it is slightly americanised), however, after initial worries about english kids learning quicker, I got used to the new style of learning where the children are encouraged to think and research for themselves. By Middle School my kids are doing really well and are very balanced and independent. German teaching may not be the fastest here, but the overall mix is excellent. Even being very English, we would not choose to take them out of this school for a private english education now.
4th May 2013, 16:01:43 Anita posted:Does anyone have any suggestion on the choice between ZIS and Zug International School?
18th March 2014, 00:03:38 ursula posted:sorry, that you had such a bad experience with your child. But doesn't SIS stand for Swiss International School? Than way would it be strange to you that SIS asks for a teacher to have the mother tongue in German? Granted Swiss German is not High German, but we all had to learn High German. To me this sounds like it is a normal request.
Hope you found a school for your daughter where you and her are happy!
16th April 2014, 14:56:13 Megan posted:Our daughter attends Primary at the Swiss International School in Zürich (SIS Zürich) and my husband and I are very happy with both the educational and day care services offered by the school.
We are both working parents and it is a great relief to know that our daughter can spend her days in a safe environment with her friends. When we first moved to Switzerland, we looked at several schools and also considered sending our daughter to a public Swiss school. But since she only knew very little German at the time, we thought that starting primary school in a foreign country was enough of a transition and challenge for her without the difficulty of being surrounded by a strange language all day. But we also wanted her to be able to meet local kids and learn the language of her new home and not just speak English with children of other expats at a purely English international school.
The bilingual programme at SIS and the proximity to the city centre finally tipped the scale in favour of SIS Zürich: all subjects are taught by native speakers in both English and German, and classes are made up of children with Swiss or international backgrounds. We were worried at first that the language challenge might be too much for our daughter, but luckily she enjoyed great support from her teachers, she was well integrated into her class from day one and made friends very quickly.
It was amazing to watch how fast she picked up on German words and expressions and by now she probably speaks the language better than we do!
Teachers and other SIS staff were also very helpful and welcoming during our first few months in Switzerland and supported us and our daughter whenever something was new or difficult.
ASK THE EDUCATION EXPERT
Do you have a question? Ask Expatica's team of experts or search through previous questions to find answers about living in your country from experience professionals and long-time expats.Latest experts Q&A's