latest Reviews and articles
- Food / Wine
- Life and Style
- Battersea cleaners
- Dental Root Canal Treatment Procedure | Cost of Root Canal Therapy
- Eurostar tickets
- Babysitter available evenings
A French School For Your Child
Of all the decisions a parent will have to make for their child, education is surely one of the most important. Bombarded daily by another article on state vs. private, mixed vs. single sex, religious vs. secular… it’s not surprising that parents are confused and often panicked as to what is the best course to take for their child.
The English school system is not an easy one to navigate for English parents, let alone for foreign ones- catchment areas, league tables… it’s enough to make you give up on the whole thing entirely. Though not yet quite at the stage of negotiating waiting lists myself, I have increasingly been thinking about what I will do when the time comes.
So I have begun to think back on my own education, which, until the age of 13, I spent in the French system. A top priority for my parents, my mother being French and my father English, was for their children to be bilingual. This meant that from a young age French was the order of the day: French nursery rhymes, French story books, French cartoons, French au pairs, and of course French schools. And to this day I am thankful that they chose to do so. Other bi-national friends of mine were not so lucky. Either through a desire for their children to be fully integrated or, as some of them put it, to avoid confusion, they were immediately placed in the English system. The result was that they found themselves in the difficult position of not being fully English, but nor could they feel connected to their French side as their lack of fluency in the language caused too much of a barrier between them and the culture. And language was the thing they complained about the most: in a world where one language is simply no longer enough, why would you not make the most of the head start you could give your child?
Fluency in French was one of the obvious benefits I received from my primary education, but not the only one. Growing up with two nationalities in one country is never easy for a child. I remember being very confused about it and went through a stage of insisting I was only one or the other. This is because young children don’t want to stand out, they want to belong. It was difficult enough to be “The French Girl” at my school when I was 13, I don’t think I would have handled it all that well at a younger age. Luckily, I had ten years of being surrounded by kids who all had multiple nationalities and languages; there was no exclusion, no weird looks or comments on accents: Everybody else was exactly like me. I realised through my time at school that I didn’t have to be one or the other: I could be both, and proud of both.
This is why when the day comes to make that choice for my child, there is no doubt that I will be signing up for the French start.
If you are looking for the right French school for your little one, then your task will be a lot easier than my parents: due to the rise from both the increasing French population and others who are eager for their children to experience “ l’école à la française”, there is now a wealth of great schools for you to chose from.
La Chouette School is a new independent Pre-Prep Bilingual School in Ealing Broadway for 2 to 6 year-olds. It follows the French National Curriculum set by the French Governing body L’Education Nationale. All teaching is based on bilingualism through immersion, with 50% of the lessons being taught in French. The classes sizes are kept small in order for the teachers to favour children’s personal development, placing emphasis on their general well-being. The school also offers a wealth of extra-curricular activities, as well as before and after school care facilities and school meals.
Founded in 1973, L’Ecole Jacques Prévert is in a beautiful red brick building on leafy Brook Green. The school follows the French curriculum and is administered by a British non-profit making company. It has been hugely successful with both French and English parents and now has more than 255 children attending its nursery and primary school classes. Emphasis is placed on the learning of English, and the language is taught as soon as children attend nursery by native speakers. It has lovely facilities including a spacious and comfortable library and computer room run by a full-time teacher. The school also has an indoor gymnasium for the younger children as well as an outdoor one for the older ones where Sport is practiced, and there are also regular swimming lessons organised at the nearby pool. The proposed extension of the existing premises, if successful, will give more space for the pupils whilst retaining the educational advantages of a small school.
And if you don’t want to place your children in full time French-education, La Marelle offers you a perfect compromise:
La Marelle is a Saturday morning school set up in 2008, by a group of French-speaking mothers . They wanted to create an environment where their bilingual children could meet other children like them while receiving formal instruction in the language and culture of the French-speaking world. The first lessons began in April 2009 at Fleetdown Primary School in Dartford and it now welcomes over 80 enrolled pupils.
Following the success of its school for French-speaking children, La Marelle now also teaches French as a foreign language. This includes classes for children aged 3 to 10, GCSE preparation and French conversation classes for adults. There is also a toddler group and library opening in 2011.
What about the older children? The Lycée Francais Charles de Gaulle is no longer the only option- and thank God considering the waiting list!
L’Ecole Internationale Marymount de Londres is a private catholic girls’ school which also offers boarding. It is a registered school of the Conseil Des Ecoles Internationales, and as such offers both the first and second cycle of the International Baccalaureat, as well as a wide variety of activities ranging from sports to theatre, music and choir.
Teaching is in English but with the added benefit of French literature lessons and French being taught as a mother tongue (though there is also the possibility of studying it as a foreign language).
The school is on a beautiful private property only 18 km from central London, and can take as many as 250 students, half of which are borders.
The school’s philosophy is one of tolerance, respect and excellence, within an environment of great diversity (46 nationalities).