Switzerland: so much to offer

A wonderful landscape straight out of ‘The Sound of Music’; winter sports right on your doorstep; a familiar academic programme; the chance to meet other cultures and to extend your horizons; and a great standard of living in an efficient and well-run country – these are just some of the benefits of working in Switzerland, at the Haut-Lac International Bilingual School. Eteach spoke to Business Manager Jean-Louis Dubler to find our more.

Tell us about The Haut-Lac International Bilingual School.

 

The Haut-Lac International Bilingual School educates over 650 students of more than 40 different nationalities and from many diverse cultures, side-by-side with local Swiss students. Within the framework of an academically rigorous, student-centred, bilingual programme, the school endeavours to create a stimulating environment for children aged 3 to 18 years. The academic programme in the Primary school is based on the guidelines of the British National Curriculum and the French primary programme, whilst the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP) are followed in the Secondary school. A holistic approach to learning and an international outlook are important elements of the school’s philosophy and bilingualism (French-English) is promoted at all levels.

Whereabouts in Switzerland is the school?

It’s in Vevey/St-Légier at the eastern end of Lake Geneva, a few kilometres from Montreux. Water sports and mountain pursuits enthusiasts do not have far to go in the summer, and winter sport lovers will find the nearest ski resort just 15 minutes away from the school.

We are only 20 minutes away from the French border on one side, and 45 minutes from Geneva International Airport by train or motorway on the other. The wonderful landscape around us in this part of Switzerland is reminiscent of scenes from “The Sound of Music”.

What’s the experience like for UK teachers coming to teach with you?

UK teachers generally like the life they experience in Switzerland. Commuting times are relatively short at 15 minutes on average, compared to large UK cities. Safety levels in general are much better than in the UK. However, Switzerland expects a lot of bureaucratic detail from its citizens and the expats who come to live here. So newcomers must be prepared to fill out a lot of forms and supply copious documentation. Whilst the school can assist the teachers with the paperwork, such matters are employee’s responsibility in Switzerland, and the onus is on the individual to ensure that everything which is necessary gets done.[GP1]

Anyone thinking about coming to work in Switzerland would do well to visit in advance to get a better idea of the availability and location of accommodation (teachers are responsible for finding their own, though the school makes suggestions), and to get a feel for the lifestyle where 24/7 shopping does not exist and regulations abound. Moving house contents or bringing your car, for example, may not be the most efficient solutions to getting settled quickly.

How easy is it to adapt to both the academic routine and life in the country?

On the whole, we find that UK teachers adapt well both to the school and the country.

Haut-Lac is a bilingual French and English school, and most of our students speak two or even more languages. A reasonable working knowledge of French is therefore probably the best asset for a quick integration not only locally, but also within the school. Willingness to participate fully in the life of the school community, including its range of extra-curricular activities, is an important pre-requisite for potential candidates. An interest in current educational issues and in contributing to the development of curriculum and policies through vertical and horizontal coordination meetings opens exciting opportunities professionally.

What do you think are the best aspects of working abroad?

Working abroad and especially in an international school like Haut-Lac is very rewarding for a teacher; it is an excellent opportunity to meet other cultures and to extend one’s horizons.

Swiss private schools in general pay salaries at the higher end of the market.

And the worst?

Many will find that the workload in an international school is greater than that experienced in a UK school.

I believe you’ve been using Eteach for some time as a recruitment tool; could you say what you find works for you using the Eteach platform?

Using an internet platform like Eteach allows schools to get in touch with thousands candidates in a click.

What do you think the benefits are for teachers who use Eteach to find overseas employment?

Teachers who have registered on Eteach will get quick responses and should be ready to react to the first offers by making sure that they have a good CV and that accurate references are listed. All international schools habitually check references for any post.

What’s your advice for applicants who might be interested in working at your school?

Take up French if you don’t already speak it.

Anything else to add?

Some of our teachers came to Switzerland to work for 2 or 3 years maximum, and many years later they are still working here with no plans to go back to the UK, so the lifestyle obviously suits them. Those who only stay a year are few and far between.


 

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