International Schools in France

(23 Posts)
castlesintheair Fri 09-May-14 18:59:02

Can anyone tell me anything about them or do your DC go to one? Not in Paris, although that is an expensive possibility, but further south.

My choices are go back to UK and DH continue commuting to work here (Centre) or move further south in France (or wherever schools are) and still commute. Both attractive options. Ideally we want to all be together all of the time but DH needs to be in France for the foreseeable future and we want to bail our DCs back out of the French system in a year.

If anyone has any further insights or ideas, please share!

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peppersquint Sat 10-May-14 10:52:25

How old are the DCs castles?

castlesintheair Sat 10-May-14 11:48:47

Thanks for replying peppersquint. DOcs are 12, 10 and 7.

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peppersquint Sat 10-May-14 12:17:09

I suppose it depends how long you plan to stay in France before leaving - if it's for a year or two, then perhaps it would be better to all be together.

As you know from my previous post I'm now in UK while DD and DH are deciding whether to do a final year or come over now. It is very hard being apart from them both - and a lot of money is spent on commuting which would be nice to spend on other things - like family holidays, Christmas, birthdays etc..

We only have one child - I imagine it will be harder for your DH to miss three and concentrate on his career in France and I guess it will be harder for you to be a "sole carer" for three for most of the time. Will this have a bearing on your decision?

Is your eldest in 5eme or 4eme? I think an International School can work and may be what you need to stay together for the time being. How long before the eldest takes the brevet?

I don't know too much about International Schools - DD is in an International Section of a French college/lycee. However she does have friends from International Schools (who she has made through extra curricular summer activities) and they go to school in Toulouse, Paris and Bordeaux and they really enjoy/enjoyed the experience.

I think International Schools give children a great perspective and you make similar friends with shared experiences and also have the extra benefit that if/when they go back to their respective countries you have friends all around the world.

Hope this helps - I know it is very very hard to decide what's best - do your children have a view on it?

castlesintheair Sat 10-May-14 14:34:02

Thanks peppersquint. That does help. It is so hard trying to accommodate everyone's needs isn't it?

My eldest is only in 6eme. My DCs love it here but we don't want them to stay in the French system for too long (they have been in it for a year) for all the negative reasons that were mentioned on your own thread. We are also in the countryside and although beautiful etc it is deadly dull socially for us Londoners. We would be happy to live in any city really!

I've just been looking at the school in Bordeaux on line. My DH is keen on the idea but I think he would prefer Paris ... so off I go to trawl all the threads about international schools in Paris. I may need to start another thread!

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peppersquint Sat 10-May-14 14:43:34

Castles - I think there's already one about schools in Paris - that's a start! I know what you mean about rural France.
I'm at home (in France) at moment and am bored rigid - aside from seeing DH, DD and family. Everything is very pretty and lovely (and it was great when DD was younger as she loves animals etc...) but it really is like "God's Waiting Room".
I see people I have known nine years and they are still doing the same things - fete on same day of year, kermesses, bbqs, vide greniers, sponsored walks etc...and I'm so pleased I'm out of it. I'm already missing the grime, buses, theatres, cinemas and normality of my city living.
Good luck in whatever you decide.

unobtanium Sat 10-May-14 20:01:07

Hi castles, if you're looking for a roundup of the best international schools in the south, AND the ones to avoid, check out the Good Schools Guide International as I think they cover Toulouse and Nice area. I may be wrong -- check the areas they cover before joining!

Exactly what kind of international school are you thinking of? Ones that follow the same curriculum exactly as back in UK? Or would bilingual also do? I know many of the international schools in the Paris area. BSP is very good but expensive. Will you need boarding if Paris? That would limit your options to the not-so-good schools I fear.


castlesintheair Sun 11-May-14 09:11:52

Thanks for the Good Schools Guide tip unobtanium. I hadn't thought of that. I was thinking monolingual english curriculum to begin with but it seems schools like that are limited. Therefore if it's bilingual but they can do IGCSEs etc that would work. I'm trying to get away a from the rigours of the French curriculum long term especially if we do have to go back to UK in a few years. No, they won't be boarding.

After BSP what comes closest to our criteria/is best in Paris in your opinion?

peppersquint, "God's waiting room" is very apt where we live! Especially yesterday in all the rain.

OP’s posts: |
Bonsoir Sun 11-May-14 09:18:25

The two basic choices if you don't want your DC in 100% French education are either English-medium schools for expats (of which there are variants - British, American, schools for non-Anglophones like EiB Victor Hugo that should be avoided if you are a native English speaker, IB schools) that are expensive and the French sections internationales which come in both state and private variants. Sections internationales are examined by means of the OIB.

unobtanium Sun 11-May-14 21:16:08

I'd be stuck for an alternative to the BSP in the Paris area. There is ASP (American), in the same fees bracket therefore no point in looking at that, I should think.

Section Internationale, as Bonsoir describes, would be next best option for you, but you would be lucky if your kids got three IGCSEs under their belts in such a school -- they are basically French schools in every sense with some extra lessons tacked on (English Lang, Lit and History). So it is hardly an easing-off of the gruelling French-flavoured tuition that I think you might be looking for. There are some very good schools in that category to choose from though, and where we would tend to point you would depend on things like how academic and emtionally resilient your DCs are, and how important to you is it to have them all in the same school.

I do feel you might be better concentrating your search closer to home or in the south. There are probably some good ones to choose from. ANYONE DOWN SOUTH???

Failing that, do try the GSG... they are very frank in their assessments of schools... the editors visit the schools in person and also kind of condense parent feedback on them. So you can get some very juicy nuggets in there, I remember some howlers (written about schools in other countries, not France).

AuldAlliance Sun 11-May-14 22:36:11

I'm down south.
There's a private international school in Aix, but a colleague of mine used to work there and was rather scathing about it.

There are state schools in Aix and Manosque with international sections; both have websites you can look at. AFAIK they have very different atmospheres.

castlesintheair Mon 12-May-14 11:53:52

Thanks for the replies.

AuldAlliance, is the very different atmosphere you mention a good or a bad one?!

unobtanium, what are the other very good schools in Paris? I think my DCs are reasonably academic. Is competition to get in very fierce?

're the BSP do most people live locally i.e. Croissy? I'd much rather live withinin the peripherique but does that mean it's a real schlep to get to school?

I'm drawn to Bordeaux too. Anyone know any good schools down there?

Thanks any insights!

OP’s posts: |
unobtanium Mon 12-May-14 13:26:35

The Lycée International in St Germain en Laye is one of the best bilingual schools (OIB). But you'd be very lucky to get all three DCs (given their ages) into the same site. It is highly competitive for the older classes. The fees are minimal as it's a state school with only the English part of the curriculum delivered privately (but using state premises). The LI starts getting pressured towards the end of college.

The BSP bus stops at various points in Paris including the 16th and Neuilly I think... and many many kids come in from the centre of Paris (other points west too). It is expensive, the bus, and it takes longer than ferrying in by car would, due to the various stops it makes. The BSP is expensive all round but really very good (facilities, teaching, pastoral, health & safety, governance). Your kids would be on the same site definitely.

Other possibilities if you're going bilingual, other than the LI, would be EiB which is intra muros (but multiple sites and not great from collège up)... EAB Jeannine Manuel also inside the peripherique (very selective though, good luck trying to get them in...)

If you're looking for Sept by the way, you'll need to act like lightning and I would be very surprised if you find anything. EABJM for instance would be out. So sorry but that little nugget just occurred to me. I can't be sure from your OP but it does look like you're hoping to be back in the UK for the following year so that does mean you'd like to make this move for the upcoming academic year?

GSGI report for Paris covers about 25 different "international" schools but most of them would not suit your circs.

castlesintheair Mon 12-May-14 13:49:23

Thanks unobtanium that is very helpful. We aren't looking to start new schools until Sept 2015 so that gives us time.

Our move to a new area/schools within France would be instead of going back to the UK. One of the things that is making me dread returning to our old part of London is the level of competition at every school be it private or state, which is partly why the BSP appeals so much! However, I am also starting to think that given the level of their french (hopefully fluent) after 2 years in completely french schools, it would be worth going to bilingual or schools with an international section? I was just looking at the LI coincidentally. It is a minefield and you can probably tell how confused I am and very grateful for the advice!

I'm now off to subscribe to the GSCI.

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vitaminC Mon 12-May-14 14:13:03

My DSS1 and his girlfriend both attended the Cité Internationale in Lyon, for the Lycée, although neither is fully bilingual. They both did extremely well academically though, so it would appear to be a good school in that respect.

Here in Grenoble, there is also a Cité Internationale, which I'm considering for DD3 for the collège in septembre 2015. It's very elitist, however, which is why I discouraged DD1 from applying there for either the collège or lycée sections. She's doing great in the regular French system and has thrived this year (3ème) in the local comprehensive, after several years in a private (boarding) school!

DD3 is much more laid back and less likely to be affected by the emotional aspects of the international school than DD1 and I think she will do well there. (DD2 is in a full-time dance school, similar to the royal ballet school so it wasn't every on the cards for her).

There are also primary schools with a Section Internationale here, but I haven't bothered with those and their English is still great, btw.

AuldAlliance Mon 12-May-14 22:41:30

Sorry, it's a bit busy down

The following is a bit sweeping, but I have heard it from various sources, as regards the difference in atmosphere between the 2 schools I mentioned.

Intake at the international lycée in Aix comprises a high proportion of children of execs from international companies in the area, along with those of wealthy, ambitious local families who pay for the extra tuition in English needed to get their kids through the entrance exam. Quite a lot of the pupils are a bit entitled and from slightly snooty, privileged and cosseted backgrounds. On the plus side, the lycée is well-established and offers lots of opportunities for exchanges overseas, etc. The former pupils I've encountered from there (bearing in mind I work in an Arts faculty where business execs and Old Money families would never dream of sending their kids) have been clever, poised and well-educated.

Manosque, known as the Atomic Lycée, is for the children of ITER employees who work at the Cadarache Atomic Research Centre, along with a handful of kids from round about whose English gets them through the entrance tests (mainly the children of bi-national couples). They are more eclectically international (with a majority of Japanese, American, British, but also a whole lot of other nationalities) and are the kids of engineers and scientists, ambitious and high-pressure but more open-minded and down to earth than monied business execs and hardnosed upper class locals. The lycée is quite recent and has state of the art facilities, almost unimaginably high-tech for a state school. It has a v good reputation.

Bonsoir Tue 13-May-14 07:07:40

Auld - is the lycée international you describe in Aix the same school as the lycée international in Luynes? We have friends who have sent two of three of their sons to the Luynes school. The elder one has done very well indeed - he went to a top engineering grande ecole and is now at HEC. The second son is in Terminale and had offers at UCL, Bristol and Warwick for engineering.

They don't fit your description of the parent profile as the family run a B&B and are generally a bit hand to mouth.

castlesintheair Tue 13-May-14 08:31:18

Thanks vitC and auldalliance. What you say about international schools in your areas is (sadly for me) what I expected to hear. I suppose I need to visit though and see for myself. Auld, do you actually live in Aix?

OP’s posts: |
AuldAlliance Tue 13-May-14 13:17:55

Bonsoir, yes. Obviously not all pupils fit my confessedly sweeping description.
And their results are indeed usually good, with pupils going on to do well.

Castles, I live about 25km from Aix, as house prices are daft there. It's a v nice part of the country.

Bonsoir Tue 13-May-14 13:57:15

It is possible to be a weekly boarder at the Luynes lycée international - our friends' second son boarded to avoid a horrible daily commute.

castlesintheair Thu 15-May-14 11:16:24

Thanks for all the advice. I am leaning more towards french schools with a Section Internationale now, more for the choice of possible IGCSE/IB than language support though it will be nice to have a few other expats around.

I'm completely torn between Paris, the south - somewhere - and going home. The latter being the least attractive option mostly because DH will have to commute at weekends and I suppose the aim is to keep that to a minimum. Sigh. Sure I'll be back soon with more agonies ...

OP’s posts: |
Soapysuds64 Fri 16-May-14 22:00:17

my dd was at international school of bearn - just outside of Pau. Largely follows the english curriculum with english teachers. It has recently moved to a new and much bigger site. Good things and not so good things about the school, but there is also a French school in Pau that is good with expats.

sabinebo Thu 18-Sep-14 10:28:38

AuldAlliance and Bonsoir: do you think the ibs school in luynes is worth the price? my daughter is 12 and completely bilingual. she is just starting school in france, we have been living abroad for 15 years.She is in a private school in marseille with excellent academic results ( the schoo) but the teaching is very harch, no place for creativity: just learn and and work, don'y talk
I know she is not happy. I'm ready to go for a big financial effort if the results offered by IBS are good
Have you also heard od the college jules monod international section? thanks for your help

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