I have just written about four replies and deleted them. The saddest thing about this thread and it makes me feel sick and want to cry is that this is young lives that can be, and sometimes are, damaged.
Rote, yes they do rote in France, I cannot remember ever saying much about that, if I ever said anything at all.
I know how it all works. I know how different it is to the UK. I know that good and bad schools doesn't quite work like that in France.
Do I know that some kids do well, yes I do.
Do I know that no one gives a xxxx about those that fall through the cracks, yes I know that too.
Am I cynical, yes, I am. I have no reason what so ever to be other than cynical, in spite of the 'good' stories. Really the kids who do well would usually do well anywhere and that is great, it isn't that hard to teach a child who is bright enough and adaptable and compliant enough.
And actually that says it all, in my experience the majority of french teachers I have ever met only want to teach normal or bright kids. Deviants unwelcome, maybe it should be on a sign above the school gates.