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Copperfield International School Verbier Switzerland 3 - 18
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Copperfield International School Verbier
1936 Verbier
23 pupils, ages 4-11 | Mixed | Day

Primary Years Programme

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Our View

Just a few steps from the Verbier ski slopes, school settings don’t get much more knockout than this one. As you might expect from the world’s first ski-in, ski-out IB institution (you’ll find boots and skis lined up outside the classrooms), skiing is the main sport here. But Copperfield is much more than just an education for the winter season: this is a school with serious academic ambition – and the IB accreditation to back it up. It’s also recently joined the Dukes Education family, giving it even greater heft on the international schools circuit and opening doors to excellent links and opportunities all over the world. If you’re looking for a school with a difference, this is it.

Where?

In Le Hameau, a pretty, slightly quieter pocket of Verbier just 10 minutes from the centre of town. The school is walking distance from the nearest ski lift – with out-of-this-world views from its perch high up on the edge of the tree line. Anchored around a central cobbled courtyard and housed in ex-office space on the ground floor of several traditional chalet-style buildings, the school feels like its own little community. Hidden below ground is a fabulous 250-seater auditorium where pupils have music lessons, and the playground has been designed to double up as a multi-use basketball/football court.

Local buses run pupils right up to campus or parents drive and drop them off in the car park.

Head

Dr Hugh McCormick is a former Oxford lecturer and investment banker who moved into teaching at Harrow and then Sevenoaks School. When the pandemic hit, he left Sevenoaks in order to continue teaching some of his pupils in a Covid-19 bubble, setting himself up as Copperfield School in London (with pretty successful results). Then, in October 2020, he moved to Verbier to start Copperfield International School with British investor John Porter.

From our chat with Dr McCormick, we found him to be intelligent, hugely likeable and wonderfully passionate about Copperfield, which he is keen to firmly plant on the international education map. He’s also working to build an impressively strong team around him – and with a refreshingly international staff body comes a wealth of experience. Indeed, the calibre of staff that Copperfield has attracted so far just goes to show the real draw of working here.

The stellar governor panel includes an ex-Eton headmaster, a former British diplomat and the head of Dulwich College Junior School – so it’s safe to say there’s a great deal of educational heft behind the school.

Admissions

Given the school’s relatively young age (it opened its doors in January 2021), numbers are still small – but they’re growing at a rapid pace. Children can join from the age of four and in any year group, and we’re told that once families come and visit and see the school for themselves, about 70 per cent sign up on the spot (we’d do the same). The school is non-selective, but there is pre-screening for maths and English where possible (it’s worth knowing that as all lessons are taught in English, a good level of the language is essential). Some pupils have mild learning-support needs.  

Numbers swell in January (particularly in the lower years) as pupils arrive for the ski season – and with Copperfield’s winning combination of world-class skiing and superb academics, we couldn’t think of a better place to spend the winter months.

Before joining, pupils and parents receive a presentation on Copperfield’s Values, Routines and Expectations. The location means the school can be a transient community, so staff are keen to make the children feel comfortable from the get-go (the sensible thinking goes that pupils who feel at home and are relaxed also learn well). However, they also teach them how to say goodbye in an appropriate way when they do leave, and arrange detailed handovers with the next school to ensure continuity of learning.

Academics and senior school destinations

Keeping classes small is a key part of the school’s commitment to individualised learning (it prides itself on providing bespoke, one-to-one attention), and class numbers will never exceed 10. In Primary (ages 4 to 11), pupils study the PYP, which is centred around student-led learning (the idea is that they take ownership of their learning from a young age), encouraging them to ask questions and become open-minded thinkers. At the end of each module, pupils demonstrate how and what they have learnt – be it through an essay, a video, a dance or even a model aircraft or building.

Classrooms are bright and cheery, with lots of drawings on the walls, whether from a project on human evolution or about space. There’s no formal academic setting: pupils are taught in the same room (no science labs as such yet) and staff move around. The language of instruction is English, but all pupils take a daily French class (Spanish and German are offered as a third language, and if a pupil wants to learn a different language, the school will do its absolute best to try and accommodate this by sourcing an external tutor). Computer science is now taught to GCSE level.

Co-curricular

As you’d imagine, skiing is the main sport from the moment the snow arrives in winter until it finally disappears again in April. The ski programme is overseen by former member of the Argentinian national team Fitzroy Madsen, who’s now an experienced coach from the École Suisse de Ski. Students ski for at least nine hours per week during the winter if they are part of the core programme; those taking part in the competition programme will ski for a minimum of 15 hours per week. The school has a small gym designed for strength and conditioning to support skiing, and students also have access to the large weights room at the Verbier Centre Sportif.

In summer, the focus shifts to sports such as mountain biking, trampolining, tennis (students have exclusive use of Le Hameau’s two private tennis courts and lessons from Verbier’s very best coaches) and golf. Keen golfers will love the fact Verbier’s 18-hole course is right next to the Copperfield campus, with lessons up for grabs twice a week.

Off the ski slopes, music is a big deal here and the department is headed up by Tatiana Alamartine, a professional pianist and composer, who’s just released her third album. Recitals and shows take place in the 250-seater auditorium, and in the winter there are occasional Copperfield Concerts where musicians from around the world are invited to perform for students, parents and the local community. Pupils take part in class music as well as individual lessons (piano is the most popular). Unusually, the school is also an ABRSM grading site, which means that music exams can be taken on campus.

Art (drawing, painting, history of art) is taught weekly, with a brand-new, dedicated art studio in the pipeline; drama happens as part of an end-of-year show, rather than as a separate lesson.

Boarding

Currently only available to secondary-age pupils from Year 7 upwards, boarding is a real growth area for the school. The boarding house is a 10-minute walk from the campus and it’s swanky: think a four-star hotel with ensuite private rooms or only two sharing. There is also an open-plan living area and dining room, areas for study and a balcony with panoramic Alpine views (hands down the best we’ve ever seen from a boarding house). A new head of boarding recently joined the school, and two residential staff live with the boarders onsite.

School community

Despite the small number of pupils, they are a brilliantly cosmopolitan bunch of 27 nationalities (the 30 teachers are equally diverse, with 17 nationalities between them). Most families live in or around Verbier, having relocated during the pandemic to work remotely; others arrive for just the winter season and the skiing (this tends to be the younger year groups, up to Year 6, and isn’t suitable for those on the iGCSE pathway). Community is important here: not just the parent community, but on a local and national level too. There is a café on site, which is a popular hang-out after drop-off, and lots of social events are organised to welcome new parents and increase the feeling of belonging. There is also a buddy system for new families to help them settle in.

Wellbeing is a top priority and begins each morning when the children assemble in their homerooms for a 15-minute check-in with their pastoral tutors. It is also a dedicated time to play with their friends, get organised for the day and have a moment of calm before lessons.

On Monday and Friday, this time is replaced by ‘Tings’ (an old Scandinavian term for the gathering of a tribe), a big part of the school week which takes place in the auditorium; on Wednesday, pupils do journalling, where they are encouraged to reflect on their recent few days at school. There’s also a weekly social and emotional learning session for each year group, run by the head of wellbeing. If there are any issues, parents contact their child’s homeroom teacher directly – as the school is small, pupils get 1:1 attention. After school, there is a study hall for supervised homework until 5.30pm.

And finally....

Copperfield might still be a relatively new arrival on the international schools scene, but its academic ambition, sensational location and serious commitment to wellbeing make this one to watch. For families living in Verbier (or indeed those who live elsewhere but would love this Alpine paradise to be their children’s base) and looking for a world-class education for their children, it ticks all the right boxes.

Gallery See All

Copperfield International School Verbier gallery image
Copperfield International School Verbier gallery image
Copperfield International School Verbier gallery image
Copperfield International School Verbier gallery image
Copperfield International School Verbier gallery image
Copperfield International School Verbier gallery image
Copperfield International School Verbier gallery image
Copperfield International School Verbier gallery image
Copperfield International School Verbier gallery image
  • Languages and bilingual streams

    French
    Spanish
    German
    Italian, Swedish
  • SEND

    Sen co-ordinator: Jessica Sharkey


  • Sports

    Athletics
    Basketball
    Cross country
    Dance
    Golf
    Gymnastics
    Horse riding
    Netball
    Real tennis
    Skiing
    Soccer
    Tennis
    Trampolining
    Volleyball
  • Fees

    Day fees per annum
    From 34,000.00 Swiss Francs to 34,000.00 Swiss Francs





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  • School Updates

    • Copperfield Education joins the Dukes Family!

      We are excited to announce that the founders and owners of Copperfield have decided to partner with Dukes Education Group to realise our vision of a world-class education in an epic mountain setting. This is great news for the Copperfield community.
    • Copperfield Celebrates IGCSE Results

      Our students have done remarkably well on their IGCSE examinations. Since we opened two years ago, in all examinations, our students have scored 8.7, 8.5 and 8.6 respectively out of 9.0. Over this time period, 81% of IGCSE candidates have scored the maximum grade of 9.0.
    • Copperfield Receives IB PYP Authorisation!

      Copperfield International School, Verbier, has been officially granted by the IB Organization to offer the Primary Years Programme (PYP). The authorisation of the PYP ideally consolidates the school's position to offer families a unique combination of skill-development and learning environment. Copperfield is the first school in Canton Valais to gain IB PYP authorisation, and the fifteenth in Switzerland. Copperfield is the twelfth school in Switzerland to have both the PYP and DP authorisation.

Essentials

Address
Rue de la Bérarde 10, Le Hameau, 1936 Verbier, Switzerland

Contact
info@copperfield.education
+41 27 520 6100

Website
copperfield.education/pyp

Fees

Term Dates

Open Days

Admissions




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