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Posts posted by Mistral

  1. Neither of my children in primaire has yet come home with a note warning of the teachers not being there or, more importantly ,of the cantine being closed. Since we are now Wednesday, I don't think this is going to happen (although it's still possible) I haven't heard anyone mention that they are striking on Thursday in either of my collèges, although I'm assuming that the handful of strongly unionised teachers will. (and I mean a handful) The cantine is open.  I have a feeling that there will be more pupils absent than teachers again. (It's amazing how they can translate the fact that only the art teacher will be missing and they don't have art on Thursday into "I haven't got any lessons because the teachers are all on strike, mum") one pupil managed to tell her mother that the strike was today so she was kept home.

    Reminder, primary schools are supposed to take pupils even if the teacher is absent, unless all the teachers are on strike, then they can close. They don't have to provide school meals or cantine facilities. Secondary schools have to stay open, have to take any pupils who come in and must provide somewhere to eat a packed lunch if school meals aren't provided.

  2. I agree with what Tourangelle says about reputations. I find that in France a school's reputation is at least 5 years out of date and is usually based on the kind of pupil who goes there and not on the teaching/atmosphere. In France teachers and to some extent heads are posted through a points system, This is mainly based on how long they have been teaching, not on their actual teaching ability (all teachers are considered to have had the same training therefore to be equally competant) The system means that the school has no say in teacher recrutement, so schools can't build any form of "school atmosphere". Some teachers are there for only a year, others are there for 30 odd years. So a team that works well one year, could be completely different the next.

    Most parents (and teachers too) base their ideas of a school's reputation on its pupils, which means that schools with a high proportion of pupils from HLM areas generally have bad reputations. I'm not saying this is all untrue (the school in my town with the bad reputation certainly deserves it) but I spent 6 years in the "bad" school in another town and nobody seemed to notice that we  had the highest brevet pass rate for quite a few percent.

    As Tourangelle said, the zone system is changing with the intention to be that the carte scolaire will end completely in a few years time (personally, I have trouble believeing it) But at the moment, a school can only take a pupil from outside their zone if they have the space. As she said, applying to do a different LV1 is a good way to get round the zone problem. Although not that many smaller schools offer a different LV1 to English, more and more are offering a douvble LV1 option (classe bilingue)

  3. I really think that it's best for you to go with your gut feeling. If you feel that it would be better for her to stay atv home for another year, then I would go with that. Would she be going into PS or TPS ? This would make a difference. I'm guessing PS because she is from this calendar year. If that is the case, it might be an idea to see with the instit what he/she thinks is necessary before she is ready to go into MS the following year. Maternelle is quite structured, but it has always seemed to me that the basics of PS are mainly to do with socialisation, learning to sit still etc. The real "academic learning" side seems to come out more in MS.

    It's a pity that she can't start in January (it's not possible in my local maternelles either) Maybe you could see if she could go fro September but only a couple of mornings a week, I know of people who have suggested that. The school was happy because they had another child on the books (less chance of classes closing) but at the same time, they didn't always have the full compliment. A lot of maternelles actually encourage parents to keep PS children at home in the afternoon anyway, so it would probably only be mornings.

     I don't think that maternelle can be thought of as free child care for working parents, but I do know a lot of people who put their kids into maternelle as soon as possible, partly because it was free but mostly because you keep hearing how important it is for "socialisation"  etc. I think there is a grain of truth in that idea. If you look at the lack of mother and toddler groups ect in France, a lot of young children don't really get much experience of being in groups, so maternelle is possibly a good solution for them. There have been a lot of reports over the years about how children who start maternelle younger have better language/socialisation abilities than those who don't, but when you look deeper, you see that most of the studies are of children from very socially deprived families or  families where no french is spoken and who maybe need more stimulation or language help.

    Actually I do know people who have sent nearly threes to maternelle in the September, only to have the school  ask them after a few weeks to keep the child at home for a few months more. Most of these cases are indeed working parents who didn't want to pay child care any more and who sent their children to maternelle at 2 and a bit, regardless of whether they were ready or not (most of them found themselves toilet training in the last week of August with an unprepared child. One refused to accept the school's comment that her child was not toilet trained because as far as she was concerned it was quite normal for her son to not use a toilet from 8.30 to 4.30- he stayed at the cantine, it was cheaper- and wait to get home and then do it in a nappy) Most of these children were boys, who are often a little bit slower in developing. So saying, I also know children who were completely ready at two and a bit and who settled really well. So much depends on the child and the family, you are the only people who can judge that.

  4. I've not had this problem as a parent but as a collège teacher, I would advise that she satys back in the primary school for another year, rather than counting on her retaking 6eme.

    First because collège is a bit of a shock for a lot of children (French or not) Going from small classes with one teacher to classes of 28 pupils and 9 different teachers isn't always easy. The whole collège structure can be quite confusing. Collège pupils aren't going to get as much one to one attention as primary pupils and teachers are more likely to gloss over a pupil who is struggling (of course, I am generalizing  here) There is a programme and it has to be taught and the weaker pupils (for whatever reason) are often left by the wayside if they can't keep up.

    Next, because if she goes up to 6eme now and makes friends with people in her class, it will be more difficult for her to accept staying back (I agree with Tetly's comment about having a group of friends, although kids who stay down do make new friends in their class)

    Lastly, I happen to believe that a pupils ought to retake a year at the point the difficulties appear and not wait until they are deeper. I have difficulty with the idea of moving a pupil up in order to retake a year the following year. (this is more valid for French kids and it is my personal opinion, not the opinion of all teachers)

    A lot depends on her level of French. If she is capable of following and understanding classes, she will cope much better, but if her French is still "juste" in 6eme, she may find it too much. I have several non- french pupils in my classes and a lot of them have just given up, they arrived in, say, 5eme and were expected to get on with it (we actually have fle lessons in my school) and a lot of them tried hard for a few months but were just overwhelmed by the constant French and not understanding what was going on and what was expected of them.

    Rereading, I've probably painted a blacker picture than I had planned. I'm just in the middle of conseils de classe and I'm a bit fed up of non-french pupils being accused of not trying herd enough when they've only been here a year or so.


  5. Lollie, I have to say that most principaux don't overturn decisions made by the conseil de classe. They have the right to do so but most of them consider that the teachers know the pupils much better than they do, so are capable of judging the situation better. Don't forget that the conseil de classe is chaired by either the principal or his ajoint so he would have been involoved in the original decision.

    I was part of a comission d'appel last year (4eme) and it was very interesting to see how it happens. First of all you have to know that you won't have very long to make your point. I think it works out as about 12 minutes per pupil. The conseil should (should) have been given the moyennes for the last year, so they should be able see for themselves exactly any progress. The prof principal (or other teacher from the class) will almost certainly be asked for the grades in the brevet blanc. He will also probably be asked if he has met up with you during the year and at what point he informed you that a passage was going to be difficult (I seem to remember you posting about an avis reservé at 2nd trimestre, that was you wasn't it?)

    To give you an idea, a comission d'appel will almost certainly decide on a redoublement if the pupil hasn't already retaken a year. For a child who has already retaken they will look at the advantage of doing another 3eme compared to going to 2de. If  a pupil has struggled in French, Maths, LV1 or histoire-géo this year, 2nde will probably be tough so those grades will be important. 11.1 as a MG won't really mean anything if the grades in those 4 subjects are low.  Plus whatever option he wants to do (i.e. if he's looking at doing ISI or MPI he'd better have good grades in maths)

    So what can you do/say? You will need to explain why you think your son is ready to go up to 2nd (and why 2nd G as opposed to 2nd pro) Any progress over the year is a good sign. Dipping on the 2nd term is pretty standard, so you'll want to prove that he has regained a good level this term. You will need to explain why you don't think he should retake. This is tricky. Parents telling us that it would upset their children, that they would miss their friends or that their kids are tall so would feel uncomfortable don't have much effect. As Tourangelle says, using an older child as an example probably isn't a good idea. It has to be in relation to your son.

    I can't think of anything alse at the moment

  6. [quote user="RumziGal"] [

    I think French supermarkets would be extremely busy on Sundays if they were open.  [/quote]

    I can vouch for that. We have been to the cinema at plan de campagne on Sundays several times (we go to the 11am film  and then go to a restaurant -very French) and the car parks around the shopping areas are usually heaving.

  7. There is an assylum seekers' centre just next to the maternelle my kids go/went to. The teachers say for the 3/4 year olds that if they arrive in September, they will be understanding  by Christmas, speaking by Easter and indistinguishable from the French kids by summer. I think that's a bit optimistic, but not far off.

    This being said, my first child (born in France, French father, French childminder) was barely forming sentences at 3. His slow language development had nothing to do with being French, English or whatever. It was just him.

    I think as Panda said, if he does't seem to be suffering from not being bale to communate, they I would just leave him to get there in his own time. It might be an idea to talk to the teacher about her using more French (she is probably so proud of speaking English)

  8. Maybe they'll start opening on Mondays and on Tuesday mornings now instead. The shops at plan de campagne may have been open on Sundays but they all closed (apart from the Géant)  all day Monday and didn't open until 11am at the earliest on Tuesday. (I'm talking from bitter experience- I tried buying a DVD recorder on a Tuesday morning)

    Wierdly, most the employees were quite happy about working on Sundays but the unions decided that they needed defending.

  9. Something I find wierd in France. As other people have said, you do see a lot of French parents who will smack their children at will, but on the other hand I see a lot of parents who seem to be frightened of upsetting their children at all. Parents who won't go into a 13 year old's bedroom without his express permission, parents who buy whatever the kids want, so many parents who wouldn't dare ask their children to help around the house. I think some of this causes the difference in maturity (that I have noticed too) mentioned by Just Katie.
  10. My kids are covered by our standard insurance company. All they actually need for school (if I remember right) is responsabilité civile, which covers them if they cause an accident and I think that is in standard house insurance. I'm working from memory but I think that they only actually need insurance if they leave the school to do outside activities. But as others have said, it's easy to get and not expensive.

    The obligatory vaccines are the same everywhere (this is a centralized state) Children must have had the DTP and the BCG, with up to date boosters for the DTP. Some schools check, others don't. The older the child is the less likely the school is to check because they assume that it will have been checked already.

    Here's the blurb from the ministry website http://www.education.gouv.fr/pid4/de-la-maternelle-au-baccalaureat.html

    Pour l'entrée à l'école élémentaire, les vaccinations obligatoires (sauf contre-indication médicale) sont :
    - le BCG (vaccination contre la tuberculose). Si le test tuberculinique est négatif, la vaccination doit être refaite ;
    - le DT-POLIO contre la diphtérie, le tétanos et la poliomyélite.
    Les vaccinations contre la variole, la rubéole et la coqueluche ne sont pas obligatoires


  11. I'm having difficulty trying to reply fairly to this question for two reasons, (1) I haven't lived in the UK for a long time and so all I  know is based on what I hear from family members (with kids from 4 to 17) (2) I keep hearing how well behaved French children are from many people here and I don't want to paint the picture blacker than it is as a reaction.

    I think as Dick says, it is very difficult to compare because there are several million children in each country and you'll find a complete range of behaviour. On the surface, you have the impression that French children are very well behaved. You see them in shops and restaurants sitting nicely at the table (well, not in a shop) not running around screaming etc. You see family groups going out for Sunday afternoon walks with docile looking teenagers who'll even kiss Auntie Françoise without being asked....  I think the idea of "family" is possibly still stronger in France than the UK.

    But on the other hand, I have travelled on French school buses and I've heard the vulgar and aggressive way they speak to the drivers; the local buses now have two people on them to try and control problems. My husband recently took some pupils on a school trip to Italy where one of them amused himself by throwing bottles from a hotel window at passers-by and another group took photos on their mobile phones of people in the toilets. In schools I have worked in, pupils have been beaten up, raped, have trashed classrooms, have attacked teachers, have stolen money from teachers and computers from the computer lab....

    I am certain that this behaviour is no worse what you could find in the UK, but I don't think it's any better either.

  12. [quote user="TreizeVents"]      I doubt if I shall ever be big mates with ......... French person who does not have any foreign linguistic or cultural experience  .[/quote]

    I've noticed this too. I have friends who have never even left the region, but the people I feel closer to are generally those who have lived abroad or speak another language fluently. (usually both)  But i expect I would be the same now if I lived in the UK.

  13. Before the law changes that Clair mentioned, children of a married couple automatically had their father's name. I have friends who kept their maiden name and usually ended up carrying the livret de famille with them everywhere to prove that they were the mother. I know of some who have had problems with banks refusing to give them chequebooks for a joint account in both names and insisting on M et mme X (although they somehow manage this without problem for unmarried couples) The stupid thing is that in schools for example, we are so used to children and parents not having the same name because divorced women can't use their exhusband's name without his permission in the divorce papers.

    The thing is that in France, the name on your birth certificate is your name and it doesn't change (without a decision from the procureur I think) you are allowed to have a "nom d'usage" which can be almost anything, but you still have your birth name for anything official. When you marry you can choose to use your husband's name as a "nom d'usage" but nothing in law has ever forced you to. My ID card, driving license, carte d'electeur, carte vitale ...... are all in my maiden name with nom d'epouse written after it. When I took civil servant exams, I checked the results on the minitel (shows how long ago it was) and panicked because I thought I had failed. I was looking under the first letter of my married name and it was in my maiden name.  

    The most confusing incident was probably for my mum. I got married in France and they read out your details "child of X and Y, born at..... " She hears "Mistral daughter of  (dad's full name) and (mum's full maiden name) " It was the first time she had heard that name in an official setting for 30 years.

  14. I was also taught that the best French accent is from the Tours area. I was told this by various French teachers (some of them french and none of them coming from there)

    If you watch things like ziznzins de l'espace (home to rent?) in french all the slightly igorant or "rural" people seem to have marseilles accents.

    I've found that haing lived in normandy, Belfort, Aude and Provence and having had holidays in Brittany for the last 15 years, I can understand most French accents (although deep rural Ardeche is tough) To my pride; I understand the Quebequois accent better than my husband. Probably because I'm used to making the effort.

  15. [quote user="JJ"]

    Every 3 weeks they get a free Saturday, which is to do with the teachers 35 hour week.[/quote]

    I wish [:)]

    The samedi libéré is a lot older than the 35 hour week (in fact teachers' hours date from the 1950's working hours calculations and haven't been changed since) Primary school children just have 10 free half days in the year, one for each month. It doesn't actually always work out as one per month because of the holidays. In our town, two of the half days were put together by the rectorat (without asking our opinion) to give pupils ascension Friday off. So they only have 8 Wednesdays. (which now means that parents who don't have that day off -like secondary school teachers- have childcare problems)

    We used to have Saturday morning school but it was moved to Wednesday mornings about 5 years ago (I prefer it) The collèges open on Wednesday mornings. In the neighbouring town, they schools still open on Saturday morings and the Saturday off varies depending on the class you are in. (so if you have children in different classes, they won't be off on the same day and you never get a lie-in)

  16. My husband (French) always stays in his seat until the end. I didn't use to mind, in fact it seemed logical to me too. But as credits now seem to be as long as the film itself it gets a bit boring. In fact he is annoyed by the fact that (as far as he is concerned) most French people now leave as soon as the film ends which they didn't use to do.

    Why? I think there are three main reasons, (1)To watch the film in its totality (and that includes the credits) (2)French people take the cinema (le 7eme Art) very seriously so they want all the details, including who made the tea for the stunt men on Tuesdays.  (3)Because sometimes there are little bonuses at the end for those who have stayed to watch.

    Strangely enough, they nearly always cut the credits when they show a film on french telelvision.

  17. I think there are some sort of semi official dates for each academie but it's mainly up to the school to decide cut off dates. A lot of teachers don't respect those dates much either. I know teachers who once they have got a certain number of grades, then put all the next ones onto the next trimestre. Personally, if the trimestre is supposed to stop on the 20th February and I have a test on the 25th based on things we've studied during the second trimestr, then I'll put it in that trimestre all the same. In most schools, you can fill in the bulletins up to 48 hours before a conseil, so for a lot of us, that's the cut off date and the start date of the next term.

    I'm sorry this hasn't helped much. Maybe you could work out her moyenne for the two terms (I'm assuming she still has all her tests or has noted everything in her carnet) and then compare that with a moyenne made from the two bulletins. Even if that doesn't calculate out, you may have to take into acount any weighting the teacher may have used (most count work done at home with a lower weighting than work done in class) and if there is an oral/participation grade.

  18. To join the "bottom debate" I have noticed the same thing as TU, French women seem to have flat bottoms. I'm in the south of France, but I'm not sure I would describe it as a mediterranian area.  I haven't noticed larger bottoms here, but since I live in a sort of new town, there are a lot of people whose parents weren't from the region. still on the regional shape idea. I think that Breton ladies are wider shouldered than the average french woman

    This is great, I'm going to spend all day looking at people's bottoms..... (that could get me thrown out of school for unprofessional conduct)

  19. [quote user="Will"]Makes me think of our neighbour - when asked what he would like to drink he often replies 'no alcohol - just beer or cider'. Rather worryingly he seems to count pommeau as being non-alcoholic too.[/quote]

    Reminds me of each pregnancy when I tell the Breton family that I'm not drinking alcohol, they promptly offer either beer or cider. Since I will have a small glass of champagne for celebration, my father-in-law has convinced himself that champagne is OK during pregnancy.

    I agree that finding something nice but non-alcoholic in france isn't easy. I like fruit juice but, there's a limit to the amount my digestive system can take, water is boring after a while, most sodas are very sweet and I'm allergic to coca cola. When there are aperos at school, the non-alcoholic selection is limited to orange juice and coca cola. No water unless there is pastis.

  20. [quote user="Cassis"]What has been hinted at here - that French, UK and British clothes are cut to different shapes and proportions - is true.  The British standard measurements were revised not long ago - within the last 5 years, I think - having previously been based on measurements taken of British women in the 1950's.

    France did the same sort of measuring about a year ago. But so far the clothes sizes don't seem to have changed. I used to be a size 10 in the UK and a 38 here. I'm still a 38, but recently I find that I often have to get the size 8 in the UK. I haven't lost weight (in fact I've gained)

    I agree with the comments about clothes being cut differently. I have narrow shoulders and wide (let's call them "childbearing") hips. French women generally seem to be broader in the shoulder and have no differnce between their waist and hips so clothes here are made for them. I cope with tops because I like them quite loose, but I tend to buy my trousers in the UK.

    An easy pense-bête for shoes sizes (adult) Just take 33 off the french size and you've got the UK size.

  21. [quote user="Tourangelle"] , it will probably never concern you as you are in a poste fixe, but for a TZR like me it means that if they can't find me enough hours in English, then they can either suggest I do something else, or they can send me out of my zone.  I'd get to chose, lucky me.  So no, they couldn't make me teach something I don't know how to teach, but they could send me practically to Switzerland for a couple of hours. 

    Falls off chair laughing!

    Yes, I'm lucky enough to have postes fixes all the way through my career (apart from when I was MA or stagiaire of course) But don't think having a poste fixe protects you from being sent all over the place. Last year a new school was built in a nearby town. Result; my school lost 200 pupils (another 60 next September) Now there aren't enough hours of English teaching for the 4 English "poste fixe" teachers. As I'm the last arrival, I have to go and make up my hours somewhere else (which has exactly the right number of hours for me) This year it's been a school 25 minutes away. I have to go three times a week for one hour each time. Next year, it will be 9 hours wherever they need me. When you're on complement de service, you don't have a zone. It can be the other end of the academie. You don't have any voeux to fill in or anything, it just pops up on i-prof at some time in the third trimestre.

  22. No, as far as I know, there are no moves to cut sports classes.

    BUT some of the propositions for the new Brevet have suggested that certain "core" subjects should be obligatory and others should become optional. The teachers of all the non core subjects are wondering what that would mean for them if it ever happened. Sport is one of them.

    Even more worrying is the fact that there is a gradual move to use the hours sports teachers now have for UNSS as teaching hours during the rest of the week. This won't have an effect on sports teaching as such but it will mean that the Wednesday afternoon clubs will slowly diminish and disapear. Already, at my school, one teacher will have to do this next year which means that there will be one less club (one less sport) on offer on Wednesdays. This is important because the UNSS is cheaper than any other sports club and because a lot of teenage girls join the UNSS rather than go to an outside club.

  23. [quote user="Clair"]I never would renounce French nationality anyway, it's part of who I am, part of my culture, my thinking, my being...
    I chose to become a British citizen because I wanted to have a voice when I was living there.
    I also wanted to acknowledge the massive impact that living in England has had on who I have become.

    If you swap "British" and "French" around, then that is exactly what I would say (only not as clearly, probably)

    I may have lived in France for 16 years and have French nationality, it doesn't actually make me totally French. I still react differently to some things, chose to do things differently and I will always be "l'anglaise" tothe French people I know (and it's not just because of the accent) But nor am I totally British either. I have 16 years of different experience.

    I'm much more interested in French elections than British ones; they have a more immediate effect on my life. But I will support England in sporting events and if they aren't playing Scotland and then France. (this doesn't mean I support all English teams- to my pupils' confusion; if Man U are playing Lyon, I'll support Lyon)

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