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Schools in Basel

(19 Posts)
ketchupkisses Wed 28-Sep-11 13:33:50

I've just got a secondment to Basel for two years! I'm so excited but there's so much to do.

Does anyone have experience of either of the two International schools? The fees will be subsidised by my work but not 100%. None of my children speak a word of anything other than English so I think we probably need to go down the International School route. They are 9, 6 & 4.

What did you like / dislike about schools and what about living in nearby areas? I think we would ideally aim to live within walking distance if possible.

Any tips / advice gratefully received!

natation Wed 28-Sep-11 14:07:04

I have no knowledge other than as a tourist of Basel, but have you thought about living in Germany or France instead of in Switzerland? Switzerland is currently super expensive, especially if you are paid in euro or sterling, and if you are paid in CHF, then France and Germany are very attractive propositions. I suppose it would depend on the extra commute for living just over the border. Another avantage of France / Germany is the one local language, whereas is Basel there is high German and Swiss German.

ketchupkisses Wed 28-Sep-11 18:05:35

Thanks, yes I had thought about this but there aren't English speaking schools in nearby places in France and Germany that I can find. While in theory I like the idea of throwing them into a local school in practice I think they'd freak. But happy to hear views on this.

natation Wed 28-Sep-11 21:27:44

A quick google search brought up 3 private schools offering English in the Basel area.

1 International School of Basel - which is in fact in Reinach, south of Basel, looks like an American type school which uses IB curriculum - 24k CHF per year

2 Swiss International School - located on the north bank of Basel, near to the German border and offering a bilingual high German / English curriculum and looks like oriented on the Swiss curriculum

3 Academia International - located near the centre of Basel, does IGCSEs and A levels so British oriented perhaps? - 20k CHF per year

Given you said you'd ideally want to walk to school, I would personally consider, if going along the international route :

location of schools - the ones I found are in 3 very different areas
proximity of schools to work
ease of access using public transport and private car to these schools
cost of schooling- and DO factor in extra-curricular activities
bilingual or unilingual curriculum
orientation of curriculum ie IB, British, Swiss
cost of property near to these schools

natation Wed 28-Sep-11 22:06:27

Just a little correction, Academia International - the school is like Swiss International School on north bank of Basel, seems like there is a separate language school which is nearer Basel centre, but the school is further north even, right near the French and German borders - so you could in fact live in either of these countries, well maybe you couldn't walk there but by bus, tram bus, car????

natation Wed 28-Sep-11 22:20:34

Here's an organisation which could offer you loads of help in deciding schools and where to live.

I don't know what Germany is like for taxes, but in France I believe taxes and child benefit is very advantageous to families with 3+ children. Apart from the weak euro against Swizz Franc, what I am guessing will be significantly cheaper housing in Germany / France, there could be quite a difference in your tax bill from living outside Switzerland.... I think cross-border workers pay part to CH and part to Germany / France??? You really need someone who could work out for you the monetary differences in living in each country.

ripstheirthroatoutliveupstairs Fri 30-Sep-11 02:54:17

Basel is French speaking by the way.
May I suggest you have a look on
FWIW, i had a friend whose sons went to ISB. They said it was good, that was 5 years or so ago. If you can, I would go and have a look around. It may also depend on demand, you might have to go on a waiting list.
Good luck.

natation Fri 30-Sep-11 06:17:37
Basel is Swiss German / German speaking.

ketchupkisses Fri 30-Sep-11 07:36:46

Thanks. It turns out there are massive tax implications of living in France or Germany as you get taxed according to where you live not where you work. We're going to go over in a couple of weeks and look at the two international schools. I think the Academia is for older students.

rips - do you know where your friends lived? Nearby in Reinach? Did you visit them?

I think they speak French and German in Basel. Mostly I heard German though when I was there last week. smile

ripstheirthroatoutliveupstairs Fri 30-Sep-11 14:53:08

OK, I apologise I heard a lot of French and I used to drive to Mulhouse to shop once a month.
No idea where abouts she actually lived, I knew her when she'd moved to Zug. She compared the school our children attended unfavourably with Basel.
is there a difference in taxation in Basel StadtVland?

ripstheirthroatoutliveupstairs Fri 30-Sep-11 14:53:30

That should of course be V = versus not Vland.

natation Fri 30-Sep-11 17:29:07

English forum is the best place to ask questions about CH and here is a useful thread about tax implications of living in FR/D and working in CH,well this one is about living in FR actually. Just 2 points to consider when reading the thread
1) with 3+ children, you would be a "famille nombreuse" in France which brings a lot of positive tax benefits and reductions, France would not be such a good option if you had only 2 children, don't know about German tax advantage for those with 3+ children. The most likely case is that living in Germany/France and working in Basel is that you pay your tax to Fr/D and social insurance to Switzerland, at least I think that's how it works out.
2) the Swiss Franc has strengthened considerably since this thread started, so your Swiss Franc goes loads further than it did a year ago in France and Germany, so if paid in Swiss Francs, you will get more euro in exchange and be better off than a year ago if living in France or Germany.

Anyway, you'll probably find yourself driving to Germany or France to do a considerable amount of your shopping especially as food is so expensive in CH, even if you do live in Basel.

Academia is for ages 4-18, like the other 2 international schools which teach fully or partly in English.

Swiss German (or Basel German as the dialect is known as there) is the mother tongue of most of local population of Basel, High German is also spoken by Swiss German speakers, French will also be widely spoken due to proximity of France, German will be widely spoken over the border in France too, due to proximity.

goodasgold Fri 30-Sep-11 19:15:40

I live in Zurich and things like housing costs, schools and tax vary from Kanton to Kanton, so I can't speak for Basel with any authority.

I agree re checking out, use the search function, and if you ask a question post first in 'introductions'.

The IS schools that we looked round had long waiting lists, 11 months for us, and we decided to use the local school for my dd 12. It was a hard decision to make, but so far so good, since May.

At my dd2 kindergarten there are 15 children, this makes up reception and year 1. 4 of the children have lived in England or Ireland and two more speak English as a second language. Here in Zurich there is a hell of a lot of support for integration and language aquisition.

Learning a bit of German and not following an English curriculum would not be a disaster for your dc if you find that you can't get a place at IS. Though for a two year contract I do understand why that is your first choice.

You can really take advantage of a good quality of life here, for me that would include a short a commute as possible.

If you did decide to live in France or Germany, I would try to buy somewhere using a chf mortgage so you can fix your accomadation costs. The chf is high (maybe overpriced) and if that is corrected by a strengthening Euro your rent could go up on a fx basis.

Yes food is expensive here, my weekly shop for 5 is never under 200chf, but we do eat very well and don't really try to economise. I couldn't be bothered to try to get to Germany for food shopping, but we do have friends that do.

I hope that it all pans out for you. It sounds like a great opportunity for your family.

ketchupkisses Fri 30-Sep-11 20:41:24

Goodasgold - How much German did your DD speak before starting in a local school? Was she freaked out at all to start with? Did the teachers speak to her in English til she picked up more German? I'm just imagining my son's face when a teacher speaks only in German to him! confused

rips - don't apologise! all help is good

ketchupkisses Fri 30-Sep-11 21:03:40

natation - thanks for all your help as well. the website is very useful thanks

natation Fri 30-Sep-11 21:45:09

A little more research shows that all 3 of those international schools are rather well connected to what appears quite a comprehensive public transport system in greater Basel / St Louis (France)/ Lorrach and Weil-am-Rhein (Germany).

IS Basel elementary to age 11 is in Aesch and on tram line 11, Arlesheimerstrasse stop, which goes to the centre of Basel and further north to the French border with St Louis

IS Basel middle/high from age 11 is in Reinach and also on tram line 11, Reinacherhof stop

SIS Basel is on tram line 14, Riehenring stop, which goes again to the centre of Basel and eastwards to Pratteln

Academia is near tram line 8, Kleinhuningen, whicch goes to Basel centre and westwards, Academia is about 500m from the German border, buses 12 and 16 go directly to Weil-am-Rhein

Here's the public transport map. I'd give it some study before going to look at schools and areas, plot place of work on it.

goodasgold Fri 30-Sep-11 23:55:39

No German. My dd2 cried on the first day at kindergarten when the Frau spoke German to her, but she has been fine, and since there are so many English speakers its not so much of an issue. We think she will still learn German, just more slowly.

My 12 yo has been going to German lessons at a private language school paid for by our town. She is expected to have six months of this before she starts local school. They have also been teaching her mathematical terms and I have to say her maths has come on in leaps and bounds. To be honest my 12 yo has adapted better than my 5yo.

If you find a town in Basel that you like, visit the Stadt school office and you will probably find some very good advice, even if you go for IS.

ripstheirthroatoutliveupstairs Sat 01-Oct-11 09:20:50

This may be useful too

natation Sat 01-Oct-11 10:33:46

Well I'm very bored this morning and love looking at housing websites for fun, now I no longer have to look seriously for ourselves. Looks like a family house big enough for 5 in Basel will set you back from 3000 euro (3500 CHF) per month, found a similar house in St Louis in France for 1400 euro, one in Lorrach in Germany for 1500 euro. I know this is hardly representative of the rental market in the area, but bear in mind the differential, especially if you find yourself working in a place where France or Germany is nearby, could be nearer than suburban towns near to Basel such as Aesch and Reinach.


Saint Louis


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