New English school set to open in Geneva

Reflecting continuing strong demand for English-language schooling in the Lake Geneva region, the Geneva English School has announced plans to launch a new secondary school next year.

New English school set to open in Geneva
Photo: Geneva English School

The private school, located in the municipality of Genthod and overlooking Lake Geneva, has up until now provided learning for children aged three to 11, following the English National Curriculum.

But the non-profit day school, founded in 1961, plans to expand by taking year seven students next year before a new campus opens next to the existing school in 2017.

When the campus opens, the school will take students for years seven, eight and nine, with year ten added in 2018.

“We expect a significant part of our current student base to continue with Geneva English School into the new secondary phase,” headmaster Stephen Baird said in a statement sent to The Local.

“We also anticipate some new pupils from other schools attracted by our different learning environment, and curriculum and qualification offerings.”

GES has limited its enrolment to less than 300 and said it will continue with this “small school ethos” with its secondary school.

By so doing it aims to provide “an alternative choice amidst the many expansive international schools within the region, some of which have student populations in excess of 1,500,” Mark Williams, chairman of the GES board of governors, said in a news release.

The annual tuition fee for the Geneva English School is 27,900 francs ($27,292).

If that seems high, it appears to be in line with fees at other international day schools, where sums of more than 33,000 francs are charged for senior students.

And fees are considerably higher at boarding schools.

Many employers, such as UN organizations, provide senior staff with grants to subsidize the costs of private education.

The Geneva English School is one of at least eleven international schools in the Lake Geneva region catering largely to the families of foreign diplomats, professionals, managers and executives employed with international organizations or multinational companies.

In 2013, the GEMS World Academy, owned by a Dubai-based company, opened its doors in Etoy, between Geneva and Lausanne in the canton of Vaud, with planned enrolment of 400 students, which was set to rise to 1,000.

In the four years from May 2010 to 2014, the number of international schools in Switzerland rose by 14.9 percent, according to ISC Research, part of the Oxford-based International School Consultancy.

Student enrolment rose by 14.9 percent and total annual fee income increased by 76.9 percent in the same period.

In the Lake Geneva region alone, around 9,000 students are enrolled in international schools, most of them offering international baccalaureate programs, as well as schooling for infants.

Enrolment at international schools across Switzerland increased by 2,000 in 2014–2015 from the previous year, ISC Research said.

However, future enrolment could be impacted if Swiss immigration curbs are instituted in 2017, as planned after Swiss voters last year backed quotas.

“If there is a substantial drop in immigration ion 2017, when the new law could potentially take effect, the Swiss international schools market is likely to experience significant stagnation, if not shrinkage,” ISC said.

For more information about the Geneva English School, check here.

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Swiss school closures cut Covid spread: new study

Switzerland's decision in the spring to shutter schools was one of the most effective measures in reducing mobility and thus also transmission of Covid-19, a study showed on Sunday.

Swiss school closures cut Covid spread: new study
School girls in Lausanne on their way to school at the end of Switzerland's first lockdown. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, ETH, determined that the closure of Swiss schools last March was responsible for cutting mobility by more than a fifth.
“School closures reduced mobility by 21.6 percent,” Stefan Feuerriegel, an ETH professor of management information systems who headed the study, told AFP in an email.
“School closures reduce mobility, (which) then reduces new cases” of Covid-19, he said.
In a tweet, he said his team had analysed some 1.5 billion movements in Swiss telecommunication data between February 10 and April 26 last year to evaluate the impact on mobility as various anti-Covid measures were introduced.
In decentralised Switzerland, its 26 cantons introduced measures at different paces before a country-wide partial lockdown, including school closures, was ordered on March 16.
Schools across the country remained closed for about two months before gradually opening up again.
The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, found school closures ranked third in terms of reducing mobility.
At the top of the list was a ban on gatherings of more than five people, which was seen slashing mobility by 24.9 percent, and the closure of restaurants, bars and non-essential shops, which caused people to move about 22.3 percent less, the study shows.
Feuerriegel said it was not surprising that school closures had such a big impact on people's movements.
“If schools are closed, we can expect a large change in behaviour,” he said, pointing out that “not only will kids stay home, but sometimes it also requires their parents to change their mobility as well.”
School closures have been among the most controversial measures introduced around the world to help rein in the pandemic.
Children are far less likely to develop severe illness from Covid-19 than older people, but it remains unclear how much they transmit the virus.   
The ETH study does not address that, but indicates that school closures can significantly reduce transmission by prompting people to move about and mingle less.
“Our analysis confirms school closure as a measure to slow the spread, through reduced mobility,” Feuerriegel said.