French Education

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Re: Does anyone have any positive experiences of the French school system?

 Garonne wrote:
For my son, collège was a total nightmare.  In rural France, state education is archaic.  (From a family with many teachers who have taught all over the world)

It's totally ridiculous to expect all children of varying abilities to work to the same curriculum and be marked out of 20 purely on results and nothing for personal achievement and effort.  And for music and sport to count towards the moyenne - please??!!

This may be harsh but I think the children should be prepared for the real world - encouragement surely but marks for effort ! I have employed people and they didn't get paid for effort. Those with higher results got a job or were paid better.

Music and sport - why not ? Aren't they just as valid for many kids as physics and geography. In fact lots of musicians and sportsmen earn more than many scientists.

it is what it is ...
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Re: Does anyone have any positive experiences of the French school system?

 idun wrote:

In fact this thread has now gone from annoying me to angering me with such smug answers. What on earth do you think the rest of us do when it goes wrong........ try and sabotage our own children's futures???????????? 

Idun I'm really sorry this thread angered you.  I'm also sorry you and your children have to deal with  all the probelms that come with dyslexia but... the OP did ask for some positive feedback.  I'm not being smug... I'm hopefully just showing the other side of the coin.

My son has had his own problems at school - he was tested for dyslexia in the UK (Private school not State) and we were told he was borderline and that he had dyslexic tendancies?  (whatever that means) He still struggles with spelling and a little with literacy and he certainly does struggle  with the dictation controls at school... but his moyen is still very good regardless. 

His French teacher this year told him that he is going to apply for assistance when my son does the dictation controls for the Brevet... we never asked for this, it was offered.  I'm not being smug in saying this... I am just trying to show that there really is another version of French education and not all of it is bad. 

I would agree that the French system is very much like my old grammer school education - strict, learning by rote  (sometimes) and very disciplined.  It's not perfect but neither is the UK system.  Saying that Hollande is talking about children failing is silly... Hasn't the UK government had huge debate over bring back the o'levels to try and raise standards in the failing UK system?

The OP did not ask for a comparison... he asked if it was all gloom and doom.  Well, no it's not and many children do very well in the French system.  Is that so hard to accept?

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Re: Does anyone have any positive experiences of the French school system?

Thank you to everyone who posted a reply to my enquiry and to contributing to an interesting, informative and lively discussion.

I’d especially like to thank those who directly answered the question posed by my post.

The range of opinions shows that no matter how much desk research is done prior to a move to a different country, you never really know what it will be like until you are there. It also seems to confirm my view that school experiences vary between children, parents, teachers, school and region.

Maybe to some extent it’s a case of ‘luck’ as to the standard of teaching/education at the local school where one’s family settles. I guess this means that a good idea would be for us to decide on a smallish area (if not a town/village) to settle in and then research the schools in this area. This is pretty difficult for us as we have a particular set of criteria for a property and also a modest budget, so choice is something we don’t have too much of.

Also I’m not sure how we would go about researching the quality of a French school whilst still in England (anyone provide any solutions?).

I am very pleased to hear that there are expat families in France who have had ‘more positive experiences than negative experiences’ with the French education system. Also that their children have had a chance of undertaking extra-curricular activities with the school (something I thought didn’t happen in France).

So I’m feeling more positive about the French school system but the discussion has made me realise how important it is for us to check out any school thoroughly, to engage as much as possible with the local community and to deal with any problems immediately. It has also made us realise that it won’t be plain sailing and there could well be some difficult school issues to tackle (forewarned is forearmed!).

Again thank you all for your posts.

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Re: Does anyone have any positive experiences of the French school system?

You may not get much choice of school, unless you decide to use a private 'catholic' one.
There is the controversial carte scholaire to take into account..

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
- Bertrand Russell
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Re: Does anyone have any positive experiences of the French school system?

Yes.  We also have some negatives but overall, so far, I'd say it's still positive and we're not running back just yet, even though we could if we wanted/needed to.

Sports - lots of clubs on Wednesday afternoons, including a specific general sports club which is connected to the schools - and Saturday afternoons too.  For instance, oldest son spent all last year in a football team (training on Wednesday afternoons and matches on Saturdays) but didn't fancy it this year as he's worried about being distracted as he's heard that 4eme is hard work! He has joined the general sports club this year, on Wednesday afternoons.   Next son does Judo on Wednesdays, archery on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and lutte on Saturday mornings. 

Art - they do it at college and my eldest is very good at drawing and a couple of his teachers have suggested he join some sort of organisation to further his skills.  He declined as he enjoys drawing and doesn't want to turn it into something too serious.  He also enjoys the drama club at school and the teachers are impressed with him so far.  If he does well at French (which seems to be picking up now - always been good at spoken French but had difficulties with written French) then maybe he can go to one of the lycees with artistic leanings.

Music - neither of mine are particularly interested but they're passing.

Other subjects: they both started a year behind to allow them to learn the language.  One son redoubled last year and the other skipped a year in primary because he was ahead,  which is odd because they're now in the same year even though there is nearly two years age difference between them.  (One school year in the UK).  At this point, the son who skipped a year is falling behind a bit in written French.  We're not sure if this is because he is constantly with an English friend he got close to since starting college.  We're thinking that since he skipped a year and is at the younger end of the correct year for his age it won't be too drastic if he redoubles too!

Youngest is 5.  The OP's kids should be absolutely fine from what I've seen of kids their age starting.  Ours didn't start until last year because we wanted him to be expressive in English before he started speaking French, having met English and Scottish children who went to school at 2 or 3 and can barely speak English but are fluent in French.   He may repeat a year, he may not - but I'm sure he'll be fine.

We're in the Charente but I'm not sure that is relevant because all schools across France apparently cover the same curriculum and use the same methods!
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