My son was hurt by his teacher

Hello everyone, and many thanks for all the useful info I've read over the months since I joined. I've never been brave enough to post but today I really need some advice/perspective on a school problem.

My son, 6yrs old in CP, was removed from the classroom last week by his teacher. He was pulled by the wrist from his desk to the corridor, knocking over a couple of chairs on the way. Our doctor confirmed that he had been pulled too forcibly and had a sprained wrist. He was also punished indefinitely or as his maitre said "jusqu'a la nouvelle ordre". Indeed he had committed the great crime of chewing his pen in class and had not stopped after being told.

As an ex-UK teacher, I have no issue with discipline nor proportionate punishment.

After a meeting with the maire of the village, he offered to come as mediator to have a meeting at the school. So, at the meeting there were 7 of them against my husband and I. Rather than focusing on the issues around our son, the directrice became very personal, called me aggressive, lied about communications we haven't responded to etc. Kinda difficult to understand as I am at the gate 4 times a day - quite easy to talk to me if she had wished.

We have not complained when our son was told by his teacher he wasn't welcome in the school and should go back to where he came from, nor did we say anything when he was traumatised by having his head shoved under water whilst doing swimming at school. In fact all 3 of the British kids at school have had similar treatment.

In short, we had thought that a small village school, on the coast near Dax, would be open and contraire we are ostracized for being foreigners (Scottish) is also very difficult for French people from other departments. All the friends we have made here are non-Landais and we are constantly told how difficult the locals are...mostly true unfortunately.

We have a choice: complain to the academie and make it worse, or move to another region where we may be better accepted. My husband and I have worked all over France and have never encountered such unfriendliness and racism as here - my son is bi-lingual, I'm fluent and my husband speaks good French - not like we haven't made the effort.

Sorry, long and rambling but I'd really like to know what other people think - I got a row from the maire at the meeting for speaking to another parent at the school about it!!!

Many thanks for reading!


PS Vannes or Montpellier any thoughts?!


Re work having been there etc.. many times, contact the grandes ecoles in the area, wherever u end up, it's well paid, & so u only need a day, you can then top up with the chamber of them, they like native English speakers. The other thing u can do is get registered on the siaten website for subbing. I did this in a college & lycee & with your French & quals no probs. The only thing about Montpellier, I was there as a student is the cost....if u want to buy in the end, mucho dinero! If I think of anything else I'll let u know.

Fab news about cats!!! Take care!

Thank you so much Catherine, that's a very kind offer. I think however, I won't be bothering with the inspectrice, I have no faith in it changing things. We're thinking of Dax for schools - an old (boy)friend's mum has just been voted in after the elections and I think it may be time to renew our friendship and start using the people we know! I would love to meet you though and get your lowdown on work in Dax - I haven't had much success on that front.

Heather and Brian, what a good idea and of course you're exactly right, I'd love to see my son's teacher squirm when my son asks him in perfect french what he has against him and why he thinks he's stupid - after all a bi-lingual 6 year old isn't exactly stupid. I think that's part of the issue, my son is bright, very quick to learn, with a very developed sense of humour BUT bores easily in class I think!! The teacher glared eye to eye with my husband throughout the meeting - my OH is over 6ft muscly man and the teacher a wee weedy type, so you can imagine if he tries to intimidate other men, what he does to the children!!

Heather, thanks for the offer, I too was a languages teacher (French & German) and being a real blether have no problem in putting my point of view over!! The directrice was useless, it has felt since the beginning that they were against us; they didn't like that my son had done grande section of maternelle in a Montessori school (that's not real education they sneered!) and because I 'objected' when they stopped certain classes from having morning snack and requested that they permitted it....well that was the beginning of the end! The maire (ex-teacher), who was at the meeting, told us if we didn't like it we should leave - not surprising he just scraped his way back in at the latest elections.

Our next nearest school here is Soustons but the director there did not come over well at all when I asked if I could go see him about a place. He insisted that even to visit I needed the 'dérogation' paper in my hand. Having chased the mairie again this week, the lady claimed it was posted well over a week ago and I should just wait....To be honest my son will never go back to the village school, added to which, as we rent here, fortunately, we have given our 3 month notice. It has given us a sense of relief.

All that said, I love the Landes - I did my first 2 seasons in Lacanau, a 3rd in St Girons and a year in Dax on placement from uni (25 years ago!). I've been a mad francophile since I first came age 14 on a school exchange with our twin town, and have lived and worked in Brittany, Vendée, Perpignan, Fréjus and even braved the mountains, 1 time only, to do a ski season! I'm planning to go to Montpellier next week, kittens health allowing, but much as though I've loved visiting the city I'm not sure if the area will be too busy for me -I'm a country girl at heart! Currently the only thing that ties us to here is that my husband has work - I've been unable to get anything other than a few months seasonal, and at that cleaning as opposed to reception work which I thought I would get. So, to make a move anywhere, it really is up to me to find a 'real' job - probably something in tourism, sales admin or education (I left teaching to go into adult education).

Sorry, I seem to post massive long spiels, but I'd like to thank you all, it's been a relief to get it all out and have some sensible advice in return! And in the middle of typing this, our vet has phoned: she's cautiously optimistic that both have turned the corner and can home tomorrow - I'm crying with relief.

Hope you have a pleasant evening - in spite of the looming storms!


Great suggestion Heather. When we have meetings for our oldest who is in an ULIS (special education, kind of) and know that the teacher has it in for her because she is an individualist who gets bored when told to sit quietly waiting for an hour or so, wanders out of the class and often just sits outside, which brings about yet another 'urgent' meeting we take her. We ask for her to be allowed to speak and then watch the teacher's embarrassment. Very much worth a try. We have done it four times, including when the message asked for us to go without her. My OH showed the message to the director and asked if that was right? I think the teacher blanched so white she looked like a ghost, then went bright scarlet with badly suppressed rage. Our daughter speaking for herself and why she does it and then asking the teacher what she has against her worked very well last time. Find your own way of doing it, but make absolutely sure your son is allowed to speak and give his version of what happened.

Hello Nikki,

I too am an ex-UK teacher & while I haven't been following your situation closely, I can feel your desperation. I think from what I can deduce you need to take action for yourself if for no one else. Injustice is not acceptable, poisoning your family pets included. On that point, are u able perhaps to get a toy camera up on your outside wall? The neighbours are clearly not that bright & will cac themselves. Pass the message likewise through your son perhaps.

If you love it here, fight! It does depend where u live though, how close your neighbours are etc. Can u stay where u are, if u find the right school for your son? Depends if u see them everyday or not.... I for example live in the Tarn, in rural Tarn & have had to fight as well these past 10 years for many things, including what school my sons go to. First it was the village school, I moved them, i did try, then the neighbouring school, more recently. I now travel 45min in the car there & back am & pm cos like u I know how important education is. I'm sure your son will be ok in the long run, even with these set backs. France is a lovely country & there are good people, educated & fair, you just have to look in the right places. Have you tried meeting with the school staff, directive? Mayor? That's important in terms of mediation & for the inspectorate. I'm sure u have, sorry for asking. But is this documented? Have you written a letter of grievances??? Also important. Re schools, now's the time for lots of changes, places freeing up etc...GO see the schools that interest you, wait if need be for the directrice. If she's anyway decent, like mine was she'll sort you out. If not, shame on her! Once u get your son sorted, you'll be amazed at the relief, obvious but my God I was!!!

Remember if u need help translating your feelings, grievances into French, I can help I'm a language teacher, no charge, my pleasure. You all deserve to enjoy France. It's a lovely country, just some 'cons'as they say can spoil it for you.

On another note, why don't you take your son with you to the meeting, more in their face, just that a lot of the time, they don't tell you but u can, don't ask just do it. What's the worst that can happen?! Good luck. Let's us know what happens & send me a personal message for a chat if u like.

One day at a time.

I think you should move Nikki, as you first mooted.

Nikki - very quick one as going to work but if it helps - am very happy to mind your son in Dax whilst you do the meeting - can meet you there and bring him back to ours, he can play lego, and then do coffee after? But I can't do next wed..! If this helps and am VERY happy to help, give me a call later xx

Hello all!

Okay, so an update again...

Just back from the vets: the smallest kitten Flash, was first poisoned 7 weeks ago, and went in and out the vets 6 times for several days each time to be put on a drip to flush her and get injections etc. It was only last weekend that we finally let either of them out again. So she's actually doing better today. Our second one, Kazar, is in a bad way, in spite of the fact that this is the 1st time for her. The vets aren't sure if she's going to pull through, although they're hopeful for Flash. Thank goodness the vets are actually friends and they have done their very best for our cats - and us, by not charging for everything!

I visited and called several times yesterday to our local garde champetre but he's not around. After speaking to the vets and some other clients there, I've been urged to formally 'porte plainte' to the gendarmes. The reason we suspect the neighbour, aside from the fact she's said she'll poison any animal in her garden, is that her daughter told my son at the weekend, in very adult words, that her mum had put something evil down to kill cats. Oh, and she's a gardener so has access to whatever.

School......I'm starting to get a bit paranoid.....

We got a letter today asking us to a meeting with the inspector next Wednesday at 9am in Dax, and if this is not suitable please call to re-arrange. I to re-arrange because our elderly neighbour who will need to mind my son can't have him at that time of the morning due to the nurse coming etc. So, I was offered the following Wednesday at the same time. I tried to explain that given my son is no longer in school, I would need someone to mind him and I have no-one who can take him at 8 o'clock in the morning, but I could be available any day after 10am.(It's a 30min journey with no traffic to Dax for us). To which the reply was, the inspector is not at your disposal, make the appointment at 9am or don't bother. So I said thank you very much for your assistance I won't bother!

So far, I've surprised myself with my restraint on both of these situations! But now, my blood is boiling. I've reached the point where I do really have to do something to stick up for both my son and my cats.

I've never had any dealings with the police in the UK or the gendarmes here, so I don't know what to expect. Should I complain about both situations or are they going to think I'm some kind of fool?

What do you think?

Thanks again!

Enough, any more off topic posts will be deleted.

I'm sure most people got it "got it" Vic. Just in the context of the post it wasn't funny at all.

It was your whole rant David that I thought unacceptable.

Quite a few of my visitors from the UK descend into their ideas of a French accent, based mainly on the series. Whole conversations, usually after a glass or two, are maintained in the same mode. It seems wildly amusing at zee time. But then we do the same with the Goons, the Navy Lark, Fawlty Towers and 'ancock. Forgive us in our dotage. No doubt the French do something similar with us!

Very good point Keith, more people need to use it. However, public information about SOLVIT is hardly accessible without some effort if people have no idea what to look for. If that was sorted out, things like this teacher's disgraceful behaviour would at least begin to be dealt with.

OK, now that we are right off course. I hated 'Allo 'Allo profoundly. Having heard some of the stories told by different old-timers hereabouts that confirm a core of truth, especially the 'Breeteesh pilots' characters,the comedy now seems so close to the truth that the whole family is in love with it. On UK Gold or YouTube, it is my younger daughter's favourite and she has often wondered how to work it in history at school!

I got it! Shame others weren't Dads Army aficionados :-)

I never rated "Dads Army" the first or even the second time round but now, yonks later I really get it I can't get enough of it. Each time I watch it I see something I previously missed. With the exception of a few would be serious comments here the "Don't tell him Pike" sketch has got to be one of the funniest things I've ever heard :-)

Don't like it up 'em is hardly offensive and of course a direct humorous quote from Dad's Army where the expression referred to Jones's exploits against the Mahdi's Army (I have not used the other formerly common epithet used in the fifties and sixties). It's a general expression these days more along the lines of sauce for the goose etc. Anybody who knows me will know that I have enormous love and affection for the French and indeed spend a lot of time defending them against the supporters of Farage and the like, and indeed in the corridors of Washington DC. In this forum I used it because sometimes one is forced to take direct and firm action against the massed ranks and walls of bureaucracy, , and they certainly don't like it up 'em.

Aw come on John! David's "Don't like it up 'em" comment whilst possibly ill conceived was amusing & in no stretch of my imagination was "a rant",whereas Al's response to Catharine was a rant in spades. Calling her unprofessional, inferring this forum was not decent & telling her " I can assure you that I will not have a problem in repeating these double standards elsewhere." didn't exactly leave a lot of "wriggle room". Even I thought Al had well overstepped the mark & believe me, it takes a lot to make this old cynic think that. Pity it happened but it at least shows our leaders have balls (if you will pardon the phrase Catharine) :-)

Thanks for posting that Doreen.

The "Such smart uniforms, sir," line (Wilson) was also pure comedy gold.

Time for a re watch methinks and time to introduce the youngest to his comedy heritage.

@ Keith - Quite!