According to the HarmoS Agreement, compulsory education lasts eleven years. It covers the primary and lower secondary levels. The primary level lasts eight years including Kindergarten or the first learning cycle, and the lower secondary level education lasts three years. Pupils requiring special needs education can be educated in special schools, special classes or are integrated into normal classes, where they receive additional specialised teaching support.
|Total||948 957||947 691||913 012||928 340||944 706|
|Primary level 1-21||148 167||146 474||148 879||170 557||171 859|
|Primary level 3-8||473 739||454 092||436 076||477 503||494 049|
|Lower secondary||278 457||298 436||290 927||249 074||247 472|
|Special education programme||48 594||48 689||37 130||31 206||31 326|
Data as of: February 2019
In 2017/18, almost 945 000 pupils were in compulsory education. 18% of them were at primary level 1-2 (Kindergarten, first learning cycle), 52% at primary level 3-8, 26% at lower secondary level and 3% in special needs education. Girls account for almost half of pupils at each level of compulsory education and pupils of foreign nationality for almost a quarter. The averages for pupils in special education programmes, including classes for pupils speaking a foreign language, however, are very different (35% girls, 47% foreign pupils). After a stable period between 2000/01 and 2005/06, numbers of pupils in compulsory education decreased until 2012/13 when they rose again. These variations are largely driven by demographic changes in the corresponding age groups.
During the 2017/18 school year, foreigners accounted for an average of 27% of pupils in Switzerland. This figure varies greatly, however, depending on the canton. The canton of Geneva has the highest proportion of foreign pupils (43%) and the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden the lowest (almost 9%).