Education & schools

Am trying to find out from others out there about moving kids to France , earlier this year we bought a house in dept 87 an hour from limouges , we are looking at the possibility of moving our son from Zimbabwe to France, my questions are do kids at the age of 15 cope?? Has anyone else made this sort of move??
And secondly what sort of schools are available, not international as to expensive… Need a school that has some sort of English spoken…and that would teach French… Either day school or weekly boarder… Any advise would be appreciated…


1 Like

Fifteen really isn’t a good age to move into an education system in a foreign language. In the Haute Vienne the best you will find is a French school that already has a number of British children who have experience of children using French as a second language.

1 Like

The major problem with moving at 15 is that it is a stage where you are making significant choices about what sort of education you go into next, if your French isn’t up to dealing with the Bac, that leaves very low level vocational options. I am not denigrating these but taking them up should be an active choice, not something a child is forced into because they are functionally semi-literate.

What level of education is your son aiming for at home? That should really have been my first question.

My entirely personal feeling, as a lycée teacher and as a parent, is that in order for a child to do well after switching systems, he or she has to be at least as good at the local language as the high-achieving locals which really means end of primary school at the latest for the switch, because there is not only a sophisticated grasp of the language but also a lot of cultural baggage to acquire, especially if the parents are not fluent in the local language and familiar with how the local schools work (and therefore can’t help).

There will no doubt be people telling you that their child or children they know are very happy being apprentices etc having moved at 15 and I have already been flamed elsewhere for suggesting that nowadays perhaps more people go on to university and post-graduate study so it is worth considering as well; I think deciding to be a mechanic or whatever is fine if it is a genuine choice but that in any case people should aim for the highest level of attainment they are capable of achieving, because how can you be certain that leaving the school system at eg 16 is really a good idea in the long term. You don’t want to end up stuck with a choice.


Whilst I know 15 is a bad time to move a child, although he is British and the obvious choice would be the uk, but it looks like the continued prevailing problems affecting Zimbabwe may soon force us to leave for good, and whilst uk is now opting to leave eu, I feel there may be greater freedom for youngsters growing up there, apart from the fact we have a house in France… No choice is a good one, just wondered if anyone has known of success stories, and if they know of any good schools in our area where a English speaking child could go…

Unless you go for an international (boarding) school where English is the or one of the vehicular languages, what you get is what is locally available: private schools which cost very little because the difference between them and your local state school is essentially that they are Catholic, ie there is religion in school, otherwise the curriculum is the same and the teachers are paid by the state; or your local collège or lycée de secteur.

There is a little flexibility in which school you go to depending eg on which first language you choose, your options for the Bac, that sort of thing.

FLE (French as a foreign language) is available only for primo-arrivants ie people who have just arrived in France and only for their first year IF IT IS AVAILABLE AT ALL. There are not enough FLE qualified teachers and they tend to be in cities where non-francophone children can be in a group which satisfies the accountants.

I cannot stress too highly just how sink-or-swim the system is.

Incidentally, you haven’t said what your son’s educational ambitions are, it would help if you did as I’d be able to give you less general information.

Where exactly is your house? I can tell you what your collège or lycée de secteur are, heads’ names etc so you can contact them, if you let me know. Also your son’s date of birth because the school year you go into is based on calendar year not academic year unlike the UK.

Thanks, my sons dob is 28.12.01. He currently studies in a boarding school deep in the African bush, he is doing Cambridge, his main goal Is in IT, and business studies, he has for the last year studied French, but guess not to a good standard…
We by the way have a home just outside le dorat, mainly as that’s where our in laws live…

By the way in Zimbabwe at the moment education is until the age of 18, he is in form 2, so has three years left…

It sounds to me as though a British boarding school for his GCSEs and A levels might be your best solution. Coming to a foreign system and a foreign language at that age would be very difficult indeed.

1 Like

OK that birthdate makes him the youngest in 2de ie the first year of lycée (there are 2 to folllow) so if you were to move before the 5th of July next year he could probably finish the year of 2de just learning French* and then do another year of 2de which would actually count, as it were, without being particularly out of sync.

*You would have to negotiate this, but it is doable.

The problem for people like him in France is that even if you are eg a science specialist you still have to do French, History & Geography, Philosophy, 2 modern languages and probably other things eg latin, a third modern language, art or music etc in French.

There is a collège in le Dorat (head is called Pascal Robert) but for lycée he will need to go to Limoges I think because there is only a lycée professionnel in Le Dorat - the only one in Limoges with an English international section is the Lycée Auguste Renoir, they won’ t tell me what the head’s name is which is tedious. They don’t say anything about FLE either. Have a look at their website and get in touch with them. It may be a bit difficult to get a place also the boarding bit is just for girls it seems, which is a bit of a problem unless you don’t mind doing 50km twice a day. Lessons here start at 8am and finish at 6pm, then there’s a couple of hours prep every night if you want to do well, so it could be a bit tiring. There are lots of other lycées in Limoges but that is the only public one with an international section. You will find more info on the academie site
I hope this helps
ps What is this Cambridge that he is doing? Is it iGCSE or something else? Business studies is available here as a Bac technologique but again his French needs to be up to scratch, though probably not as much as doing a Bac général.

1 Like

Kids always cope, it’s how they cope that can be very worrying. I have friends who brought their 13 year old son to France, he didn’t speak French and he was not used to the French system. French schools are, on the whole, far stricter than British schools and, although hitting is frowned upon, it is not unknown. Furthermore, they do not seem to take much action as far as inter-pupil bullying is concerned. Don’t misunderstand me, the students leave school with a good standard of education and the language teaching is far, far, better than that of an English school. The problem is that a 15 year old will not necessarily come to terms with it, his patterns have been established. My friends had a terrible time and their son ran away on more than one occasion. They have now given up and are back in the U.K. There is, of course the British School, in Paris, which has a reasonable reputation:

Good luck!

1 Like

Thanks so much , this all looks so difficult , really have no idea… Thanks again Darren

The system is much less touchy feely and individualistic than in the UK, there is little if any provision for SEN, there isn’t the Anglo-Saxon tendency to cocoon pupils - so it can be very tough for people who come from a system where all must have prizes. In France there is no Mrs Jolly prize for raffia-work. It can be an excellent system for those who have the tools to do well, by secondary school it is a bit late for those who don’t.
I don’t, by the way, think the French system is ideal by any means.

1 Like

Darren, my children are 33 and 35. As you know doing the right thing is difficult and, sometimes although we always mean well, we don’t do the right thing. In my humble opinion, changing to the French system and using a language that your son does not speak may cause you family problems; 15 year old boys are not always forgiving :-). Commenters have been helpful in discussing the educational practicalities, but there’s far more to it than that (which some have touched upon), as you know. Britain will not leave Europe for at least two years, the practicalities will take at least that long. In the meantime, and as The British School in Paris is a long way from your French home, you may choose to, officially, base yourself in your French home, but go to the U.K. while your son finishes his education, at least to GCSE level but preferably to include A levels. Then, he can go to university anywhere, but preferably not in the U.K. because it’s prohibitively expensive. You can always return to France in the holidays, which would give your son time to learn French and you time to work out if you want to live here. Of course, I am being incredibly presumptuous in my suggestion, as it’s an expensive option. However and if I could afford it, this is what I would do. Others may not agree and their opinions will be helpful to you.

Once again, I wish you the very best of luck.

1 Like

P.S. Of course, if having a place in France and a place in the U.K. is a viable option, so might be having a place in Paris, as opposed to the U.K. However, Paris (where I live) and the education, at the British School, would not be inexpensive. It’s all very difficult. I have extended family in Zim, so I hope that things are O.K. there.

1 Like

His age is wrong. If you feel that you have to come to Europe soon enrol him in an education system that speaks his language so he can succeed during this vital stage of his education.

1 Like

Sorry, I did not realise that the choice was between France and Zim. If I can help in any way, contact me.