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Moving to Limousin


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Most of the British children I have met, now grown up, are part of the French culture and are far more educated than ours over here.


Really? You do surprise me. I consider our boys 'culture' , to be down to 'us'. My eldest son's girlfriend is contantly amazed at his connaissance's.

I really cannot see any benefits in leaving for school at 20 to 7 and getting home at 7pm, what rose coloured specs you have about horribly long days and all the rest too.


What would I know, my kids went through the whole system in France and I know kids in the system as well as those who have also gone all the way through it. IF it worked, really, I'm not kidding, IF it worked, the french would rule the world! 

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that's a very cynical attitude.

Of course it's to do with the parents as much as the education system - ideally they should complement each other.

When my girls were small (in the UK) I used to have to inspect school kitchens, and I decided very early on that I would rather my girls resembled the kids of a particular school than the rest in the area. I got them into that school, and it was only later that I realised why that school was so different - it was the one where the school, parents and church acted together because they had the same aims in terms of educating the kids.

In France there is generally an attitude where kids have more respect for authority - be it parental or otherwise. Of course the parents who expect their kids to be educated soley by the teachers will be disappointed, as in any other country. In the same way, the schools where the parents get involved and care will do better than the ones where they don't.

I was talking about education today to some people (french, he is a teacher) and they were saying that perhaps the french push their kids too hard in comparison to the rest of Europe. Personally I think they put the same pressure on all of them regardless of whether they have the aptitude to learn, but is that such a bad thing when they want to give the same opportunities to each?

The hours away from home might seem long but the holidays are long, and round here anyway the powers-that-be appreciate that the kids need their rest and that holidays are important for them to recuperate.

Perhaps it's a case of YMMV ("your mileage might vary" for those of you that aren't up on newsgroup-speak!)

There are certainly good and bad points in every education system, and no one system will ever suit all.

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[:)] I don't believe for one moment that the french authorities care about the length of the school day, the way the holidays are organised or the weight of the kids school bags or the size of the school books (college).

Many years ago they decided to give a new system with regards to the hols a try. 5 or 6 weeks on(sorry it was a long time ago),  and 2 off and it was said to be really good for the kids. And it seemed to be. It lasted one school year around here, and that was it. Didn't suit the tourist people and we cannot do anything around here that doesn't suit them. And there was still the 2 month summer break anyway. And they are just mean, I mean, mean, too, how many holidays start and the kids have to go in on the Saturday morning........ I ask you.

The school bags, no change there then, well not around here when the kids are in college. There is a problem in France with children through to adults with bad backs. No wonder is it, on a sports day for those at college and it could weigh as much as 10 kilos. Not helped by the fact that some of the profs ask for excersize books to be 240 pages. Woe betide a child who only has a hundred pages, do they use those pages, no, not at all, both my boys only ever used about 50 to 75 pages.

The homework.......in primaire banned from the 1960's. Was it reintroduced? A few years ago they said that school lessons would finish a bit earlier and the homework would be done at school......... so maybe the powers that be realised that home work was still being doshed out. I have no idea as to whether that is still the case, but I go next door and the eight year old is doing what, 'homework' and her mother grilling her about some incomprehensible (to me) bit of grammer, and that is after a full day at school.

Aptitude, when the same pressure is applied then the best come out smelling of roses, but they have to keep those good marks up. If your ability isn't up to it, what happens? Re sit, so that you can have the same old blah blah a second year, which, if it didn't make sense the first year, may well not make sense the second year. Sometimes a few minutes explanation with a child could bring them on and aid comprehension, but how many teachers have enough common sense to do that. They never saw that happen when they were at school and they had been in that top group anyway, so didn't need it....... and wouldn't think about doing it. Teaching should have some common sense as well as the teacher having intelligence and knowing their stuff.

[:)]I have to say Hoverfrog, you do make me reflect on things. I was quite militant in trying to do something about  everything mentioned above,[:D]  with absolutely no success at all, but I had to try. Simply, I was very involved in school.

And what happened, well, normally the parents with children in primaire who helped throughout the year were invited to the end of year trips. I wasn't. The headmistress used to get so angry with me at the school council meetings, apoplectic sometimes........ I dared speak the unspeakable. No way was she inviting me on a jolly with the school, not that it was really. The teachers tended to let the parents they invited discipline the kids on the trips and they had a pretty peaceful day out....... And when one son was in college the profs had a further go at him, telling him that I was arrogant and gonfle and had no right to mêler in things that didn't concern me. So there you go, how small minded was that in a country that announces, liberty, egality and fraternity, how often do we see that?

I don't think that most teachers 'care' in the sense I mean (the ones that do are special, what gems they are). I did find a wonderful association of lycee profs who were very concerned about how badly so many kids were doing at school and the drop out rates, I don' t know whether it still exists, but it just felt good to find  people in the metier were concerned and trying to do something. It would be nice if they could, but I suspect that their colleagues, the great mass, wouldn't be interested.



Must add successes we had.

Foiled a class closure.

Had a new maternelle built.

Had a new cantine built with improved services.

Improved garderie services.

Got computers in the school well before other schools in the area.

Improved the school bus service too.

New locale for the school library.


It wasn't as if we were always fighting a losing battle as there was a little group of us parents who were like minded, but our successes were very 'local'.


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Teamdup I'm sorry you've had such a hard time with your schools. Perhaps you were ahead of your time where you are?

Here they introduced lockers at school years ago so the kids don't have to carry books to and fro.

Homework? They seem to have an element of it from maternelle - i.e. colour in a picture once a week! I don't have a problem with that, as it gets them into the idea of doing some and the kids seem to enjoy showing off at home :) Primaire it's not onerous and at collège my daughter does most of hers in the étude classes.

All the parents are invited to vote on the length/structure of the school day every 4 years, which has a bearing on the length of the holidays. Last year the maternelle voted to keep the existing 4 day week (no school Wed or Sat) which means that the terms are not quite the same as the primary/college. This year we have to vote in the primaire.

Our school trips are open to any parent who wants to go, no exclusions. I haven't been yet but may well do so this summer now I know more people :)

They were a bit dubious when I wanted to get involved with the school - there had been little interest from the parents of foreign kids (mainly the language barrier), but now I'm an accepted member of the elected representatives of the parents. We have a good working relationship with the municipal authorities and the education authority representatives - except of course the Inspecteur academique but that's a different matter!! :)

I suggested translating the 'notes de cahier' into English for the English parents and they welcomed the suggestion with open arms as they want all the parents to get more involved.

It seems like the elected representatives work for the common good, but the politicians at the top think only of themselves. Plus ça change plus c'est la même chose :)

Maybe we're lucky here, maybe you're unlucky - maybe it really is just a lottery depending where you are! Shades of the NHS service in the UK.

Like anything else the service you get depends at the end of the day on the individual people involved in it, however much the powers that be try and homogenize it. In that respect I appreciate we probably are extremely lucky here.
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I'm in the alpine bit of the Rhone Alps. Things here don't change here much. And yet, some of the most important research about dyslexia an(d other such related things have been done in this regions for quite a number of years, some of the things associated with the IUFM, I always hoped that something would come of that link). Some of this region has the four day week, other areas don't. No one I know has mentioned 'them' having the choice, all I have heard is the usual complaints about school days, just the same old things that we were talking about when my kids were young.

We asked and asked for lockers, but as was pointed out in college, how can the kids do their homework if their books are at school. The college was never prepared to issue a double set of books and used to have enough difficulty issueing one set in good condtion. So the cartable continued. How exactly is this done at college level in your area. Incidentally I do know of one college privé that have got round this. But only one and it was just that a set of text books were kept at school and issued with each lesson and the other set was for home, but it was costly to do this, but being privé the parents paid up, and public colleges simply wouldn't have the means around here to do such a thing.

I can sort of understand why you suggested the cahier bit being in english, but I don't think it is a good idea. If we had both been on the same committee, I would have been saying non.  I just don't think it  helps anyone learn french. You have got stuck in, joined in, but those that haven't and don't understand french, what should they do. Either be at the school gate and get the teachers to explain in simple french, or see their neighbours, both things encourage learning the language. They have to make the effort IMO. I really do have a problem with people who 'just move' and don't take learning french as a priority and when they have children, how can they, I'll even go as far as say, dare they, just move in complete ignorance. I know I would have had real problems if I had had english speaking neighbours or english speakers in the vinicity. It was a struggle for me to learn french, my english isn't wonderful and I can't be alone in this. But we chose to live here and I don't think that it is up to the french system to cater for our inabilities. That is 'our' problem, not theirs.

And another thing, I just cannot imagine it going down at all if you had been a maghrebin and asked for these notes in arab, and yet, there is a possibility that there is far more need for that, than in english in a lot of France. Maybe someone will tell me that this happens and I wouldn't think that it would be a good idea either.




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"We asked and asked for lockers, but as was pointed out in college, how can the kids do their homework if their books are at school. "

My daughter says the lockers help considerably. They manage themselves which books need to be at school or at home on which days, and it means there's a lot less in the school-bag! Detention once or twice for not having the text-book in class and they don't get it wrong again :)

"I can sort of understand why you suggested the cahier bit being in english, but I don't think it is a good idea. "

I didn't either at first, but faced with apathy and trying to get parents of all nationalities involved this was in response to a spoken need. I got fed up of English people I know saying to me "oh was that was it was about! If I've known I would've..."

In fairness to them they have a lot of other things to deal with, and obviously not everyone's priorities are the same.

As far as translating into Arabic goes it would be the same but we haven't any - but they are looking for someone to translate into dutch so it's not just the English who are reluctant to come forward or communicate with the school!
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I am very surprised to hear about lockers not being widely available.  I have taught in four collèges, all of which had lockers for the children who did not go home at lunch. 

I wish to correct the misapprehension about homework in primary school, it is written homework they are not allowed to have, not no homework at all.

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Sorry if I have seemingly started off another thread - unfortunately my thoughts of school compared to most are very different. I was in boarding school from the age of four, to sixteen, as my parents were working to keep me clothed. Unfortunately my father died when I was six and if it hadn't been for the freemasons, my education would have been very poor. As it is, I regard myself as having a first-rate education and compare my experiences to those of my friends' daughters.

They fitted into the French system fairly quickly. They got extra tuition as needed to help them. They are not cripples from heavy book-carrying, they have a wide social section of friends who do not spit and swear in front of adults - especially when walking down a street in front of you (no I am not a misery, I just hate walking in spit and listening to words I know and wish the kids could read something to broaden their language, even if they could extend their range of swear words would be a start).

My friends daughters are now in the state college system, the one learning languages is learning Japanese as one of her chosen languages, whilst the other is doing beauty therapy. Both prefer France to England and both admit their freedom is greater than living here in rural England.

I see the problems the local schools are having daily and I would admit that if we could have moved quite a few years ago, I would have done so to help my daughter. The French in my friends' area help the newcomers and extra classes are available to all.

Sorry if some of you are not getting this, but after my experiences, an early bus is far more welcome than not seeing your parents for twelve weeks!! I understand why it had to be like that for me, and the eduation was the best thing I got, but giving your children a better life is what we are seeking - what I do not agree with though is those who I know and have met, who have moved with their children about to start year 10 - the year they start forming the GCSE plans, the children are too old at that point to fit in and can not learn the language quick enough to qualify in France. Better then - say from age 12/13 to let the children stay in England with family, rather than the upheaval, simply to satisfy a parents' urge to move.

Keni & Chris

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