Sectors & markets

A new plan for French schools in London

The development of new schools as well as fewer French pupils arriving in the UK is leading to a strategy to internationalise the city’s existing schools, say Claudine Ripert-Landler, Cultural Counsellor, and Lorène Lemor, Deputy Cultural Counsellor of the French Embassy in Great Britain

Does the Embassy have concerns about student intake in London?

In September 2017, at the start of the school year, we did not record more departures than in the previous years. However, the number of arrivals in London is a little lower than it used to be.

What effect will Brexit have on this situation?

Although we do not anticipate any new drop in the short term, things may change if more staff relocate to Europe once Brexit takes effect in March 2019, depending on the outcome of the current negotiations between the UK and the EU.

Where does the current intake come from?

London is special, in that it comprises a large French population (approx. 300,000 people). Our schools welcome roughly 80 percent native French-speaking students. However, the creation of four new schools in recent years (including the CFBL and the Lycée Churchill), representing an additional 2,500 places, has helped to stabilise enrolment and attract a more international student body.

How will the schools adapt to the international demand?

Many of the schools already offer a bilingual programme (50 percent in French, 50 percent in English). The Lycée français Charles de Gaulle also has a British section, offering the British curriculum and British exams such as GSCEs and A Levels. As of September 2018, students at the Lycée international de Londres Winston Churchill will sit the IB (International Baccalaureate) from Year 7 onward. These adjustments help our students to be better prepared to join worldwide universities.

What are the strengths of a French education in London?

French high schools are a gateway to universities around the world. Each year, students join prestigious universities in the UK, the United States, Canada, France, and many other countries. Some specific aspects of the French educational model also appeal to families. For instance its pre-school years (‘la maternelle’) don’t really exist as such in the English system. More parents are aware that a bicultural and bilingual education is an asset for the young generation with regard to higher education, labour market, and international careers – e.g. diplomats or businessmen.

What is the cultural dimension of a French education?

« These adjustments help our students to be better prepared to join worldwide universities »

Studying in a French school either in the United Kingdom or elsewhere is to be part of a worldwide network (492 schools in 137 countries), which is very interesting for an internationally mobile population. This network has also recently launched an online platform for the Alumni of French high schools in the world. Furthermore, the new ADN-AEFE programme aims at giving students the opportunity to spend a term in another school in order to discover a new country. This type of education in French fosters the development of closer links with the Francophone world, including developing African countries. The number of French speakers in the world is estimated to reach 700 million by 2050. 

This article was originally published in INFO magazine, March/April 2018

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