Home Schooling in Switzerland

The information provided here is not legally binding or authoritative. Experiences provide empirical guidance based on discussions with families and the author's own experience.

Please send input and corrections if you have them to me.

Laws governing education of children in Switzerland vary from Canton to Canton and are enforced on a local level. Families with children have to register with their town and communicate with the town school board (German: Schulepflege or Schulebehorde). Recourse can be made to the regional (Bezirk) school officials but this usually costs money. Switzerland is very community oriented. Building and maintaining relationships with locals is an important path to take. In Cantons where teaching children at home is permitted, the local officials are sometimes quite sincere in their interest to help families and encourage them to progress.

Some home schoolers have experienced that school officials are more concerened that a vacation plan is submitted and adhered to than what the content of the education is. School vacations follow strict rules in most Swiss schools and holding to rules is a strong part of Swiss culture which may explain this unusual experience.

Educating children at home is still relatively uncommon and unknown in most of Switzerland. Families in remote farms, the circus, or other mobile occupations are usually permitted with ease. International or temporary families are also typically permitted with the assumption that the family is not permanently in Switzerland. For Swiss and permanent resident families, notification must be given and documentation such as annual and/or weekly education plans may be requested. An annual visit from a school official is fairly common.

Restricting the freedom of parents to educate their children at home may be against the national constitution and laws. This has yet to be tested in cantons that do not permit individual families to educate their children.

Appenzell Ausserrhoden
Appenzell
Inner Rhodes

AI

Appenzell Inner Rhodes is supportive of home schooling but conservative. Home education is legal. Stipends are sometimes available.

According to personal experience of member of BZH, there is a big diffence between this two Kantons AI and AR. AI is very attractive about the taxes (steueroase) but also very conservative about altenative education forms.

Official information (German)

home education

Appenzell Innerrhoden
Appenzell
Outer Rhodes (AR)

Permitted. Sönd wöllkomm! Appenzell Outer-Rhodes is supportive of home schooling although since around 2005, oversight and testing (cock-pit tests) has been introduced. School books are often provided by the local schools if desired. Educational expenses are deductible from taxes.

The Department of Education used to provide explicit information about Homeschooling on their web portal as well as a link to the Swiss Home School Association (BZH). Now there is simply a page describing the legal structure.

Home education falls under private education as described in the official web site: Privatschulung (in German)

home education

Aargau
Aargau (AG)

Home education is clearly permitted.

Key points in the new law since 2006 / 07 are found in the document section §44 b. 1. parts e and f:
e) states that a person that teaches the primary grades must have a diploma from the Secondary Level II. There is a little (*) after this which says that a private teacher must have a Matura or have finished an apprenticeship. If the school board suspects that the person does not have these qualifications then they may ask for proof (to see a certificate).
f) states that a person that teaches the upper grades must be able to prove that they have the capabilities to teach the obligatory subjects. The footnote (1) after this sentence states exactly the same as the (*) stated.
There are exceptions which are also clarified further down the document in numbers 2 and 3:
2) states that an exception can be made for e and f if the education takes place under an appropriate correspondence course/school. You must be able to prove that you have a contract with the correspondence school by providing official documentation.
3) states that someone from the Department of Education will come to check the children's progress at lest once a year. If they find that the education being given is not sufficient then they will inform the school board that the child should be assigned back to the public school.
From the old Law
--------------------
4.3: For important reasons the Department for Education, culture and sport upon application of the responsible guardian can release the child from the requirement to attend school or to free from this requirement early. Since Aug 1st 2005 AGS 2005 S 254.
4.4: The requirement to attend school can also be fulfilled through the attendance of a private school or private tuition. The kanton's government rules on the required education for schoolage children and requires that the guardian registers with the responsible authority. Since Aug 1st 2005 AGS 2005 S 254
home education
Basel Land
Basel Land
Restricted to parents with a teachers education.
home education
Basel Stadt
Basel Stadt
Restricted to parents with a teachers education.
home education
Bern
Bern

Home education is permitted. Annual visits are usually required by the school officials. For nationals, the language of instruction should be one of the national languages.

Links to the law:
German: http://www.sta.be.ch/belex/d/4/432_210.html
French: http://www.sta.be.ch/belex/f/4/432_210.html

The only relevant paragraph is "Arikel 71".
3. Privatunterricht Art. 71
1 Eltern, die ihre Kinder selbst unterrichten oder privat unterrichten lassen, haben dies jährlich der Schulkommission zuhanden des Schulinspektorates zu melden. Hiebei ist anzugeben, wer diesen Unterricht erteilt. Unterrichtssprache ist eine der beiden Amtssprachen.
2 Das Schulinspektorat hat das Recht, die Kinder zu prüfen oder durch eine Lehrkraft prüfen zu lassen. Erweist sich der Unterricht auch nach erfolgloser Mahnung als ungenügend, so werden die Eltern gemäss den Artikeln 32 und 33 bestraft; das Gericht meldet solche Fälle der Vormundschaftsbehörde.

Official Education Requirements - Lehrplan

home education
Fribourg
Fribourg
Although the authorities do not seem to be friendly towards home education in this Canton, the law appears to grant the right. This type of conflict is not uncommon in Switzerland and requires some stamina to overcome. A teaching certificate is not yet required. The department of education would like this to be a requirement.

Loi du 23 mai 1985 sur l'école enfantine, l'école primaire et l'école du cycle d'orientation (loi scolaire)
Enseignement à domicile - Art. 104

  1. Les parents ont le droit de dispenser ou de faire dispenser à leurs enfants un enseignement à domicile.
  2. L'enseignement à domicile est soumis à l'autorisation du Département et placé sous sa surveillance.
  3. L'autorisation est accordée si les parents ou les précepteurs sont en mesure de dispenser une formation équivalente à celle des écoles publiques.
  4. L'autorisation est retirée si les conditions de l'octroi ne sont plus remplies.
English translation (thanks to Claudia, home educator in Vaud)
  1. parents have the right to teach their children at home.
  2. homeschooling needs an authorisation of the (school) departement and will be supervised
  3. authorisation will be given to parents who are able to give education equivalent to public schools
  4. authorisation will be cancelled if above conditions are not fullfilled anymore. homeschooling needs an authorization of the (school) department and will be supervised authorization will be given to parents who are able to give education equivalent to public schools authorization will be cancelled if above conditions are not fulfilled anymore

Links

  • Fribourg Official Cantonal Web Site
  • The Law in German
  • home education
    Geneva
    Geneva - Genève
    Home schooling is possible with agreement through local officials.

    Link to GE law...
    href="http://www.geneve.ch/legislation/rsg/f/s/rsg_C1_10.html" target=_blank>http://www.geneve.ch/legislation/rsg/f/s/rsg_C1_10.html

    What I would consider the important parts....

    Chapitre III Instruction obligatoire

    Art. 9 Principe(43)
    Tous les enfants habitant le canton de Genève doivent recevoir, dans les écoles publiques ou privées, ou à domicile, une instruction conforme aux prescriptions de la présente loi et au programme général établi par le département.

    Art. 12 Instruction conforme(43)
    Les parents, les tuteurs et les tiers chez qui demeurent les enfants ainsi que les patrons d'apprentis sont tenus, sur demande de l'autorité compétente, de justifier que lesdits enfants reçoivent l'instruction fixée par la loi.

    Chapitre IV
    I think this is the part that shows you have to ask rather than tell...
    Art. 14A (49) Ecole privée : autorisation préalable
    1 L'exploitation d'une école privée, pour quelque enseignement que ce soit, ainsi que l'organisation de cours par correspondance, doivent faire l'objet d'une autorisation préalable du département.
    2 Cette autorisation, qui n'est accordée que si l'enseignement projeté et les conditions dans lesquelles il doit être donné ne sont pas contraires à l'ordre public, aux bonnes moeurs et à l'hygiène, est révocable en tout temps.
    3 Le règlement fixe la procédure et les conditions de l'autorisation.


    Art. 15(49) Instruction obligatoire
    1 Le département vérifie en tout temps que l'instruction obligatoire dans les écoles privées est conforme aux dispositions légales et réglementaires.
    2 L'enseignement obligatoire, lorsqu'il a lieu à domicile, est également contrôlé.
    3 Si le département constate que l'instruction donnée dans une école privée ou à domicile est insuffisante, il prend les mesures qui s'imposent; il met notamment en demeure les parents ou les tuteurs des enfants de les envoyer dans une autre école ou de les confier à d'autres professeurs.
    swiss home education
    Grisson
    Graubünden / Grischun / Grigioni

    A special canton with 5 distinct written languages (Variations of Romanish) in addition to German and Italian.
    Home schooling is possible with agreement through local officials. Parents must educate their children based on the guidelines of the Cantonal Guidelines.

    From the law:
    Kindergarden is optional an can start at 4 years old if the parents so choose.

    Vom Volke angenommen am 26. November 2000
    I. Allgemeine Bestimmungen
    Art. 1 Bildungsziele
    Die Volksschule unterstützt die Eltern in der Erziehung ihrer Kinder. Sie ist bestrebt, in Berücksichtigung der historisch gewachsenen sprachlich-kulturellen Eigenart der Gemeinschaft die Kinder zu geistig-seelisch und körperlich gesunden Menschen heranwachsen zu lassen. Sie fördert in Verbindung mit den Eltern die Urteilsfähigkeit, die schöpferischen Kräfte und das Wissen der Kinder und bemüht sich, ihr Verständnis für Mitmenschen und Umwelt zu wecken und sie nach christlichen Grundsätzen zu selbständigen und verantwortungsbewussten Gliedern der Gemeinschaft heranzubilden.
    Art. 17 Privatunterricht, Privatschulen
    1 Ein Kind, das geregelten Privatunterricht erhält oder eine Privatschule besucht, ist vom Besuch der öffentlichen Schule befreit.
    2 Wenn der Privatunterricht den gesetzlichen und lehrplanmässigen Anforderungen nicht entspricht, kann das Departement den Übertritt privat geschulter Schülerinnen und Schüler in die öffentliche Schule verfügen. Das Departement kann die Schliessung von Privatschulen verfügen, welche die gesetzlichen Bestimmungen missachten.

    GR Education Law
    http://www.avs-gr.ch/sites/schule/

    home education
    Luzern
    Luzern
    Home schooling is possible with agreement through local officials. Parents must show capability or certification.
    home education
    Oberwalden
    Oberwalden
    home education
    Nidwalden
    Nidwalden
    home education
    Schwyz
    Schwyz

    Official Schwyz Site

    We know of a few families who are teaching their own children here.

    home education
    Schaffhausen
    Schaffhausen

    From the law of 17 October 2006

    Art. 5 - Private Schulung

    1 Die Führung von Privatschulen und privater Unterricht an der Primarstufe und an der Sekun-darstufe I bedürfen einer Bewilligung des Bildungsdepartementes.
    2 Die Bewilligung für die Führung von Privatschulen und für den privaten Unterricht wird erteilt, wenn die an die öffentlichen Schulen gestellten Anforderungen erfüllt sind.
    3 Privatschulen und privater Unterricht gemäss Abs. 2 unterstehen der Aufsicht des Bildungsdepartementes.

    In English:
    1. Permission for private schools and private education is provided by the department of education.
    2. Private schools and private are permitted when it meets the requirements of the public school.
    3. Private schools and private is under the supervision of the department of education.

    Official SH Education Pages
    home education
    Solothurn
    Solothurn
    Homeschooling is permitted but has been evaluated on a case by case situation. There may not be clear laws in writing that restrict or protect the right to homeschool. This could explain the case by case decisions. Once a teaching plan is approved, semester progress reports may be required by the education director.
    home education
    St. Gallen
    St. Gallen
    Restricted. Officially not permitted by individual families. A group of families may form an association and educate their children this way.
    home education
    Ticino
    Ticino
    Restricted.
    home education
    Uri
    Uri
    home education
    Vaud
    Vaud
    Home education is permitted. Many parents educate their children in Canton Vaud. Parents who home educate must notify their local school department that they are teaching their own children at home (Notification Requirement). Annual inspection of the students progress by a local inspector is typical.
    Valais
    Valais
    Permitted with certain conditions. A teaching certificate may be required.
    home education
    Zug
    Zug
    Permission granted in some circumstances.

    Schulgesetz (BGS 412.11)
    Verordnung zum Schulgesetz (BGS 412.111)
    Reglement zum Schulgesetz (BGS 412.112)
    The Law Text schule-kultur-natur-und-heimatschutz-kirche
    home education
    Zürich
    Zürich
    Home schooling has been restricted recently in the Canton of Zurich. Until summer 2008 it was freely permitted with the various notification requirements to the local school board. Local school officials used to visit a home to review a child's progress once or twice a year to once every few years. Since summer 2008 the new law requires a teaching credential.

    During 2002, the Cantonal education office attempted to pass a complete change in the Education Law through the Zurich parliment. Because changes would be made to the constitution, it was brought to a public vote. The changes were so far reaching that many public school teachers vocally opposed the bill. The major education law was voted down. Some measures passed. Nearly the same law was brought again before the public in 2006 and passed.

    The changes included the following which threatened private schools and private teaching - included 3 articles 67, 68 and 69. In summary these stated that:
    § 67. Private schools should teach the same world view as taught in public schools. (What happened to diversity?)
    § 68. If private schooling exceeds one year, the teacher should have a teachers education.
    § 69. The education board will evaluate if the private schooling is meeting the teaching goals.
    The Zurich parliment may try to bring similar measures to table again in the future. Some changes like early English, early kindergarten (ages 4-6), and computers in earlier classes are already being implemented in some towns as "pilot projects" even though they were voted down. Education in Christian principles and foundations used to be a standard part of grades 1-6. This is currently being phased out along with a reduction of hand craft education. Home educators are not effected by these changes.

    Home schoolers have successfully educated their children for over twenty years in Zurich. Some students have gone to University while others have become successful in trades. Various families are currenlty in court fighting for freedom.

    Zurich Lehrplan (German only) - The Canton's Learning Standards:

    Volkschulamt.zh.ch To get to the Lehrplan click on: Downloads - Unterricht - Lehrplan

    vsa.zh.ch More info If you like frames, go to: Lehrplan with Frames
    home education
    Federal Institutes of Technology - ETH & EPFL
    Attending the ETH in Zurich.

    We can't give you specific information about your chances of admission, since the admissions department decides on a case-by-case basis for students who do not hold a Swiss federal high school diploma (eidgenössische gymnasial Maturität). Normally the admissions department evaluates test scores. If you have some verifiable ones - perhaps with samples - have them handy. Likely you will still be required to take an entry exam, and there , all that counts is your knowledge, whether attained via homeschooling or some other means is not important. If you feel more comfortable, you can call home education "private instruction" (Privatunterricht),as it falls under this heading in the Zurich school law. You should contact an admissions officer at the ETH directly. They will be happy to communicate with you, even in English, if you ask for it.

    For more information on the ETH and life as a student in Zurich go to http://www.study.ethz.ch/ and specifically for admissions requirements go to http://www.study.ethz.ch/education/bsc/applicaition: The admission procedure for applicants who do not hold a Swiss "Matura" is on a case-by-case basis. Your educational background will be examined and if you do not meet ETH requirements, you will be invited to take the entrance examination. Entrance examinations are organized twice a year, in February and September.

    Also, do not forget you will need a residency permit from the respective cantonal Immigration Service in order to study in any canton of Switzerland. More on that: http://www.study.ethz.ch/immigration/index.


    Further Resources and Information

    Swiss Home School / Home Education Association - BZH

    Cantonal Summary Table - based on private experience

    www.educa.ch - Swiss Education System - Excellent resource in English, DE, FE, IT and RM
    www.educa.ch link to all the canton school systems
    IDES.CH - EDK = Eidgenössische Erziehungsdirektorenkonferenz - Under the heading "Primarstufe" click on "Hauserziehung (Homeschooling)" - Provides Information on law in different cantons. Not completely up to date on last review in Summer 2006.

    bbw.admin.ch - Swiss Government Laws
    admin.ch - Swiss official links to each canton.

    International
    International cooperation in education - Deutsch Français