Monday, 24 September 2007

Parents & Teachers - French Style

Tonight saw the first of our Parent/Teacher meetings for this school year. Nic has just started college (senior school) and I thought it would be interesting to detail some of the information passed onto us for her year 6 ieme.

There is rather a lot - we were there nearly two hours!

I make no comparison to English education - I leave that for you to do!
  1. There are 90 children in the whole year, in 6 classes.

  2. There are several hours within their weekly timetable set aside. The teachers run extra classes at these times for
    (a) children who need extra help in a particular topic and
    (b) children who are advanced and would be 'kept interested' by having topics gone into in more detail.

    Each week a selection of children are 'invited' to attend these (compulsory) sessions.

  3. Children are regularly tested each week in their various subjects - some are 'surprise' 10 minute ones, others are scheduled so that they can prepare for them. The teachers are therefore alerted immediately if a child is struggling, and deal with it straight away. The children do not get 'stressed' by all this testing - they take it in their stride and it ensures they are constantly revisiting their previous work as well as their new lessons.

  4. In Maths, a initial test assessed the ability of each child and the teachers decided to set up classes as follows:

    a class of 10 for the children seriously struggling;
    a class of 20 for those struggling in several areas;
    two classes of 30 for the children coping at the level required at college.

    These are not fixed - children will be moved between these classes as and when required.

  5. For French, a few extra hours are set aside each week. An initial test assesses the ability of each child and the teachers run these sessions (max 8 students) for children who need to be brought up to the standard level. Different children are 'invited' to these compulsory sessions each week. A child who is above average at the beginning, can still find certain topics difficult - and will attend these sessions when required.

  6. The English and Techno teachers have got together and have selected a couple of hours each week which they alternate between their two subjects. This week Nic has an extra 1.5 hours of techno, next week it will be an extra 1.5 hours of English. This enables the teachers to alter the size of their classes sometimes when they feel it is necessary for a particular (maybe difficult) topic.

  7. French and English are compulsory at French schools.

    In addition the children HAVE to study one other language of their choice - in our college they choose between Spanish, German or Italian.

    Children can also choose to do Occitan, Latin or Italian as an optional extra.

  8. Up until now, children chose their 'Language Vivante 1' to study from this their first year at college (English, German or Italian). eg LeeLee chose German as her LV1.

    From their second year they then studied their LV2 - English if they had not chosen it as their LV1, or their other language if they started English in their first year. eg LeeLee therefore had to have English as her LV2.

    When you come to do your baccalaureate, your LV1 has a higher 'loading' than LV2. LeeLee therefore swapped her LV1 and LV2 around this year ready for the Bac - to maximise the score for her native language!!

    This year, the college has decided to only offer English as LV1 - their reasoning is that since English is the language of the Internet/computers (ie the future!), students should have the extra year of study to make sure they are as fluent as possible. Next year they will choose their LV2 from German, Spanish and Italian. Occitan, Latin and Italian are still offered as 'extra' lessons.

    Nic will therefore have no choice but to do English as her LV1 and will probably choose German or Spanish as her LV2 next year. She is also doing Occitan as an extra language. LeeLee had done Latin as her 'extra'.

  9. If a child misbehaves, they receive a 'punishment' which is detailed on their school record, and is notified to the parents in writing. The parents have to sign that they have received this notification and return it to the school personally.

  10. Specimen signatures are taken from the parents each year and are held on record. Any form that purports to be from a parent - is checked against the central specimens to ensure that children are NOT falsifying them!

  11. At the moment 'collective punishments' are being handed out to whole class groups. eg Nic's class did not line up properly outside the classroom (in a straight line two by two) so were given 30 lines each to be completed before they were allowed out for break.

    The Maths class were not quiet when they were queuing up - and had to write out three times a section of text from a book. Details of these punishments are sent to each parent who had to sign and return them personally.

  12. The French teacher informed us that the children will be required to read a book every 2-4 weeks. Some will be chosen by the teacher (eg Voltaire), some by the children from a selection provided by the teacher. They will average 10 pages to read a night.

    After finishing each book, they will write a synopsis and also prepare a presentation to give to the class - detailing their views on the book, etc, for a class discussion.

  13. Mobile phones are banned from use within the school premises - including the classrooms, corridors and halls. They are allowed to be used outside in the play areas.

    If a student is found using a phone in a prohibited area, it WILL be confiscated and held in the central office. A parent will be required to come in and collect it, and will be spoken to by the Headmistress. If it happens more than 3 (I think?!) times, it will not be returned to the parent until the end of term.


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