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Mumsnetters with children in collège in France, how strict are you DC's schools?

(12 Posts)
ViveLesVacances Sat 07-Jan-17 17:24:00

I have 4 DC, the oldest of whom has just started 6ème this year. Transition to collège has been a little rocky.

DS1 is a fairly easy child, no major problems in primaire - occasionally was pulled aside for a little word about DS being chatty in class and being a bit distracted (more the daydreamy kind, rather than the ruckus causing kind), but it was very rare and at home we simply reinforced to DS1 that we expected him to listen to the teacher in class and keep focused on his work.

Fast forward to September of this year, and DS started at collège. Since, then, we've had endless "mots" in his carnet de correspondance, as well as several emails from his teacher, saying DS has not been behaving up to standard.

No, don't get me wrong. Rudeness, distracting others and not doing his work, we will not tolerate and have followed through with sanctions at home. However, we've also had some messages in his carnet for completely banal things. DS being silly in class, is right next to DS forgetting to have us sign his test (it wasn't even a bad mark, so it's not as if he forgot on purpose! He's just a scatterbrain).

Is this usual for a French school? I was under the impression that the carnet was used for quite serious things, and French DH certainly wants us to take every note in his carnet very seriously. Of course, the behaviours stuff we do... but forgetting to sign a test? As a once off?

Instead of adjusting to collège life, DS seems to be really resisting, and his enthusiasm for school is waning, in what I'm afraid will become a permanent feature of his school life.

Any French mumsnetters able to chime in?

clearsommespace Sat 07-Jan-17 18:01:38

Our college uses the carnet for all communication unless emergency so forgetting to sign a test would go in there. If your DC forgets to show the test, it's the best way to ensure DC remembers. Firstly because parents expect to see the carnet regularly. Also they make the DC write most of the short notes and that of course assists with remembering. As a precaution, I always ask 'anything to sign' at dinner time. With 2 DC in secondary there is nearly always something.
We haven't had any behaviour 'mots' (although daydreaming often mentioned in parents evening for one DC). I imagine if it was really serious they would call you in.

ViveLesVacances Sat 07-Jan-17 18:42:02

Thanks for your reply clearsommespace (great name btw!).

Good thinking asking, "anything to sign". We don't seem to get much, if any at all, normal communication through the carnet. I have a few friends who are teachers, and they were saying that writing in the carnet is meant to be a punishment. DH certainly seems to think along the same lines and is always cross with a "mot", no matter the reason.

clearsommespace Sat 07-Jan-17 19:11:02

It's definitely not only used for punishments in our college. I never write any loose notes. We were told to always write in the carnet. But I don't know about other colleges.
I last name changed when decluttering. Need to start that again....

Ancienchateau Sun 08-Jan-17 09:55:00

I've had 2 in collège, one still there. We have very little communication with collège. Most of it is done on-line (Pronote). The carnet seems to be used for absence notifications or messages about changes to sport, trips etc. Teachers tend to call or email if they need to speak to us and that's only been occasionally, usually a reminder about something.

It doesn't seem particularly strict. When they new Head started she cracked down on punctuality but that has relapsed. Are your DC in private schools? They tend to be stricter ime. Mine are all in public schools now but were in privées before.

Madamfrog Sun 08-Jan-17 16:05:07

I'm in Lycée and write anything that needs to be brought to parents' attention in the carnet, so it can be bad or good or admin, and I expect to see the same sort of thing in my children's carnets - it isn't just for bad or serious things. The carnet needs to be looked at regularly, if I put something in it and it isn't signed by next lesson I put the date and carnet non signé. If the carnet is never shown to the parents itnisn't a good sign. Chatting in class is going to get him in trouble, did the bulletin mention bavardages? It is worth not getting a reputation as a chatterer. To go back to the carnet, I expect at some stage we will go all electronic (like the cahier de texte) but I think it is quite useful (formateur) having to be responsible for it.

ViveLesVacances Sun 08-Jan-17 19:42:42

Yes, we're in the private system chateau. On the whole we're pleased with the school and how it's run, it's just in my experience French schools tend to be stricter than the British system I knew, so unsure what was normal for collège. DC were all born here and have lived here their whole lives, so there was no transition for then from another system.

The school uses Ecole Directe for a lot of the communication between how at school, at least at an admin level, i.e. notification of events and such.

Ah, Madamfrog, that's what we're worried about. We've been told by the teacher that DS1 is not "méchant", but his chattering is not improving and is distracting to others. We have sanctions at home when he gets a "mot" for such behaviour, but the next week he's at it again!! Do you teach in lycée? Were you ever in collège? Is this something they often go through in the transition period? I'm hoping this is just a stage and he'll shake down...

Madamfrog Sun 08-Jan-17 22:24:03

I teach in lycée and have taught in collège, because of the size of classes chatting is a major nuisance, I think lots of children in collège do chat, they don't realise just how disruptive it is, especially when they are in 6ème, they don't realise if they are all at it, it is unbearable. It is understandable because they are still adjusting from primaire and sometimes don't channel their energy or think about how necessary what they have to say may be. But it is the major source of disruption in class and they need to get on top of it, because habitual chatters quickly get a name for it and end up sometimes unfairly getting sanctioned an awful lot, or pretty well written off when patience runs out (X can't be bothered to pay attention so X won't get any attention from the teacher).

I used to tell my 6èmes that they are like bees, one buzzing makes a tiny noise but a whole hive-full is deafening.

frozentree Mon 09-Jan-17 09:07:07

I've had 3 dc in college, with 2 of them still there. The carnet is used for everything, absences, croix (both good and bad), teacher absences, class outings etc so it's not all serious stuff.

Each time we have the bulletin de class, there is always a mention of too much chatter from certain teachers so I think it's obviously something that can be really disruptive but also depends on the teacher/subject/situation.

ViveLesVacances Tue 10-Jan-17 16:14:52

Thank you for taking the time to reply. Seems like we'll just have to keep reinforcing the need for DS1 to keep his mouth shut!

LillianGish Mon 16-Jan-17 08:09:08

I'm a bit late to the party on this, but it caught my eye so here goes. I have one on lycée and one in college. I think there is a big steps from primaire into 6eme and most crucially (in terms of the carnet) they go from having one teacher to a lot of teachers and also a head of year etc etc - so basically lots more people to write notes! I used always ask if there were any notes to sign in 6eme though now both are well into the habit of reminding me as they get sanctioned for not getting the notes signed (however innocuous). We also have endless notes on Ecole Directe (sometimes flagged up sometimes not - I often miss them blush) I think that is your main communication with the school at a time when you are no longer picking them up and dropping them off in person and may never go to the school (or even see another parent) from one term to the next. I'm just totally used to it now - I think take it as seriously as the note warrants (i.e. Not very seriously at all in almost every case, but that's not to say ignore bad behaviour), but do attend to it and sign it however pointless as this is expected and if you don't (or if you forget) your child will have another note in their carnet to that effect.

Laptopwieldingharpy Mon 16-Jan-17 11:39:13

I think this is not exclusive to french lycées & colleges. Middle school is a big transition and the teachers should have the support of parents in establishing routines and a new frame of mind.
My eldest is in an all American international school in Asia and the level of expectation in MS is high in terms of behaviour/emotional intelligence etc... it is quite brutal coming from the cuddly atmosphere of elementary school.
I have to say that on the whole, the children are very eager to act appropriately but do lack maturity.
This is where we step in as parents.
The big différence with french schools is that we as parents receive a lot of support throughout that first year.
A few tips that have worked really well. I know a lot of it sounds really corny and it is time consuming as a parent but it really works.
1. Morning affirmations to visualise the day and make sure everything on our checklist is ticked for the day. If not, teach your child to be his own advocate and take responsibility by initiating the discussion with the teacher rather than being caught out. That does not mean whining every day !!!!
2. Afternoon debriefing to go over the days successes and worries. Break down the possible problems into small events and address them.
3. Try and look into the carnet every night together. We look at our agendas everyday. It is a good habit. They need help establishing routines.

My eldest was just like yours, happy bubbly and chatty. We taught him to use his comic talent at appropriate times and channel his energy in after school sports!
Dont worry it takes almost a full year to transition. Unless the school is really strident about it, brush it off and keep reinforcing the good stuff to help him stand on his two feet.
When you think your child is ready for this conversation, do remind him that teachers are people too and come into the classroom with bagage too and might have the odd bad day.
Rules and routines are there so that everyone does their job according to set expectations and with minimal disruption.

French schools want the kids to grow up overnight and that is very unsettling. In our experience, they do not lead by example like in UK and US schools with lots of pastoral care, adult mentoring by sports coaches, art teachers, counsellors etc....
You fill in the gaps.

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