Good to know!
Children who speak a language other than German often have an additional hurdle to overcome at school, as the language of instruction is not their mother tongue. Schools offer supplementary services based around the child’s previous knowledge.
Good to know!
From kindergarten onwards, children are obliged to attend school. Holidays during term time are therefore no longer possible. If there are important reasons for an absence, you can apply to the school management in writing for special leave.
Good to know!
Walking to school independently and without adult company is usual. It is an important part of the children's everyday life and contributes to social development. Parents are urged not to drive their children to school by car. This is possible without any problems thanks to the high level of safety for the children. Supervision of the children between the day care centre (nursery)and the school is ensured by the childcare facility, depending on age and municipality.
Good to know!
Students are graded from 5H onwards. Grades range from 1 (insufficient) to 6 (very good), with 4 being sufficient.Students are graded from 5H onwards. Grades range from 1 (insufficient) to 6 (very good), with 4 being sufficient.
School & education
Varied and multilingual
The Valais education system covers all levels, from primary school to a University of Applied Sciences, offering a dense network of schools across a relatively small area. Short travelling distances mean that children enjoy more freedom, independence and safety. Valais students can do their Bacchelor, Masters and even Doctorat at the HES or EPFL. They only have to leave the canton if they wish to go to university – and the outstanding transport facilities keep travel times down even then; the Universities of Bern or Lausanne are just an hour to an hour and a half away by train. Being a bilingual canton, Valaisan schools give special attention to the teaching of French (in Upper Valais), German (in the french speaking part) and English from primary school level. With a broad-based primary education, a choice of secondary and vocational schools and a wide range of adult and further education, Upper Valais is a great place to learn!
Offers for foreign-language students
For non-German speaking children, the course "Deutsch für Fremdsprachige" (DfF) is offered during compulsory schooling (1H-11H). Specially trained teachers help the children and adolescents to quickly acquire the needed German skills. The course is organized by the school. Parents of children speaking foreign languages are asked to contact the school directly.
This offer provides a good support and foundation for linguistic integration in the public school. Nevertheless, it is important that the parents and children actively strive for integration and language support.
For those looking for an English-language there are also international or bilingual schools in Valais. As these are private schools, they charge school fees, which are paid by the parents. In the Upper Valais, students between the ages of 13-19 years can attend the international school in Leukerbad. In the French-speaking Valais, there are offers in Verbier and Sion, some starting at pre-school age.
Offers (no claim to completeness):
International School of Sion / www.is-sion.ch/en
International School Verbier / www.verbierinternationalschool.ch
Copperfield International School Verbier / www.copperfield.education
Offers in the Canton of Bern / www.berninvest.be.ch
Levels of the education system
Switzerland’s education system is divided into primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Primary and lower secondary education constitute the compulsory school period, which lasts eleven years. After completing compulsory education, students can continue to the upper secondary level. After finishing school, more than 50% of students decide to do a practical apprenticeship, which can last up to four years. The tertiary level comprises universities and vocational education and training. Switzerland has universities as well as universities of applied sciences. For vocational education and training, there are professional colleges and technical schools that work towards the Federal Diploma of Higher Education and Advanced Federal Diploma examinations.
Compulsory education begins at the age of 4 and lasts 11 years. If you move to Valais with children of school age, you will receive a registration form from the municipal school administration. Even if the family has not been granted all its permits yet, every child has the right to attend school. The public school system has an excellent reputation; it is mixed and free of charge. It is divided into three stages based on the intercantonal "HarmoS" programme:
- 1H and 2H: Children’s social skills are encouraged in a playful way and they are prepared for primary school. The kindergarten is often situated in the local area so that children can make the journey on foot.
- 3H to 8H Reading and writing, mathematics, learning a second national language (German or French) from 5H, English from 7H, physical education, music, technical and visual design, humans and the environment, religion. Most municipalities in Valais have a primary school.
- 9H to 11H (lower secondary/orientation school) In addition to the subjects mentioned above, vocational guidance is also offered. Orientation school is often organised by region, with pupils travelling to school by public transport.
Swiss Education System / www.vs.ch
Education System in Switzerland / www.edk.ch
Valais school and holiday timetable / www.vs.ch
Office for Education / www.vs.ch
Office for Vocational, Academic and Careers Guidance Upper Valais / www.vs.ch
Schule und Elternhaus (parents’ support association) / www.schule-elternhaus.ch
After compulsory education
Compulsory education ends after 11 years or at the age of 15. Depending on the desired occupation and school grades, there are two options: vocational training or continuing with secondary school. For young people who move to Switzerland after the end of compulsory education (i.e. between the ages of 15 and 21) and do not have sufficient language skills to complete an apprenticeship, the Upper Valais Vocational School (Berufsfachschule Oberwallis) offers integration classes and pre-apprenticeships to help with language acquisition and careers guidance. For young people who do not find a solution directly after compulsory education, further transitional offers are available. The Swiss education system is no longer linear. It is an open system that allows for continuous (further) education and vocational reorientation.