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Switzerland:Early Childhood Education and Care

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Overview Switzerland

Contents

Switzerland:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Switzerland:Historical Development

Switzerland:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Switzerland:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Switzerland:Political and Economic Situation

Switzerland:Organisation and Governance

Switzerland:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Switzerland:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Switzerland:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Switzerland:Organisation of Private Education

Switzerland:National Qualifications Framework

Switzerland:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Switzerland:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Switzerland:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Switzerland:Funding in Education

Switzerland:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Switzerland:Higher Education Funding

Switzerland:Adult Education and Training Funding

Switzerland:Early Childhood Education and Care

Switzerland:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 4 years

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 4 years

Switzerland:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 4 years

Switzerland:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 4 years

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 4 years

Switzerland:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 4 years

Switzerland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Switzerland:Primary Education

Switzerland:Organisation of Primary Education

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Switzerland:Assessment in Primary Education

Switzerland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Switzerland:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Switzerland:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Switzerland:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Switzerland:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Switzerland:Higher Education

Switzerland:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Switzerland:First Cycle Programmes

Switzerland:Bachelor

Switzerland:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Switzerland:Second Cycle Programmes

Switzerland:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Switzerland:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Switzerland:Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Institutions Providing Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Main Programmes and Provision in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Teachers and Education Staff

Switzerland:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Switzerland:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Switzerland:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Switzerland:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Management and Other Education Staff

Switzerland:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Switzerland:Management Staff for Higher Education

Switzerland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Switzerland:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Quality Assurance

Switzerland:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Switzerland:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Educational Support and Guidance

Switzerland:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Switzerland:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Switzerland:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Switzerland:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Switzerland:Mobility and Internationalisation

Switzerland:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Mobility in Higher Education

Switzerland:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Switzerland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Switzerland:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Switzerland:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Switzerland:National Reforms in School Education

Switzerland:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Switzerland:National Reforms in Higher Education

Switzerland:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Switzerland:European Perspective

Switzerland:Legislation

Switzerland:Institutions

Switzerland:Glossary

Early childhood education and care is divided between child day-care facilities and day-care families for children under 4 years (childcare), and pre-school or the first learning cycle for children over 4 years as part of compulsory education.

Childcare


Childcare supports families, helps balance family and working life, serves the integration and socialisation of children and promotes their development. These are voluntary services which parents use at their discretion and pay a share of the costs. 
The Swiss Civil Code (Article 316) and the Federal Ordinance on the Placement of Children in Foster Care and for Adoption (FCAO) lay down the legal framework conditions governing childcare. The FCAO mainly regulates the approval requirements for childcare and the supervision of such services. The cantons are responsible for the specific application of these provisions. They can perform these tasks themselves or delegate them to the communes or third parties. Childcare for children under four years falls within the sphere of family and social policy. In this context the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Social Affairs (SODK) assumes a coordinating role for the cantons. The SODK has adopted recommendations on early childhood childcare. 
For day-care centres in the sphere of compulsory education including pre-school please see the comments on primary education. The SODK has adopted, together with the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK), which undertakes key coordination tasks in education for the cantons, a joint declaration on day-care centres for children. Most cantons mention the promotion of childcare in their constitution or in cantonal laws. Only in one canton do parents have the right to have their children offered a public or private place in childcare within a reasonable time.


Pre-school or First Learning Cycle

Article 62(4) of the Federal Constitution obliges the cantons to coordinate various benchmarks in the education system throughout Switzerland. This includes the school entry age, compulsory school attendance. Through the Intercantonal Agreement on Harmonisation of Compulsory Education (HarmoS Agreement) the cantons have assumed this constitutional obligation and integrated two pre-school years into compulsory education.
Pre-school or the first learning cycle is therefore part of compulsory education and forms part of the primary level. In the first years of the primary level individual development and social learning are promoted. Skills are developed through stimulating playing and learning environments. Children gradually acquire basic social skills and learn about school routines. 

There are a few German-speaking cantons in which attendance of pre-school is not mandatory, or attendance is mandatory for one year only, but even in these cases the vast majority of children still attend pre-school for two years. In a few German-speaking cantons the communes can operate a Grundstufe or a Basisstufe (a form of the first learning cycle). In this organisational form, children aged four to eight, or four to seven, attend the same class. In the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the two years of pre-school are part of the "cycle 1" or "cycle primaire 1", which lasts four years. In the canton of Ticino, in addition to the two compulsory pre-school years, (from the 2015/2016 academic year) a further optional year is offered for children from the age of three. 

The cantons lay down the starting age for pre-school or the first learning cycle. Children reaching the eligible age by the fixed qualifying date (this is generally the 31st of July) start primary at the beginning of the new school year (autumn). The children are usually between four and five years old. Parents may request that their child starts primary school earlier or later. 

Attendance of pre-school or the first learning cycle is free of charge. The cantons are responsible for pre-school, or the first learning cycle, and regulate them in the cantonal education acts. The communes are responsible for operating them. 


Legislative References

Bundesverfassung [Federal Constitution]

Schweizerisches Zivilgesetzbuch [Swiss Civil Code]

Verordnung über die Aufnahme von Kindern zur Pflege und zur Adoption (PAVO) [Ordinance on the Placement of Children in Foster Care and for Adoption (FCAO)]

Interkantonale Vereinbarung über die Harmonisierung der obligatorischen Schule (HarmoS-Konkordat) [Intercantonal Agreement on Harmonisation of Compulsory Education (HarmoS Agreement)]

Kantonale Schulgesetzgebung [Cantonal education acts]