How school is structured in Switzerland, what rights and obligations you have as a parent and other questions about school are answered here.

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01. How is the school structured in Switzerland?

The public school is called Elementary school and is free of charge. Parents are free to choose a private school for their children. Private schools are subject to a fee. In Switzerland, the cantons are responsible for the elementary school. The school systems of the cantons can differ greatly in some cases. Even within a canton, schools can differ from municipality to municipality or even from school building to school building.

1. kindergarten

Mandatory (Duration: 9 years)
2. kindergarten (duration: 1 year)
Elementary school (duration: 6 years)
Secondary school I (duration: 3 years)

After the 6th grade, the children change to the orientation school (IOS) of the municipality or to the cantonal school in Sarnen, depending on their age.

In Switzerland, school takes place in block times, i.e. in the morning and partly in the afternoon. Over lunch, many students go home. If you need childcare, ask at the school if there is a lunch program and childcare modules before and after school. You can also find information about other childcare options (e.g. daycare families) in the Directory for supplementary family childcare.

An overview of the education system (in twelve languages) can be found at here.

02. How do I register my child for kindergarten or school?

When you register at the municipality, your child will also be registered at the residents' registration office. You will receive a letter from the school administration of your municipality of residence in time that you have to register your daughter or son. The municipality will inform you which kindergarten or school your child will attend.

03. Does kindergarten already function like school?

The kindergarten is a Preliminary stage to school. When children play, they learn at the same time. In play, many children can immerse themselves in a task or a role for a longer period of time, maintain a high level of concentration and experience new things. That is why there is a lot of painting, singing, playing and dancing in kindergarten.

Children in kindergarten play alone or with other children, sometimes with the guidance of the kindergarten teacher.

Even before kindergarten, children have learned many things, such as how to listen. In kindergarten, they practice these and other important skills that they can put to good use in school and later in life. 

04. What grades are there in school?

The Report card grades go from 1 to 6. The grades mean:
1 = very weak
2 = weak
3 = insufficient
4 = sufficient
5 = good
6 = very good

From 1st to 3rd grade, instead of grades, the report card includes Words, for example very good, good, sufficient or insufficient. From the 4th grade onwards, grades from 1-6 are used for assessment.
The school report provides information about the achievement of learning objectives. Parents must sign the report card and the child must return it to school.

05. My child is going to secondary school. How does it work?

The teacher will recommend the type of school that best suits your child after primary 6. In doing so, attention is paid to the child's grades as well as to his or her self- and social competence. If you and your child do not agree with the suggestion, you can tell the teacher.

Types of secondary education:
Orientation level (IOS)Alpnach, Engelberg, Giswil, Kerns, Lungern, Sachseln, Sarnen
Canton School: Sarnen

You can find more information about the transfer process here.

06. What are the rights and responsibilities of parents?.

The teacher informs the parents about their child's performance and behavior at school. Parents may make school visits. Register in advance with the teacher. You have the right to Voice, you can appeal against decisions made by the local school board regarding the assignment of your child to a particular type of school.

Parents are required to ensure that their children are on time to school go and that they have a quiet place for homework and to learn have. You must also make sure that the children sleep enough and in the morning before school breakfast. If the children are sick, the parents must contact the teacher. inform

In Switzerland, a lot of emphasis is placed on communication and cooperation between teachers and parents. Therefore it is important that you Contact to the teacher and attend parent-teacher conferences and parent-teacher evenings. At parent-teacher conferences you will learn more about how your child is doing at school and how he or she is progressing. At parents' evenings, the teacher informs you about the program for the next period, about the contents of the lessons and about the organization of the school.

07. Is participation in class camps and school trips compulsory?

Class camps and school trips are mandatory school events. These events outside the classroom are important for the cohesion within the class and the belonging of your child.
Dispensation is only possible for health or other important reasons. Please contact the responsible teacher for clarification.

If you are unable to raise the amount for participation due to financial constraints, please contact the responsible teacher. For financially weak families, there are always individual solutions so that your child can still participate.

08. May my child be absent from school on a cultural holiday?

The class teacher may exceptionally excuse your child from class for one day. However, you must submit a justified request in good time. In case of a longer absence, the school management or the school council will decide.

09. Who do I need to inform if my child is sick?

If your child is sick and cannot attend class, inform your child's teacher.
In cases of a long period of illness or after an accident, a doctor's certificate may be required in some cases.

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