Learning objectives and assessment

Key terms: Language of instruction / Mobility and exchange / Occupational, educational and career guidance

Occupational fields

Upper secondary specialised schools provide extensive general education and profession-specific basic knowledge and skills about a particular occupational field. They offer preparation for colleges of higher education (upper secondary specialised school programme) and universities of applied sciences (specialised Baccalaureate programme), primarily in the following occupational fields:

  • health care

  • social work

  • education

  • communication and information

  • design and art

  • music and theatre

  • applied psychology

Most upper secondary specialised schools do not cover all occupational fields. In most cantons, they mainly provide preparation for the occupational fields of health care, social work and education.

Learning content at the upper secondary specialised schools is based on the core curriculum for upper secondary specialised schools from the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK). The core curriculum grants schools the possibility to consider cantonal or local requirements and to develop a particular school-specific profile.

Upper secondary specialised school programme

The completion and presentation of an independent essay and a traineeship are compulsory parts of the programme.

The general educational comprises

  • languages and communication

    first national language, second national language, third language (third national language or a foreign language) and ICT

  • mathematics and natural sciences

    mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics

  • social sciences

    history and geography, economics and law, psychology, philosophy and sociology

  • artistic subjects and sport

In most cases, international foreign language certificates can be obtained, or corresponding preparatory courses can be attended. In various schools, a bilingual upper secondary specialised school certificate can be obtained.

Subjects relating to specific occupational fields
The students choose one or two occupational fields and attend elective subjects relating to the chosen occupational field. Occupational oriented teaching begins in grade 2.

Assessment of students

The cantons regulate the assessment of students. On the basis of the learning objectives, the teacher determines what the students must achieve and is responsible for the assessment. Performance is assessed by means of a grade scale of 1 to 6 (6 = best grade, 4 = sufficient, below 4 = insufficient). At the end of a semester or school year, a graded report is issued, which is decisive regarding transition to the next grade. Learning reports are seldom used. Work attitude and motivation can be included in the assessment.

Leaving certificate

The programme ends with a final examination. At least six subjects are tested, of which at least one, but no more than two subjects must be related to specific occupational fields. Depending on the subject, the examination is either oral, written, or both written and oral. The Regulations on the Recognition of Certificates from Upper Secondary Specialised Schools regulate the norms for obtaining the Swiss recognized upper secondary specialised school certificate.

Specialised Baccalaureate programme

In order to obtain the Specialised Baccalaureate, a one-year course with additional requirements must be completed. These additional requirements include, depending on the occupational field, among others: traineeships (at least 12 and no more than 40 weeks), individual practical activities (at least 120 lessons) or supplementary general education. The Regulations on the Recognition of Certificates from Upper Secondary Specialised Schools and guidelines issued by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) define the additional requirements for the various occupational fields. A specialised Baccalaureate essay in a selected occupational field must also be completed and presented.

Assessment and leaving certificate

Depending on the selected occupational field, specific additional requirements (e.g. traineeships, individual practical activities, supplementary general education) must be completed. The upper secondary specialised schools are responsible for supervising and assessing these additional requirements in cooperation with the colleges of higher education, the universities of applied sciences or the parties in charge of the traineeships. The Specialised Baccalaureate is obtained if the additional requirements and the specialised Baccalaureate essay are assessed to be at least «sufficient». The Specialised Baccalaureate is recognised throughout Switzerland.

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Last update of this page: 28.10.2021