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Secondary Schooling Options - Do you have them?


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Hi

I have started to think about schooling options for my 7 year old son when he finishes primaire in 3 years time.  I am happy with his primary education, he is doing very well and finished at the top of his class in the recent round of tests for the end of this school year. 

The problem is the local secondary school is not that good, we live in a fairly poor area and the last thing I want is for my son not to reach his full potential simply because of choices I made when he was just 3 years old.  I have spoken with a few people and they all tell tales of poor results from this school, as has been reported a few times on the forum, poor areas with low employment can lead to low aspirations from teachers and students alike.

So what are my options, can I ask that he attend a different school,  the next closest town has a school with a good reputation, does anyone know how the zoning works?

Should I seek out a private school, does anyone have experience of Bordeaux International school?

Lots of time to plan, but planning is my thing.. so thoughts anyone?

Panda

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Reputation is a funny thing, and people's perception of a school may be far from the reality. This is not really something you need to worry about until he gets to CM2, aged 10. If he is happy in his primary school, I wouldn't bother changing it.  However, I understand your concern and there are a number of things that you can do try and get your son into another school.  Firstly, as of this September, the rules are being relaxed slightly over the issue of the carte scolaire, the catchment areas.  This means that schools are able to take children from outside the area.  They select them.  That said, they don't have to, and if the school is full of children from the area, as may very well happen if the school has a good reputation, then it may be hard to get in that way. 

Your best solution will probably be language options.  If you chose not to have your son study English (and frankly, as an English teacher myself in a collège, I wouldn't recommend that you do, he can always pick it up in lycée and avoid four years of boredom) in 6ème then this may be a way around it. If your local school does not offer another option, then this would be an excellent reason for sending him elsewhere, so he can avoid studying English altogether. Also, applying for a more specialised language classes could be a solution.  For example, a "classe européenne", where they do extra hours, but in a language other than English, like German or Spanish, could be a way out.  Also, by getting him in this sort of class, you get him to go in with the cleverer kids. 

If all this fails, you could consider a private school, in reality, a Catholic school.  Make sure you go for one which is sous contrat, otherwise it will cost you a fortune.  A "sous contrat" school guarentees that your son will have the same teaching and the teachers are qualified in the same way as in the public sector.

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Hi Tourangelle

Some great advice there, he currently has to help the teacher when they study english, the teacher has him up at the front of the class and then he has to say certain words for the class to copy and then he has to come up with sentences using words etc. which he quite likes now but will soon get to be a bore and a waste of time.

I think dropping English would be a great idea, I have a friend who was once an english teacher in the UK and if I did that I could arrange private classes for him in English to ensure he was up to the required standard for his age.

Bordeaux International school doesn't seem to be too expensive at first glance, it's 8500 euros a year if I've read the site correctly which is a lot less than a private school in the UK would be.  With this option he would be taught in English so a complete departure from his education so far.

I've got time on my side and I intend to seek out the classe europiene options.

Thanks very much for the response, great food for thought.

Panda

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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)

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