Overall Concept

1. KZO prepares students for university

Kantonsschule Zürcher Oberland is part of the public school system in the canton of Zürich and offers skilled teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 access to all fields of study offered at high school level. The school is led by a Principal, with three Deputy Principals who assume responsibility for various portfolios.

At our school, students receive preparation in dealing with the specific requirements for studying at university. Students who have completed six years at elementary school begin our school at the so-called orientation stage. After the 8th school year, there is a wide choice of different Matura profiles: ancient languages (Latin and Greek); modern languages (Italian, Spanish – English and French being compulsory for all students); maths and sciences; economics; music and visual arts.

Our school is a day school with the possibility to have lunch at the school cafeteria or get food  from  one  of  the  nearby  cafés  or  take-away  places.  School  holidays  occur  at frequent intervals all throughout the year, with a five-week break in the summer (July and August), two weeks off in October, two weeks in December/January, two weeks in February and another two weeks in April/May. The academic year is from mid-August until mid-July.

In close collaboration with elementary and secondary schools, KZO chooses able students. Throughout their time at school, the students are encouraged to find their position in a fine balance between promotion, qualification and selection. Our students have access to individual and professional counselling and are informed about professional training and education other than that of pre-university schooling, as offered at KZO and other grammar schools.

2. KZO promotes general education

Beside the focus on specific skills necessary for academic training, KZO is also committed to a high level of general education. Students are instructed to acquire knowledge and skills and to develop curiosity as well as risk-taking. Sports and arts are viewed as an essential part of modern education and are therefore included in both the syllabus and the extracurricular programme.

It is of vital interest to the school to promote manifold ways of collaboration between students and teachers and to cultivate open communication and feedback. Our students learn to cope with the interplay between knowledge, thinking and responsibility not only in classes focusing on individual subjects, but also in interdisciplinary projects.
In addition to the wide range of compulsory subjects, students can choose optional courses that range from foreign languages to sports, music, orchestra and band to creating a school newspaper – to name but a few.

In the final year, where students can choose from a broad variety of courses, independent learning is of key importance. This is fostered through individual choice of courses and particularly through coursework that is clearly geared towards university teaching. What’s more, the students in their final year write a larger thesis, prepare performances or carry out research exploring an academic, creative or other topic of their choice.

3. KZO is a school for teenagers

While attending our school, the teenagers undergo crucial changes in their personal and psychological  development.  During  their  years  at  school,  it  is  hoped  that  they  will develop personalities that are filled with curiosity, maturity, responsibility and independence. Key factors for such development to take place include a pleasant environment where intellectual, emotional, personal and social learning can take place. KZO offers space and time for activities that are based on students’ own initiative as well as discussions and activities in small groups. The school as an institution carries on traditions and allows new traditions to enter school life – in the everyday situation, throughout the year and beyond that time horizon.

Hence, the school counts on teachers, members of staff and employees who are willing to share both their professional competence and their life experience with the teenagers in a consistent, equanimous and humorous way.

It is part of the school’s tradition and identity to include the students in its institutions and to promote independent decision-taking of the student body regarding certain issues of school life. In areas of school administration and maintenance, KZO prefers partners that display a readiness to share pedagogic responsibility.

4. Teaching at KZO

Our teachers are all experts with a university degree (at least Master’s level) and normally teach one subject. Besides teaching, they take on a wider variety of duties within the school, such as attending department meetings, serving on committees, etc.

Contemporary teaching requires open-mindedness towards the latest insights in pedagogic and subject-specific research, but also the readiness to deal with current issues. The teachers provide their students with the techniques and methods necessary for autonomous studying and working. They help the students find ways to establish their individual path of life-long learning.
KZO promotes teacher development and collaborates with the institutions of teacher training. Teachers can profit from the school’s own counselling offers; there is support in coping with difficulties concerning whole classes or individual students. Teachers can also find guidance in reflecting their self-perception as well as their attitude towards their profession.

5. KZO is a school that focuses on comprehensive learning

In the classroom and in the school’s everyday life, KZO fosters knowledge and skills in various social areas. While there is particular emphasis placed on the ability to work as a team, KZO also encourages positive disagreement, conflict and communication with other teenagers, teachers and the school board.

Students, teachers and the school as an institution show respect towards the personal, economic and ecologic resources that are available to them. They are flexible in reacting to changes in their environment and show a readiness for constant questioning of their own work.

6. KZO is a school for its own area

Kantonsschule Zürcher Oberland was founded in 1955 and was the first suburban grammar school in the canton of Zürich. It is a federal school within the canton of Zürich, tailored towards its local needs. The school sees itself in the function of negotiator between city and suburban areas, between the universities and educational institutions of the ‘Zürcher Oberland’ region.

The KZO also serves as a regional link between various institutions. On the one hand, school projects find their way to the surrounding communities. On the other hand, active collaboration in issues concerning culture, education and politics is sought with local institutions, governments and individual personalities.

KZO offers its premises to institutions of public schooling where courses such as those in adult education can take place.

Translated by Nicole Küpfer
Edited by Jola Svalina