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Recently the Globe and Mail had a glossy brochure that listed 314 private school profiles in Canada. There is the old standby Upper Canada College where boarding students parents pay $59,940. per school year. Average class size is 20.

Whenever I travelled abroad I enjoyed dropping into a school or two to talk to the students and teachers. When I was in Switzerland I had the opportunity to visit, College Alpinbausoliel in Villars that is one of the twelve approved accredited academies in Europe.

Let me take you along on a voyage of discovery to one of the most expensive, prestigious, private schools in the world.

172 very privileged youngsters in grade 7-12 from 42 different countries are enrolled in the International English Baccalaureat, French Lyse prep classes for university. Students from Switzerland, Russia, China, Mexico, Spain, United States, Australia are educated in a beautiful setting with the Alpine mountains minutes away from the campus.

Forty two teachers with a maximum of eight students per class attend to the needs of their students. The day begins at seven with a hearty breakfast followed by eight forty-five minute classes of instruction.

After dinner there are 180 minutes of scheduled study time with a teachers in attendance monitoring the study halls. For students whose marks are in jeopardy there is mandatory tutoring. Lights out at 10.30.

There is a psychologist/counsellor & two registered nurses on staff to take care of the physical/emotional needs of the youngsters.

Thirty different extra curricular activities are offered ranging from tennis, cricket, cliff climbing, mountain biking, soccer, boxing, cosmetics, hip hop, music/drama. Students are encouraged to choose two/three pursuits per term. If there is an interest the activity will magically appear.

Skiing/snow boarding are official school activities from January to March. Attendance on the mountain is mandatory three times a week. Of course there are ski lessons for those in need of instruction.

The students compete with twenty other private schools in Europe.

The school owns its own dinning room at the summit to provide a hearty lunch for the student skiers.

There is a magnificent full gym with a climbing wall. I found it amazing that in the winter in the middle of the Alps there is a twenty metre outdoor heated swimming pool. Scuba lessons are offered on site.

Every student purchases a lap top and has access to the computer language labs

As you can see the program is very structured. Your childís safety is paramount with a computer identification cards needed to enter the locked compound.

There are three to four school trips abroad each year to choose from. Five star adventures to India, Africa, Mediterranean cruises are some of the options to ponder for the parents to pay for.

Random urine testing at four in the morning is one way the school tries to prevent the illicit use of drugs. A couple of students per year are expelled and sent home.

Great program. You bet. The cost of tuition, spending money uniforms, room and board is 90,000 S. F ($84,600 Cdn) There are no scholarships or bursaries. Air fare three times a year from home to campus is an additional expense.

Summer holiday language camp programs of three weeks for only 6,600 S F ($20,000)

Parents are encouraged to spend one week-end on site for each of the three terms visiting their children to interview the staff and get feed-back.

At present there are no Canadian students enrolled. If you have a privileged youngster check out the web site www/bausoliel.ch.

I am not an advocate of private schools. Segregating your children away from the norm of society makes them less able to interact with the vast majority of other students. Having to compete and achieve in a public school setting is a great learning experience.

Recently I was informed that there was not one student from a private school who had been awarded the prestigious Presidentís Scholarships from the University of Western Ontario. For the most part students from small towns and villages who had a 90% average along with leadership qualifications were awarded full tuition. books and room and board amounting to $20,000 per school year.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com