Paris International Schools?(22 Posts)
I'm sorry if this has been asked a million times but I'm having a hard time getting any straight answers on expat forums and to be honest I'd rather ask the advice of other parents, especially those that may have some experience with the schools in Paris.
Anyway we will be moving there later in the year and our 4y.o will need to start at a school and while we have a good lists of schools and info I find it hard to come by independent recommendations.
So I guess my question is has anyone had experience of the International Schools in Paris and are there any positive or negative stories I should consider?
Which schools are the great, which bad. That kind of thing.
Anyway, thanks in advance.
You don't say what language, or if you mean Paris proper or in the départements surrounding Paris. Is there a reason why you're not considering French and a French school?
It would be a English speaking school mainly, bilingual French is possible too.
I'd say we would consider all areas but it would most likely be easier if it was somewhere closer to my wifes work(St Germain en laye) or even home but we don't know where that would be yet anyway.
We would consider a French school but it's down on the list as we are not sure how long we will be staying, maybe a year or two max and then when we move on we feel it would be easier with sticking with the one language through education. My wife is French but we speak mainly English at home.
We have a good grasp on what schools are around and what they offer as my wife's work are supplying lots of info about the relocate but there is no practical first hand or second hand experience with any of the schools.
Are you considering the British School of Paris?, I know that one of their buses runs from St Germain en Laye or it is within very easy driving distance. Their Early Years department has improved dramatically over the past couple of years and I think it compares very favorably with a UK independent school.
Well I wouldn't go for ISP at that age.
BSP by all accounts has improved but is still quite a traditional approach which may or may not suit you.
There are bilingual Montessori schools around Le Vesinet I wouldn't be too keen on long term but if you're only there for a year or two that's less of an issue. The good bilingual schools are in Paris itself - EABJM and EAB. My experience is of EAB and nearly 5 years out of date. I know that parents are moving their children away for college (2 families I know have gone to École Alsacienne having previously been diehard EABJM fans) so I'm not sure what's going on there.
Then you have the American schools. I know a fair few people with children at Marymount and the rave about it now but a few years ago it wasn't a top choice. Things change very quickly, especially in intenational schools with a a high staff turnover.
If your wife is working in St Germain en Late u guess you'd be living in Yvelines - Chatou/Le Vesinet/Croissy area - so BSP would make a lot of sense. You don't mention whether you'll work or not?
The British school is the one my wife is leaning to at the moment, I'm still in the overwhelmed phase but it does seem to be highly recommended from a few things I have read.
On the map it doesn't seem all that far away at least.
fraktion- We are not sure yet where, that is something we need to sort out next but Yvelines or Val d'Oise are what is in mind at the moment.
I won't be working as I look after the kids(we have two) one 3 the other 1 so I guess I'm going to be the taxi service amongst other things.
Montessori schools are a consideration, as you say for a year or two might be good. We know some people here(Belgium) who rave about them and others have had not the best experience.
I believe there is the Forest school too.
The BSP is very close to St Germain, I would imagine around 15 minutes drive in morning traffic (obviously may vary depending exactly where you choose to live). I don't know that I would agree that they have a very traditional approach, they follow very closely what is happening in UK schools and are continuously updating their curriculum and teaching methods, especially in the Primary Section. They are Ofsted inspected by UK inspectors and their staff often attend training courses and conferences back in Britain.
By traditional I meant sticking closely to British norms, rather than the mixed methods/very international PYP you find at ISP or, for example, a Montessori approach. The British curriculum in general is still fairly traditional in its focus.
I'd seriously consider a French maternelle if your DD speaks any French though, especially as your wife is French. Bilingualism is such a gift and even a couple of years is a good start and opens up other international options later (AEFE lycées are often less subscribed that the corresponding British school abroad). Schools in that area are well equipped to deal with bilingual/expat children. The concern of course would be that anglophone schools will be comparatively more advanced in literacy a couple of years down the line and it may be difficult to catch up.
If you are only here for a short while you could certainly consider Forest International or Ecole International Malerbe in Le Vesinet (loosely based on Montessori following UK curriculum. Neither is the most academic but would provide a pleasant experience for a small child for a year or two, from what I have heard.
"The BSP is very close to St Germain, I would imagine around 15 minutes drive in morning traffic (obviously may vary depending exactly where you choose to live)."
I was kind of hoping it would be a bit quicker than that but sobeit. Travel times and transport is one thing we will have to figure out because we'd prefer to be as far out as reasonably possible which may not be all that far out in the end. The Bison Fute site is good to get an idea of times.
As for traditional approach well I see nothing wrong with that, I was taught in the Aussie system so I imagine the British is as close to that as we will find.
And yeah the kind of alternative methods whilst I'm not against them they would have to have a good grounding in education as well, for a couple of years they might be fine but I would worry that it could put them behind the ball when they change.
Which is also why we would be hesitant to throw them in to a French school, we will if we have to but for just a couple of years then realistically at least half of that would be them adapting in the classroom and socially. I know kids are good at that thing but we really don't want them to fall behind at all if it can be helped.
I know Belgian schools are not exactly like French ones, but why would you expect your 4 year old with a French speaking mum and therefore French speaking too to take a year to settle into a French maternelle? Also falling behind in what? Our children were aged 3,6 and 10 when they went from English to French overnight and a different school system, the 3 and 6 year old adapted socially immediately, from the very first day, the 10 year old took a few months because he is stubborn and has a quite negative personality. As for falling behind, the now 14 year old I reckon could pass GCSE Maths with an A grade now, not because he's bright but because the Maths covered is 2 years ahead of UK, only the now 7 year old is "behind" in English writing and reading but in French she is at the same level as she would be in English, so in fact she has more skills than she would have if in the English system still. If you were concerned about falling behind in English literacy skills, either do tutoring yourself or find someone to do it for you, far cheaper than international school fees.
A local maternelle solves the transport problem overnight if you go for a public one, even a Catholic one is likely to not be too far away.
It's her idea as much as anyone else's. She knows the level of French he is at better than anyone and would prefer an English school, like I said bilingual is an option too.
"Falling behind in what?"
It would be naive to think that any non French speaking child is going to slot straight in to the class room and operate at the same level of the rest of the class. It could take a while and frankly to be even a month behind is still behind. Sure he will likely catch up but it's not a permanent move.
We could be in Italy a year later then I'm going to have the same conversations with people saying to put him in a local school there and then down the track we could be in Australia or Canada, I know moving around is not ideal for kids so to at least have some form of stability in their education is paramount.
We are fortunate to have a choice and at this point a local school is down the list.
Well I've witnessed quite a few children join our children's maternelle, as well as children join the English school where I am now, both have a high number of speakers of other languages. Some children slot in immediately, some take a few months, the only ones who've taken longer are ones that attend occasionally and inconsistently or have high special needs. some children who have slotted in immediately have arrived with no English / French, some are mother tongue level, the settling in has very rarely been related to lack of language and more often to do with their personality or those of their parents'. A new child (no English at all) who started last week, that child played lotto Maths with me last week, almost 4 years old, took that child no time at all to take on rules and win!
I have no question our kid would be alright but it's just not the way we are going for now.
Things may change but for now it's the international schools.
Hi Galaxydad, some very good advice already and if you are truly as mobile a family as it sounds, you are probably on the right track staying "international".
Another huge vote for BSP, it's a very good school indeed. They are currently recruiting for a new Junior School Head as the current one will be leaving at the end of the academic year. Something to bear in mind.
Have you considered subscribing to the Good Schools Guide International? They usually have the low-down, school by school (after interviewing loads of parents), plus good city overviews to help you get your head around the system before you move. I know they cover Paris now, but also check that they cover whichever city (in Italy?) you think you might move to next.
Thanks for the reply, mobility is the major factor in the decision.
I wasn't aware the head was changing but I'll mention it as my wife is on the relocation panel and will be contacting the schools I imagine.
I hadn't thought about that guide, there is an AAWE guide that we were going to chase up but an international one may be useful too. It may not be Italy as that was just an example but it'd be useful if it had extra city details.
I don't think you need to worry that the change of Head at the BSP will have any negative effects on the school, the Senior Management team there are long established and the majority of the teaching staff have been there long term. The new Head will still report to the Head of whole school (based at the Senoir School) so hopefully the Primary School will continue on it's current path.
I think, with regards to the travel time, that the traffics around Paris and the suburbs has to been seen be believed! Therefore a 15 minute drive to school would be considered very good, if you are considering the BSP, it may be worth thinking about living in the Le Vesinet / Croissy area within walking or cycling distance of school. There is an RER station in Croissy and 2 in Le Vesinet with very quick lines to St Germain for your wife's work.
No I don't see that that will cause any issues unless they come with a bad rep and I highly doubt that would be the case. Still useful to know.
As for travel time we would be willing to give it up to 45mins an hour if it meant we could be a bit more away from everything but these are all things that will be easier once we have spent a few days in the area to check everything out. The only way to get real times is to experience it.
I think it'd be a 20 or min walk from one of the stations to where she will be working which is doable but would then bring us closer in again.
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