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Hi, we are hoping to move within an hour of Limoges and have 3 children ages 5,6 and 9 (who don't speak french) and are worried about schooling etc. Are schools graded over there as they are in England? Also what areas would anyone recommend. We would love to integrate but would also love to meet other English speaking foreigners to make our move not so daunting!!! Help!!!
 

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The system of grades in France is pretty much incomprehensible to anyone not born here.:noidea: But, standard operating practice in many of the schools seems to be to hold non-french speaking kids back a year to give them a chance to develop their language skills. In any event, it has to reduce the "trauma" of being held back to not have a direct equivalent to the grades in any other system.

For a spiffy summary of the French educational system (in English even!) check here: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/eurybase_en.php#france

All that said, the schools are organized by town in France and the system is pretty centralized, so as long as you're thinking of sending them to the public schools, it's determined by what town you live in.

As far as meeting people, both French and other expats, you may want to check out the local AVF AVF -- Accueil It's a French "newcomers" group and usually consists of a reasonable mix of nationalities living in the area. You can try contacting them before you move - it's a program they call "pre-accueil".
Cheers,
Bev
 

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errrrrm I think Bev means State schools not Public as in UK Public schools ;)

The ages your kids are, they'll probably enter the right year for their age, and will integrate rapidly with their new schoolmates. But it does depend on the kids and the school,

Here in the Auvergne, my daughter entered the right class for her age 5ieme (equivalent to Year 8 I think - what used to be the old 2nd Form in the UK system), but other kids here have been started off a year behind. Since, by the time they finish their schooling, most French kids will have repeated a year at least once, there can be a significant age range in any given class, but it doesn't seem to worry them.

You might also find - like here - that in the small Primary schools, several year groups are taught in the same classroom by the same teacher. It's not uncommon to find CP/CE1/CE2 - the first 3 years of "proper" school - in the same room, or CE2/CM1/CM2 all bundled together. This also doesn't seem to be a problem either to the kids or to the teachers.

Advice - stay chilled; go with the flow. Your kids will do fine.

Re integrating yourselves, have you got any special hobbies that you could join a local club for ? Here the ex-pats typically have got to know each other through French classes at the local GRETA, and then by joining walking/diving/patchworking etc clubs. Here, in particular, a lot of the expats are volunteers at ADADA, the refuge centre for donkeys, but it is one of the rare examples of voluntary help being welcomed - volunteering FOR NOTHING, mon dieu seems to go against the French grain a bit, but we (the expats) are educating them here and a lot of us also help out once a month or so with spoken English in the local secondary school, College.

If your French is ropy, get down to the local College and ask to speak to one of the English teachers, and they will almost certainly set you off on the right track (& enjoy the chance to speak English with a native speaker).

Good luck
Hils
 
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