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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,

Have been lurking for a while and am looking for some specific advice. I hope to be moving to Paris 2010/2011. We have two boys (9 and 11) who are in private school in London and moving them between schools is our greatest worry as they are settled and thriving. Our research has us leaning towards living in the Western Suburbs (probably St Germain-En-Laye) and trying to get the boys into the Lycee International British Section. My job is secure and reasonably well paid. I will not be getting any help with any school fees but the private schools are an option.

Is there anyone out there who has done this/something similar/something different/chosen a private bilingual school etc. and can offer any advice/regrets/dos/don'ts.

I have read with interest all previous posts and am very grateful for the resources offered on this site. I regard our move to Paris as extremely positive but am still worried that I could be making a big mistake.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Hi - I am also new on this forum, and very grateful for the advice. I have been researching (and applying) to the bilingual schools in Paris. I know of two. Ecole Active Bilingue and Ecole Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel. (They are not related in any way). eab dot fr and eabjm dot org ... Both offer immersion classes for non french speaking kids to learn French without losing a year, and both teach English at a level that facilitates re-enty to your own school system. Both have comprehensive websites. We are a UK/Canadian couple whose kids were born in the US, so we're not sure where next is (after Paris, where we're hoping to move this summer), and this seems like a good option for us...
Kim
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Kim and Bev,

Thanks for your replies. I have ordered the guide and shall continue the research.

I would love to hear if someone has made the move with similar aged children and has had either a happy or unhappy experience.

Would also like to hear from anyone who might be living in St Germain-en-Laye and has any experience to relate re family life.

Jeremy
 

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Are your boys fluent in French? We are two weeks away from our move to Fontainebleau. My children are 6, 8 and 10. We had a difficult time with a decision on where to live and what school to send our children to. What we discovered was that many of the schools in the area do not offer good support for French as a second language. We are arriving for the start of the 3rd term, and I have heard stories of children arriving late in the school year being held back because of their lack of French skills.

The private bilingual school in the area won't accept the children mid-year. That had been our first choice. While on our house hunting trip, we met with the director of the anglophone section of a public school. It was very reassuring to hear her talk about the daily instruction as French as a second language, that they give students 3-5 terms to get their French to speed. It also is reassuring to know that if there is a problem, my kids will be able to communicate it even on their first day because someone speaks their native tongue. But - big but - it turned out that the research I had done on this school lacked the information on the most recent policy changes that greatly affected where we had to live. I would not have found this out without the discussion with the director. None of this had been communicated in email.

I guess my experience is that you should try to visit the schools and talk to the directors if you can. Make sure they have room for your children. Find out the expecations for your children learning French if they don't already know it. Do this before you settle on an area to live in. We ended up having to select from only 3 rental choices (we took the lesser of the evils!) because getting our kids to attend the right school was that important to us.
 

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Don't get too concerned at the prospect of your kids being held back a year in the French schools. It's more or less a long-standing tradition that foreigners are placed one class back when they first arrive. It's not only for the language, but to allow them to catch up with the curriculum - which is strictly mandated year by year.

It is actually pretty common for French kids to repeat at least one year (often a second year) at some point during their school careers, and every time they change the school curriculum here (i.e. every time the minister of education changes) the parents raise a huge fuss to make sure they don't start getting into "social promotion." Being held back a year is a beloved French tradition, to hear them go on about it.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Don't get too concerned at the prospect of your kids being held back a year in the French schools. It's more or less a long-standing tradition that foreigners are placed one class back when they first arrive. It's not only for the language, but to allow them to catch up with the curriculum - which is strictly mandated year by year.

Bev
Bev - the problem comes if you are not planning a permanent relocation to France, but instead are only there for several years like we are. I think it would have been devastating to our children to return to the United STates a year behind the peers that they left. There is still a huge stigma attached to being held back a year in the US.
 

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Bev - the problem comes if you are not planning a permanent relocation to France, but instead are only there for several years like we are. I think it would have been devastating to our children to return to the United STates a year behind the peers that they left. There is still a huge stigma attached to being held back a year in the US.
I realize the stigma there is in the US, but it's entirely possible to argue which grade is the equivalent of which level in the French schools. The equivalence is not at all hard and fast. (And figure that the final year of lycée in France is considered in France to be the equivalent of the first year of college in the US - at least according to the French.)

Even if they keep your kids back a year, there's no reason why they wouldn't return to their regular grade level on return to the US. Their French will certainly be better than their peers - and the subject matter covered in the various French grades will be quite different from what is covered while they're gone from the US.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
dijid,

Many thanks for your reply.

You referred to the policy change affecting where you live. Does this mean that you have to live within a certain distance from a public school? Also, was there any difficulty in getting your children admitted to the school? Will you try for the private school in the new year?

Any info much appreciated.

Jeremy
 

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dijid,

Many thanks for your reply.

You referred to the policy change affecting where you live. Does this mean that you have to live within a certain distance from a public school? Also, was there any difficulty in getting your children admitted to the school? Will you try for the private school in the new year?

Any info much appreciated.

Jeremy
The policy change meant that we were guaranteed attendance only if we lived within a more restrictive area/city limits. It didn't mean we couldn't attend if we lived elsewhere, it just made it very risky. I don't know whether this was a country-wide change, though. But we were told it affected all private schools in the area. If we had chosen a Catholic School in the city, we would have had the same issues.

I haven't completed the application for my two oldest chilren (it will be in later today) but we were assured by the director they would get a spot. However, they really didn't have room for my oldest, but are taking her anyways. The school canteen is full, so the children will have to come home for lunch every day. Since I don't work, we've been told they'll probably never get a spot in the canteen.

I'll be honest - school is the issue I am most uneasy about. I am yet to get a glowing endorsement of the schools from any expats I've talked to. My kids' favorite subjects are art, music and the other things that French Public Schools don't include. Without lunch at school, I don't know what other opportunities they'll get to socialize and make friends. But my kids hate transitions, so once we are settled, unless it is just awful, I don't see trying to get them into the private school.

Good Luck with your journey and decisions!

dijid
 

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Don't panic!

I feel for you! I've been living in the western suburbs for 5 years, my three boys are 8, 10 and 12. I must say the school thing is quite hard here, especially after London. My boys were already bilingual when we moved (their father is French) but still - the French system is quite different to the British system, they both have their strong points but most expats (in either direction) tend to privilege the one they have left. So be prepared to be critical of what you find!

Two of my boys are at the Lycee International, the other at the British School. He was not thriving at all at the Lycee so we took him out and he's much happier. You are arriving at a good point in your sons' school careers to enter the Lycee system - your elder will get a great immersion programme to get his French up to speed. Assuming they're reasonably academic it should be fine. The good thing about living in the western suburbs is that there are several schools to choose from which means that if one of your boys doesn't thrive you can think again. I think that is much less true in Paris and thus a real plus point about living here. I love St Germain en Laye (after living next to a crack house in Kentish Town I must say I find the bourgeois bliss a very refreshing experience) although a part of me hankers after Paris. But apartment living with children doesn't appeal; it's great to have a garden and a huge park on our doorstep and after London traffic/tube, distances don't seem very important - half an hour into Paris is a doddle really.

All in all I'd say go for it. The best thing about the Lycee is that it's really unsnobby compared to the various Ecole Active Bilingue options in Paris, and it's certainly the better school.
 

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Hi,
We are also moving to Paris this summer. I am currently looking at EABJM and EAB.
I have two sons 5 and 10. We are moving from Virginia. We lived in Fountainebleu for 4 years, then moved to Bath UK, then here for 5 years now back again.
I've set up an interview at both schools to meet with the director. I'm confindent the kids will adjust. We are sad to leave our amazing private school here but know that being in France for a few years will do some good as well. We have not found a place to live yet...
Best of luck to you and your family, from expereince, you have to be very flexible, easy going and polite, always. We are excited about the change once again.



Hello All,

Have been lurking for a while and am looking for some specific advice. I hope to be moving to Paris 2010/2011. We have two boys (9 and 11) who are in private school in London and moving them between schools is our greatest worry as they are settled and thriving. Our research has us leaning towards living in the Western Suburbs (probably St Germain-En-Laye) and trying to get the boys into the Lycee International British Section. My job is secure and reasonably well paid. I will not be getting any help with any school fees but the private schools are an option.

Is there anyone out there who has done this/something similar/something different/chosen a private bilingual school etc. and can offer any advice/regrets/dos/don'ts.

I have read with interest all previous posts and am very grateful for the resources offered on this site. I regard our move to Paris as extremely positive but am still worried that I could be making a big mistake.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Saint Germain en Laye

Hi jeremy,

My husband and i moved to Saint germain en Laye last october and we really like it. We have no children so cant relate to that part for you. its a really nice town with a very large expat community there hence the good schools nearby. beautiful shops, open markets 3 days a week with fresh fruit veg meat fish household items flowers etc. really nice quality fruit and veg etc. the town has all needs required to live there and it is 17 mins usually from saint germain into charles de gauille etoile in paris. so going into paris is easy and convenient.
there is a very nice park in saint germain en laye for families or anyone who ejoys going to the park. there is a play are for kids too.
I would certainly recommend saint germain en laye above all the other areas we looked at in the western and south western suburbs. RER A is excellent also from st germain in to paris. Ocasional stikes but this is everywhere!
Good luck with your search.
Liz.
 

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Hi Kim and Bev,

Thanks for your replies. I have ordered the guide and shall continue the research.

I would love to hear if someone has made the move with similar aged children and has had either a happy or unhappy experience.

Would also like to hear from anyone who might be living in St Germain-en-Laye and has any experience to relate re family life.

Jeremy
Hi Jeremy,

I currently live in Sydney, Australia but have spent the first 20 years of my life in Saint Germain en Laye and most of my family is still there so I can definitely answer most questions you may have about the town. Saint Germain is a very family-friendly town, I think there are over 20 different schools both private and public. I did not go to the Lycee International but have many friends who went there and loved it. The town, as mentioned by other persons, is “tres bourgeoise”, ie it is a charming historic town (this is where Louis XIV was born and raised before moving to Versailles) with a castle and several buildings and hotel particuliers from the 17th-18th century. People are very “BCBG” and from the upper social classes. The town has some of the best rated schools in France including the Lycee International.

As to the environment, there is a beautiful park with views over Paris and a huge forest where you can spend hours walking, jogging etc...There is also an Olympic swimming pool with a good outdoor area. Overall the town is very green, clean and posh with plenty of nice shops and restaurants and cafes. As a child it was paradise for me as the town is very safe and most kids get to know each other even if they go to different schools.

It is only a 20 mins trip to Paris (Arc de Triomphe) but there is no train (RER) between midnight and 5.30AM.

There are plenty of activities available for kids of all ages:
- The academic Conservatoire de Musique and Theatre with very high profile and skilled professors, where you can learn and play most instruments (my piano professor was the great-great grand child of Frantz Lizt)
- The Camp des Loges where you can play most sports including tennis, soccer (it is where the paris-st germain trains)
- Horse-riding, dance etc...plenty to choose from
The town is not cheap, it is quite the opposite.
There is very nice market to on the “Place du marche” with delicious products.
There is a cinema with 5 movies to choose from.

It is a very nice town for kids of all ages including teenagers. I would definitely recommend it.
 
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