Making sense of school events at your local Swiss school

Getting confused with the many different types of school events at your local Swiss school? Here is how to make sense of the different school meetings!

Parent-Teacher Conferences 

This is the time of year, where many schools organise parent-teacher conferences. As an expat parent who is not familiar with the Swiss local school system and who struggles with German, you might feel nervous about discussing your child’s performance with the teacher.

It might therefore be helpful to know the different formats you might encounter and what to expect.

Here is an overview of the different types of conferences in Kindergarten and local primary school:

Schulanlass/ School Event

If you have a child entering school for the first time or changing to a different type of local school in Switzerland, you will receive an invitation to an orientation evening (often called Schulanlass) at the new school early in the new year or in spring. In this meeting you will get a general overview of the school, staff and services. Expect a more or less informative powerpoint presentation and – if you are lucky – an ’apéro’ (the Swiss version of meet and greet). Do not expect to be able to talk to your child’s future teacher! Teachers will only be allocated to their class much later and the first time you will have the chance to meet your child’s teacher is at the Elternanlass (see below).

Elternanlass/ Parent’s Event

The parents evening or Elternanlass usually takes place in the first weeks of the new school year and gives parents the opportunity to meet the new teacher. Expect some general information but not a one-to-one. So, if you want to talk to the teacher about your child you will either have to wait for the official Elterngespräch (parent-teacher conference), which might only take place much later in the year or arrange a meeting yourself.

Zeugnisgespräch /Report Meeting

In the first year of primary school, the Elterngespräch might be called ‚Zeugnisgespräch‘. Since children do not receive a report card (Zeugnis) in the first year of school, the Zeugnisgespräch is in lieu of a report card and gives you feedback about your child’s school performance.

Elterngespräch / Parents Meeting

From grade 2 onwards, the parent-teacher conference (Elterngespräch) usually takes place 1-2 times a year (depending on the canton), usually in January and/or June. If you are not comfortable holding the meeting in German, be sure to ask for a translator as German is the official language at parent-teacher conferences in local Swiss schools. Do not assume that the teacher will automatically organise a translator for you!

Standortgespräch/ Status Meeting

Sometimes, parent-teacher conferences might also be called ‚Standortgespräch‘.

This assessment meeting aims to discuss your child’s progress or any learning or other school issues. If your child receives additional support, a Standortgespräch might be used to discuss individual learning objectives and outcomes or compensation
for disadvantages (Nachteilsausgleich).

Übertrittsgespräche  und Orientierungsgespräche/ Orientation and Transition Meeting

These will usually take place in the last year (or two, depending on the canton) of primary school and focus on transition to secondary school. During the Orientierungsgespräch, the teacher informs parents about the different performance groupings, school options for secondary school and allocation criteria. The teacher will give feedback about your child’s performance and might discuss learning objectives and areas of improvement.

Zuweisungsgespräch / Allocation Meeting

In the Zuweisungsgespräch in year 6, the teacher will inform parents about his placement recommendation (e.g. Zürich) or decision (e.g. Zug) for entry into one of the secondary school options. In canton Zug, parents and the teacher will discuss the teacher’s recommendation and parents can either accept or reject the placement decision.

Be aware that attendance at parent-teacher conferences in many cases is mandatory!

Wondering how to survive your first parent-teacher conference? Read on:

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