Global Navigation

Information about the school system of Zürich in English

Do you have any questions about the school system? The school ambassadors are happy to help you in different languages. Call us or attend an information event in your language.

Telephone consultations
Julia Breddermann
Melanie Thomson
Mittwoch, 16.30–18.30 Uhr

The school system and starting school

School system 

School attendance is compulsory and free for all children from the age of four. After two years in kindergarten, children move on to primary school. Compulsory education lasts a total of 11 years.

After the sixth year of primary school, children attend secondary school for three years. This is either in a secondary school or in a long-term selective secondary school called a “Langzeitgymnasium”. Children must pass an entrance examination to attend a Langzeitgymnasium.

During the second year of secondary school, young people start to prepare for their future careers. They learn about different professions to help them prepare for their onward journeys in compulsory schooling. With the support of their teachers, many students look for an apprenticeship in a company during their time at school. Young people who do apprenticeships attend a vocational school two days a week and receive a small salary. Other young people aim to attend an upper secondary school and prepare to take entrance examinations for either a short-term selective school known as a “Kurzzeitgymnasium” or a specialised school called a “Fachmittelschule”. These examinations can be taken in the second and/or third year of secondary school.

When choosing their careers, young people also need support from their parents. You can find information about the vocational education system here in various languages. The City of Zurich organises careers events for parents in various languages.

Starting school

If you already live in Zurich and your child will be four years old by 31 July, you do not have to do anything. We will contact you in plenty of time before they start kindergarten.

If you have recently moved to Zurich and have registered your address, you will receive further information from us about your child’s school place. Enter your address in the tool to identify your local education authority. This will enable you to contact us directly.

The school day

Lesson times

Lessons are held five mornings and two to four afternoons, depending on the year group. There are no afternoon lessons during the first year of kindergarten. Children either go home or stay at school for lunch. Parents pay income-based fees for meals and childcare.

Childcare outside of school hours

Schools provide extracurricular childcare before and after school hours. This is subject to a fee. You can find an overview of the different services on offer and their associated costs here. Parents can apply to receive financial support and pay a reduced rate depending on their income and assets. You need to complete a form to register for childcare for the first time (after school care is often referred to as “Hort”). Detailed information on childcare is only available in German.

All-day schools

Pupils attend all-day schools from the second year of kindergarten. They stay for lunch and attend afternoon lessons. They receive a hot meal and are supervised by trained professionals. In addition to lunchtime care, all-day schools offer before and after school childcare. 



There is no national curriculum in Switzerland. The Lehrplan Volksschule Kanton Zürich (Primary School Curriculum for the Canton of Zurich) applies in the canton of Zurich. The curriculum defines the subjects and skills that are developed in primary school.

German as a second language (DaZ)

If your child has only recently started learning German or needs additional support, they will receive DaZ lessons. These lessons are free of charge and take place in school, usually during school hours and partly in the student’s own classroom. Further multilingual information can be found on the website of the Cantonal Office for Primary Education (Volksschulamt).

Instruction in language of origin (HSK)

Your child can expand their knowledge of their first language in HSK classes. Participation is voluntary but recommended. These lessons are available for over 25 languages and are offered by various institutions. You can register your child online.


Instruction in “Religions, Cultures, Ethics”

“Religions, Cultures, Ethics” lessons are structured so that all students can participate, regardless of their background and religious affiliation. Freedom of faith and belief is a constitutional right in Switzerland. Instruction in “Religions, Cultures, Ethics” is compulsory.

Grades and assessment

No grades are given during kindergarten and in the first year of primary school. The main focus is on parent-teacher meetings when the child’s development is the main focus of discussion. During subsequent school years, pupils receive a report in February and in July at the end of the school year, with grades ranging from 1 to 6. 1 is the lowest grade and 6 is the highest. Grade 4 is considered to be satisfactory. Detailed information on assessment at different levels can be found on the website of the Cantonal Office for Primary Education (Volksschulamt).

Special needs support

Support services are available for students who have specific talents or learning or behavioural difficulties. Find out more about support services here. If necessary, therapies such as psychomotorics and speech therapy are used to support children with their learning. 

Health and school social services

Health and prevention

The City of Zurich’s school health services support the healthy development of school children through a range of medical, psychological, dental and addiction prevention services. Please contact our specialist services if you have any questions.

Dental health

General health

Learning difficulties or behavioural problems

Addiction problems

School social service

The school social service is located directly in the school building and is aimed at children, adolescents, parents and employees of the school. The service provides support and advice on issues and problems that may be occurring at school or at home.

Weitere Informationen