La Châtaigneraie campus of Ecole Internationale (or as it is sometimes lovingly known La Chat) is located in Founex, canton Vaud just 20 minutes from Geneva. Away from the traffic and overlooking both Lake Geneva and Jura mountains, the school is set in the truly serene environment. La Chat campus offers bilingual education for children from 3 to 18 years old and it is the only Ecole Internationale’s campus offering Swiss Maturité.
The primary school teaches the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. In the middle years students follow the school’s own curriculum and in the secondary school students have the opportunity to study towards IGCSEs and the International Baccalaureate Diploma or Swiss Maturité. The French national diploma, Diplôme National du Brevet, can be taken at the end of the year 10.
La Châtaigneraie campus consists of several buildings, including separate primary and secondary schools, sport halls, multimedia and library centres.
The primary school was constructed just 5 years ago and it allowed to double La Châtaigneraie’s capacity. It is a beautiful modern building designed with the needs of the small children in mind: wide corridors, floor to ceiling windows, toilets located in the same place on each floor etc. The halls and corridors are decorated with students’ art and many of the classrooms have lake views.
In addition to regular classrooms, the building also has smaller breakout rooms for work in small groups or one to one lessons. La Châtaigneraie accepts children of all academic abilities and some students may need individual attention to catch up with the programme or improve language skills.
La Châtaigneraie is a bilingual school. Up until year 4 the teaching is split approximately 40%-60% between English and French. Reading, maths and units of inquiry are taught in language “A”, while drama, music and sport are in language “B”. As of year 5, the teaching becomes fully bilingual with the 50%-50% split between the languages. In the middle school children can choose in which language they want to study maths, science, history and geography. Sports, music and visual arts classes can be in both languages. A cosy and well-lit library contains reference materials and novels in both languages.
German or Spanish are introduced as part of the curriculum starting from year 7. The school also runs a Mother Tongue Support Programme. Taking classes extracurricular, children can further perfect their mother tongue and become confident in reading and writing.
In addition to the dedicated sport complex and outside sport grounds, the primary school building contains separate gym hall for younger students with mushy floors and adequately sized sports equipment. The building also has its own concert hall, where children can perform and 6 graders present their projects.
La Châtaigneraie grounds are equipped with several recreational areas for children to play during the breaks. There are no outside classrooms like in Pregny school (Ecole Internationale Campus des Nations), but the school organises bus trips to a nearby forest domain, which belongs to one of the La Châtaigneraie families.
The canteens at La Châtaigneraie serve healthy hot lunches to both primary and secondary school students. La Chat promotes healthy eating and food education, seeking to provide locally sourced and organic ingredients for all school meals. The school canteen has been awarded a green fork certification.
In the canteen area children also gather for after school care. They can stay until 6 to make crafts, do their homework (unsupervised) or, weather allowing, play outside.
Given that the school is not easily accessible by public transport it operates a fleet of school busses. They can collect and deliver children to a home address or to a one of the three designated meeting points. The majority of the families at La Châtaigneraie are fairly local, but the busses collect also from Geneva and nearby France.
Many parents are actively involved in the school life. As in other Ecole Internationale campuses, La Chat’s Parent Teacher Association organises winter markets, food festivals and seasonal parties. Along with the members of staff parents participate in the community orchestra.
You can read more about Ecole Internationale and its other campuses here.