Switching from the international to local school system

Switching School Systems
A British mother reflects

Are we on the right path? Was our decision right? These are typical concerns parents have when considering their children’s education.

I would know. When our children started in the international system a few years ago, we were happy with the quality of education. We later thought about going local and after meeting with the head teacher of the local primary school were prompted to switch sooner rather than later!

In the Swiss system, you do not choose your child’s primary school. It is usually the one that is geographically closest to you, unless it is already oversubscribed. Additional care is available for children requiring speech therapy, physical and motor therapy, or psychological and behavioural support, as well as for those learning German as a second language.

Throughout the primary school years, progress is continually assessed to produce an average grade in each subject. This assessment becomes increasingly important as the child moves into the upper primary school years, ultimately determining the type of secondary school to which a child is directed. This makes the Swiss education system highly selective and decisions are made at a very young age (5th and 6th grade) as to the best educational path for a child to follow.

Only those with the highest “scores” have the opportunity to study for the “Matura” at the Gymnasium or Kantonsschule and gain direct access to university. All other secondary schools are streamed and offer academic, vocational or technical routes to learning and further education. There is some flexibility within the system enabling students to transfer from one stream to another, but essentially it is true to say that the older the child is the more difficult moving schools becomes.

So do I think we are on the right path? For now at least! As my son recently said, “Mum, I wish we’d changed schools sooner.”

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