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 1986 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. In 2000, M Sidler was able to add to the Finishing School programme, developing the American High School program, bringing a new range of students to enjoy the Surval experience. He also introduced a partnership program, the IVP Finishing course, with our neighbour, Madame Neri, owner of Institut Villa PierreFeu; this proved very popular with older girls and young women, some of whom were in their thirties.
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 an international education group, 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 the IGCSE and Advanced Level, in addition to the American High School program. 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 pre-university course for 17-19 year olds is known as the International Year, with languages, culture and travel; our language and culture programme. 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.
Founder: Mlle Georgette Andrea
Background: The school has a long tradition and history in providing a culture and language experience for girls from around the world. Surval now has a strengthened academic focus and offers internationally recognised programmes which prepare girls for university and their future careers. Surval continues to provide a unique cultural and language experience especially tailored for girls.