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Individual Support Programmes for High Achievers at School

Background and aims

The cantons Basel-City (urban) and Basel-Land (rural) are working towards harmonising their education systems: one objective is to improve the options in education pathways and make them more flexible. High-achieving and well-motivated school pupils will also benefit:

  • Horizontal choice is designed to enable pupils in the first and second year of secondary school to switch profile each semester, as long as they achieve an average mark of at least 5.25 in all compulsory and selected compulsory subjects. They are then entitled to individual support.
  • Vertical choice only concerns pupils in the third year of secondary school. If they are in the A stream (standard level) or E stream (enhanced level) and have an average mark of at least 5.25 in all compulsory and selected compulsory subjects, they will be given intensive support if they remain within the same stream - this is intended to ensure that they can choose a follow-on option where the requirements are high, such as transfer to a baccalaureate school.


The Education Department of Basel-Stadt wished to know more about models used in Switzerland and other countries to support high achievers in the primary and secondary stages of education who leapfrog a phase: horizontally, vertically or by skipping a year. The aim of the research is in part to help detail the individual support to which high-achieving pupils will be given a defined entitlement.


The team undertook a review of the literature and a survey of cantons, specifically examining what is already known about high-achieving pupils who skip a section of the education pathway in terms of:

  • the role played by teachers
  • forms of support (planning, methods, lessons, materials, etc.)
  • designing the transition to the new cycle / year
  • positive and negative effects of leapfrogging.

For the literature review, five digital databases were trawled and 97 articles on these themes were identified. 44 provided useful input for this study, 36 proved not to be relevant, and the other 17 were not accessible in sufficient time. For the survey of cantons, experts and contacts from 18 cantons across Switzerland were asked about arrangements, methods and experience in their cantons.


The findings were evaluated and summarised, and key recommendations and notes were recorded with a view to the situation in Basel-Stadt.



Project Management


Forschung und Entwicklung
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