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10 useful facts about schooling in France

Many parents moving to France worry about putting their children into French schools. They worry about the language issues, school fees, making friends, homework etc etc. However, what is often overlooked, is the rewarding and exciting times your child will experience by going to a French school and the enriched life they will have as a result!

To put minds at rest, here is a list of 10 useful facts about schooling in France:

1) Education is compulsory in France between the ages of 6-16

2) All children are entitled to free state education. There are also private schools (often cheaper than their British counterparts!)

3) The French system is split into:

i) Ecole Maternelle - 2-6yr olds(not compulsory)
ii) Ecole Elementaires - 6-11yr olds
iii) Colleges - 11-15yr olds
iv) Lycees - 15-18yr olds

4) The school year runs from Sept-early July, with long summer holidays! Dates vary between regions and half-term holidays are staggered across France.

5) Primary schools still close on Wednesdays, but secondary schools work a 5-day week. The hours are generally 8.30-4.30/5.00pm. A long day for little ones! But they do have long lunch breaks!

6) The curriculum is very similar to that taught in a British school, but you will probably find the English lessons too easy for your child!

7) There is a lot of support for families living in France, through expat websites, forums and local groups. Many families use these to share info, advice and experiences.

8) Once you know where you are going to live, check out the local school. Find out how your child will get to and from school. A lot of rural schools are closing, due to falling numbers.

9) Find out if there are any other English families living in the area, it might just help in the first few months!

10) It is important to remember, that although your child will be learning to speak French, she/he will soon start to forget their English literacy skills. Try to maintain these, by reading English books, speaking English in the home and possibly attending English literacy classes. This is particularly important if you were to return to the UK in the future, and it will also support the learning of your child's second language.

Some comments from parents living in France:

"no uniform, a bonus" "no bullying, from our experience" "very friendly children" "good discipline" "excellent sports day and theatre productions" "school trips are good" "very child-orientated"

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