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Introducing: Swiss Education Consulting

Moving to Switzerland has many challenges (and rewards), but for those with children one of the biggest concerns can be finding the right school. Stefanie Busse of Swiss Education Consulting is an expert on solving this problem and can help you navigate both Swiss and international school options to make the right choice.


Background

Originally from Germany, Stefanie Busse has lived in Switzerland for 12 years. She has also lived in the UK, working as a language interpreter (fluent in English, Spanish and German), a teacher of modern languages and most recently in Swiss public school system as a German as a second language teacher.


Having a lot of expat friends, she realized that the Swiss school system was very different to other school systems (especially those in North America) and began to teach seminars on the subject. During the pandemic this turned into online consulting and now she specializes in tailored consultation for families predominantly from North America and Eastern Europe.


Services

Based in Zürich, Stefanie has over 10 years experience helping parents navigate both the international and local school systems in Switzerland. With extensive knowledge of the schools available she helps parents at key points in their child's schooling: when they first arrive in Switzerland, when their child transitions from an international to a local school or from primary to secondary school, and lastly, when there is a conflict with the school.


Her services include: helping families find the right school (international, local, bilingual), advice on language integration support, advice on how and when to transition children to a local school, as well as acting as an intermediary between parents and schools, should the need arise. She works primarily for individual families and tailors her advice to the specific needs of the child.


The Swiss School System

Stefanie works with many families that want to integrate into Swiss culture but are confused by the schooling system. She admits that the system is quite complex, but it has some distinct advantages, the biggest being its flexibility. As she says, “All ways leading to Rome is very true for the Swiss system.” Compared to the more linear North American or British-style system, the Swiss system has many more pathways for children to choose from and emphasizes vocational training in combination with more traditional-style learning. Children are able to have hands-on work experience from a very young age, which leads to Switzerland having one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe.


The main disadvantage she notes is that children are sorted into vocational or academic learning at a very young age, this occurs in most Cantons in Grade 6. Some see this as too early and she notes that because of this early sectioning it can be difficult for families moving with older children to integrate into the Swiss system.


Some Advice

For those looking to make the change into the Swiss local system she has a couple key points of advice. The first involves a change in mindset. Often times after a child is transitioned into the Swiss system, they may be held back a year. This can be for many reasons but for expats it is often because the child does not meet the language requirements. Parents can get quite upset by this, but as Stefanie explains, because the Swiss system is so flexible, in the long run it doesn't matter. As she says, “I can’t emphasize that enough, in Switzerland there is no stigma attached with age.” While it is very obvious in a linear system when a child is held back (because they are older), it is very common in Swiss schools for there to be a range of ages in a particular class.


Another piece of advice has to do with teachers. While in other systems parents are viewed to have the biggest say, in the Swiss system teachers are considered to be the higher authority. When concerns arise, she encourages parents to advocate for their children, but cautions them not to be confrontational. This is often when she is called in to be a mediator. She advises parents to be persistent, but polite and to ask many questions to get to the root of the problem.


Schooling in Switzerland is indeed complex and can be baffling to outsiders. If you too are struggling with questions and need advice, Stefanie will surely be able to help. Make sure to check out her site as well as social media and blog (see below) for some expert tips.


Stay tuned for our upcoming article: The Swiss School System Explained, where we will describe the structure of the Swiss local system with some more expert advice from Stefanie.


Swiss Education Consulting





Stefanie Busse

Stefanie Busse's background as a German teacher working in both Swiss public and private schools, as well as being a parent that has moved

internationally, has given her valuable insights into the Swiss education sector and a passion to help international families settle into their new school life.

Her mission is to assist expats in navigating the Swiss school system and empower them to make well-informed choices regarding available

educational options.







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