Planning for your children to study in Paris? In this article you can find useful information which will help you decide:
The French educational system
If you’re a foreign parent living and working in Paris then having your child attend a local school and learning in French may be to their advantage. Education is free for French citizens and others with proof of residence and it’s compulsory for children aged between six and 16. State schools (ecoles publiques) are co-ed and secular. There are also some private schools which have a contract with the government (sous contrat). They follow the national curriculum and the state pays the teachers’ salaries; there are some others which are independent (hors contrat). Then there are private schools (ecoles prives), which are fee-paying, including international schools. Teaching in English is mostly found in private schools.
Pros and cons of a local French school
The French system is regarded as being of a high standard and with a disciplined approach to exams. Your child will grow up immersed in the culture and language, make local friends and fit into French society much more easily than if they are taught in English with other expat children. Younger children tend to adapt more quickly than older ones suddenly thrown into an environment where they are expected to keep up with the lessons and be tested regularly, without allowances being made for non-native speakers. If they fail tests they may have to repeat a year. Class sizes can be large, at 30 students or more, and the emphasis tends to be more on rote learning than individual discovery or self-expression.
Pros and cons of international schools
If you are planning to return to your home country at some stage you may want your child to go to an international school, where they will study a curriculum recognised at home. Class sizes in private schools tend to be smaller, and there will be less of an adjustment as they will be taught in English and may well do better academically if they continue with a familiar curriculum. Extra-curricular activities tend to be more varied at international schools. But ex-pat families sometimes move on and there is less stability for friendships, and being surrounded by English speakers can mean that students take longer to learn French and feel involved in French society. Fees can be high, but some relocation packages for expats do cover school fees.
The American School of Paris
One of the best known of the international schools is the International School in Paris
. It is an independent co-ed school which has more than 700 students aged from four years through to 18. It aims to provide first class teaching, with an American education which concentrates on the individual, in an international environment with a philosophy of respect and responsibility. In addition to academic learning there are a range of other activities such as sports, volunteering and drama, which all help students to broaden their experience. The school is situated just on the south-western edge of Paris at Saint-Cloud.
These tips may help you decide, and make for the best possible educational experience for your children while living in Paris.