Switzerland gets only all-boys boarding school

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Caroline Bishop - [email protected]
Switzerland gets only all-boys boarding school
The new school will be based in Gstaad. Photo: Oleg Sidorenko

The first all-boys boarding school in Switzerland since 1970 is to open in Gstaad next year.


Surval Gstaad is being set up by UK-based Bellevue Education Group which also owns all-girls school Surval Montreux.

The new school is a successor to the co-educational Gstaad International School, which will close this July prior to a major redevelopment of its campus and facilities. It will reopen as Surval Gstaad in September 2015.

Aimed at an international market, the new school will open with just 25 students across the 13-19 age range, paying estimated fees of 90,000 francs a year.

The last all-boys boarding school in Switzerland was the Villa St Jean International School in Fribourg, which closed in 1970.

That school was attended by many famous alumni including the recently abdicated King Juan Carlos I of Spain and The Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

The all-boys education at Surval Gstaad “will suit certain types of individuals,” its headmaster, Tim McConnell Wood, told The Local.

“I’m not going to say that single sex education is the only way to go because I believe in co-educational as much as single sex. I think each type works for different individuals,” he said.

“Critically for boys, not having the distraction of girls in lessons and certain activities gives them the freedom to express themselves as individuals more than having to worry about being cool with the girls.

“It helps boys in the classroom when they are not dealing with similar age girls who are clearly much more mature than them and they find that very intimidating.”

The school will work closely with Surval Montreux, however, to provide some mixed extra-curricular activities including field trips, music and winter sports.

It will also make the most of its location in Gstaad by placing a strong focus on outdoor activities, including offering an alpine study ‘gap year’ programme.

“I am hoping to use the outdoor environment here to instil a sense of success and achievement that will then feed into the classroom,” said McConnell Wood.

The alpine idyll of Gstaad is not for everyone, however.

“It’s a wonderful place to live but it wouldn’t suit everybody at all,” he added.

“We are not going out there to mass market this school. We are saying this is a very intimate, very professional, very caring environment for a small number of students.”

Parent company Bellevue Education also owns a number of private schools in the UK including Elmhurst School for Boys and Wandsworth Preparatory School.


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