In the City of Zurich children in primary schools are of mixed ethnic and cultural backgrounds and teachers often reflect the ethnic composition of the local population, although not always. Schools make strong efforts to involve parents of children with a migrant or minority background. Schools where more than 40 % of the students do not have German (the official school language) as their mother tongue can participate in the QUIMS programme – Quality in multicultural schools. Within the QUIMS programme, the participation of parents has a high priority. In the City of Zurich, around half of all schools participate in the QUIMS programme.
According to the Guiding principles on education and integration (canton of Zurich) the teachers' mandate is to assist all the children according to their requirements and possibilities. This requires individualised learning. As far as children with a migration background are concerned, German language stimulation is of prime importance as are regular, intensive contact and discussions between parents and teachers. If necessary, teachers or parents will arrange interpretation.
Schools often carry out intercultural projects. By joining the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR), the City of Zurich has committed to regularly present a report on racism. The 2013 report specifically makes recommendations for schools and school authorities.
The mandatory school subject ‘religion and culture’ (Religion und Kultur) plays a central role regarding intercultural questions and societal diversity.
Zurich has a policy to increase ethnic/cultural mixing in schools. The schools in the City of Zurich are divided into 7 school districts. The allocation of pupils within those school districts takes place by the district school commissions. In the City of Zurich, this allocation happens according to the place of residence of the pupil. Within the school districts, aspects of cultural mixing and reasonableness are taken into account when allocating pupils to school buildings and school classes. Schools also give great importance to the social integration of pupils in their neighbourhood trying to avoid an interchange of pupils between school districts (so-called «busing»).
Nevertheless, the ethnic/cultural as well as the socio-economic composition of the respective school districts may vary. This differentiation is, however, far from ghettoisation or a systematic segregation. The city and quarters’ development policies as well as the housing policy aim at a good social mixing of the population to counteract any potential ghettoisation. Accessibility of all city quarters by public transport also counteracts any potential disconnection of some quarters from the city.