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French or English Primary - Pros and Cons and WWYD?

(13 Posts)
Ecole Tue 08-Mar-11 21:33:53

We are a trilingual family in London. DH is the french speaker and DD (3.9) had always refused to speak French until she started at a Bilingual French English nursery recently.
Since then, she has really flourished and to DH's joy, she has started speaking French and being proud of her nationality.

Our plan has always been to send her to the local community school this September, and that would be that.
However, a new French School is opening in our area and we are really torn about whether we should send DD there or not.

On the one hand we really wanted her to make local friends and go to the local school.
On the other hand, we feel she will lose the French language and culture if she does go to the local school. Moreover, we feel that the French education system (especially at primary level) suits DD - she likes strict parameters.

Our current plan is to to send her to the French School until 11/12, where we hope she will attend our local state secondary (which has an excellent reputation).
However, because she the French School doesn't accept children until Y1 age, DD will have to spend one year at the local primary before changing schools again.

Would all this change be too much for her? She'll have only been at her current nursery for two terms, then she'll go to school for a year, then change again.

Also, there is the fees situation to think about - only £2k a term, but it's all the holidays (half term tends to last for two weeks and Wednesday half days) where I would need to pay for childcare.

WWYD? Are we mad for considering the French School?
Sorry for long post ...

SnapFrakkleAndPop Wed 09-Mar-11 04:35:03

No you're not mad for considering it but given that the new school doesn't start immediately you're probably right to be concerned about the transition. How do you think your DD would cope with that? Could she not stay at the nursery?

Is it CFBL you're looking at?

It's obviously a very individual decision but I personally would be inclined to go French as long as you think it suits your DD and you can sort childcare. Hopefully she'll still have local friends from extra-curricular activities like Brownies and it sounds like French needs a boost.

Ecole Wed 09-Mar-11 09:50:47

Yes, it's CFBL we're looking at. Do you know anything about it? what do you think?

The tricky thing with CFBL is that you obviously can't visit until September. Although DH went to to primary school in France, so knows about the system, it's a big leap of faith for me.
The community primary school that I want(ed) DD to go to is fantastic, with great pastoral care, an artist in residence, great socio-economic and cultural mix. I'm not sure CFBL will be like that, but it may have different positives ... only I won't be able to see them until September!!!

In theory, DD could stay at her bilingual nursery but it would cost us another £10k (whether you use the hours or not, you have to pay for 5 full days 8-6pm). That would be fine if I were working, but I'm pregnant and not likely to return to work for another year and a half.
It would also mean that come September and we felt we didn't like CFBL, DD will have lost her place at her fantastic local primary which is very oversubscribed.

SnapFrakkleAndPop Wed 09-Mar-11 10:45:37

I know absolutely nothing beyond that it's new, the lycee are directing people to it and a friend of mine has applied to work there but not heard back about an interview yet grin

I get the impression it won't be French-French education, so your DH's experience may not be 100% relevant. They're covering the French curriculum but otherwise it's 50/50 English and French so approaches are likely to be very different.

Maybe put your DD into local primary for a year and see how CFBL works out. You can always apply for entry at CP.

I don't know how entry age is done (whether it's the French way or the English) but if your DD's birthday is Sept-Dec I'd advise you to pick a system and stick with it.

Ecole Wed 09-Mar-11 10:55:49

That's really interesting SnapFrakkle.
When DH telephoned them yesterday they told him that it was entirely French curriculum and that only some of the classes would be taught in English. (I know that's what happens at the existing french primary).
Then I saw that they were inviting applications for English teachers as well as French, so it did make me wonder if woman on phone was right about the primary levels of the school.
FWIW a 50/50 French/English approach would suit us much better and would alleviate some of my anxieties about making a leap of faith into a system I know nothing about

Good point about applying at CP as DD won't need to undergo aptitude test at this stage. (I knew if I posted, someone would come up with some different thoughts grin)
DD born in May 2007, so she's due to enter GSM Sept 2012.
Why do yo say that a Sep-Dec birthday makes a difference?

SnapFrakkleAndPop Wed 09-Mar-11 15:10:32

Cos tue French system takes Jan-Jan and the English Sept-Sept. So a Dec born child will start MS the September BEFORE their 4th birthday but an English child wouldn't start Reception until the September AFTER theirs.

My friend is applying for the secondary and from the info she has it's the French curriculum (which as a music teacher she's a bit hmm about) but taught in English using more British/international methods. The primary section, insofar as we can work out, seems French curriculum (targets and material) but a more flexible pedagogic approach and relatively equal amounts of exposure to both languages. It might be that only done of the classes are taught via the medium of Emglish but if it's done by English trained teachers (and they're specifying QTS/PGCE) the methods will vary considerably from the French 'norm'.

Ecole Wed 09-Mar-11 18:35:02

Thanks for that.
Phoned CFBL to clarify today and they said it's definitely French curriculum but lessons taught with alternating language (ie Maths might be taught using French one day and then using english the next).

Also, feel a bit less anxious now I've found out that the open evening at the Lycee on Monday night is open to all prospective parents, not just those who will be entering in 2011.

Good luck to your friend in her application!

SnapFrakkleAndPop Thu 10-Mar-11 13:54:40

Oooh can you update with what they say so I can appear extremely knowledgeable pass on any info which might be relevant? I've said everything I can but my experience is education nationale based rather than AEFE.

It's an AEFE school so it would have to be French curriculum which is notva bad thing IMO but with a mix of English and Fremch language and teaching styles you get best of both really.

Ecole Thu 10-Mar-11 14:20:45

I was just thinking, why doesn't your friend just turn up on Monday evening - they don't have an invite list, so she can just make out she's a prospective parent. It would prepare her for her interview.

BTW - thanks for all your replies.

SnapFrakkleAndPop Thu 10-Mar-11 14:23:15

Not a bad idea - I might suggest that. And if it's an open access evening then even if they do later recognise her at interview she's just showing interest in the school....

Ecole Thu 10-Mar-11 14:30:18

Absolutely! It will also give her a sense of the French approach, as I imagine she will be working with the French Music Teacher.
Though, I think there will be loads of people there, so she might just blend in.

The other thing we were told is that there is a presentation at 7pm and then Q&A. We were told not to be late as they will NOT be answering any questions already asked or already covered by presentation.

quirrelquarrel Mon 18-Apr-11 11:39:05

A word of warning- there can sometimes be a very anti-English feeling and French superiority feeling in these schools. My (French) cousins go to a French lycee in London and my aunt says that she was shocked at the strength of it, and the two older cousins are always hard on London, Londoners, Britain in general. I don't know much about them otherwise and I'm sure there wouldn't be one in primary schools, but just in case

stefan Mon 12-Sep-11 00:41:26

I am looking for parents with their children registered in secondary education at CFBL college in London. I would really like to talk to someone as I am a bit worried about the school, just found out opening is delayed again for a week. If any of you are out there, please respond. Thank you!

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