Up Close and (un)Conventional – School System
Welcome to this week’s Up Close and (un)Conventional. This is where I discuss both things that have to do with reading and blogging, and things that just have to do with life in general. This week, I have been thinking about different school systems quite a bit. I know some of you have kids already back in school, and I just came back home from Spain, where kids are off for three months in the summer and won’t start back until the middle of September. So I wanted to share how the school system is here in Switzerland and I would really love to hear back from you about how it works in your country / state as well.
Children start primary school – 1st grade, when they are four years old. And when they start school at the end of August for the first time, they have to have already celebrated their 4th birthday, at the latest on July 31st of that same year. Primary school is from 1st grade through 8th grade, and usually, the children have the same teacher for all subjects, apart from PT, and they keep that same teacher for two years. In 5th grade, they start learning German (which is one of the official languages in Switzerland) and in 7th grade, they start studying English.
After primary school, there is middle school for three years, grades 9-11. Here, there are sections already, where the children are separated in group III, II and I, based on their grades when they finished primary school. Only the pupils who are in group III can go to certain kinds of high schools (we have three different kinds here…) So the students in group III are the strongest students, and they can choose between emphasizing on language or science. There are usually 24 students in each class in group III. In group II, the emphasis is on living languages, and there are between 17 and 20 students in each class. In group I, there are 13-15 students per class, and the emphasis is on language and communication.
After middle school there are three different kinds of high school – for the students from group III, there is a choice between the three. There is ‘collège’ which prepares students for university, where students continue with science and languages, but can also choose art, music or more languages (for example, it’s possible to opt out of German and choose Italian – yet another official language here) or science. ‘Collège’ lasts four years, and it’s a pretty tough because students have to have both science / math and languages.
Then, there is ‘école de commerce’ which is more commercial, and where students continue with English and German, but they also learn accounting, law and more administrative tasks. There is also the possibility to choose more commercial than administration, in order to be a sales person in a store, for example. Only students from group III and group II can apply to go there, those who were in group I in middle school can’t choose this option. Those who go to ‘école de commerce’ can either go to school full time for three years, then they have the fourth year where they work full time. Or they can go to school part time for four years, and also work part time for the duration of their studies there.
Last, but not least, there is the ‘école de culture générale’ where students study social sciences and learn skills needed in order to go to nursing school, or to get higher education in order to be a pre-K teacher (for day-care). Students from all three groups can choose this school, however, those from group I can only choose this option, as they haven’t had enough science to go to ‘collège’, for example.
After the different high schools, there is university, higher education schools (where it’s possible to get a BA in finance, for example) or the possibility to work straight away for those who chose ‘école commerciale’. All schooling is free here, at Uni, there is a yearly $1000.- fee for administration, but that’s it. And in order to become a high school teacher, it’s further education for us too first, right? In order to teach English, first, I have to have a Master’s degree in English, and then, once that’s done, a second Master’s degree, this time in upper secondary education – which is something like a teacher’s college. And it’s only possible to start with this once the MA is fully done.
Before I let you go after this very long post, the vacation is the same for all kinds of school before university or the higher education schools as follows : school starts at the end of August (this year, it’s on August 29th), then, there is a week off at the end of October. About two weeks off for Christmas, one week off in February and ten days off for Easter. School ends at the end of June, and the summer vacation is eight weeks.
Thanks for stopping by today 🙂