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We moved to Deux Sevres 2 weeks ago and visited the local maternelle yesterday with our daughter who will be 4 years old in October.  She's now due to start on September 2nd, but I didn't get a great feeling about the school.

The Head Mistress was proud to announce they are the largest maternelle in the area with 250+ children aged between 3 and 6 years old. They are then split into 8 classes.  It all sounds over subscribed - how are the schools in the other areas?  Is there anyone else in Deux Sevres who can recommend a maternelle anywhere in the Niort-La Creche region?

Plus, do they all have open toilets with a huge gaping gap into the corridor?  Just a side note, but I found it a little off putting, I know kids have no inhibitions, but can't they even have a little privacy at the toilet?  I've spent the past year convincing my child that she can go alone and asking her to close the door so we're not all having to watch her.

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We don't live in your area (we are in Northern Dordogne), but I can tell you of our experience.

We moved here during the summer holidays last year, with our 4 and 6 year old.  (then 3 and 5).

Earlier in April, we visited the 2 local schools, and like you, didn't get a good feeling about them.  Nothing in particular, but they just didn't feel right.  I then spent the next few months in the UK fretting about this.  Once we arrived here in France, we couldn't do anything, as all the schools were shut.  However, the day before the children are due to start school again, the schools open for parents to go in.  I spent the day going to all the other local schools and found a fantastic school.  It just felt very "right" for my two.  It is a small school.  25 in the petite and moyen section, and 25 in the grande section and C.P.  So only 50 in total.  250+ does sound very big and daunting for the little ones!  The toilets are open plan as you noticed.  We were worried about not going to the local school, but as it is only about 2km further than our local school, we have had no problems fitting in.  Both the children are extremely happy and love going to school.

I suppose my advice would be, go with your gut feelings.  As a parent you know what is right for your child, and if your first impressions weren't right, look elsewhere.  Yes, I know it is better to try to go to the local school, but if like us you are fairly remote, we have to drive everywhere anyway. 

Hope this helps a little, and good luck.


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Again, I would second that advice.

Do go with your gut instinct, it is invariably right!

You have the right to choose pretty much any school as long as there are places.

My gut feel about our school was not brilliant and unfortunately proved true.

If the Directrice is rubbish  - this is usually then passed on throughout the school and the other teachers become negative.

So keep looking.  There are some good schools I believe.

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Thanks so much for your advice.

Before we moved here our daughter was in a pre-school group of 15 which was supervised by one teacher and one parent (on a rotational basis) - the class was small and I always felt happy with it.  We'd registered her at a 'proper' school and had taken a look around it and we both felt really good about it, so it was a shock to suddenly have a negative gut feeling about the school here.  Having not much experience with schools I was wondering if I was being overprotective, but now I think you're right in that we should follow our gut feeling.

We'll take a look at some more schools this week.  Does anyone know where I can get a list of schools?


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worth considering college at this point too.  My 7 and 4 year old have total of about 50 children in both classes, my 10 year old has 14 in his whole school.  Therefore the school's are very small.  We put them all in the publique school as it is smaller than the privee and really nice.  Although i am very pleased with ALL their results now i've looked into the college for my eldest who is repeating a year and if he was to stay in publique, with his friends, the school he would attend is in our main town and hosts 1000 children.  Going from a school of 14 to 1000 would be a bit of a culture shock hey??  So we are now considering putting him into the privee college which is in our village and has 200 children.  If we had put them in the privee to begin with they would be staying with all their friends.  Don't want to move them now as they are all really happy.  just a point to consider really, one i didn't think much about as i was so concerned about putting them into a nice primaire!!  Sometimes though if you do put your children in a school out of your village you can be seen as a bit of an outcast, depending on the size of the school obviuosly, as most smaller school's rely on the village children using them to keep them open! Good luck and let us know how you get on.
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[quote]We moved to Deux Sevres 2 weeks ago and visited the local maternelle yesterday with our daughter who will be 4 years old in October. She's now due to start on September 2nd, but I didn't get a great ...[/quote]

Hello Naps!

I used to live in Niort many moons ago!

I remember giving you some names of schools in Niort.

Where do you work?... I could direct better...

Try the village schools in Gascougnolles, Mougon, Vouillé, Chavagné, St Maixent, St Néomaye, Chauray, Echiré, St Gelais. I hope that these villages still have their primary schools.... In Niort : Le Pontreau, Souché, St Pezenne, Surimeau.

As to the loos !... it is so I am afraid for most schools. You have to be in 'la grande école' when you start in CP (Cours Préparatoire) to graduate to a private cubicle!

One of my life time memory is my FIRST week at school! I was so wanting to go to the bathroom and did not like this open arrangement that my poor Mother was tearing her hair out for the first week! I was continually messing myself or very constipated!! At least the toilets were in a room, not in a corridor type of arrangement, with a very long bath size-sink in the middle and a door that could be closed. It was not until I went to the village school in Bessines (the otherside of Niort from you) that I had 'some' privacy but nothing so modern as just a cubicle with a hole in the ground! ...

It is not simple and easy! I remember how hard it was when my kids started in Wales. I ended up doing most of the schooling myself at home in the evenings, at weekends and during the school holidays but then I did not have a day job!...

Wishing you best of luck to find the perfect school.

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