Waldorf education in Switzerland

By Daniel Hering, July 2016

In Switzerland 4.2 percent or 38.231 students attend private schools for their compulsory schooling (grades 1-9). In 2013-14 there were 28 Waldorf / Rudolf Steiner Schools with 4.441 students in grades 1-9 and 1.108 students in grades 10-13. In addition, there are 55 kindergartens with 841 children and 48 playgroups / parents-child-groups with 686 children.

Private schools and Waldorf Schools

4.508 families send their children to one of the Waldorf Schools or Kindergartens. Overall there are 7.068 children and students in playgroups, kindergartens and schools. 1.230 teachers share 755 full time positions. The oldest and largest Waldorf / Rudolf Steiner School in Switzerland is located in Basel: it was founded in 1926 and today has 700 students (kindergarten, grades 1-12). So every morning, 1 of 10 Waldorf School students in Switzerland goes to the Rudolf Steiner School in Basel.

Types of Waldorf / Rudolf Steiner Schools

15 schools with grades 1-9, 8 schools with grades 1-12, 3 schools with grades 10-13 and 2 schools with a special concept.

Finance and school fee

The state does not finance private schools. Most of the Waldorf Schools in Switzerland raise a school fee per family. So the families pay the same school fee for one, two or three of their children. The school fee amounts to between 500 and 2500 Swiss francs per family per month, depending on their income. The average school fee per annum is 8.018 Swiss francs per student and 12.603 Swiss francs per family.

Final exams

11 schools provide an upper school (grades 10-13). Students take their exams in 12th and 13th grade. Six schools provide a Waldorf-specific final exam, called the IMS certificate. Students with the IMS certificate are allowed to study at Higher Schools of applied science (Fachhochschulen). Only one school, the Atelier School in Zurich, provides an officially recognized admission to university, called the Matura. The other schools with an upper school have agreements with public high schools: the students transfer after the 12th grade and gain the admission to university (Matura) after two years.

Waldorf Teacher Training / further education

In Switzerland there are two teacher trainings, one in Dornach (German speaking) and one in Lausanne (French speaking). In January a two-day national training conference is usually held at the Goetheanum, attended by approximately 450 teachers.

The Swiss Waldorf Association

Since 2004 the Swiss Waldorf Schools work together in the Association of Rudolf Steiner Schools Switzerland and Lichtenstein. The main fields of work are quality management, teacher training and further qualification, the Waldorf curriculum education policy, and media relations. The association has 5 board members and 2.5 full-time positions, shared by three managing directors. The association is located in Aesch near Basel.

The Foundation of the Rudolf Steiner pedagogy

The Rudolf Steiner Schools finance their buildings mostly through the Foundation for Rudolf Steiner Pedagogy. The Foundation gives interest-free loans and therefore the schools do not need regular credits, which are expansive.

Education Policy

In Switzerland, private schools have very little regulation. For example, they can usually follow their own curricula or they may hire teachers who have only a Waldorf-specific qualification. There are two main issues in the education policy: the diploma certificates (and the admission to further education) and the financing. Out of 29 schools, only the Atelier School Zurich offers a recognized diploma, which leads to universities. Six schools offer a Waldorf-specific certificate which leads to higher schools of applied science. The state rarely finances private schools, but private schools would like the state to finance education per student. If it were approved, then both public and private schools would be financed by the state. And parents really would have the opportunity to choose either a public or private school.

Swiss Rudolf Steiner Schools, Arbeitsgemeinschaft, Apfelseestr. 1, CH-4147 Aesch
Phone +41 535 40 41 | Email: daniel.hering(at)steinerschule.ch | steinerschule.ch

Source: ECSWE

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