French school vs. little English primary(16 Posts)
Hello! I originally posted this in 'Primary Schools' but was advised to ask in this section instead! I hope that's okay I'm quite new to all this!
I wonder if anyone could advise me on schools.
DH is French, I'm English, we're doing our best to raise our DD bilingually. She's due to start Petite Section in September to 'normalise' speaking French a bit in a school environment as she's only ever lived in England.
We are now trying to decide between keeping her in a French or English system. We would prefer not to keep her at the school where she's at past PS (at the moment it's a win-win as we needed childcare and the hours suit), because it would stretch us financially to have two there once second DD comes along.
We are hoping for Holy Cross bilingual stream (we don't live close enough, but hoping to get it through the lycée). Does anyone know of this school? Is the curriculum very French or more English ? Would her English be up to scratch if she is at school for a half day in French ?
In my heart though, I would quite like DD to go a nice little English primary where they have singing in assemblies, learn about kings and queens and - as I understand it - are altogether a bit gentler. We live near a ofsted 'good' CofE primary which we should get in to (we go to church most Sundays), and suppose we could follow some CNED lessons after school, but that all seems quite intense for her after a full day, especially if she does clubs like ballet, piano, etc as well. DH likes Church aspect of school, but thinks her French will really suffer and will be lots of pressure for us to have to take on 100% of French learning.
So really we have to decide what's best for DD, who is on the quiet side, intelligent and articulate, but (for the moment) who finds more joy in drawing and dancing than sitting down having a book read to her.
1.) Bilingual Primary with the lycée,
2.) English primary and CNED,
3.) Keeping her at bilingual school where she is now, though 100% French curriculum, which I'm not too sure of after the maternelle (ps-gs on the otherhand I think is a real gem of the French system)
Sorry for mammoth post !!
What is the advantage of bringing her up in the French system? Do you think you are likely to move her to France in the future, or would you want her to go to uni in France?
She will be surrounded by English, in out of school activities, local friends etc, even if you speak French at home. If you are desperate to make her fully bilingual (writing being the main problem), then I would go with the French education, and enable her to spend time with English friends out of school. You can always do some extra English with her (reading and writing) at home, or get her some tutoring later on.
From what I've been told, French children do more advanced stuff, but their schooling is more of a tedious and disciplined experience. I think that UK primary school education is good fun, with a good variety of activities, and encourages creativity and independent thinking more than a French education.
My son is in moyenne section in a small French village school. We speak English at home. All my cultural/educational background is English and I have found it very difficult getting used to the French system. They are very structured and disciplined with the younger children. It is a generalisation but I think it is true that the French system does not encourage creativity, independent thinking and having fun in the way that an English primary school would. My son spent most of PS utterly confused as to why the teacher was "telling him what to play" (though the language barrier didn't help either). But after a year and a half there, he takes great delight now in demonstrating for me his ability to draw beautifully straight horizontal lines, vertical lines and diagonal lines, which I find utterly bizarre. (To be fair, he can also write his name beautifully in the maternelle approved style of capital letters only.) He gets confused if people ask him the typically English question of "Did you have a nice day at school today?" (The typically French question would, of course, be "Were you good at school today?) If you want an English system in your heart then I think you will find the tougher French system difficult to accept on a daily basis. But I would also guess that your DS would find it easier to move from the French to the English system rather than vice versa.
Sorry, your DD, not your DS.
Thanks for letting me know your experience chocolatebourbon. What you described fits my impression that I got from listening to the French mums I used to work with whilst over there, and also from my stint as a teenage au pair listening to what the kids said about their day at school!
Has your DS kept his level of English (and does he like speaking it still?) now that he is at French school or has it become more passive and the French more dominant? << DH convinced kids won't want to speak French or will be embarrassed by it if they're in an English school >>
We have visited a few of the local primaries where we live, and I do think that an English education is in my heart (DH found it very odd to see an English Reception class in action - apparently is very different from how his schooling was in France!) DH doesn't mind where DD goes as long as it's a good school and she will keep fluency in both languages and will eventually be able to read and write in both!
I am waiting for confirmation from the Lycée about their admissions procedures, but having read those published on their website, am pretty sure that they will give priority to children that already have a sibling in the French half of the bilingual stream anywhere in the two schools (Fulham/Wix) which could mean we won't have any chance of getting in anyway.. we will still apply on the off chance though.
We're now looking at a possible Saturday school CNED classes, so that DD can be with other Francophone children (and we won't have to be solely responsible for her French reading/writing!) We found 'La Petite Ecole d'Ealing', which is around a 20min drive from our house, for 2hrs 55mins on a Saturday in term time. Does anyone know of any others?
Goodness, another mammoth post - sorry!!
I've done both systems and agree the french system is stricter. If this was because they have to teach more (music, sport, science, maths) in primary I might accept it. But the fact is the French system until about 11 prioritises form over substance, and a lot of this rigour is focused on having perfect joined handwriting & not colouring outside the lines. Meanwhile their English school peers are learning reading, writing & basic maths, as well as experimenting with music, art & a variety of team sports ( the lycee children tend to do these as extra curricular activities - which you'd need to have time for). If you think you might, at a later date, want them to mive to the English system you'll need to bare this in mind, as the lycee wont prepare them at all for the 11+ or 13+ . I have first hand experience of both: my parents naively signed me up for the 11+ and I failed miserably. I had to catch up through private tuition (the following year I sat the 13+ a year early for the same school & was offered a scholarship). We got there in the end, but catching up was tough. And once in the English system I stood out: never played hockey, rounders etc, looked french, found it weird teachers asked my opinion. In the end I loved it, but now we have children I think I'd rather avoid changing systems. So my advice would be to decide which secondary system you want for your children & choose a similar primary system.
If you want to transfer to either system it will be tough but it is easier going French primary to English secondary than the other way round. Look at the different curricula and see what you think your DD woulid enjoy more. The bilingual stream is essentially 50/50 and it works well.
Places at the lycee are very hard to come by - DH had a colleague who was posted to London and the lycee couldn't take 2 of his children, and civil servants are priority 1 on the list. I enrolled DS in TPS here so we wpukd have a certificat de radiation in case DH got a civvy job and we moved to one of the oversubscribed lycees.
You don't need to make a decision until you have places but I would choose the bilingual, then nice English primary, then straight French but only via the lycee.
Opposite situation for me. I am French, DH is English and we live in the uk.
YY to the system being very different and tbh I would have been very happy if I could have send the dcs to a French school rather than our local English school...
I think the reason is that you feel more comfortable in the system that you've grown into rather than having to learn a new one. Now that my dcs are older I would still say I would have preferred a French system BUT....
The reality is that they will grow up in England in an English system, surrounded by English people. It will be as important for them to learn about English social rules and ways if doing things if this us going to be their country iyswim.
In the same way, if you want your dcs to grow up not just bilingual but also bicultural, then being in a French school will be a really good way to achieve that.
So I would say, have a look at the big picture. What do you want to achieve? Bilingual children or bicultural? How often can you go back to France? How much input from her French family can she have? Any opportunity for you to spend a few years in France? Depending on the situation you might want to go for the French school or not.
Final word about schools and systems. Don't fall in the trap if saying the French system is too strict and this and that do nit good enough compare to the English system which is much more gentle. The reality is that BOTH systems gave their advantages and disadvantages and both have something positive to bring to the children. In the end they will learn enough I both system to be able to go to Uni and work.
What you can do is try and compensate for what you see as an 'issue' with the system you are using, eg promote creativity if using the French system and promote critical thinking if you are in the English one do that you get the best out of it.
HTH. This is actually a tricky issue.
Btw ease best I mind that the English system is currently changing a lot and that the emphasis on firm is getting stronger. There is also an emphasis on just 'learning x method' to do an addition rather than going through 10 steps do that the children understand why they do x and y.
The English system is somehow becoming more French..,
ladyindisguise I think you're right when you say I'm more comfortable with the English system because I've grown up with it. From what I've experienced of the French system, the ridgity (is that a word?!) of the system freaks me out a bit. But I hope it doesn't come across as me not liking the system, DD starts Petite Section in Sept (and maybe even TPS after this half term, as a place has become available!) at a bilingual school. If we had stayed in France she would have gone to the local primaire, then onto bilingual college or at least one with a section européenne and we would have just had to try and boost her English at home.
I think what we would like in the perfect world would be PS (and maybe TPS) in bilingual school, then English primary with some CNED classes (but not too intense), then lycée for secondary school. Though I think it's a highly unlikely scenario as lycee will be so oversubscribed for 6eme applications.
Also I think it's harder to move from the English system to the French one (primary to secondary). There are so many things that the dcs will have got used to it in primary (starting with homework every day and a certain way to do/present things).
A bilingual school sounds great!!
Btw I tried the CNED with dc1. I never managed anything there as so focus on following the school curriculum rather than offering some flexibility for a bilingual schooling.
The support and structure and info given was great though.
It is easier to be in France supporting English
I prefer the cours sainte anne to the official CNED. I think any DC lucky enough to get into the lycee in 6eme from an English primary will struggle. It's a difficult age as it is, soci groups will already be established and that's without considering the academic side or the
bloody cursive handwriting. If you want to go French for secondary you need to be in the system by CP
Thanks nomdeclavier, will look into cours sainte anne as well...
DH suggested buying the ' à la carte ' version of the CNED and doing just the French section daily (or thereabouts), then maybe doing a little history/geography project at each school holiday... I don't know how important the maths part would be though, I suppose any extra maths would just help DD at normal school, though wouldn't want her to get tired. Are the cours sainte anne less full on than the cned or is it just a different way of doing things (and are they religious as opposed to secular cned ? Don't mind either way, just curious!)
Argh, such a shame we can't keep her at the bilingual school... Mind you it only goes up to CP anyway, so would be stuck again in a few years time.
I have to say I found it extremely hard to ask the dcs to do some French at home whilst they go to an English school. I've had very very strong refusal from them to do anything remotely related to reading or writing. (Even though they do still speak French with me, which seem to be a miracle if the other people I know who are in a similar position are to go by).
So doing some French daily was just impossible.
I found it easier to carry on talking, reading to them until they were a little bit older (around 10yo) and then to introduce some reading in French and then some writing (but not with me with a 'teacher' so they can't moan as much). There is a lot of 'Why on earth do I have to do that when none of my friends do?'
Sorry, only just seen your question:
Has your DS kept his level of English (and does he like speaking it still?) now that he is at French school or has it become more passive and the French more dominant? (DH convinced kids won't want to speak French or will be embarrassed by it if they're in an English school)
Yes, for DS English is still his dominant language but I think that's because we almost always speak English at home - even if we have French visitors, then if DH is home I will translating the whole time as his French is terrible. Sometimes after a day at school DS's English will be quite confused/stuttery, but I think he's just exhausted and the language change is the final straw.
I am also teaching DS to read in English which he is very keen on (otherwise I would not be doing it - I would rather give extra support in French, but he is less enthusiastic about that as it's too much like school). As a teenager, though, I'm sure the English will be completely embarrassing and the idea of extra reading lessons with mummy will not be tempting.
My children really do NEED both languages - one to talk to their Dad, one to talk to their friends - so there is no way they can avoid using both.
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