The British School system
GCSE is the abbreviation for "General Certificate of Secondary Education" and corresponds to the ‘Sekundarschule’ (pro-gymnasium) in Switzerland.
The GCSE is a 2-year course and begins in the 10th grade with an examination at the end of the 11th year. Course work must include: English (EAL), a foreign language, mathematics, natural science with the recommendation of a humanities class, i.e., art, music, theatre, other foreign languages.
The GCSE may be recognised by the Swiss upper level secondary schools (‘Gymnasium’) if the required grade point average is achieved in each the subjects as set by the Canton from which the student intends to return. In many cases there is a minimum GPA (Grade Point Average) required for the student to leave for a year abroad and return seamlessly into the class from which they departed. In other cases, the student takes a year out of the Swiss system and then re-enters at the point where they left. Each client is handled on a case-by-case basis due to the intricacies posed by having a cantonal level governing body rather than a federal school system.
If the student chooses to continue their education in the UK system, regardless of the school’s location (i.e., Internat in Switzerland or in the UK or elsewhere) and based upon the student’s preference, they would continue in the A-Levels or IB for two more years, the Swiss Matura equivalent at the age of 16.
The so-called, pre-IB, is offered in some of the schools in England for foreigners studying in the UK. It is a one-year course and includes intensive English lessons and an external examination in 6 various subjects. The pre-IB is an ideal preparation for the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the A-levels. The pre-IB can carry the same academic status as the lower secondary schools’ preparation for entering a ‘Gymnasium’. Naturally, the subjects and the test scores play an important role in gaining this status in the Swiss education system.
The Matura is the Matura and there is nothing comparable to it?
Not exactly. The Matura is required for entering Swiss Universities but also the British A-Levels or IB diploma are recognised and the individual grades for each subject must meet the criteria set by the University where the student applies for entry. There are only a few Universities not accepting the A-Levels and therefore, the IB is highly recommended if you want more options open to you.
The student is given the choice between the A-level or IB diploma depending upon their personal strengths and weaknesses. Again, the student’s preference for further studies will determine which of the pathways to take.
This is the traditional British high school graduation level which is in preparation for studies at a University. With the A-levels, the student is usually quite certain of their higher education major and selects their course work accordingly. It is always the safest to check with the admissions registrar at the University of Interest whether or not the selected coursework is sufficient for meeting their entrance requirements and determining the minimum grades accepted in those subjects. The A-Levels tend to be a bit more intensive but with fewer courses (3-4) taken. They are highly regarded and the student may include an extended project qualification.
This is a general study curriculum (6 subjects: 3 in standard level, 3 in advanced gymnasium level) with concentration in a specific area of choice (i.e., extra math, art, music, languages, etc.) which determines the student’s ‘Schwerpunkt’ model and meets the Swiss standard of the Matura including the ‘Maturarbeit’. The equivalent to the maturarbeit is called the ‘Extended Essay’. The student is required to write an essay of 5,000 words on a subject of choice along with a set number of civil/social duty hours performed. This program is designed for the performance-oriented student who will complete a wide variety of course work. The IB diploma was developed in Switzerland!
Deciding between going to a location in North America or remaining in Europe is a bit like choosing between your favourite flavours of ice-cream! The ‘flavors’ are really very good and making a decision can be daunting. But some students prefer British English and culture over that which North America offers. And, likewise, vice versa! Whilst England is steeped in deep history the United States and Canada offer ‘new world’, ‘state of the art’ and modernised city and suburb campuses along with more remote and surrounded by nature, private schools found in beautiful mountainous regions.
Taking your choices a bit further, we even have a very unique, competitive and superb private school onboard a tall ship! You will gain high level qualifications for international universities, study and sail with other students from around the world and gain your sailing license along the course!
Depending upon your educational goals, we can advise you personally and individually on the best academic plan, location and region with a very successful return to Switzerland. Let us get to know you and your ‘student’ to plan a comprehensive and unforgettable study experience abroad.