Zurich International School

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Zurich International School
Zurich International School Logo, created 2001.jpg
Zurich International School logo
Steinacherstrasse 140, CH-8820 Wädenswil
Type Non-profit day school
Motto Learn, Care, Challenge, Lead
Established 1963
Director Jeffrey B. Paulson
Age 3 years to 18 years
Enrollment 1450
Education system IB Diploma Programme , IB World School, College Board Advanced Placement Courses
Campus Wädenswil (Lower School), Kilchberg (Middle School, Early Childhood), Adliswil (Upper School)
Athletics See text
Mascot Lion
Accreditation Council of International Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges
Affiliation Swiss Group of International Schools, Council of International Schools, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, European Council of International Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Zurich International School (ZIS) is an independent non-profit day school in Switzerland for students aged 3 to 18 in the greater Zurich area. Over 1,400 students from more than 55 countries attend one of the school’s four campuses (Early Childhood Center in Kilchberg for students aged 3 to 5; Lower School in Wädenswil for students aged 5 to 11; Middle School in Kilchberg for students aged 11 to 14; Upper School in Adliswil for students aged 14 to 18.

As of 2011 it is the largest international school in the Zurich area.[1]


The Pre-School to Grade 12 Zurich International School was formed in 2001 through the merger of the American International School of Zurich and the International Primary School of Zurich.

The American International School of Zurich (AISZ) was founded in 1963 in a Swiss villa (built in 1914) in Kilchberg. The building was renovated and expanded in 1993/4. In 2008 this became the ZIS Middle School for students aged 11 to 14.

The English Language Kindergarten (ELK), later renamed the International Primary School of Zurich (IPSZ), opened in 1970 in Horgen and in 1979 moved to the current Early Childhood Center. This villa, which was built in 1906 on the shore of Lake Zurich in Kilchberg, is now attended by children aged three to four.

The purpose-built Lower School opened in Wädenswil in 2002 and is attended by students aged four to 11.

In 2008 a new Upper School opened in Adliswil and is attended by students aged 14 to 18.

A fifth campus, ZIS Baden, opened in 2008 in the city center. Initially this was for children aged three to 11, but in 2010 expanded to include a Middle School for students aged 11 to 14. This campus closed in July 2015 due to low enrollment.


By Swiss authorities[edit]

ZIS's Kindergarten and primary education programs (Lower School) are approved by the bureau for elementary school (Volksschulamt), administration for education (Bildungsdirektion), canton of Zurich.[2]

ZIS's lower secondary education (Middle school) is approved as Sekundarstufe by the bureau for elementary school (Volksschulamt), administration for education (Bildungsdirektion), canton of Zurich.[2]

However ZIS's upper secondary education (Upper School) is not approved as a Mittelschule, neither by the bureau for gymnasial and vocational education (Mittelschul- und Berufsbildungsamt), administration of education (Bildungsdirektion), canton of Zurich, nor by the Swiss Federal State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).[3][4]

By American and international authorities[edit]

ZIS is an International Baccalaureate (IB Organization World School)[5] ZIS is accredited by both the Council of International Schools[6] and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges[7] The school offers both the International Baccalaureate Diploma and Advanced Placement courses.

Campuses and facilities[edit]

Early Childhood Center – Early ZIS (children aged three) to Pre-Kindergarten (children aged four). The ECC campus is located by Lake Zurich in Kilchberg in a villa constructed in 1906. Facilities include a library, IT room, creative arts studio, classrooms fitted with interactive whiteboards and a large garden and play area.

Lower School – primary school for Kindergarten to Grade 5 (children aged four to 11). The purpose-built Lower School opened in 2002. 454 students study on the campus which has both indoor and outdoor sports facilities as well as a large multi-purpose room. There are music practice rooms, an extensive library, and a lunch room.

Middle School – secondary school (children aged 11 to 14) 267 students study in a 19th-century villa in Kilchberg. The villa was renovated in 1993/4 and includes science laboratories, a theatre, art room, music rooms, and dining area. The grounds include a playing field and tennis courts.

Upper School – high school for Grades 9 – 12 (children aged 14 to 18) The purpose-built Upper School opened in 2008 and 445 students are currently enrolled. A triple gym, outdoor sports field, music practice rooms, art studios, a theatre as well as a dining area are available for the students. There is an IT/Mac room.

Language program[edit]

Instruction is in English. Students in Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 9 are required to learn German, unless they are in the English as an Additional Language (EAL) program. Students can choose to learn French and Spanish from Grade 6 (age 11) onwards. Language teachers are native speakers. A large number of students at ZIS arrive knowing little or no English. The EAL program includes small group lessons to help them improve their language skills. ZIS classroom teachers are experienced in working with non-English speaking students.

Mother Tongue – there are a number of mother tongue classes, supported by the school and held at ZIS premises, but held after school hours. These include French, Dutch, Hebrew, Swedish and German.


All students from Pre-School to Grade 10 (aged three to 16) take physical education as part of their educational program. At the Early Childhood Center PE is combined with other activities. ZIS uses its own facilities as well as local sporting centers. From the Middle School onwards students have the opportunity to compete in a variety of sports, within school as well as against other international schools. Students compete in the SGIS (Swiss Group of International Schools), SCIS (Sports Council of International Schools), and ISST (International Schools Sports Tournaments). Sports include cross-country, volleyball (girls), soccer, and rugby (boys), in the fall; alpine skiing, basketball, and swimming in the winter, and tennis, track and field, softball (girls), and golf in the spring.


All students in Pre-School to Grade 6 have compulsory music lessons, and students in Grade 3 learn the recorder and in Grades 4 and 5 can learn another instrument. In the Middle School there are choirs/band/orchestra. Students of all ages can take private music lessons on school premises with selected music teachers. There are choirs at the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools. There are regular concerts and recitals through the year for students of all ages. In the Middle and Upper Schools students can take drama as a class and also participate in the twice-yearly productions, such as ‘Grease’ and ‘Les Miserables’. At the Upper School students can direct and perform plays and shows as part of their studies. Art is part of the curriculum at the Early Childhood Center and Lower School, and an option for Middle and Upper School students.

Notable Alumni[edit]

Class of 1977, Richard Morais, Author - The Hundred-Foot Journey, Buddahland Brooklyn. Class of 1994, Eva Respini, Chief Curator, Boston Institute of Contemporary Art. Class of 2011,


  1. ^ "International schools see demand soar" (Archived 2016-04-16 at WebCite). The Local. September 2, 2011. Retrieved on April 16, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Aufsicht Privatschulen" (official site) (in German). Zurich, Switzerland: Volkschulamt, Bildungsdirektion, Kanton Zürich. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-06. 
  3. ^ "Kantonale Mittelschulen" (official site) (in German). Zurich, Switzerland: Mittelschul- und Berufsbildungsamt, Bildungsdirektion, Kanton Zürich. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-25. 
  4. ^ "Maturität" (official site) (in German, French, and Italian). Berne, Switzerland: Swiss Federal State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, SERI. 17 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-06. 
  5. ^ "The Zurich International School". Washington DC, USA: International Baccalaureate Organization. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  6. ^ "Council of International Schools". Leiden, The Netherlands: Council of International Schools. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "Zurich International School". Directory of Accredited Schools. Burlington, MA, USA: Commission on International Education (CIE), New England Association of Schools and Colleges. 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 

External links[edit]