Cool Info for Parents in Lausanne, Switzerland

Very positive talk by Anne-Catherine Lyon, head of Vaud public schools

Guest post by Marilyn Stelzner (also cross-posted in various Yahoo! Groups)

International Link, part of the CVCI (Vaud Chamber of Commerce) sponsored a talk last night by Anne-Catherine Lyon, the head of Vaud public schools, and I found her to be amazingly open and positive. Did anyone else on this list go? If so, I’d love to hear your reactions. Or please correct me if I am misquoting her.

Ms. Lyon is apparently willing to change things in some situations and go to bat for families with their local school in other situations. Her formal presentation was fairly standard, with the diagrams showing the type of schooling by age group, but she took questions during the talk. I wish I had taken better notes, but some things I wrote down:

  • 33% of the 82,000 students in Canton Vaud public schools do not speak French when they enter the system.
  • Communes own the buildings, offer lunch programs, provide transportation. Teachers work for the canton, which also provides all the equipment in the classrooms. The confederation sets standards. Every change to how things are done needs to be negotiated.
  • 20% of schools in the canton have lunch programs, which she said is high compared to other cantons.
  • Lots of changes as of August ’13 as part of harmonization with the rest of CH
    1. English classes starting at grade 5
    2. Compulsory education will start at age 4, and the cut-off birth date is changing a bit (sorry, I missed the date.) Someone asked a question about the possibility of making an exception if a child has a late birthday and might do better waiting but she said that after August ’15, there will be no exceptions.
    3. Primary school will end at age 12 at the end of the CYT (Cycle of Transition)
    4. After the CYT, there will then be 2 tracks in upper secondary school -VSB and VSG. She said that the advantage of this plan is that students will be able to change between the tracks each of the years. She also noted that in Canton Valais, which has one of the best rankings for their education system, secondary school is “totally open” and that is what she had been aiming for. However, 2/3 of the parliament would not go along with that.
  • There were several questions about the best time to integrate and she said that for non-French speakers it was easiest for students if they start before age 8 when they start taking German. Otherwise they have to catch up German at the same time they are still learning French, though German can be postponed a bit for adjustment.
  • The cities, and she specifically sited Lausanne, Morges, and Vevey, are better organized in terms of ecole enfantine and day care than the villages.
  • Someone from a relocation company said that she was never able to make arrangements to take parents who were relocating on visits of schools, and that a lot of expat parents are really uncomfortable with not being able to visit schools before deciding to send their children there. Ms. Lyon clarified that students have to attend the school that is where they live, but she also said she agreed that it should be possible for parents to visit one or two schools ahead of time. She said this is a change that could be made quickly.
  • Students who complete the Ecole de maturité receive two pieces of paper: a Baccalaureat from the canton and a Federal Maturité, which however, she clarified is not the same as the federal maturité awarded to private school students who take the federal exam. I am especially interested in issues with the recognition of the cantonal maturité outside of Switzerland and followed up with two points related to that:
    1. I told her that from my research I had learned that some universities in the UK do not recognize the maturite awarded by the canton. She said that they had been told that and were going to do some investigation of the situation.
    2. I said that several of the German speaking cantons offered the possibility of getting both a matura and an International Baccalaureate diploma specifically to help with the issues of recognition of their diplomas outside of Switzerland, and asked if canton Vaud had or would consider offering such a program. She conferred with one of her staff members who also attended and said they were not aware of this but would look into it.
  • Someone asked how long she would be in her role since there seemed to be lots of changes in the system and if there were a new head that might mean even more changes. Ms. Lyon said she had just been re-elected to another 5 year term, so she’ll be there awhile.

Although there were very few changes that she actually committed to, her openness to the possibility was certainly refreshing.

Best regards,
Marilyn Stelzner
www.GlobalUniversityChoices.com

FINALLY! Smoking Ban in Public Places in Vaud!

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Aaahhhh, what a breath of fresh air! The smoking ban in public places in Canton Vaud has finally come into full effect this week on Sept 15 (what a great birthday present for my daughter!) after being postponed from the original date of Sept 1. This will include most of places accessible by public and offices shared by several people. Smoking rooms can be arranged, such as in restaurants, but this area won’t receive any service (except if the waiter agrees to do that under a contract).

For official information about the smoking ban in public places around Switzerland, go here.

*Thanks, Sarah, for reminding me to post about this!

**Photograph courtesy of Mykl Roventine, used under Creative Common License

All Special Kids

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Today I learned about ASK (All Special Kids), a Geneva-based association aiming to support the families of children with special needs and learning difficulties. The association has many programs that might be of your interest if you have child(ren) with special needs. Please refer to their website for more information about this association and their programs.

And for the ASK Vaud group there will be a coffee morning on March 26th at 10am at the Chalet de Brie (see below for address, directions, and contact detail).

Chalet de Brie
Chemin de Bendes 7
1806 St. Legier La Chiesaz (near Vevey)
Plenty of private parking available. The nearest train stop is St. Legier, then it’s a fifteen minute walk through lovely farmland to Chalet de Brie.

Contact person:
Lynda Heffernan
lynda.heffernan(AT)allspecialkids.org

Book: For parents with young children in Vaud

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The Canton of Vaud recently published free pocket address books (carnet d’adresses) for parents with young children (0-6 y.o.).  The book provides contact details of professionals who can help new parents (or parents-to-be) within the area, such as gynecologists, midwives, counselors, social workers, early childhood nurses (Infirmière Petite Enfance) and pediatricians. There also addresses of nice-to-know places like theatres, ludothéques and fringothéque. It even has a glossary of important terms in 7 different languages! I really like this book, the size is just perfect for my bag so that I can always carry it around.

This guide book is available for all 4 regions of the Canton of Vaud. It is distributed by the professionals as above. I got my copy from the nurse at the Centre médico-social (CMS) Epalinges during one of my visits there to weigh the baby. You can also obtain it from the Espace Prévention in Lausanne (see address below).

Espace Prévention
Pré du Marché 23
1004 Lausanne
Tel: 021 644 04 24
Fax: 021 644 04 26
prevention.Lausanne(AT)omsv.vd.ch

Book: The Know-It-All Passport

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I hardly believed that I found out about this guide only after I lived in Lausanne for 3 years. I was looking for information about finding baby-sitters in Lausanne when one of the pages I browsed brought me to their website.

Two weeks ago I finally got my copy at Payot. The guide is very thick and quite heavy, and it costs CHF38. Browsing through, I get the feeling of going through a telephone book that has undergone a careful selection to accommodate the need of English-speaking families in Lausanne. Of course, unlike the telephone book, there are more useful information than just addresses and telephone numbers. However, browsing through their day-care center section, I found that many centers are not listed there. So, even with this book, I think sometimes I will still have to go to directories.ch. Click here for the table of contents.

The guide is published every two years and is constantly updated through the website. To buy one, you can order online, or just go to Payot in Lausanne (they have it in their English book section).

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