Surval Montreux offers an international curriculum consisting of the following programmes:

Foundation year will prepare girls from 13+ for either the American High School Program or for the IGCSE and A Levels. It can also be taken as an independent year for a girl who wants to spend time in an international environment before starting a programme in her own country. Students can use the year to combine the academic curriculum with a high level cookery course, or extra art and music.

American High School Program for girls from 14+, from 9th to 12th grade, will prepare students for further university studies in the US and Canada, Business schools, or other institutions.

IGCSE is the world’s most popular international curriculum for 14 – 16 year olds. It provides excellent preparation for more advanced study including AS and A Levels, as well as other progression routes.

AS and A Level is for girls 16+ who have taken their IGCSE, and prepares them for University or other courses and eventual careers.

Liberal Arts has a global focus with an emphasis on social responsibility, and developing skills for leadership. It includes how to set up a charity, with some practical work; running a business; debating and public speaking; a range of languages; art and music appreciation; culture and customs.

More information can be found by clicking on the relevant link.

Please see a grade level placement comparison chart below for your guidance. Surval Montreux will place girls in an appropriate grade level according to their age and ability. If there are questions about the correct grade-level placement, please contact our Admissions Director on [email protected]

History of Surval

Surval Montreux was founded in Leysin in October 1961 by Mlle Georgette Andrea, and known as Le Pensionnat Surval. It started in a chalet above the valley, which was the origin of the name ‘Surval’. From the start the school was developed as a Finishing School. 

Three years later, in September 1964, the school moved down to Clarens into the villa Belles-Rives, since demolished. In the same year Mlle Andrea developed health problems, and called on her nephew, M Fritz Sidler, for support. M Sidler became Director and oversaw yet another move, this time into the Hotel Ketterer, situated in Basset, next to the La Prairie Clinic. Under M Sidler’s directorship the school was bought in 1976 and became extremely successful, providing for up to 80 students. 

The final move came in 1987 when M Sidler acquired the Hotel Mont- Fleuri, magnificently situated on the other side of Montreux, on a hill above Territet. With this superb view over Lac Léman and the Alps, and housed in a former hotel, the school was able to offer a standard of comfort and quality which was genuinely exceptional. As time passed M Sidler was able in 2000 to add to the Finishing School programme; he developed the American High School courses, bringing a new range of students to enjoy the Surval experience.

M Sidler died in February 2010, and is remembered fondly by staff and students. The school passed to M Jean-Pierre Fauquex, a close friend and colleague of M Sidler, and previously the administrator of the school. He set about modernising the organisation and extending the pursuit of excellence for the girls.

Times change, and the demands of parents and students change too. With less demand for Finishing Schools, the school began to lose numbers and in May 2012 Surval was bought by an English Company, Bellevue Education.

Following the acquisition the school name was changed to Surval Montreux, to emphasize the location, and a new Headmistress was appointed. Mrs Penelope Penney had been a head in England for over 25 years, and a consultant to heads and Governing Bodies for a further seven years.  Her brief was to help to transform the school into an international, all girls’ boarding school with a new and robust academic curriculum. No longer a Finishing School, Surval now offers, in addition to the High School program, the IGCSE and Advanced Level. Students can join the school at age 13+ for Foundation year (American Grade 8, UK Year 9). For girls who want something in the ‘Finishing’ tradition, the post-graduation course for 17-19 year olds is known as the International Year, with languages, culture and travel.   Etiquette, cookery (Surval Culinary Arts) and of course languages remain popular courses at all ages.

The ‘new’ Surval began its courses in September 2013, and aims to provide an inspiring, stimulating, innovative school experience in a stunning and safe location. We look forward to greeting past students and their parents, as well as those who would like to join us for the future.

Surval Montreux is a small international boarding school for girls between the ages of 13 and 19. Set in a stunning location in the slopes above Montreux, it looks out across the Lake Geneva to the mountains beyond.

It is here that we offer girls the opportunity to love learning, to develop and grow intellectually, personally, and spiritually, and to become leaders.  Without the possible distraction of boys, girls have not just equal opportunity but every opportunity to take the lead. They will be the leaders of the school community, helping to make decisions about their facilities and enrichment courses: they will have leading parts in the plays we produce, in musical activities, in sport, and in the charities we support both locally and further afield. 

Every door is open to them as they develop into independent young women who have grown up in an international community and do not just tolerate, but truly understand, the value and importance of the beliefs, customs and traditions of others. They will be girls who will bring their intelligence, their understanding, and their sense of social responsibility to the service of the communities in which they will live.

We invite you most warmly to come and visit us – for any girl to come and stay for a day or two to experience boarding life in this wonderful environment – or, if you cannot visit, to take advantage of our website, our videos of school life and the personal visits I shall be making to a range of international cities. I look forward to meeting you.

Penelope Penney



Life in an international boarding school is an exceptional experience. Each student’s room mate may come from any part of the world, and her customs and traditions may be very different. Part of the fun is getting to know each other: how each celebrates festivals, what food each enjoys (or what they cannot eat): what activities each is involved in at home: girls will be astonished both by what is different and what is similar.  One of the great strengths of an all girls’ school is the friends whom girls make for life, and that invaluable network of independent, thoughtful women which will stretch across the globe to build on for the future.

Surval is a small community, a family, where all girls can live together happily in a physical location which is safe. The facilities are outstanding.  The school is housed in a former hotel, with views from every window that are the envy of all who see them.  Bedrooms are for two or three girls.  All have en suite shower rooms, almost all have balconies with a small table and chairs for relaxation or study, and all have a fridge. In the basement is a fitness room, a large jacuzzi, a sauna and a steam room which many girls enjoy after undertaking a variety of sports. A large games room provides a Wii, karaoke, table top football, billiards, table tennis and a large screen for DVDS.

Food is excellent and our three chefs produce delicious three course meals, with cold and hot options at lunch and supper.  Girls are encouraged to make suggestions about menus and there is a monthly themed supper where food from a particular country is offered.  Girls who take the cookery or pastry classes cook and prepare meals for the school community. On Saturdays and Sundays girls have a long brunch which allows a longer rest in bed, or the chance to use the fitness centre, to run or play tennis before breakfast-or to skate in the winter time on the tennis court which is flooded and frozen.

Girls come down to breakfast in the dining room and return to ensure their rooms are tidy before registering with their form tutor: then lessons begin. They develop habits of independence and tidiness -easier for some than others!- and begin to take greater responsibility for their own lives.  There are resident staff and some ‘'veilleuses de nuit' who make regular tours of each floor at night and make sure girls are sleeping peacefully. They are always available to take care of girls who may feel unwell, or perhaps a little homesick, at night.