Compulsory education in Switzerland is offered free of charge to all children, regardless of resident status, and generally lasts eleven years. Though there are minor differences in organization among the cantons, children are generally grouped by age into the following divisions:
In most cantons, kindergarten instruction is informal and focused on learning the rules and norms of school and how to behave in a group. In primary school, children learn more formal academics, including reading, writing, maths, environmental sciences, social sciences, physical education, art (including music and handicrafts), and religious studies. Older primary children also learn a second national language and English. In lower secondary school, children continue to learn formal academic subjects and are offered home economics, career guidance, and orientation toward further education. At this stage, children may be tracked into pre-academic or pre-vocational streams depending on ability and interest.
Most cantons do not provide students with a certificate of completion at the end of compulsory school, and there is no national exam for admission to upper secondary school. Instead, cantons are responsible to establish frameworks for placement decisions, some electing to rely upon the results of standardized assessments and others relying on non-standardized tests and teachers' recommendations.
Upper Secondary Education
While there are modest differences in program organization from canton to canton, upper secondary education in Switzerland is divided into two tracks, vocational education and training and general education: