Geneva - International Schools at Primary Level - wait lists advice please(13 Posts)
I've put our kids on wait lists for GES and Chataignerie branch (back in May '12) as first choice of the Intrnational school....the GES have though been very nice to deal with and less 'businessy' if that makes sense....the setting of GES looks fab...
Friends of ours moved to Geneva from Paris in 2011 - they got the ball rolling in late spring 2011 and both their DDs got places in the Ecolint at the site where there are more Anglophones. I think you just have to persist.
We moved to Geneva 4 1/2 years ago when our children were two and four years old. We started our five year old off at the International School in Pregny. It was good - pros are that it was small, very international (no nationality represented more than once in her year 2 class!!). Many, but not all, of the teachers were quite good. Cons - the head at the time (2011) was not particularly involved with the children. The school felt more like a business than a community (very few teachers attended "off hours" events such as Sports Days, etc.) and it was highly transient - it seemed like 20% of children left each year.
We ended up moving both children to the Geneva English School (GES) in Genthod when our daughter turned seven and was entering year 3... if we hadn't changed schools she would have been carrying on at Pregny's sister school in Saconnex (years 3 upwards) as Pregny only goes up to year 2). We moved because essentially we didn't want our seven year old at a huge school with teenagers.
Anyway, GES has been amazing. The headmaster, Stephen Baird, is everything you want a head to be - intelligent, diplomatic, creative, and absolutely wonderful with both parents and children. The school is small - just over 200 pupils ages 4-11. Some years have one class and some have two. Current average class size is around 16-18, I think but some as low as 14. There is a wonderful sense of community at GES - the headmaster knows all children by first name (as do several teachers). My children just got back from Christmas break (in lovely sunny places!!) and couldn't wait to get back to their school.
The GES grounds are absolutely stunning, right on the lake. The school is erecting a new building due to be opened in April 2013 so (unlike a few years ago) will have space for new students.
Academically GES is very good - teachers more hands-on than we saw at Pregny and children really treated as individuals and nurtured as such. They follow the English National Curriculum so children coming/going to/from the UK will be well positioned. We'll be moving back to England this summer after living in GVA for five years and my only reluctance about the move back is that we won't find such a superb school.
Hi catchafalling star. What was the name of the helpful primary school in Gex please? Thanks
The lycee in Ferney-Voltaire does have an excellent English component and gradual immersion in French. Some small local primaries have bilingual teachers willing to take a pupil into their class (any class/year)and 'translate' when needed which means there is still someone there who speaks English for that familarity but also allows your dc to immerse themselves in the school. I know that a small primary in Gex did this - head teacher was SOOOO helpful.
Thanks for all your responses...
I have now sent in applications to a couple - as you say there is no harm on going on the wait list. It must be a nightmare as the following wife with disrupted children to have no school to go to - at least that is some consistency in their little disrupted lives !!...
I'm also planning on going over soon to have a look round. I thought getting them into our local and fantastic primary school in the UK (which is free !) was bad enough !....this is a minefield....
Many of the international schools in and around Geneva have expansion programmes which are under way, while I don't know numbers, the situation may not be as bad as it was. It costs nothing to get on the waiting list and the longer you are on, the better chance you have. People move in and out all the time so places do come up though out the school, not just in reception. When we moved, one school had places for our reception child but not our year three and in another it was the other way round. Many families move in the summer so places are likely to come up during the summer term before you move too. Some schools seem to require you to be in frequent contact in order to ensure your place so if there is one you particularly want, do keep in touch! Others are more straightforward.
We are moving to Geneva in the summer and lived there previously 2003-9. Back then, it used to be straight forward to get school places, now it is a complete nightmare! Yes, do put your DC's applications in for international schools now, it costs nothing to submit the form and keeps your options open. As to how the waiting lists might shift who knows?!
As natation says, there are a good number of bilingual primaries in Geneva, I would second her idea of seriously considering them as an option.
The AGEP website www.agep.ch is useful for a list of private schools in Geneva, also AVDEP www.avdep.ch if you're considering living in Vaud.
natation - we have our own place in Pays de Gex to move back to. As far as I know there are no elementaires (grrr no accents on keyboard) with the English component like the lycee in Ferney. Jeanne d'Arc in Gex has I think introduced a programme which contains a higher English component to it. This could be interesting to you sticky as it is private "sous contrat" so cheaper than international school.
Look at the lesser known schools such as Mosaic, a 50/50 bilingual school Fr/Eng. If you start from the position that your child WILL accept a new school and WILL be able to return to a UK school later, then it should work fine.
Thanks....really not sure but Presumably they would be predominantly french or am I barking up the wrong tree ? I think we'd prefer for the reasons mentioned to go international unless the one you mention is similar ?....so if anyone has experience of the wait lists for the int. ones I'd love to hear ! thanks
Are there not local schools in France, such as in Ferney-Voltaire, where they do part French-English curriculum? I know that there is a college/lycée which does this, but don't know if there are élémentaires which do this too?
There is a chance that the family (two dc's at primary level) will look to move to Geneva for the school year starting Sept 2013. The advice I've been given is to apply to go on the wait list the International Schools now to have a better chance of getting in. The little one will be starting in reception so possibly a better chance of entry then but the older one needs a year 3 place so that will depend on movement within the school I presume ? I also understand from general "googling" that wait lists are long and it's not always easy to get in.
What has been your experience of getting in on the wait list ? I suspect a year in advance is not even that far in advance IYSWIM.
I know some of you will suggest them going local but we won't be there for a long time (2 - 3 years max) and particularly for the older one would like at least school, to be as familiar as possible. He doesn't "do change (!)" so moving lock stock and barrel will spook him for a while so I'd like school to be English....That said, I also think the move might do him good.
Thanks in advance.
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