‘Choosing’ a school in Zurich?

‘Choosing’ a school in Zurich?

Are you looking for a good public school for your child? Did you get school recommendations from other parents and think about moving to the catchment area for that school? Or do you live near a school that you really like for your child?

Do be careful selecting a location based on your choice of school! You might be in for an unpleasant surprise!

Unlike in other countries, school boundaries in Switzerland are not strictly and exclusively decided geographically. While your address determines your school district, it does not necessarily determine your school assignment. This is especially true for the Zurich metropolitan area. If you are equidistant from two schools, or on the ‘edge’ of a school boundary, other factors come into the equation, for example, class size, the number of German vs non-German speakers, gender mix etc.

Also, the nearest school or kindergarten might simply not have any spaces left. For example, in Zurich, the maximum class size is around 25 children, and the minimum size is between 15-18 children. If 29 children in the same area are starting in the same year, 4 will have to move to a different school within ‘a reasonable distance’. This is how your child might end up in a different school from that of your upstairs neighbours or even from her younger brother!

You can request a placement in the school of your choice with the school administration of your district, but once the decision has been made, it is rarely reversed. While you can contest the placement decision, you will need very compelling reasons, i.e. on medical grounds. Be aware that (at least in Zurich!) having siblings or friends in the same school is not considered a compelling reason! Nor is the proximity of the parents’ workplace or other issues around family logistics! Also, if your request was turned down and you still chose to appeal, in some cantons you might have to cover the administrative costs for the appeal (around CHF 800).’

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