The most frequently asked question about family life is Geneva is inevitably about schools. As an expatriate parent I fully sympathize because this is probably one of the trickiest decisions to handle when moving abroad with your little ones.
If you are looking for more information about private schools in Geneva, here’s an article I wrote some time ago for another expatriate website. Hope it helps!
Private Schools in Geneva
Expats will find a wide range of schools in Geneva which pride themselves on the provision of a high standard of education. Foreigners moving to the area will be faced with a difficult decision when it comes to selecting the best schooling option; however, be it a state-funded school, and therefore free of charge, or a private school, the institution is likely to be excellent.
Important factors in making the right decision for your child and family include considering your child’s age, the length of your stay in Geneva and your family’s budget. Expat parents will also need to determine which teaching language and curriculum would best suit their child’s needs, and which childcare arrangements would work best for their family.
Private schools in Geneva, whether Swiss or international, can offer monolingual (i.e. only in French or only in English) or bilingual teaching streams in French and English, so you will need to visit each school individually and discuss which teaching options are available, and would be best suited to your child.
Each school may prepare students for a different type of diploma: American Advanced Placement, IGCSE, International Baccalaureate Diploma (English or bilingual), Swiss Maturité (French or bilingual), Brevet des Collèges and French Baccalauréat Général.
Most private schools will offer pre-school classes starting from the age of three. School fees usually range between 15,000 CHF and 30,000 CHF per year, and sibling discounts are sometimes available. Expats should keep these high costs in mind when negotiating their salary, or when requesting extras in their employment package.
It is also important to check with each private school to clarify whether a Catholic or Protestant religious education is a compulsory part of the curriculum, as many of the most academically acclaimed private schools in Geneva are openly religious.
Keep in mind that the school’s proximity to your home or workplace is a factor that deserves consideration. School location and rush hour traffic can often make it difficult to be on time for school drop-off and pick-up. Some private schools offer a bus service, but this can be quite expensive.
International schools in Geneva
Geneva is home to a number of excellent private international schools, i.e. schools which use English, or English and French as languages of instruction.
They offer an international curriculum (e.g. IB – DP, MYP, PYP) and internationally recognised accreditations such as, for instance, English language Diplomas (American Advanced Placement, IGCSE), International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB), Bilingual Diplomas (Swiss Maturité, International Baccalaureate Diploma) and French Language Diplomas (French Baccalaureate, Swiss Maturité).
Geneva is also the birthplace of the oldest currently operating international school in the world: the International School of Geneva.
The International Baccalaureate was first created in this school. When the League of Nations and the International Labour Office (ILO) established their headquarters in Geneva in 1920, with staff drawn from many countries, the need arose for a school which would cater for students with a diversity of cultures and would prepare them for university education in their home countries.
This is why the International School of Geneva, the first international school in the world, was founded in 1924. The purpose of the school was to provide an international education based on the progressive educational principles of the école nouvelle movement associated with Swiss pedagogues such as as Adolphe Ferrière and Edouard Claparède.
In Geneva, you will also find private schools which follow specific national languages and educational curricula (German, Japanese and Swedish). Some are private and some are funded (fully or partially) by their respective governments. Many expats prefer to send their children to these private schools because they offer students the opportunity to continue with the teaching language and curriculum of their home country, and are truly the best option for those expats relocating to Geneva for a short-term sojourn.
Enrolment and admissions
Timing, a factor often overlooked, is also of vital importance when it comes to securing a school place for your child. Due to the growing influx of foreign workers moving to the area with families and children, you will need to register your child as early as possible. Many of the private schools will have waiting lists, and in order to make sure your child gets a seat, it’s best to register on a number of these as you probably won’t receive a final confirmation of enrolment until the very last minute.
However, please do not lose heart, numerous families relocate frequently within the area and therefore it is very likely that spaces will open up at the last minute. Each private school operates according to their own deadlines, so visit in person and check with each one individually.
Remember that turnover within schools with large international populations can be quite large, and therefore may instigate adjustment issues for expat children who will be enrolled in the school on a long-term basis.
List of schools in Geneva
State-funded Swiss schools
- Check with each local authority (“commune”) for the list of local schools.
- The Bell One World Nursery schools (2.5 to 5 years) – www.bell-school.ch
- Collège du Léman, Versoix
- Collège St-Louis, (11 to 15 years, private French Catholic) – www.college-stlouis.ch
- École la Découverte, (3 to 12 years) – www.decouverte.ch
- Deutsche Schule,(3 to 19 years, German) – www.dsgenf.ch
- Ecole Japonaise Complementaire (Japonese) – www.geneve-hosyuko.ch
- École Moser Geneve, (8+ years, bilingual French and German) – www.ecole-moser.ch
- École Rudolf Steiner, (2.5 to 18 years, Waldorf teaching philosophy) – www.ersge.ch
- École Suedoise, (2 to 18 years, Swedish) – www.svenskaskolan.ch
- École Topffer, (11 to 18) – www.ecole-topffer.ch
- Geneva English School, (4 to 11 years, British) – www.geneva-english-school.ch
- Geneva Secondary School, (11 to 18 years, British) – www.gsschool.ch
- Institut Florimont, (3 to 18 years) – www.florimont.ch
- Institut International de Lancy, (3 to 18 years) – www.iil.ch
- Institut International Notre-dame du Lac, (3 to 10 years) – www.notre-dame-du-lac.ch
- International School of Geneva, (3 to 18 years) – www.ecolint.ch
- Mosaic School, (2.5 to 12 years) – www.ecolemosaic.ch