Genève pratique

Practical Geneva



Swiss public schools provide free education to all children, who legally reside in Switzerland.

In Geneva, public schools are overseen by the «Département de l’instruction publique, de la formation et de la jeunesse, République et Canton de Genève (DIP)». Find all the information by school level as well as practical advice (in French).

Canton of Vaud

Find all the useful information on the different levels of education provided in the Canton.

The Canton of Vaud offers an information website: «Vaud-welcome» specially dedicated to newcomers; so that you can find as quickly as possible your marks in your new place of life!

Primary School

Public school enrolments start in March, with the academic year commencing in late August. If you come from abroad, your child can join a public school at any time of the year. The child’s identity card, or passport, plus residence permit will be required for enrolment.

Parents should enrol their children (4 - 12 years) at a school within their local community, generally closest to their place of residence.

For more information consult Primary School information section on the DIP website.

For information on training courses and professions, the "Cité des métiers du Grand Genève" is the best web platform.

Daily schedule

School hours are generally from 8h00 - 16h00 Monday to Friday, with a half or full day off on Wednesdays, depending on the age group.

There is a 2 hour lunch break, when students may go home or join the school lunch program.

Meal plans and after-school care are available in some communes for an additional cost. Meals are organised by associations or companies. Meal prices are set in consultation with the municipal authorities. You can find more information on the website of your commune

Procedure to register your child for the school canteen.

Secondary school

For secondary school enrolments, it’s best to contact the ‘Direction générale de l’enseignement obligatoire’ (12 - 14 years) or the ‘Direction générale de l’enseignement secondaire II’ (15 - 18 years) as early as possible, for placements in the next academic year starting in late August.

For more information consult Secondary school information “Cycle d’Orientation” (CO) section on the DIP website.

Childcare structures and extracurricular activities

Several organisations organise activities for children outside school hours.

Want to enrol your child in extracurricular activities? Online registration of your child on website is compulsory and you must first open an «e-démarches» account with the State of Geneva.

Welcome classes

Children from abroad will usually be required to complete a test, to determine their academic level and identify the level in which they should be placed, before they can be admitted.

Welcome classes and French language support are available to new students arriving from abroad, to help them reach a proficient level required for their learning.

Intensive immersion classes are offered during the first year, in addition to the mainstream curriculum. Grading concessions may also be considered during this introductory period, to account for the level of language proficiency.

For more information consult the document in English: «Classes d'accueil du cycle d'orientation»

French courses for parents whose children attend public compulsory school. Teaching methods and programmes are adapted to an adult audience.  The class schedules meet professional and family constraints. 

If you live in Canton de Vaud French courses for newcomers are also available.

Post-compulsory options

At the completion of lower-secondary school, students are streamed into post-compulsory options, based on examination results, grades and motivation.

These include:

  1. Attending «Collège» or Gymnase, which then prepares students for the ‘Maturité gymnasiale’, necessary to access Swiss universities.
  2. Enrolling in a «Formation professionnelle», to complete a vocational apprenticeship or professional certificate.
  3. Or, continue general education for 4 years by joining what is known as an «École de culture générale».

Private Schools

Private international schools are another popular option with expatriate families and can sometimes ease the transition of moving between countries.

They offer bi-lingual and multi-lingual programs, and students can continue to learn in a familiar language, as well as maintain a consistency of recognised education programs like the International Baccalaureate (IB).

Geneva is home to the oldest international school in the world – the International School of Geneva, founded in 1924, with three campuses in Geneva and Vaud. There are many other renowned and well-reputed international schools in the local area.

In Geneva, over 17% of students are educated in private schools.

The 47 private schools, which are members of the Geneva Association of Private Schools (AGEP), all hold a recognised quality certification and are recognised by the Cantonal Education Department. There are some private schools that are not members of AGEP.




School holidays

Canton of Geneva

Canton of Vaud




Groupement Intercommunal
pour l’Animation Parascolaire (GIAP)
for school canteen or after school activities



Public education scheme for Geneva



Address and or website of every public school in Geneva




Schools and courses proposed by the «Association genevois des écoles privées»