Navigate Up
Sign In
School system

The State of Neuchâtel school system | Nursery / Kindergarten - years 1 and 2 | Primary School – years 3 to 8 | Secondary School – years 9 to 11 | Private Schools 

The State of Neuchâtel school system


Compulsory education is free of charge in all public schools. Children start school at the age of 4 and the education cycle lasts 11 years, divided into three levels: kindergarten, primary and secondary (junior high).



Nursery / Kindergarten - years 1 and 2


Kindergarten accept children as of the age of 4, typically for two years. They bridge the gap between the family or home environment and the primary school. Here children prepare their entry into primary through games and activities, taking also their first steps in reading, discovering numbers, drawing, singing, etc.



Primary School – years 3 to 8


The Cycle 2 (years 3 to 8 HarmoS) welcome all children regardless of their educational level. Subjects taught are: French, mathematics, geography, history, science, creative and manual activities, drawing, physical education, music and general training.


German is introduced in the 5th year, and English in the 7th year. During the 8th degree children undergo reference tests to assess their level in French and mathematics before going on to the cycle 3 (years 9 to 11 HarmoS). 



Secondary School – years 9 to 11


The third cycle (years 9 to 11) represents the last cycle of compulsory education, i.e. until the age of 15 or 16. Students follow an integrated curriculum for certain subjects (students grouped together regardless of their level) and a two-tier system for other subjects (French and mathematics from 9th year, English, German and science from 10th year. Furthermore, in 11th year, the students choose certain specialization options corresponding to their exit profile (professional or academic) of the compulsory education towards the postobligatoires education.

Once compulsory education has been completed, students can choose, according to their career ambitions and abilities, from several options. They can embark on a professional training (apprenticeship) leading to a federal certificate (CFC) after 3 or 4 years, depending on the trade chosen, even a professional maturity. They can also enrol in high school (known as a « lycée or gymnasium » in Switzerland) with a view to obtaining a general graduation certificate (“certificat de culture générale), which gives students direct access to a specialised institute of higher learning (ES), or a  Matura (Baccalaureate) qualification, obtained after 3 years of studies and which enables students to enter a university, a university of teacher education (HEP), a federal polytechnic school (EPF) or a university of applied sciences (HES).



Private Schools


Students can also attend private institutions for the duration of their compulsory school cycle.


Neuchâtel Catholic School


The Catholic school welcomes children from the first year of kindergarten until the end of the seventh degree. The curriculum is the same as in a public school and students can, at any time opt to return to the public system. The Catholic School is open to children of other faiths, and adheres to Lasallian principles.



The Modern School


Founded in 1963, this school provides secondary level private education. In addition to supervised homework the School also offers programmes for students to help them switch between one educational track to another, for example from the ‘Moderne’ to the ‘Matura’ levels. Particular emphasis is placed on supporting students and respect for rules and regulations in school. At the end of the educational cycle, students from The Modern School enjoy the same opportunities as those from the public sector.