Saturday, 5 April 2014

E is for École

Having a child in school here has been a novel experience.

You would expect school to much the same wherever you go, but no, things are very different.

A year ago, we dropped our ten year old son off at the local École Publique, speaking next to no French and knowing no one. I am sure he was nervous but not half as anxious as his father and I, who waited on tenterhooks for the 4.15pm bell.

He came home cock-a-hoop. Firstly, there is no uniform. For a child used to scratchy jumpers, baggy shorts and the interminable changing from one set of kit to another for games, dance, swimming etc, this is freedom indeed. He can even wear ripped jeans.

Secondly, there is no school on a Wednesday. Yes, that's right. He only has to get up and go to school four days a week. Extraordinary. On Wednesday, French children of primary school age indulge in extra curricular activities from sailing to Tai Chi. It might be a day for playdates too, if all the children weren't so booked up with their whirlwind of activities.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly for our son, there is no homework. Apparently, setting written tasks to be done at home discriminates against those children who come from 'deprived' backgrounds. So, to level the playing fields, no one has homework. Terrific.

Add to this the long lunch break with a three course meal (see D is for Dejeuner)
and you can see that school here in France is a totally different proposition from that in the UK.

At least, it is for the time being. Next year he moves up to College where the rules change a bit. Still no uniform but the homework kicks in like a mule I am told.

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