Changing schools part-way through the year

My son (currently in troisieme) wants to change from his current boarding school to a school local to our home. He has been told (by other students), that if he changes part-way through the year, his moyenne is re-set to zero, and this concerns him.

Does anyone out there - parents or education professionals - have experience of this situation please? Is it true that his moyenne would revert to zero?

Many thanks

I'm so glad to have been some help, Karen! People change, that's normal, what suits at one stage may not suit at another, the main thing is to keep the impetus & work ethic going & ensure a good transition at a logical non-disruptive stage & it looks as though you have, I think changing at the end of 3ème is definitely the best option (unless a person is so miserable at school there is no other) since he'll be turnng up at lycée as just one new person in a mass of new people from lots of different collèges.

All the best with the change…and the rugby


My son has been boarding since 6eme and until the end of 4eme (July 2014), all was well. Boarding has taught him to how to co-exist with others, be independent and, (because the school is quite strict), to live by the rule or suffer the consequences. It might not work for all children, but it certainly worked for him.

He now finds boarding too restrictive, and we would be very happy to have him back home with us and to be more involved in his school life. He plays rugby at the weekends for a team close to where we live, has made friends in the local town (they go to the local lycee) and would like to be more involved in things locally. I guess in essence, boarding worked extremely well but now doesn't.

I followed Veronique's excellent advice, spoke with the school Director and my son's prof principal, and they were very understanding and supportive of a move at the end of the school year, when the Brevet is over and done with. I also purchased some resource (again suggested by Veronique), and this too has been very useful.

The other thing to consider is why does he want to change, is it the course, being away fro home or something else? Our son went to board at lycee and did get very homesick and missed his friends at first, and asked about changing, but he stuck it out and the feeling passed and he ended up with good friends at home and school, passed his bac and is now at uni. You know your son but it is worth taling with the school for advice…all the best

Wow, you are a valuable resource, and generous with your time.

keep on posting. I enjoy the chance to add your information to my own limited statistics.

FLE is French Lessons for Etrangers & is usually on offer, if at all, someone's first year (whichever class it is) in the secondary school system. Only available if there is someone FLE qualified with space in their timetable.

The dispositif anti-décrochage (anti-drop-out-system) is designed to stop people at risk of dropping out of the system doing just that & leaving school or education from home with nothing, that's why it is usually for people who acted the goat at lycée, ignored all our recommendations and didn't do any work, wasted their time & ours & failed their Bac to nobody's surprise but their own & then realised, once in the real world, that we aren't all a bunch of idiots wanting to make their lives a misery. Lower down in the system you get classe-relais sometimes within a collège, sometimes located outside a school (less off-putting for some but usually not so well resourced).

By 3ème someone shouldn't be needing help to revise - étude in the evenings at school is designed simply as a time for pupils to do their work independently, they are under supervision so they aren't messing about, but they aren't talked through it or anything after 6ème because they are expected to be increasingly autonomous and self-motivated. If they aren't, lycée is going to be a BIG shock for them.

For devoirs in collège they will have a mix of new stuff to do, things to write, things to learn and at the very least their leçons of the day to read through and absorb. Obviously if there is a one-off difficulty the pion will probably try to help if asked but they aren't there to be tutors. It is the same as when I was at school in GB - you had half an hour's supervised prep in the morning between breakfast & lessons starting & then 2 hours supervised prep in the evening after supper, but obviously you have to use your own time to work as well.

You can buy a book of 'Annales du Brevet' which has past papers in it for the examined subjects (there's nothing for the continuous assessment ones) and work through them, there is usually a key at the back for correction. This may help with revision, in terms of understanding what the questions are actually asking the candidate to do, quite often pupils don't really pay enough attention to this when it is explained in class (& sometimes teachers take it for granted that they have understood, when they haven't).

Thanks Veronique and Marie-Clare

Great advice again Veronique. I will definitely pursue your point about the full and frank analysis with the current school. Unfortunately the quarterly school reports are extremely brief; one sentence if anything per subject, and as you say, reports don't give any detail on what's happening and what needs doing, other than he has the potential but isn't achieving what he is capable of. That said, his moyenne is higher than the class average.
I don't believe help or motivation are given during the evening homework/study sessions, as it appears students are simply supervised (to ensure they remain quiet), and left to get on with it rather than helped to revise.

Perhaps my disquiet stems from the lack of contact with my son during the week and my inability to help him learn how to get through tests (which is perhaps something different to learning a new concept, technique or skill in the first place).

Could you explain what "FLE" and 'dispositive anti-decrochage" are please? I'm afraid I don't understand.

Thanks again.

The very first thing you need to do is check on availability of places at local schools, ideally go there in person - I don't know if you are on holiday at the moment but admin staff are back at school in this académie (2nd week of the holidays here) so it might be a good moment to get in touch.

Do this first because otherwise there will be a lot of hoo-ha and expectations which may well come to nothing, which won't help your son at all.

Then go & have a full & frank discussion, again in person, with the PP & the CPE, you want a thorough overview of your son's situation and a proper subject by subject analysis of how he is doing & why & what needs sorting out (not doable on his report).

I'm not convinced by the private school taking English pupils for prestige reasons, from my personal experience in collège & lycée, but then I'm somewhere where they are ten a penny & frankly any pupil's nationality is of no consequence or indeed interest whatsoever; unless someone is a primo-arrivant that school year they don't qualify for FLE and that I'm afraid is the only thing the system is interested in.

There may, if all else doesn't suit, be a dispositif anti-décrochage scolaire locally: ask at the rectorat - I do extra classes for one via Lycée but it is aimed at people who are eg doing the Bac for the third time as independent candidates having failed once or twice at school & who either don't want to go back into Lycée or have not been accepted anywhere for a variety of reasons.

I don't teach in Lycée currently, but I confirm that people used to turn up all the time, however…. you might want to use these holidays to make sure your son will be made welcome at a school close to your home. If they are full AND your son isn't doing well academically, this might not be as easy as you would like. I would try private (Catholic) schools as they are more likely to take him for prestige reasons (an English boy, yes!!) and might even have tutoring sessions within the school, (btw, you don't need to be a Catholic or even religious to register). If all fails, there remains the CNED (correspondence)

Good luck to all of you, the French system is hard to crack, if I hadn't been through it (in part), I don't know how my daughter would be faring now….

Veronique - thanks for replying - you raise so many points I hadn't considered.

The principal reason for our son wanting to change schools at this stage, rather than at the end of troisieme, is so that we can spend time on homework and revision each evening - he's simply not "getting it" on his own, and as we didn't go through the French education system ourselves, we're pretty lost ourselves - even more so because of the fact that we cannot discuss anything with him between Monday am and Friday pm. We would also like to engage a private tutor and this is impossible with the current boarding school situation.

We have asked the school to help us understand where he's not succeeding, but received no response. In a brief telephone call this evening, we learned our son's brevet blanc results were not as good as he expected them to be), and he is terribly de-motivated, not to mention worried.

I think, based on your advice, I'll contact my son's prof principal tomorrow and again request their help.

It shouldn't be - if he changes schools soon you will have his bulletins for the first two terms and they will be needed for the contrôle continu part of the brevet. The inscription au brevet will go through pretty much automatically. I should take anything pupils have to tell you regarding school admin of that sort with a major pinch of salt because the rumour mill is very active among children that age.

Is the boarding school EN or outside the system? Have you spoken to the heads or CPEs of the respective schools or the professeur principal of your son's class?

Because those are the people you should be listening to as well as getting a run-down of what bits of the programme have been covered, via the professeur principal, so that the move is as seamless as possible.

You also need to make sure that they have space etc. because as he is already in a school they are not OBLIGED to take him, and also that the various options he has in his present school are available to him in the local one.

If he IS going to move I'd suggest the sooner the better as the countdown to the brevet has started and it is easier to arrive at a rentrée de petites vacances rather than in the middle of a teaching period, as well as giving a bit more time for integration & being known by teachers before exams and choices for next year need to be dealt with.

ps I teach in Lycée and we have people turning up all the time.