What is the name of your child's school? (Please report on one school per survey.)
International School Basel
In what town or city is this school located?
How would you describe this school? (i.e. American, British, International, Local, etc.)
International / mainly American inspired
What grade levels are represented at this school?
2 preschool levels, K-12. Split in 2 campuses (in Aesch until grade 5, and another campus in Reinach from grade 6)
How do most children get to school everyday? (bus, train, walk, etc.)
Many of the smaller kids get driven to school, but an option is to take a train/tram that stops in front of the school. The public transport is really good, and runs every 7 minutes.
How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?
The Aesch campus (for up til grade 5) is built recently (2008 or 2009), and is really nice. Take a look at the pictures at the webpage www.isbasel.ch - the classrooms are large and modern, and good gym and IT facilities. We came from an older run-down Danish school, and now we do not know if we can take the step back - since the ISB is so nice and modern. And as my kids say: the toilets are nice and clean. I saw that someone else wrote the facilities were poor, but that must be before the second campus was built - so this is outdated (our experience is from 2011).
What has this school done to help your child transition from the curriculum in your home
country into the curriculum in your new country? Are there programs to prepare your child for repatriation?
Our kids (grade 1 and 3) spoke no English when we came, and were close to fluent after 6 months. They did have intensive English classes, and in fact for the first year only was in their EAL class, except for math, music and sports (which they had along with their class). Probably around 40-50% of the kids have English as their first language.
The EAL classes are small, say 5-7 kids, and there are 3 levels. So the first year they probably had intensive English for 20 hours per week, which had good results. They are in school from 8-15, so they are pretty tired initially. We were very pleased, and still are.
There are also German and French classes, for those kids who have good English (or the native speakers).
How would you describe the social activities available for parents through this school? Are there parent-teacher organizations?
In our kids' class it is only around 20% of the parents where both parents work. This means that there are plenty of parents (mostly moms) who have social things planned, either trough their grade or country association (eg the French group, the Japanese group etc). There are also activities for new arrivals etc. So I would say there are good options for social networking if that is what you are looking for.
What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling their child in this school?
Dont worry if your kids speak no English, this will not be a problem. From grade 3 onwards they do get homework that you may need to help with, and count on setting time aside for.
The school uses an age based concept for distributing kids in the classes - I would recommend sticking to this, even if it means your child will skip a grade. We did not, so had to move our daughter one grade to give her sufficient challenge and classmates her age. Had I known how quickly her English became good I would not have worried.
Moving to Switzerland
Switzerland is a country rich with tradition, natural beauty and one of the most stable economies in the world. It is, however, also extremely expensive and expats often report difficult settling into the culture.