Visit to the British School of Geneva

The British School of Geneva

The British School of Geneva

The British School of Geneva is located on the busy main road though Châtelaine, Verier on the right bank of Lake Geneva. The building is modern, but reminds more of an office block than a school. Indeed, it took me a while to find it, despite a big sign at the front, just because I did not expect to find a school in that kind of building.

The entrance is secured with a buzzer, but I was let in by a very courteous student who showed me into the reception area and even called the director when I could not see anyone in the office. Raji Sundaram, the school’s Principal asked me to wait before showing me into her office.

Reception area next to the principal's office at the British School of Geneva

Reception area next to the principal’s office

Mrs Sundaram explained that the British School of Geneva is the only school in the area which offers all levels of British education from year one up to the A-levels. The school is the smallest of all international schools with only one class per year and a maximum of 16 students per class. Classes preparing for A-levels are even smaller, with only 10 students per class, which means that children get plenty of individual attention. This allows the teachers to track the students’ progress effectively, supporting children who are a little behind the programme, and pushing the ones who have already learned the material.

Mrs Sundaram was unsure of the amount of homework the children get per day, but agreed that it must be around 20 minutes in the primary school, mostly focused on reading. The homework in the senior school and, especially the A levels, increases dramatically, reaching several hours a day.

French is taught 3 hours a week from year 1 (there is no reception class in the school), but other languages are not included in the curriculum. There is a language centre in the basement of the building and children can study other languages extracurricular. The school also does not have dedicated sport facilities, instead they are using a sport centre close by. There is a choice of extracurricular activities in sport, music and drama, which vary from year to year.

School bus of the British School of Geneva

School bus

The school has an after school care until 5 30, where children are looked after by a member of staff, but no homework support. There is also a school bus, which can pick up children from the right bank of lake Geneva, canton Vaud and neighbouring France, but for some reason not the left bank or central Geneva.

In general Mrs Sundaram agreed that British School of Geneva is similar to other private schools in the UK. They follow the same curriculum, so children should be able to transfer back to private schools in England if their parents move. The student body changes about 10-15% each year. After the A-levels most students go to universities in the UK and Canada, but Mrs Sundaram did not specify any particular ones.

Because the school is so small, the parents are advised to start the application process at least 8 months in advance. British School of Geneva would consider taking a student in the middle of the academic year if there are available spaces, but I had the impression that it would be difficult to get in on a short notice. For children who are coming from similar educational backgrounds (like UK, US or Canada) the school requests only a school report. Children previously studying at other education systems will have to sit an evaluation. I was referred to the website for further details on admission.

All in all I can say that this was the shortest school visit I ever had, in and out in under 30 minutes. Mrs Sundaram volunteered very little information and just briefly answered the questions I prepared in advance. Instead of a general discussion I got used to having during other school visits, here it seemed like I was just reading my list of questions. It almost felt like Mrs Sundaram could not wait for me to leave.

Entrance hall at the British School of Geneva

Entrance hall

Mrs Sundaram and all her colleagues were also too busy to show me around the school, so all I could see was the entrance hall and the rather untidy reception area. Perhaps, it was a bad day; perhaps they had some kind of emergency at school that they could not devote me any more time, despite me booking this visit a few months in advance. May be it is unfair to extend the attitude of the principal to the otherwise perfectly acceptable school, but somehow when Mrs Sundaram suggested I return for the school tour the other time, I did not feel like I wanted to come back there again.

 

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5 thoughts on “Visit to the British School of Geneva

  1. Maria says:

    Thank you, your descriptions are so detailed and insightful, they really help to get the feel for different schools you have visited.

  2. hayley says:

    Hi,
    I am a former student of BSG, and I would like to say it’s unusual not to be shown around the building, but you may have been here during the exam period, so we have to keep the school quiet and Ms Sundaram is always there to start the exam, and take our papers from us. I personally have shown people around so they have the opportunity to get a student’s opinion too. The boxes in the office area are our yearbooks that had been delivered, they were there for a few days, while we pick them up.
    As we follow the British curriculum, we only need to teach one language. For a levels there are options for most languages – German, Italian, ect.
    I’d also lie to point out that there will be a new principle starting this September, so if you would like to visit again, feel free to.
    Thank you

    • Yulia says:

      Dear Hayley,
      Thank you for your comment and for letting me know about the change of principal at the British School of Geneva. I will try to book another tour once the new principal has settled.
      Best regards,
      Yulia

  3. BSG Student says:

    Hello!

    I am a current student here at The British School of Geneva. I just want to thank you for your insightful review on our quaint little school!

    I guess I’d be more than happy to fill in some gaps that weren’t completely filled in during your visit. I’d like to apologise firstly as the time you most likely came to visit the school, our exam season was still on going. Many of the A Level exams were still in progress and could have resulted in the time-crunched tour of our school.

    At this time, the school has been going through many new changes and is constantly receiving new shipments and deliveries of uniform and school supplies in preparation for the influx of new students that are set to arrive during the upcoming year.

    Many of the A Level graduates continue on to some of the best schools in the UK and Canada. To name a few, this includes Cambridge, Bath, as well as UCL ; with many of my fellow classmates recieving multiple unconditional offers at the top universities. The close knit environment created by the students and faculty make assimilation to a new school setting much easier as compared to many other schools in the area. We here at the British School of Geneva pride ourselves in the fact that we have a bully free environment which is almost non existent in most schools here in Geneva.

    The small classes in the school mean that teachers and students have a much closer relationship. Each individual student is catered to and is treated as a family member. This tight bond between student and teacher creates an overall higher academic achievement that is shown all across the board.

    After school, many children are left and supervised. Many A Level students take up the role of homework assist after school in which they supply their aid to younger children in Primary and are hand picked by the faculty to offer their guidance and oversee the children after school hours. Teachers and other members of faculty are also there after school to usually watch over the children.

    Other languages are a part of the curriculum towards IGCSE and A Levels where they can be picked as an extra subject and would be done at a different time. But our school does provide other languages besides French. Our languages include Spanish, German, and Russian.

    As I am a current student here at BSG, I may sound biased but I have actually travelled around many of the schools in Geneva. I found that here at BSG, I was able to reach my full potential academically and socially. The students and teachers made me feel at home straight off from the beginning. I do encourage you to come and visit our school once again. The school is completely transformed once you meet the amazing young individuals all smart in uniform who fill the corridors, adding the overall ambiance to our school. Thank you once again, and I hope to eventually see you back to tour our school.

    – Current Student at BSG

    • Yulia says:

      Thank you very much for your comment and for providing this additional information about the British School of Geneva. I am sure many of the parents and prospective students will find it very useful to hear another opinion and would be glad to know that students are happy at the British School of Geneva.
      Best regards,
      Yulia

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