Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve got a question you’ve not seen answered elsewhere, take a look through the list below.

If you still can’t find what you need to know, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Practicalities and day-to-day functioning

Who is the Head of School?

Catherine McKeever was appointed as GEMS World Academy Switzerland’s Head of School in July 2016.

Originally born and brought up in Ireland, she completed her P.G.C.E and her Master’s degree in Educational Management at Surrey University.

Catherine began her teaching career in Southern California where she taught in an elementary school for five years. Following her return to London, she spent the next twenty years teaching in inner city schools.

Catherine has taught across all year groups in various primary schools from FS1 to Year 6, has extensive experience in leading schools and was an educational leader in the UK for fifteen years. Catherine has specialised in school improvement and the development of school leadership.

As former principal of the outstanding GEMS Jumeirah Primary School (JPS) in Dubai, she has extensive experience of working within the GEMS network for both JPS and as an internal inspector for other GEMS schools.

Catherine is excited to live and work in Switzerland and she is passionate about all outdoor activities that the local area has to offer.

What are the school hours?

Our school hours are Monday-Friday 8:30 am - 4:00 pm. Students have a 20-minute break in the mornings and 1 hour for lunch. Extra-Curricular Activities, a mix of paid and no-charge activities, are from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm and offer something for everyone, including sports, academics and the arts.

What is the mix of nationalities at the school?

We currently have more than 30 nationalities represented in our student body and nearly 50 nationalities including our staff. The top three nationalities are Swiss, British and French, with one-third of our students mother-tongue francophones. Because our students come from all continents, they bring a diverse variety of cultures and languages to the school. We celebrate this diversity and believe that understanding and respecting it leads our students to becoming true global citizens.

How can I access the school calendar?

Please click here to find our school calendar on our website.

Do my children need to wear a school uniform?

Yes. GEMS World Academy Switzerland believes that wearing a uniform for school provides our students with a sense of equality, the opportunity to build self-respect and understand what is appropriate for formal and informal social experiences. A uniform is worn up to the end of the MYP. A dress code is provided for the DP students (Grades 11 and 12).

Uniform items are available online from our uniform provider and can be tried on for size at the school uniform shop. Items can then be ordered online. Students may not wear non-uniform items during school hours. You can find out more about our school uniform policy here.

What are the available transport options for getting students to and from school?

We are located in Etoy within easy reach of the main Geneva/Lausanne highway.

We offer bus transportation to and from GEMS World Academy Switzerland through both our own buses and a private company. There are several different bus routes with door to door service or pick-up points. Please contact us for more details on routes, fees and travel times.

The Etoy train station is 800 metres from the school with trains running regularly to and from Geneva and Lausanne.

Do I need to buy school books and what stationery will my child need?

Your children’s books are included in their fees. The school provides all of the children’s work books, text books and writing materials.

Does GEMS World Academy Switzerland have a Parent’s Association?

GEMS is very lucky to have a friendly, active and committed Parent Group who currently organise at least two events per term and have also set up a social calendar including sporting and educational activities for all parents at the school. Their goal is to bring together and grow the school community.

They are happy to meet up and/or talk to prospective or new parents about what it means to be a parent at GEMS World Academy Switzerland. Please contact our Parent Relationship Executive or Registrar if you would like to arrange a meeting.

How can I get more information about parent activities?

You can find out more about getting involved in the school community and participating in parent activities, such as sports or language courses on our Parental Engagement page.

Curriculum and programmes

What Curriculum do you teach?

We teach the International Baccalaureate (IB), and are one of only 200 schools worldwide to be an IB World School offering all three IB Programmes. You can find out more about the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) here. If you would like to find out more about how we teach the IB specifically at GEMS World Academy Switzerland, please contact us to arrange a call or appointment.

Is GEMS World Academy Switzerland accredited?

At GEMS World Academy Switzerland, we teach an international program of study to children aged 3 to 18. We are proud to be an IB World School and offer all three IB programmes (PYP, MYP, DP). As an authorised IB World School, we are committed to providing rigorous, challenging and unique educational programmes of very high standards.

We are a member of The Council of International Schools (CIS), a global organisation that gives its members access to new international educational practices and recognition for their accomplishments. In addition, it helps us attract quality teaching staff and facilitates connections between pupils and leading universities worldwide.

We are also a member of The Swiss Group of International Schools (SGIS) which exists to support international schools in Switzerland and neighbouring countries in achieving their educational goals, to provide representation on issues of common interest and to promote inter-school sports activities.

If you would like to understand more about how accreditation and affiliation ensures a high quality education for your child, please don’t hesitate to contact us with our team for more information.

How can I find out more about the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO)?

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate® (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation offering four highly respected programmes of international education that develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalising world. Schools must be authorised, by the IB organisation, to offer any of the programmes. The International Baccalaureate® (IB) is more than its educational programmes and certificates. At its heart it is motivated by a mission to create a better world through education. GEMS World Academy Switzerland is one of only 200 schools in the world offering all three IB programmes. For more information, please visit www.ibo.org

If you would like to talk to us further about how we teach the IB at GEMS World Academy Switzerland, please contact us to arrange an appointment at the school.

What is Measure of Academic Performance (MAP) testing?

MAP assessments are used in schools internationally to monitor student learning. The assessments help determine a child’s instructional level in Reading, Language and Mathematics. They can be used to help teachers differentiate learning throughout the school year, and from year to year, in KG2 to Grade 10. Following each MAP session, parents receive a report showing their child’s growth. MAP assessments are unique in that they are adaptive to each child. This means that the questions and problems become more difficult the more questions a child answers correctly. When a child answers a question incorrectly, the assessment repeats with a similar levelled question as it determines an appropriate level of complexity. Hence, each child does an assessment that becomes specifically created for his or her learning level. MAP is only one small part of the curriculum and does not dictate what we teach. We use the results to reflect against assessment data collected in class as the results may provide insights and direction to improved student learning.

Tell me more about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programme?

Digital Learning is an integral part of our learning experiences at GEMS World Academy Switzerland. Technology allows our students to access information and to create, communicate and analyse the world around them. It is a tool which staff use to complement more traditional teaching and learning practices. We design learning experiences to ensure students have a balanced use of all tools allowing them to make informed choices. To this end, we ask that students in Grades 1 to 5 have iPads as their mobile learning device and from Grade 6 upwards, student have their own laptop. The school provides the iPads for KG.

Do you offer additional programmes?

We offer English Language Learning Support for non-native speaking students. Our World Language Learning Centre also offers private or group classes in 11 different languages to students and adults. We can also cater to students with mild learning support needs.

What language support do you offer?

We believe every child should be able to access quality education. In every GEMS school, we support students of all levels and abilities. If you think your child has specific learning requirements, we would be happy to discuss them with you.

Will there be regular home learning?

Yes, we have a homework policy that is different for each Grade level and explicit in our handbook.

What are the learning expectations of the students?

They are based on the International Baccalaureate programmes for all ages: Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the IB Diploma Programme (DP). The school has further developed the curriculum to reflect local, regional and global perspectives.

How do you integrate IT and computers in learning?

Children have access to a variety of technologies so that they can create, communicate and collaborate. Items include iPads, laptops, interactive whiteboards, interactive LED’s, digital cameras and so on. ICT is used as a tool to transform learning and we are a Bring Your Own Device environment.

Are there student leadership opportunities?

We see the promotion and development of student leadership as an essential component within and beyond our curriculum. Students are actively challenged and encouraged to take leadership opportunities across a wide range of options, including Student Councils in the PYP and MYP where students are encouraged to lead and make decisions on behalf of the student body.

Admission and registration

How do I arrange a visit to the school?

We believe the best way to experience the GEMS magic is to visit our dynamic, friendly school.

We hold Open House dates, Introduction Days or are happy to show you around our school at a time that suits you and your family. To arrange a visit please contact us or call us on +41 (0)21 964 18 18.

How does the admissions process work?

Enrolment is on-going at GEMS World Academy Switzerland and we accept students at any time during the academic year. The admissions process starts by filling in our enrolment form, to which we’ll reply with a confirmation email containing the list of documents you then need to send to us.

  • 1 copy of the student’s passport;
  • 1 copy of the parent’s/guardian’s passport;
  • 1 copy of the student’s birth certificate (in French or English);
  • 1 copy of the student’s current immunisation record;
  • 1 copy of the student’s/family health insurance certificate;
  • 1 copy of the student's/family personal liability insurance certificate;
  • 1 recent passport-size photograph of the student (jpeg or bitmap preferred);
  • A nursery report (if available, for admission to Early Years programmes);
  • Current-year school reports (in French or English);
  • Two previous year-end/Grade school reports (including any learning support; documents pertaining to your child’s educational needs (For admission to Grade 1 to Grade 11).
Once we have all the documents you can provide, our admissions board will make a decision on the enrolment. If your child is accepted, we’ll send you an offer letter, which you’ll need to sign to show your acceptance. Your child will then have a secured place at our school.

What Year levels are open for registration?

Pre-K to Grade 12 (3 – 18 years old)

How can I register my child?

If you would like to register your child, please contact us or call us at +41 21 964 18 18 to speak to one of the Admissions Team.

Will siblings get priority for enrolments?

Yes, siblings will get priority in upcoming years. If the school is full, they will be placed at the top of the waiting list.

Do you offer sibling discounts?

Yes, we offer a discount of 5% on annual tuition fees for your second child. For your third child (and any subsequent children), you will benefit from a 10% reduction on annual tuition fees. You can consult full details on our School Fees page.

Are there placement assessments?

In most cases, our Admissions Board members read the last two school and nursery reports and approve an offer for a place from these documents. Where more information is needed beyond the reports, children may be invited in for a play assessment for Pre-K to Grade 1 with the focus being on social confidence, communication skills and English language ability. Children in Grades 1 to 12 may be invited to sit a brief test with a focus on reading, literacy and numeracy.

Do you offer support for students with Special Educational Needs?

Yes, we have a learning and language support program for children identified during the admissions process and afterwards as having the need. Learning support may require mandatory additional fees depending on the level of support required.

How can I arrange a meeting with the Head of School or admin staff?

You can meet the Head of School, members of the Senior Leadership team, Teachers and the Admissions team any time. Please contact us to make an appointment during school hours.

What are your fees? When are they due?

Tuition fees depend on your child’s Grade level and are payable at least a month in advance of the beginning of the relevant term. You can read more about our fees and payment terms on the School Fees page.

What are mandatory fees?

Mandatory fees are payable in addition to tuition fees for each child. They cover a range of enriching trips and activities, such as field trips, a ski programme and residential camps. In Grades 11 and 12, mandatory fees also cover the IB DP exams and IB Induction, as well as trips and university guidance. For full details, please consult our School Fees page. There are also non-mandatory fees, which are optional extras such as transport, lunch and snacks, extended care and some extra-curricular activities.

Do you have a scholarship programme?

Yes, GWAS has a full merit-based scholarship programme, with fee reductions ranging from 10% up to 100%. Our scholarships are designed to help your child excel in any one of a number of disciplines. Full details are available on our Scholarships page.

How do I arrange an Introduction Day for my child?

An Introduction Day at GWAS is an opportunity for your child to be a student for a day and experience our school first hand. You can find out more about Introduction Days – including how to organise a date for your child – on our Visit the School page.

How do I withdraw my child from the school?

All student withdrawal requests must be submitted to the Admissions Offices in due time. For full details on the withdrawal procedure and the required periods of notice, please consult our Admissions Process page.

School facilities

What facilities would my child have access to at the school?

GEMS World Academy Switzerland is one of five Premium+ World Academies in the GEMS Education global network which means your child will learn in the highest specification environment we offer.

Classrooms are fully tech enabled and resourced (textbooks, reference materials, online resources, manipulatives, games) to support high quality teaching and learning. Additional facilities include:

  • State-of-the-art sporting facilities with an indoor sports arena including two swimming pools
  • 6-court multi-sports hall
  • Climbing Wall
  • Fitness suite and dance studio
  • Outdoor sports facilities with a full-size football pitch
  • TV and Recording studios and a Radio Station
  • Fully equipped arts and music classrooms
  • Science and Technology labs
  • Design lab with tools, 3-D printer and laser cutter
  • Music Academy
  • World Language Learning Centre
  • Library
  • Infirmary
  • Parent café
  • Kitchen for cooking classes
  • Restaurant
Furthermore, our Front of House team speak a number of languages, including French, Spanish, German and Dutch.

Do you have boarding facilities?

No. GEMS World Academy Switzerland is entirely dedicated to day students.

Where do the children eat every day?

Our school restaurant seats 300 in a large light space. We encourage staff and students to eat together and parents, caregivers and families are welcome to join the children for lunch.

Lunch includes a salad bar, a choice between two meals (including a vegetarian option), bread and a dessert. Students can opt in to a lunch plan.

Snacks and cold drinks are available to students throughout the day.

What extra-curricular activities are there?

We offer a variety of extra-curricular activities to complement the IB framework and these change each term. They include sports activities, such as football, netball or basketball, as well as craft, chess, language and dance clubs. The majority of the activities are offered by our teaching staff at no charge but we also use external instructors to provide a wider range of options for our students such as swimming lessons, karate and dance. Activities with external instructors are subject to a fee.

Do you offer extended care outside school hours?

Yes, we provide extended care from 7.30 am to 6 pm, as well as extra-curricular activities from 4 pm to 5 pm.

Teaching staff

Where do the teachers come from and what are their qualifications?

To match the rich cultural and linguistic diversity among our student population – and in keeping with the values of the International Baccalaureate Organisation – our teachers are recruited from around the globe. All teachers are fully qualified, trained and have experience in teaching the IB curriculum. The majority are native English speakers and many have specialist training for the subjects they teach.

Are there specialist teachers?

In the Primary Years Programme, beyond the core subjects taught by the classroom teacher, the children currently receive specialist teaching in Music, Art, French and PE.

In the Middle Year Programme: Students have specialist teachers for English, French, Maths, Science, Design Technology, Humanities, German/Spanish, PE, Drama, Art, Music.

In the Diploma Programme students have specialist teachers for all their chosen subjects.

Are there Teaching Assistants?

Yes, we have Teaching Assistants for all Primary Years classes (3 to 11 year olds).

More about GEMS

How do I access further information about the school?

Details of our learning, location, and fee structure can be found by clicking on the relevant links. We are more than happy to answer any questions so please contact our friendly Admissions team who will be pleased to answer any of your questions or queries.

How can I find out more about GEMS Education?

You can find out more about GEMS Education and our family-owned global network of schools here.

How can I find out more about the Varkey Foundation?

You can find out more about the Varkey Foundation, our chosen charitable partner, here.

Did You Know?

We are the only school between Geneva and Lausanne to offer all three IB programmes (PYP/MYP/DP), affording children a consistent ‘inquiry-based’ approach throughout their schooling.

Find Out More

Family Gorrie

Girl riding horseFamily Gorrie
It’s a very energising, dynamic learning environment. It’s full on in a good way - they can’t sit at the back of the class and do nothing! And they cater to individual children, the teaching is very much tailored to your child.