In today’s globalised business environment, careers take parents to all corners of the world. With this comes the search for a school that offers their children internationally recognised diploma programs, state-of-the-art technology and the best possible support in their personal development.
A private international school that does just that is GEMS World Academy, located on the shores of Switzerland’s Lac Leman facing the French Alps. The school was founded in January 2013 and is proud to call itself part of the award-winning GEMS Education network that includes 142,000 students in 16 countries and 55 years of educational heritage. In addition, the school is an International Baccalaureate® (IB) World School that has been officially authorised by the IB Organisation. As such, students here are taught the IB Primary Years Programme, the IB Middle Years Programme and the IB Diploma Programme by qualified IB professionals.
“The IB programmes encourage independent learning and empower our students to embrace responsibility,” explains Ilse Chaigneau, parent relations executive at GEMS World Academy, Switzerland. “They also learn to celebrate diversity with a spirit of understanding and tolerance that helps them become true global citizens.” In addition to teaching students aged three to 18 the IB programmes, the school also welcomes learners as young as two years of age to Little GEMS – an Early Years programme designed to prepare for the IB Primary Years Programme and a smooth transition into Pre-Kindergarten. All programmes are taught in English, with French as a second language and German or Spanish as a third language from age 11.
The IB Diploma ensures that the graduates of GEMS World Academy, Switzerland have access to universities all over the world. In fact, GEMS has enjoyed some of the best university acceptance rates of any international school with students having been offered places at 980 universities in 48 countries, including 66 of world’s top 100 universities. On-site facilities that prepare the students for their bright futures include a World Language Learning Centre that offers nine different languages, interactive digital learning areas, radio/TV studios with editing suites, music technology suite, a comprehensive library, state-of-the-art science laboratories, a music academy and exceptional sports facilities. After school, students can enjoy team sports like football, basketball and netball; individual pursuits like swimming, tennis, judo, cross country running and dance; creative activities like book club, cookery classes, choir and crafts or recognised learning programs such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
An inspiring location
“We believe that the school provides the ideal location as it is situated right on the lakeside in the La Côte region between Geneva and Lausanne,” says Chaigneau when asked about what makes the school’s location attractive to families. “This area has lots of beautiful villages, mountains for skiing in the winter and lovely countryside. Public transportation is readily accessible with regular trains to and from Geneva and Lausanne. Our students also go on multiple field trips in the local area that both enhance and transform the curriculum.” Many of the schools top-rated facilities such as the World Language Learning Centre are also open to parents and the local community. In fact, the school’s sports centre is described as the best within the Canton Vaud. Moreover, the school’s commitment for supporting international students settling in is reflected in a large selection of workshops that help with transition, curriculum and parenting.
Challenges and chances
There are two main developments that are increasingly shaping the school. One is the rapid expansion of digital technologies in the classroom; the other is the increasing diversity of students that are coming together from all corners of the world. GEMS World Academy, Switzerland covers both aspects: The high-tech provision of facilities in the school and the inclusion of tech throughout the curriculum is one of the features most valued by parents. Moreover, the diversity of the international network and the students themselves gives the pupils the unique opportunity to study and experience other cultures, other languages and other belief systems through social interaction and exciting, global GEMS initiatives. “Diversity should be championed and not feared, as it is a great source of inspiration and perspectives that can lead to excellence and innovation,” illustrates Chaigneau. “Collaboration is key. The cultural richness that our pupils experience here every day instils a unique international understanding in them – just what they need to succeed in an increasingly globalised world.”
TEXT: SONJA IRANI | PHOTOS: GEMS WORLD ACADEMY SWITZERLAND