Zurich, Switzerland Real School Experiences
Personal Experiences from Zurich, Switzerland
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
4th and 1st
3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
F; administration claims that they are an inclusive school that welcomes all types of students. They are an exclusive school who only want a certain type of student.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
D; no guidance.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
Stressful - great pressure put on children to become bilingual and perfectly behaved in the manner the school dictates.
2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:
D; administration is much more comfortable with Swiss families.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
D; teachers are administration lackeys.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
F; none. Any students with any special needs, no matter how mild, are asked to leave. No special education teachers on staff.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
C; within a very narrow margin, ie, Swiss children who will sit the rigorous test to get into the Swiss gymnasium. Others are shunned or ignored.
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
D; busy work.
8. Administration-parent communication:
D; horrible. No dissension is permitted.
9. Teacher-student communication:
D; not great.
10. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?
11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
Absolutely not. No clue or interest on how to deal with any special need.
13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:
I don't think there is one.
14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
Yes, but not many.
17. What activities do you feel are missing?
18. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
19. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
No. Thrown into the classroom, questioned as to why the children aren't fluent in German after 6 weeks.
20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
Language and culture. Really a Swiss school for children who want to learn English, not an "international" school. Language on the playground is Swiss German.
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
F; none. Their way or the highway.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
D; very small and not very well stocked.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
D; teachers seemed fine. No gym. No fields.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
6. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
It is ok...
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
D; not many.
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
11. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
Absolutely. Switzerland has a problem with bullying in general and Terra Nova is no exception, probably even worse than many schools.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
I say that my children learned German in spite of being at this school.... they were exposed to it everyday, but not helped with it.
2. Greatest challenge?
How to deal with German learners. My children were often stuck in the hallway, doing German worksheets while the class was in session. How to deal with special needs of any kind.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
No.If your child is not a slightly above average in intelligence, Swiss, mild bully without any emotional or education disabilities, then this school is not for you or your child. Still scarred 4 years later. I have two very opposite children and they were both treated horribly. I heard that story again and again and again from Swiss and expats alike. At one point, I wondered out loud which type of child the administration of Terra Nova does like (and then came up with above description.) My then 9 year old told me, "The problem with Terra Nova is that they treat a very few children like stars and everybody else horribly". Do not waste your money by sending your children here. International school if you will only be in Zurich for a few years or if you want the easiest transition/ life to Zurich or if your children have any special needs or Swiss school if none of the above.