Basel and surrounds(27 Posts)
Hi, I'm after some advice. We may be moving to a new job in Basel with our three children. I have done some research and understand quite a lot of people live in France/Germany, commuting to Basrl. I am most taken by the Swiss school system for my English speaking children and wondered whether it was possible to live in France/germany and go to a Swiss public school? I really would like them to go to public school and integrate so I am not considering private schools.....plus for three kids we d be living on thin air!! Thanks
You need to live in Switzerland to go to the public Swiss schools. There is no choice like in the UK, you go to the closest to your address.
To put your children in the local system in Switzerland you need to be registered at the local commune.
We are in the French speaking part so I've no advice for Basel specifically but have a 5 year old in the local school so happy to help if I can.
The Swiss education system is fab, both my kids are in it. How old are your kids?
Thanks for the replies. I have three......4 year old dd (shouldn't be a problem), 10 and 11 year old ds s who may find it more difficult however if we go we will be assuming it will be permanent and part of going would be for the kids to experience different culture etc therefore keen for them to go to public school.
Mine were 5 and 10 when we came; your youngest will be in kindergarten and should pick up the language like there’s no tomorrow. Your two older ones may find it hard to pick up two languages at once, they will be taught in German, yet almost everybody converses in Swiss German; French and English are also taught (to a pretty high standard) in primary school, but it can be done. It takes about 18months to 2 years for them to be fluent.
The language support (for us) in school was great.
They are streamed by school type from the age of 11 or 12 - how it functions is dependant on the Kanton, but this is the crucial age for high school.
Thanks. I was hoping we may be able to put the 11 year old in primary, possibly repeating a year, to help with language skills. Is the secondary streaming very rigid? Is the language support very specific to school and canton. Brief looking suggests we may look to live in BL canton.
Streaming is pretty rigid although iirc some areas may allow for a later second intake into Gymnasium (selective secondaries) . The elder dc would need to get up to speed in high German very quickly to be accepted. Check the cut off dates for school year, some Cantons are end of April but not all. Children born earlier in the year(so youngest) may be able to join the year below.
I'm really finding these replies helpful thank you so much. I'm now wondering whether moving them to public school is too big an ask but as we are looking to move permanently I want them to integrate. My 11 year old has his birthday in February. My ideal would be to move to a canton which switches at 12 and move him back a year so he gets as much time as possible to consolidate language prior to moving to secondary. Do people think I should look at international school instead? To be honest I'm not overly desperate for him to go to gymnasium as I think he would benefit well from a more vocational stream too. He's bright but learns a lot more by doing than sitting listening! Ohhhh the quandary!
If you decide to live in France, there are some very nice private French schools in the area. Differing from Switzerland/UK, they are reasonably priced. Mine are younger, but I know there's
www.college-des-missions-blotzheim.fr/ (just minutes from Swiss border) or several of my neighbours have their kids here:
www.donbosco-landser.net/ (bit further away, but there are school buses)
There are also many Facebook groups you could join to get more info - Basel Moms and Dads, various Basel Expat groups, Expats Alsace for example.
If you intend to move permanently it does not make sense to consider international schools. You mention you want to integrate, they ONLY way your kids will integrate is by learning Swiss German (this is definitely not High German). They will only learn this by mixing with other local children. The only analogy i can make is that it’s like going to Glasgow, you know they learn English in school but that’s not what/how they speak.
Another factor to consider is - what happens after year 12 in an international school when your child is not academically inclined or doesn’t want to go university .....? Ask this question at an international school and watch them squirm. The local job market is not an option because he will not speak Swiss German, or even decent high German if you want to be realistic. Also - you are limiting his circle of friends, he will have very few local English speaking friends and there is often a high turnover of students in international schools due to parents moving on with work commitments.
Consider putting all your kids in the local schools, they WILL pick up the languages, the education system is just great, it is not skewed to shovelling kids through university, if anything it’s skewed towards providing educated, skilled, personable young adults doing jobs for life (continuous professional development is seen as the norm), they will end up doing just fine, the choices they have is a world away from the UK system.
The first 12 months will be tough for the two older ones but it is doable and they might just surprise you in what they achieve.
The age 12 ‘cut off’ is not as crucial/critical as perhaps implies, this is where they are streamed and the most academically inclined ones go to ‘Grammar’ school, and are ‘fast tracked’ through the education system. But it is not a point of no return, the kids work their way through this education system at their own pace.
Am I selling it?
Haha yes @gin4meplease you are selling it.....and you are right about the things you ve pointed out. Would you say that most areas around BS and BL will provide good language integration or is it very hit and miss? Have to say I do love the sound of the Swiss education system.
My dc's are in local school in Zurich, my younger dc is just the same as your oldest 1busybee and my oldest is in secondary school. Whilst I love the primary system here, I am not entirely happy with the secondary education. I find my 13 year old has a lot of homework, at least 80 min every weekday and on top of that has to do gymnasium examination preparation: 4 hours a week extra homework and 2 hours tuition in school. If she doesn't get into gymnasium she will need to sign the contract for a 3/4 year apprenticeship at 14, which she will start when she's 15. 25 days holiday a year and 3 days at work, 2 in college each week. To me GCSE's and A Levels seems a better system....
Ok that's a different perspective thank you @beresh I presume the reason they have more homework is because they spend less time in school. I have to say it's a bit of a worry for me as homework in a foreign language seems impossible! I thought there were three streams of education? All things to investigate and consider? Can I ask, a career like nursing for example, is that vocational/apprenticeship or gymnasium level? Thanks
Beresh - doesn’t your daughter have the option of FachMittelSchule too if she wants to continue in education? My son is also 13 and gets next to no homework 😏, however if he does Kantivorbereitung next year the work will crank up. My eldest went into an apprenticeship at 15 (she was a nightmare at school) and absolutely loves it.
Regarding nursing, it will probably depend on where you jump on board, I think it can start at 15/16 with a Lehrstelle in Gesundheit (Health) and then progress as per your interest.
I don’t know Basel at all, another useful website is englishforum.ch there’s lots of -knowalls- information on there, you will probably find more specific info on Basel there.
@1busybee No they don't spend less time in school - although Wed afternoon is free, school starts at 7.30am every morning and some days run to 4.30pm. It might be different in Basel though!
Do you live in Zurich @gin4meplease ? Next to no homework would be lovely!
The teachers at my DC's school say that the FMS is unsuitable for children who don't know what they want to do as after the first year the profiles are so specialised towards training for a limited number of careers. But it is true that it is an option for further education. Also on finishing the FMS after 4 years at 19 the education level would be equivalent to the BMS +Lehrstelle, ie still not recognised as high enough for university (rather than Hochschule) without further study.
So the potential move continues to progress and I'm still struggling to get my head around schools. If we moved to Baselland would my current year 7 child go into primary or secondary? In Baselland is there only once chance to be streamed? Anyone with any clues? All advice gratefully received.
Year 7 - I’m presuming they are 11/12. If you move in this school year he could be in last year of Primarschule or he could be in first year Sekundarschule - it really depends on the Kanton and how they organise their schooling system. I can’t answer this question fully because each Kanton organises their own school system - unbelievable in a country of 7.5m people and 26 different Kantons (some of them double up).
To get a better/fuller answer to this question you need someone from Basel Land Kanton to chip in with an answer. But please please go on EnglishForum.ch and you will probably find the answer to your questions by doing a search or by asking the question. There are lots of English speaking Baselers on this site and they will be able to help you with any schooling questions.
I am in Basel. For his age the cut off is 1st May. Send me a pm if you need specific info. What is the reason are you looking at Baselland rather than Baselstadt?
His birthday is in February. I was hoping he could repeat a year and get a year in primary before moving on. He is currently in secondary comprehensive and in top sets so would like as many options as possible to be open to him. HD currently wants to be a solicitor.....but he s only 11! I'm assuming he would need to go to gymnasium for that.
We are looking in Baselland as we are very outdoorsy and have a dog so would like a bit more outdoor space. I understand from my research accommodation tends to be more expensive in BL but taxes cheaper. Tbh I'm not tied to BL at all and happy to move wherever the schooling system and accommodation requirements fit us best.
He would be currently in the last year in primary as they change at age 12 not 11 and would be one of the youngest as the cut off is 1st May for this age (it has been gradually shifting for the younger children and is now end of July). School year runs from mid August to end of June.
It is in these last two years that children are streamed for secondary school into three streams P, progymnasium, E and A. if you arrive in August and he repeats a year then he would be in the last year. sometimes it is called the 6th class in Baselland or 8th grade in Baselstadt (as they call the 2 years of kindergarten as year 1 and 2).
Yes he would need to go to university via gymnasium to study law.
About 20 to 30% of children get a place at university. half drop out after the first year as they fail the 1st year exams.
I am sure you already know that Swiss law is not case based unlike uk law.
Thanks. That's great info. To be honest I think our move is very likely and in which case the plan is to move ASAP precisely so the eldest gets as much time in primary as possible! I also imagine his career plans will change a large amount before settling and I can see him really enjoying a more vocational career pathway. Sounds like Swiss uni is pretty hardcore. Can Swiss children apply to uni in, for example, the U.K. Or is that only available to those that have gone to gymnasium too? I also have no idea about Swiss law......yet!!
yes Swiss children can apply to uk universities if they get the Swiss matura or IB. This is achieved by going to gymnasium or international school. If you do not go to Gymnasium but later want to study at a swiss university, it is possible to do a bridging year but it is not free (cost around 15000chf). This so called Passarelle qualification is currently only recognised by Swiss universities. Or you can study at the university of applied sciences and after this apply to uk universities. So the simplest route is getting the swiss matura or IB
maybe best to approach your new employer for education advice
Thank you. Think dh new employer offers such advice but as we want to move ASAP if we re going to then I thought I'd do some leg work first. All very useful info though so thank you.
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