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International Schools for Expats in France

Submitted: October 2013

The education system in France offers many attractive options for all including expats. If your child is older, you may be concerned about their ability to successfully transition into the state school system, in particular due to the language barrier as French is the main language of instruction. In this regard, parents are presented with the option of international schools.

One advantage of choosing to send your child to an international school, as with private schools, is that you have the freedom to select your desired school as the normal state school system zones students into schools depending on their place of residence. As with private schools, international schools are still subject to inspection by state officials.

It goes without saying that one of the greatest advantages of attending an international school is the diverse curriculum offered at many of these institutions. All state schools and many private schools (if under contract) in France are required to educate students based on the national curriculum. At many international schools, such as the British (for example www.britishschool.fr and www.mougins-school.com) or American schools (like www.ndihs.com), the curriculum taught is that of the respective country of origin. Upon the completion of study at these schools, graduates receive the same qualification as that of the country of origin (for example, US High School Diploma or GSCEs, A-levels etc). This is a great option for parents who seek a smooth transition for their children back into the education system of their home country on their return.

Some of these international schools are in fact bilingual, like the Bordeaux International School (https://www.bordeaux-school.com/) and your child therefore not only receives a complete educational experience but is able to benefit from the cultural experience of living in France. Many bilingual international schools also attract a significant number of French students as well.

International schools may also prepare students towards obtaining the International Baccalaureate (IB diploma) which is regarded as a recognised qualification for entry into many international universities. There are eleven schools which offer this option in France (please refer to the following link to search for these schools: https://www.ibo.org/school/search/).

Parents who are concerned about the quality of the international school that they have selected may find it helpful to ascertain whether the school is accredited by organisations such as the Council of International Schools (CIS) or COBIS. These organisations aim to ensure that its member schools maintain a high educational experience. Please refer to the following link in order to search for international schools accredited by CIS in France: https://www.cois.org/page.cfm?p=1318.

It goes without saying that one factor in deciding whether to send your child to an international school is your budget as this option can be quite expensive. Fees range from €3,000 to €25,000 at these schools depending on the schooling level (nursery or secondary) and whether the option of boarding is selected. Parents should note that there are two types of boarding options at many of these international schools. Students can board with a host family or at dormitories. Regardless of which option you choose, you may want to speak carefully with your proposed school about any of your concerns particularly with regards to your child’s safety. If you do not select a boarding option, you should have regard to the commute that your child will face from your place of residence to the school, especially if it is long and tedious.

Many state schools are unable to provide students with extra-curricular activities; fortunately most international schools offer a wide range of these activities and this benefit should not be overlooked by parents who would like their children to be well-rounded. These activities as well as options such as school trips abroad often attract additional fees and would have to be factored into your budget.

In terms of admission, international schools often require the completion of application forms together with your child’s previous school reports. While the application process is often straight-forward, due to their increasing demand and limited spaces, it is recommended that you start the process as early as possible, even before your arrival in France. Nevertheless, international schools often have a rolling admissions policy meaning that applications are accepted throughout the school year.

A helpful overview of international schools in France in terms of costing and curriculum can found in the following article:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/expateducation/8395185/Expat-guide-to-France-schools.html

The Good Schools Guide also provides a helpful resource for locating international schools in France, please refer to its website at the following link. www.gsgi.co.uk.

 

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