From Bilingual School to Prep School(10 Posts)
Hi... I currently live in London with a child who will be starting school in two years.
Although neither of us is French, I like the thought of my child attending a bilingual school but would want them to go to a regular independent school from 11+.
Have a few questions around this -
Do bilingual schools actually prepare their students for the 11+ or is their focus mainly on the French national curriculum since about 80% of their students end up at Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle.
Has anyone gone though this situation (bilingual to prep)? Am particularly curious to hear his/her opinion on this.
Not sure how the two curriculums compare?
Wanted to know whether kids who attend bilingual schools are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to the 11+?
What if they switched, around Y4, to a pre-prep school? Would they be able to adjust within a year?
I realize that some of these questions are quite subjective but would appreciate your opinion.
It all depends on so many variables. Your child abilities, the schools you are targeting.
No - French school will not be preparing your DD for 11+. Yes - curriculum and approach to education will be different. Yes - it will be possible to move between systems, if you invest in extra tuition to prep for the exams and your child is open to it.
However, if you are in Central London, competition at 11+ is intense and the process is painful even for the smartest prep-school girls. Doing this via another schooling system just seem unnecessarily difficult.
And, I am not even mentioning the issue of sending your kid to school in a language you don't speak. How will you be reading French books to her? Help with homework? Read her school reports?
Which curriculum will be bilingual school be following? I had a child who started in a bilingual school which was homologue so they would have had a spot at the Lycée upon finishing that school. It definitely did not prepare for 11+ entry, and it was only a very rare child who switched to the English system and it was always with loads of tutoring and never for one of the intensely competitive entry schools. As we wanted to go back into the English system for our child, the head discouraged us from keeping our chid there for long. We switched at the start of Year 1, and it was very difficult - our child was not reading and had done no formal maths and entered an academic pre-prep very far behind. However, as we left early, our son was able to catch up after a year and a half.
Keep in mind that the French education system is very different from the English one and that starting CP (same as English Year 2), is intensely homework focused (the children at the school we were at were getting about an hour homework a night) and very skewed towards academic subjects with no/not much focus on extracurricular subjects - particularly sports.
The French bilingual state/lycée schools are hideously oversubscribed, you need to be seriously close to the school to stand a chance of entry, and if your child cannot cope in both languages, you'll be removed into the monolingual side they can cope with.
Yes, I know a family whose elder DC went to the junior Lycée (before the bilingual local to where I used to live had opened) and the younger one to the bilingual. Both were fine and went on to private schools.
Lots of state school children go to the independent sector at secondary, though you many need a tutor for exam technique.
At a bilingual school, there's automatic entry to the lycée (one of the reasons why it's very oversubscribed) so if you do get a place, and if your child does keep up in both languages, you'd have that as an 11+ fallback, which could reduce your future transfer stress considerably.
I agree with Edith. In London lots of kids transfer out of the French system at various points and do fine. The problem is more about getting into the system in the first place.
There is a real advantage in having the Lycee as a fall back at 11+, especially given West London's shortage of day places for boys. Plus its cheaper. (Though you would need to look at how places are being allocated between Kensington and the two new Lycees.) The only issue might be that the French approach, whilst arguably more rigerous, does not suit every child. Plus I have heard from a couple of mums that the French community in London is now so big, that play dates etc can be very Francophone with English speaking mums and children feeling a bit left out.
The school that is actively trying to recruit English speaking families right now for a bilingual education is Ecole Jeannine Manuel. This is a Paris-based school that opened its London branch in 2015. It has the reputation for being fiercely selective (unlike Charles de Gaulle) on several criteria (academic/linguistic/financial), so is a very different culture to mainstream French schools. It might, therefore, provide better preparation for entrance to an academic English school than would the Charles de Gaulle linked primaries.
Do your children already speak French? I thought the French and German schools in London would only take pupils who were already fluent, rather than teaching from scratch (like any English school would need to do eg for a refugee child or a child coming to the UK while their parents worked here). Or has that changed? I looked into the German school some years ago and had to discount it as they didn't do intensive German courses for non-German speakers.
In our outer London borough of Bromley we have La Fontaine academy which is a state bilingual primary. Most in our borough sit the grammar tests for Bromley, Bexley and Kent and so have more options and whilst competition is fierce it isn't as bad as other parts of London. We also have popular selective and non-selective independents on our doorstep or short travelling distance.
Thanks for the replies.
Based on some of the questions/comments in the various replies, just wanted to add that -
I'm considering the bilingual school in Paddington.
The school follows the French national curriculum.
The school does not expect the child to speak French.
The school does not guarantee a place at Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle.
I did learn French in school for a few years but that's about it. That was a long time ago and would definitely struggle to teach someone.
Once again, thanks for the help.
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