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Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by mungomango, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. mungomango

    mungomango New commenter

    My previous post got deleted so I won't name anything again! However, I am interested in some up to date info about teaching in boarding schools in Switzerland. I know it's up to me to decide whether it is for me or not. I haven't even been offered an interview yet, but just thinking about it. Seems like too good an opportunity to pass up to work somewhere with such amazing facilities.
    Any up to date info would be great. Thanks! [​IMG]
  2. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    From my own experience, and what I've heard, the competition for Swiss international schools is intense, so you will probably have to be both very good and very lucky if you get the opportunity to pass up a position in Switzerland.
  3. The school you asked about has an up market clientele and teachers typically have low salaries but free accommodation and health insurance.
    If you are young no kids no mortgage then it could be a useful stepping stone however if you have kids and mortgage I would suggest you think twice.
    Switzerland has an amazing standard of living. Trains that work on Sundays, VAT at 8% and fuel much cheaper than UK and without doubt the best health system in Europe. Like you don't wait 2 years for an abortion like you do in UK.
    My first Swiss school was a family owned business 10 month contract 26k Swiss Francs but I actually managed to save quite a lot as I had little expenditure. It gave me time to learn French and German to work in local schools.
    Not many Swiss work in Swiss private schools. Say to a Swiss person you went to a privste school they think will you were a problem child!!!
    Lac Leman is an amazing area. Skiing in winter, yachting in summer, direct trains to Paris, Barcelona, Milan and Venice plus Easyjet flying out of Geneva flies all over the place.
    The Swiss Franc is VERY strong against a basket of foreign currencies.
  4. Life in those Swiss international schools can be very claustraphobic. In many ways it's like living in gilded cage. They provide you with free accommodation and great food but the salaries are so low, you have to think twice about skiing during the weekends or even a night out.
    The Swiss treat foreigners with cool disdain. We are, I think very much like slaves in ancient Rome - our presence is tolerated as long as we are good boys and girls.
    Sure, they have brilliant trains and wonderful Alpine scenery but if at the end of the day, you go to bed feeling in many ways subhuman, why bother working there?
    Happiness can be found elsewhere.

  5. Where in UK can you get on a train and be in Milan, Venice, Bologna, Genoa, Monaco, Toulouse, Borgogne, Turin, Lyon, Paris or Barcelona with direct trains?...
    In Switzerland 1 in 5 of its population or more is a foreigner depending on the region. 40% of Geneva is Portuguese. Privacy is a big deal, people mind their own business rather than the superficial Anglo Saxon appoach of everyone is my best friend and obesity is not an issue with most Swiss unlike UK.
    Salaries are low in the kind of school we are talking about but hey, use the time to learn the local languages fluently, and it becomes a big asset.
    Admittedly if you have a mortgage and kids such a move to the private family run businesses that are typical of the Vaud coast is not necessarily a good idea but the bigger international schools in Zurich, Basel and Geneva are fairly respectable and their salaries are fairly reasonable compared with the state sector.
    International schools in Berne are a bit like toytown.
  6. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Out of curiousity, Smirk, how long has it been since you taught in one of these schools? The school you were in is either the High Lake one or the one in Leysin, both of which had their low points and are atypical.
    The information you are offering is rather outdated. Granted Swiss schools pay more, but then the conditions of employment are very different, with huge class sizes and very dated teaching methodology ( I know because my daughter is at a Swiss state primary school ). Child centred learning it is not, more in the way of chalk and talk.
    As for your recommendations, they are completely wrong. A single person should definitely look for a position in, say, ecolint. A married person with kids should definitely be looking at the boarding schools.
  7. Bit 'fattist'. Surprised actually as Swiss people at least ten toblerones a day.
    It's true, that is.

  8. mungomango

    mungomango New commenter

    Thank you for the reply. Salary wise, it is not very high, but with lack of costs, one could save a reasonable amount I think.
    Next question, also slightly hypothetically. I currently have a job and we have not broken up for the summer yet. It is so late to give my notice......I'm not sure I could do it to my current job as I like working here. I wasn't looking to move, but I did want to work in Switzerland next and it seems such a fantastic opportunity. But can I realistically leave?

  9. A ten month salary is not going to pay a UK mortgage, whereas ECOLINT does have better salaries and longer term contracts.
    Geneva is horrendously expensive so ECOLINT salary, even if it is considerable, is not going very far. For a family of 4 1100Fr per month for health insurance is not unusual and even if creche is now tax deductable in certain cantons such as Geneva this does not necessarily apply to those taxed at source.
    I was speaking from personal experience. I lived in Leysin for a year, it was great. (There are many private schools in Leysin, TES,so I am not saying which one.)
    Class size wise you are better off going to a state school in CH not private schools.

  10. Swiss state schools are decidely better than private ones. The salary for a start, depending on the canton, is always better.
    Einstein went to Swiss state school then university in Zurich.
    Switzerland produces more scientific Nobel prizes per head than any other nation on earth.
    My kids are in classes of 20.
  11. You can leave.
    It is called pay in lieu of notice.
    No HT in UK will stop you leaving, try mutual consent by going directly to the chair of the governors.
    The person who will replace you will be invariably lower down the salary scale.
  12. Swiss sec teachers generally have MAs in two subjects even doctorates.
    Competition is hotting up for getting posts.
  13. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    No they don't. Stop pretending. I work with Swiss teachers now and again. Some do, some don't, which is pretty much normal in all schools. Those with the MAs tend to be in languages, where the competition is, as you say, pretty intense. Rather less so in maths and sciences. In fact maths and sciences are dying a serious death in Swiss state schools, to the extent that the government is getting very worried about it. However due to the cantonal nature of Switzerland, it is very difficult to get a nationwide policy together. I was at a meeting at CERN where this very issue was being discussed, and it was a bit of an eye-opener as to how bad the state of affairs is.
    As for class sizes being better, 20 is pretty large as far as the top end private sector is concerned. Try half that size in the best schools.
    The Swiss, traditionally, do NOT send their kids to private schools ( which is also pretty much the norm in mainland Europe ), which does mean that the state schools are pretty good as a whole. However there is a vast difference between a state school in Geneva and a state school in the middle of the mountains, in terms of pupil behaviour, parental input, general financial wellbeing etc. etc. Switzerland, for those unaware, has a multi-tiered educational system. There are schools for those who will go to university, schools for those who will follow an apprenticeship and schools for those who will do menial labour. One can move between them but it is not easy.

  14. er I work in a sec school in CH (state and most of my colleages have MAs. Mostly in two branches..
    Primary is another ball game.
    It is true that schools on the coast are mostly fmaily businesses. They have evovled most ly for tax or ingheritance reasons.
    Some have become foundations, while others have been farmed out to companies that run the school on behalf of the owners.
    Still, M. Clivaz sent his son to collège calvin, the most prestigious ALevel / GCSE college, state run, in Geneva so that tells you a lot!
  15. For the Swiss choices made at 15- when compulsory schoooling ends- is just like it was in UK in the 1950s before Wilson got rid of apprenticeships.
    In Geneva Canton 40% of students finish a BA or MA while the rest go to commercial school or a whole whost of technical schols that range from jewellery, watchmaking, car mechanics to gardening and everything imaginable in between.
    Most Swiss employers much prefer someone who has studied/ worked from the age of 15 than a college bum who studies for an indefinite period of time and ends up well qualified and unemployable. Employment in CH in general is difficult due to the number of foreigners coming in but many sectors are booming- Swatch Group, Nestlé, Novartis, chemicals, pharma etc.
    If a student wants to work he, or she, will do well. Academically weak students who excel in watchmaking can earn a packet at th eage of 20.
    Some cantons do not have universities- like Canton Wallis or Uri for example. Class size universally are small whereas this is not the case in private schools.
  16. CERN!
    Is European but most of their longer-term employees living in CH send their kids to Swiss schools.
    Of course there is a heavier accent on languages. There are 4 national languages so if you do not speak at least 3 of them irrespective of your job your salary will be small!
  17. Just had a beer so speleling not so goood.
  18. Post 'Monday school' beers..... Impressive stuff!
    'A' beer... big, big glasses in Swaziland.
    Good on yer Smirkey, join the roisterers... [​IMG]
  19. Apart from the elephants, both countries have similarities: high altitude, land-locked, multi lingual... altough there is a lack of snow in Swaziland.
  20. There's loads. On the Alps and stuff.


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