A new school, a new name – Geneva British School
After the success of its A-Level College followed by an equal result with the Geneva Secondary School, ASC International House will open a new anglophone primary school (ages 5-11) in Geneva in September 2011. In marking this event, this renowned establishment has decided to regroup the three schools under one name – Geneva British School.
To find out more about the changes and the new programmes, Swiss Style recently spoke with Douglas Crawford, Director General and owner of ASC International House.
Swiss Style: Generally, schools tend to open with younger children and then work their way up through the higher age levels. Why have you done things in reverse?
Douglas Crawford: We opened our A-Level College in 2005 because there was a serious and urgent need to offer an alternative to the International Baccalaureate in our region and no one else was offering it. The IB is an excellent exam but not every student is suited to the structure it demands, i.e. the need to study six subjects. The Swiss Maturité and French Baccalauréat involve even more subjects and we felt that we needed to offer an alternative at that time. With the A-Level system students can access university in the UK, in Europe and here in Switzerland with only three subjects at A-Level – this allows students to focus on the kind of subjects which they will study at university and drop subjects which they have no intention of pursuing after they leave school. We have been very happy with the results of this project and we are delighted that so many of our students have gone on to secure places at university – something which would not have happened had they taken the IB. Parents have also been delighted by the small class sizes (a maximum of 10) and the level of fees (CHF 12,900 for 2010).
We opened Geneva Secondary School in 2009 in response to strong and consistent demand for private education in English in our region. In doing so we also wanted to offer an attractive alternative to the existing schools in the area. GSS offers high-quality tuition in small classes and at much lower prices than some of the other international schools. Once again, there is no intention on our part to compete with our colleagues just to offer more choice to parents. As well as small class sizes and lower costs, we also try to offer a small-school experience with only one class at each level. The exact same principles will be applied to our new primary section when it opens next September.
In terms of the order of opening it made sense to us to ensure that when our students left one of our sections they would always have a place in the next level upwards, i.e. our primary students can move into secondary and our secondary students can go on into our A-Level College. The whole institution will be supervised by the same principal, Mrs Raji Sundaram, who has done a fantastic job in running both the secondary school and the A-Level College – this will also ensure that the same ethos and management style will apply across all three sections.
SS: Why have you chosen to unite the three sections under the name of Geneva British School?
DC: Firstly, it was important for us to have one name for the three sections – Primary, Secondary and A-Level – as they all form part of a single and coherent educational system. Choosing a name is always difficult but we wanted to have a maximum of transparency for all concerned. We would have liked to use British International School of Geneva as this would have accurately reflected what we do – an international school in Geneva which teaches the British curriculum. However, it was felt that this title could well cause confusion with the International School of Geneva and this was something we wanted to avoid. In the end, Geneva British School was the best option available to us in terms of accurately conveying what we do.
SS: ASC International House has grown consistently since 2004 – do you plan to cease further expansion or are there other plans in the pipeline?
DC: It is true that the organization has become a lot larger in the last six years and that brings with it certain challenges. Today, we employ well over 200 professional staff in Geneva, in Vevey and in Gex. However, all of that growth has been based on client demand and has been financed from our own resources without resorting to borrowing from the banks. This leaves us in a very strong financial position and able to react quickly and decisively should another suitable opportunity present itself.
At the moment we are looking for possible acquisitions of a series of language schools and are also studying new anglophone schools elsewhere in Switzerland. I am also extremely fortunate to be surrounded by a fantastic team of directors who have made a consistent habit of transforming my wild ideas into real and successful projects!
SS: Thank you for taking the time for this interesting chat and we wish you continued success in future.
- ASC International House Language School – Language training in 11 languages for adults, Geneva.
- The British School of Geneva – Anglophone education for 5 to 19 year olds
- Gex – Bi-lingual Education for 5 to 19 year olds, Pays de Gex.
- ASC International House Language School – Language training in 11 languages for adults, Vevey/Lausanne.
- The Executive Centre Geneva – Language training in 11 languages for corporate clients
Article by Diana von Trupp