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Relocating to France

Schools in Languedoc

 

Schools in LanguedocIf you’re moving to Languedoc, France with school-age children, you’ll want to know how the French education system works. We’ve already talked about how the French approach to schooling is quite – how shall we put it? – old fashioned.

 

To get a feel for the key issues associated with schooling in Languedoc and France, read on!

 

The French education system: what you need to know

 

French schooling starts at age 3 (some schools will take younger children if they are potty-trained!) with maternelle (nursery school).

 

It becomes compulsory at age 6, with école primaire. From the ages of 11-15 it’s collège (like a UK secondary school), and at 15 years, if they are academically strong, it’s time for lycée (the equivalent of a UK sixth-form college), where they will sit the Baccalauréat exam (le bac for short). From here on in, it’s university or one the elite Grandes Ecoles which churn out administrators and engineers.

 

French (and Languedoc) state schools (l’école public – not to be confused with what Brits call public school, i.e. private schools) do not teach religion, so don’t expect any school assembly, hymns, Christmas carols or nativity plays.

 

Most French private schools are Catholic but usually have contracts with the state, which pays the teachers’ salaries. To find private schools in France, click here.

 

Unlike UK schools, many French schools do not have sports teams, and teaching of sports and arts-based subjects is usually non-existent. Parents make up for this by enrolling their children in sports clubs or signing them up for (say) private music lessons and painting workshops, often held on Wednesdays (there is no school on Wednesdays until you get to collège level) and Saturdays.

 

Larger French towns often have an international school. In Languedoc, for example, the Ecole Privée Bilingue Internationale in Baillargues (www.ecole-privee-bilingue.fr/index-gb.htm), just outside Montpellier takes children from maternelle to terminale (age 18-19); within Montpellier, there are a couple of private schools that offer activities in English and France (www.bschool.fr is an example).

 

International schooling can be a good option for those who are only spending a short time in France (e.g. a couple of years) before returning to the UK; permanent relocators might do better to their children into an all-French school environment where they will be immersed in the French language. For details of international schools in France, click here.

 

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