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A decision that I have been mulling over for the last three months is

just about to come to a head. Should I, or should I not volunteer to take an active role in the Parent Teachers Association (Amicale)?. We have two children

(aged 4 and 6), the eldest whom has been going to the local village

school for four years.

My french is slowly improving but is not up

to the complex political issues that naturally occur between parents

and teachers...maybe this is a positive thing ?.

The education of our children is important and if I can help to support the school I am more than willing to do so.

But do I have, as a newcomer (and English) to this very rural community, the right to become part of this potentially volatile organisation, or would they (the other parents and teachers) appreciate my support ?..

The first Amicale meeting, is being held at 8.00pm on Friday,

and it is at this meeting I have to decide whether to volunteer or to

remain firmly in the background...

Any views gratefully received ?

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In my opinion PTAs can be pretty fraught wherever you are and no matter how well you speak the language.

There will always be an old guard resistant to outsiders either from outside the village or the country and equally there will always be those happy to have new blood as these associations can stagnate, particularly as children move up through the school system. A lot of parents are enthusiastic when their children are young or if they have an axe to grind.

Usually support is welcome and they may be excited to hear what you as a non French person have to bring to the table in terms of new ideas.


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I did it for a few years and basically went with the flow. Volunteering for everything they throw at you does you a power of good with social standing in the community and you become respected more than those mice who creep in to meet their kids and off again and never help with anything to do with the school their kids attend.
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I echo completely what Val just said. 

I've been on the bureau for the Amicale Laique for a few years now.  I'm sure your AL would welcome you as it's always a struggle to recruit new volunteers.  I've also been on the Conseil Parents d'Eleves which is completely different (more like the school Governors).

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Join in certainly Nicole.

We attended our area's second bi-annual pig roast this year.

I hadn't realised the first time that help was needed in errecting and taking down marquees, tables, chairs and sundry other bits and pieces but this year I turned up on the Saturday and Sunday mornings to help.

I now find that we know a lot more people in the area and people now stop and have a chat which helps our language skills enormously.

The only slight downside is that the whole area is only populated by about five original families but that's French country life for you!  [:D]



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I joined in on my 2nd year here, although my French is good enough to understand about 95% (goes down to about 50% when I'm weary of the same argument over and over!). I was welcomed with open arms, and the existing members were delighted to get a different perspective. On my 2nd year I was representing the maternelle as the other parents had moved on. Now my 3rd year I'm the one recruiting at the school gates! I love it though. Aside from meeting people regularly and getting to know them, I also feel I know what to expect as my children move to primaire and college. Go for it. The worst that can happen is that you don't get anything out of it and let it slide after a few months.
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