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Once known for its finishing schools, where English girls were sent to brush up their schoolgirl French and acquire a little foreign polish, this stretch of Lake Geneva is now home to some of the world’s most exclusive (and expensive) international schools. 

Best schools Lausanne, Vevey, La Cote Switzerland

Education in Lausanne 

The reputation of private schools in Switzerland remains high, possibly due to the exclusivity gained by some of the most jaw-dropping fees in the world. The audience has changed from being almost entirely English or North American - with a sprinkling of students from other European countries - to a much more diverse collection of nationalities, although not in terms of the parental assets needed to pay the fees. 

The majority of schools chosen by international families have histories as long as the bill for extras, with the best known having flourished here since the 19th century. Barely any have less than 25 years under their belt. Almost all are based near the lake, either in or around Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux or between Lausanne and Geneva. A small number of private day schools exist but almost all offer boarding, as their appeal is largely to the international (not necessarily Swiss-based) market. 

Boarding schools in Lausanne

From Institut Le Rosey in the French-speaking west, to Institute auf dem Rosenberg in the German-speaking east and TASIS in the Italian-speaking south, boarding schools in Switzerland are probably best known for being the most exclusive and expensive schools in the world. Starting at more than twice the price of the most expensive boarding schools in the UK, fees can go up to an eyewatering Chf155,000+ at the two most expensive. 

What does this money buy? No doubt privacy, to the extent that you might find two rival dynasties with children in the same school (actually happened). And, at some, but not all, a wonderful array of winter sports particularly at those schools located in the mountains - where understandably a full-sized football pitch will not be available, although there is surprisingly a cricket pitch at Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz near St Moritz. Beyond that, what you get for your money in terms of accommodation, varies from the luxury 5-star to a more rustic chalet-type environment. Whilst, in terms of education all the established schools offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme alongside the US High School Diploma, APs, French Baccalaureate, Swiss Maturité or German Arbitur. They are also truly international with even the American curriculum orientated schools attracting around 50 different nationalities. Which is perhaps what attracts many parents to these schools - the networking opportunities for their children are vast. 

Local schools in Lausanne

Parents who don’t have assistance with school fees - or are simply bouleversé by the cost of the private options - may choose the local Swiss state system, but the quality of schools varies enormously. All schools offer non-French speakers ‘welcome lessons’ to improve their French, but again these differ widely in quality. Education in Switzerland is obligatory from age 6 to 15, but some primary schools will accept children from 4 years. Note that entry into UK universities can be more difficult with the Swiss Maturité exam than some other European leaving school qualifications (although some global, student destinations tend to look on it more favourably). 

Choosing a school in Lausanne 

As always when looking at international schools, the curriculum plays a major part in the choice - and the common factor with schools here is that they offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Several offer further graduating options too, including A levels, French Baccalaureate, Swiss Matura and the American high school diploma. Lower down, they teach a variety of curricula, so look carefully if you are planning to move before your child has graduated, to ensure that they can transition as easily as possible into their next school.  

The other important factor in choosing a school here is the level of pastoral care - particularly important if your child will be boarding. Talk to as many parents as you can, as well as visiting the schools. A lot of these schools have been around a very long time, but what matters is the here and now. 

It’s doubtful you’ll be disappointed with the extracurricular treats – the schools in or around Lausanne provide a level of treats that are, quite literally, not available anywhere else in the world. 

Best schools in Lausanne  

International School of Lausanne 

PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 880 students 

Founded in 1962, as the English School of Lausanne, only attended by seven pupils. A new ‘South’ campus was opened in 2015 near the purpose-built (2005) buildings in Le Mont-sur-Lausanne. Students from over 70 nationalities with the largest cohorts from the US, the UK, Switzerland and France. Approximately 40 per cent of graduates move on to UK universities, including Oxbridge and Russell Group and 25 per cent to North American universities, Ivies amongst them.  

Click here to read our full review of International School of Lausanne 

These schools have been brought to our attention but until we have more reports from parents, we are unable to consider reviewing them. 

Brillantmont International School  

IGCSE/ A Level/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 13-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 150 students 

Established in 1882 (one of the oldest boarding schools in Switzerland), located in the centre of Lausanne and owned by the same family for five generations. The school also runs a post high school 13th grade programme, the modern equivalent of a ‘finishing’ school. Over 20 per cent of candidates consistently achieve A*-A at A level and graduates continue to gain places at leading global universities.  

École Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande 

Montessori/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma/ Swiss Maturité; ages 3-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 600 students 

Founded in 1906 and located in Lausanne. Primarily, a French school but classes taught in French and English with English introduced in nursery, followed by daily classes in primary. Choice of the Maturité Suisse or the IB Diploma taught in French, English or bilingual French/English.  

Haut-Lac École Internationale Bilingue  

Personalised Infant and Primary curriculum / IBMYP / IBDP / IBCP; ages 18 months-18 years; co-ed; day & boarding; bilingual; independent; privately-owned; 650 students. 

Established in Vevey in 1993 and grown from 13 to 650 pupils. Now on two campuses in Saint-Légier-La-Chiésaz, ten minutes’ drive from Vevey and its bilingual nursery. The bilingual Infant and Primary programme is one day/one day English/French. An English programme is available for families who are in Switzerland short-term. Secondary options a Swiss option, the American High School Diploma and an IB Sport & Study programme.  

Best schools in Montreux and Environs 

Aiglon College 

Adapted curriculum/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 9-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; private non-profit; 360 students 

Founded in 1949 by an ex-Gordonstoun teacher and a founding member of the Round Square network which was established to promote the values of Kurt Hahn. Located in the Alpine village of Chesières near the ski resort of Villars. Serious academics, with a candidate achieving a perfect score for the IB Diploma in two successive years, recently.  

Click here to read our full review of the Aiglon College 

These schools have been brought to our attention but until we have more reports from parents, we are unable to consider reviewing them. 

Collège Alpin Beau Soleil 

Brevet/ French Bac/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 11-18; co-ed; boarding; independent; privately owned; 240 students 

The Swiss jewel in the Nord Anglia (major world player in education) schools in terms of glamour. Listed in print as one of the most exclusive educational establishments in the world. One of the oldest private boarding schools in Switzerland, offering skiing and riding options as well as one on one tuition, if required. 

Institut Monte Rosa 

Originally founded in 1874, this very small (80 boarders), specialised school has been run by the Gademann family since the 1960's. Think traditional Swiss finishing school, although it is now co-ed. It offers small classes to help international students gain entry to US colleges and therefore only teaches a US High School diploma course. 

St. George’s International School 

Adapted curriculum/ IGCSE/ American High School Diploma/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 480 students 

A traditional British school, founded in 1927 by two Oxford graduates and located on the shores of Lake Geneva halfway between Vevey and Montreux. Now a member of the education group Inspired who run over 50 global schools. Small number of boarders from the age of 8. Increasingly French/English bilingual approach to the curriculum, taught to students from over 50 nationalities. 

Best Schools in La Cote 

These schools have been brought to our attention but until we have more reports from parents, we are unable to consider reviewing them. 

Collège Champittet Campus Pully-Lausanne 

Adapted curriculum/ French Bac/ Swiss Maturité/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; day and boarding; co-ed; independent; privately owned; 750 students 

Founded in 1903 by Dominican fathers and now one of the four Nord Anglia Education group’s schools in Switzerland. Option of either a bilingual or Francophone education leading to the International Baccalaureate Diploma, the French Baccalaureate or the Maturité Suisse. Students come from approximately 30 different nationalities with roughly 50 per cent Swiss citizens and 20 per cent English speakers.  

Institut Le Rosey  

International Primary Curriculum/ adapted National Curriculum for England/ French curriculum/ International Middle Years Curriculum/ French Bac/ IB Diploma; ages 9-18; co-ed; boarding; independent; privately owned; 420 students 

Opened in 1880 and the only school to move seasonally from their Lake Geneva base, up the mountains to Gstaad, with both campuses equally well-equipped for sport and academics. Bilingualism developed through the school and a third language is obligatory. At 16, a choice between the French Baccalaureate and the IB Diploma, with most subjects taught in English but a few offered in French.  

La Côte International School 

EYFS/ adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 420 students 

Established in Aubonne, between Lausanne and Geneva, in 2008 and acquired in 2011 by the global Nord Anglia Education group, now with over 65 international schools. Moved to a purpose-built campus in 2014. Respectable IB diploma results (average score 36). Classes taught in English and French. 

For more information on the schools above, please go to each school’s individual entry on the Good Schools Guide international section.




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