French Education

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Re: Education advice for our 12 year old

 The Riff-Raff Element wrote:
@ Idun - what can I say? Schools vary. Ours is so utterly different to what you describe that it might be in a completely different country. I'm a parent correspondent too and I've never yet encountered the attitudes of teachers you describe.

Having sat through several classes in different subjects (I asked - I wanted to see how it worked 'cos I hadn't been through the system) I've yet to quite understand what this business of everything being taught by rote is about, because I don't see it. I see things that look pretty much like the methods used on me - so perhaps a little outmoded - but endless rote? Nope.

oooohhh - I've been hovering and wondering if I should reply or not... but then Riff-Raff said it for me.   I guess just as there are good and bad schools in the UK, the same exists here?

I would however have to agree with others that 13 is quite late to bring a child over.  I have heard of success stories but it does seem a risk.  What about Interhigh?  Also there is a group near Eymet in the Dordogne that offer teaching and the possibility of doing GSCE's and A levels... so maybe a mixture of interhigh and these classes could be an option? 

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Re: Education advice for our 12 year old

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.  

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Re: Education advice for our 12 year old

"maybe it should be on a sign above the school gates.  "

God I wish they had.  It would have saved me from enormous suffering.

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Re: Education advice for our 12 year old

And the further the kids go in the education system here, the less the parents are included.
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Re: Education advice for our 12 year old

I was idly wondering this morning how it is that some of the contribrutors to discussions about education in France on this forum and others imagine that France is able to have a population that can largely largely read, write and think for itself if the education is quite that bad here when I came across two articles on the net.

One is from the Daily Mail citing the World Economic Forum's report that says that the UK ranks 43rd in the world for the teaching of Maths and Science (Boznia & Herzogovenia is 41st and France 15th) and another UN orgaanisation has calculated that one fifth of Britons are functionally illiterate.  I've never claimed the French education system is brilliant, it has loads of faults as well as good points, but my children have come out the other end articulate, literate, funny, employable - it certainly doesn't seem from the WEF report that they'd necessarily have done any better in the UK.

The second was a blog article entitled 'Should I let my son go to university?' and the author was worrying about how his 16 year old son will be able to cope with the £51,000 of debt that is estimated will accrue for a university education for kids of his age.  A contributor said the loan which is supposed to pay for living expenses doesn't even cover half the cost of his child's rent.  Let's not argue about whether every student's debt will be as high as that or whether they can duck out of paying it etc, even the idea of debt like that is a huge millstone around your neck - here my children had the option of going to university for free.  And they got bourses.  Yes, fac here isn't as stimulating and there's a huge drop out rate but students don't end up with a debt that they can't hope to repay unless they get a job as a stockbroker or something.  And I am really, really grateful that my youngest is about to receive her diploma as an engineer (Bac + 5, so equivalent to a Master's degree) and she's is going to walk off that podium not owing a single euro to anyone.

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Re: Education advice for our 12 year old

 Joanna, you should really look at the Money Saving Expert article about student fees - many students will actually pay less than before. The debt is not a millstone, it doesn't count on motgage applications etc and becomes payable at a later stage than at present. It is only payable when the student is working too. For comparison, add up the tax you pay in a lifetime !

I know a French teacher (she is French and has taught in France) and an American who has also taught in France and they both agree with iduns view. If kids are fairly bright they will be fine, but if there are problems, support, and actually the will to give that support is patchy.

In addition we are not talking about French children here, but British chldren who are changing systems, some at a late stage. You have to compare eggs with eggs !

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Re: Education advice for our 12 year old

Joanna, I am in the same boat. First child got her Licence at Uni (BAC+4 including a BTS and a mention Assez bien for the licence) and the other child currently BAC +4 just starting 2nd year of Masters) and all free, paid by the french government too. Had we stayed in the UK then I don't think either of them would have bothered with Uni at all but here, its the norm to go after Lycée even though a lot do drop out one or two years into a course. The problem for many british kids who come here too late and into their teenage years already is the fact they have not grown up in the french style and system and the culture is very alien to them; especially the social life which is non existant here until Uni because the kids are kept busy with studies and family life.These latecomers to French education often rebel too against their parents and the strict system and just simply give up which in turn means it is very hard to get employment without a good grounding in french first. I have also known french kids with no intention of being academics do well for themselves in lesser qualifications but then, they did not have to learn to speak and write the language as much as a foreign child does. Uni is different to the rest of the french education system, its upto the student to make the effort, the teachers just do their job and whether you attend or not is noted but not punished.
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Re: Education advice for our 12 year old

I hate it when someone asks questions about schools and education and the same old replies (normally the same people) are brought out.  The only reason I reply is to try and bring some balance.

I think there are two issues here - one is the original question...  it too late to bring a 13 year old to France... regardless of how good or bad the system is, there are big risks for the child (I think it's too late but I dont know the child)... perhaps it is best to wait until she has finished her education in the UK or move her to an international school where she can complete her education in her mother tongue.  This seems fairly clear - it has no bearing on what either the French or the UK system is like... I feel it's just common sense?

The second is some folks have a bad opinion of French schools and others don't.  Before we moved I read these posts and some of the things said terrified me... and we almost called it all off.  I am so glad common sense took over. There are good and bad schools and teachers in France... just as there are in the UK.  The french system isn't perfect but lets be honest neither is the system in the UK... the French systems lets kids fall through the net... well so does the system in the UK.

I worked within the education system in the UK and I have seem it's faults and there are quite a few... We've had two children go through the system in the UK and again can give testament to it's good and bad points... I have seen my son finish primary and he's now in secondary here in France and whilst it's not perfect he is getting a good education and he is happy... and to me this is what matters.

I don't doubt that for some children the move is too much (and for some parents).  I don't doubt that some folks have not had good experiences from schools here. As a parent you have to decide what is right for your child and take steps if it's not working... and that applies to whatever country you live in. 

For us, not only is our child happy, not only have we found the schools well equiped and the teachers supportive... we also now have a bilingual child who, having moved country at 8,  will be able to face most things life throws at him, has a wealth of knowledge gained from this experience and overall is well rounded, funny, kind, clever happy young man.  He's not unique, we have lots of friends here with children at school who all seem to be happy, normal kids... problem is normal doesn't get discussed often... it's usually bad that you hear about.  So, any prospective parents out there thinking of bringing young children to France... please take a rounded view on the situation. 

And on a final note... my sons old UK primary school headmaster came to visit us for a couple of days this summer - he's retired now and we always said he should visit if passing... he hadn't seen our son for 4 years and wrote to us afterwards and told us that he had grown into a fine young man, the move had brought out the very best in him and that he felt in his opinion that it has been the making of him.... he wrote that we were very brave to do what we did, but in his humble opinon we absolutely did the right thing and we should be very proud of all our son has acheived. 

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