Switzerland - Country Background Information

Describing the forms of education in the country

The EASIE data collection covers all recognised forms of education at ISCED levels 02, 1, 2 and 3.

This means any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector: municipality, local or regional educational provider from the public or private sector, working with/for ministries responsible for education and areas such as health, social, welfare, labour, justice, etc.

What is the compulsory education age range in the country?


What are the typical age ranges for the ISCED levels?

4-6 7-12 13-15 16-20
Is private sector education covered by the data provided for the country?

The definition of ‘private sector education’ is based on UNESCO-UIS/OECD/Eurostat. Switzerland classifies private schools into two categories:

  • Private schools with public funding under 50%
  • Private schools with public funding of 50% or more.
Is recognised public or private education organised by sectors other than education (i.e. health, social, welfare, labour, justice, etc.) in the data provided for the country?
Are there recognised forms of alternative education covered by the data provided for the country?
Are there recognised forms of home schooling covered by the data provided for the country?

Education is an obligation that can be fulfilled by attending a public school, a private school or through home schooling. Almost all cantons regulate in their school legislation the possibility of home schooling during compulsory education.

As a rule, home schooling is subject to authorisation and state supervision. Authorisation is obtained under various conditions laid down in school legislation. These may include:

  • the aims of the teaching coincide with those of the public school;
  • the curriculum corresponds to cantonal guidelines;
  • the teacher has pedagogical background.
Identifying an ‘inclusive setting’ in the country

In the EASIE data collection, an inclusive setting is operationally defined as:

A recognised form of education where the child/learner follows education in mainstream classes alongside their peers for the largest part – 80% or more – of the school week.

The 80% time placement benchmark clearly indicates that a child/learner is educated in a mainstream class for the majority of their school week. At the same time, it acknowledges possibilities for small group or one-to-one withdrawal for limited periods of time (i.e. 20% or one day a week).

Very few participating countries can provide exact data on children/learners spending 80% of their time in a mainstream group/class. However, all countries can apply one of three agreed proxies that provide an approximation to this benchmark:

  • Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more
  • Data is available on the number of hours of support allocated to a child/learner
  • Placement in a mainstream class implies over 50% or more.
Are you able to provide actual data to verify the 80% placement benchmark?
If no, which proxy are you using
Placement in a mainstream class implies 50% or more
What an ‘official decision of SEN’ means in the country

In the EASIE data collection, the agreed operational definition is:

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.

Countries may have different types of official decision, but for all official decisions:

  • There has been some form of educational assessment procedure involving different people. This procedure may involve the child/learner, parents, school-based team members, as well as professionals from multi-disciplinary teams from outside the child’s/learner’s (pre-)school.
  • There is some form of legal document (plan/programme, etc.) that describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive, which is used as the basis for decision-making.
  • There is some form of regular review process of the child/learner’s needs, progress and support.
Please describe what an ‘official decision’ is in the country.

An official decision of special educational needs (SEN) is a measure ordered by a competent authority on the basis of a pre-defined and standardised assessment procedure aiming to determine the specific needs of an individual pupil. The decision to grant a measure may be appealed. A measure can be granted to any pupil in compulsory education. By default, all pupils outside of mainstream schools (special schools) are assigned a measure.

What educational assessment procedures are carried out and who is involved?

The Needs Assessment of the Standardised Eligibility Procedure includes the following dimensions: special education support, pedagogical-therapeutic support (e.g. speech therapy), counselling and support (e.g. counselling of teacher, sign language interpreter, transport), and care and assistance (support for daily routine, social support). Health needs are an additional dimension, but these are not within the responsibility or mandate of the education system. A recommendation is made for the provision of additional support, which is subsequently checked and approved by the responsible education authority.

The Standardised Eligibility Procedure documents the evidence relevant to understand the problem and establish the support needs for low-incidence disabilities. The Cantons differ in their approach to the implementation of the procedure, but generally there will be a case manager (e.g. school psychologist) as part of a multi-disciplinary team. In addition, parents and school representatives are involved in developing the recommendation for additional support.

The Standardised Eligibility Procedure (low-incidence disabilities) is conducted by a multi-disciplinary team mainly external to the pupil’s school, but the pupil’s teacher(s) are involved as informants (basic assessment) and to develop recommendations (needs assessment). The educational assessment for high-incidence disabilities is within the responsibility of the school team with the support of external experts where necessary.

What formal, regular review processes of a child/learner’s needs, progress and support are linked to an official decision?

The Standardised Eligibility Procedure is a long-term planning tool documenting overall goals and means to reach these goals. On this basis, schools develop mid-term and short-term goals to guide their work. Some Cantons have developed guidelines for this planning process.

What ‘out-of-education’ means in the country

Within the EASIE data collection, specific questions examine children/learners who are out of education. This means children/learners who should, by law, be in some form of recognised education, but who are out of any form of recognised education. A recognised form of education is any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector.

Is there a formal definition of ‘out-of-education’ in the country?
Please describe which learners are considered ‘out-of-education’ in the country

Learners who are currently unknown to the cantonal education departments, such as newly-established children who have not yet been declared. At the compulsory school levels, the number of pupils not enrolled in education is however negligible.

Please describe any specific country issues you think are relevant for understanding the data you have provided

For pupils who are educated in two institutions, information is gathered for the institution where they spend more time.

Regarding the upper-secondary level (ISCED 3), no data on learners with an official decision of SEN is available.

By default, all pupils in ISCED 02–2 outside of mainstream schools (special schools) are assigned a measure.