Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Back to School French Style - La Rentrée


This week is la rentrée in France for most children.  La rentrée, in this sense of the word, has no direct translation to English.  It literally means the return and is used for when children go back to school.  It's a word you will hear a lot at this time of year:  People will ask you when la rentrée is, they may wish you a bonne rentrée or how did la rentrée go?   For our boys, la rentrée was today. 




All About La Rentrée


School in France is somewhat different to the UK.  Some differences are better, some are perhaps not.


French school hours

It is a little past 7am as I am starting to write this blog post and I have just dropped the boys off at the bus stop in Lenault.  Yes, you did read that right - 7am.  In France children have a much longer day than in The UK and for our boys their first lesson starts at 7.50am.  Today, Wednesday, they only go for half a day and finish at midday but on every other day of the week they will not finish until 4.35pm and the bus will not get back to Lenault until 5.45pm.  It's a long day.  They do get a longer lunch break as well as morning and afternoon breaks plus several free periods through the week and longer school holidays but I think they (and I) would prefer hours more like those in the UK.


Uniform

French children do not wear uniform with the exception of a very few schools.  Uniform was phased out in the late 60s but there have been mutterings to bring it back.  Some feel that too many girls dress too provocatively and for many there exists peer pressure to be seen wearing the latest (expensive) designer clothes.  At the boys' school it seems to be a uniform of sort exists in that almost all pupils wear jeans, trainers, a T-shirt and a hoodie.  Tue pupils seem happy with and I can cope with this.


Supplies

In France parents have to supply exercise books and other school equipment and each year we are given a long and very specific list of the things we have to buy.  At least now, 3 years in to the secondary school system I am just about getting my head around what is needed but the first year of secondary and first year of primary when we first arrived were a nightmare!  Have a read here about the horrors of getting prepared for school that I wrote last year.


School Bags

The standard school bag, known as a cartable, is, for secondary pupils, a large rucksack of sufficient size to carry all the books etc. they need each day and you will see vast numbers of them for sale in supermarkets at the end of the summer holidays.  There are school lockers but school rules do not allow pupils to leave anything in them overnight so all pupils must carry all the exercise and text book plus other supplies on their back for each school day the result is a very heavy bag.  Back problems in French children is not unheard of because of this.


Lunch in French schools

As today is only a half day at school there is no school lunch but on the other 4 days the boys will get very well fed.  In France there are 2 options for lunchtime.  Pupils either go home for lunch or they eat the meal supplied in the school canteen.  There is no option to take in pack lunches.  As we live 13kms from school coming home is not feasible so the boys eat the excellent school lunch.  The meal is a "proper" French lunch with 3 courses plus cheese (but no wine or coffee!) and I hear no complaints from them about the quality.  You'll not see turkey twizzlers, chicken nuggets or a daily serving of greasy chips on French school dinner plates.


Discipline 

Certainly in the boys' school, they are very hot on discipline.  Pupils must stand when the teacher comes in the room, not dash out as soon as the bell goes and be well behaved in class.  Many a small misdemeanor will result in the offending pupil being given a cross and a certain number of crosses leads to a detention (an hour after school on a Friday).  Chit chat in class, forgetting to get a test or other paper signed, leaving a book at home etc. could all give the pupil in question a cross.

So how does la rentrée compare to going back to school where you live?   I'd love to hear from you in a comment.



Lou Messugo


22 comments :

  1. Τα σχολεία στην Ελλάδα ξεκινούν στις 11 Σεπτέμβρη. Τα παιδιά πρέπει να είναι στο σχολείο στις 8 το πρωί και ανάλογα με τα μαθήματα τελειώνουν 1.30 με 2.00 το μεσημέρι . Μόνο στην πρωτοβάθμια εκπαίδευση σχολούν 12.00 ή 1.00.
    Τα παιδιά παίρνουν κολατσιό απο το σπίτι ή αγοράζουν απο το κυλικείο του σχολείου(σάντουϊτς-τυρόπιτες-σοκολάτες κ.α.) Οι σχολικές τσάντες είναι ασήκωτες απο την πρώτη τάξη του Δημοτικού(πρωτοβάθμια )μέχρι την τελευταία τάξη του Λυκείου(δευτεροβάθμια) κι εδώ υποφέρουν τα παιδιά!
    Τα βιβλία τα παρέχει το κράτος μεν ,αλλά υπάρχουν πάντα λίστες με διάφορα (όπως βιβλία ξένων γλωσσών ή διάφορα άλλα) Το μάθημα δεν είναι ποτέ επαρκές στο σχολείο, με αποτέλεσμα να τρέχουν τα παιδιά τα απογεύματά στα φροντιστήρια και οι γονείς να ξοδεύουν περιουσίες!
    Τα σχολικά κτίρια έχουν πολλά προβλήματα,μόνωσης,θέρμανσης ,έλλειψη αιθουσών ,δεν έχουν κλειστά γυμναστήρια ,η καθαριότητα είναι ελλιπής!
    Με λίγα λόγια κάνουμε το σταυρό μας από το προ νήπιο στα 4 έτη μέχρι να τελειώσουν το Λύκειο στα 18. Χρειάζεται μεγάλη προσπάθεια και υπομονή και από τους γονείς για να έχουμε το θετικό αποτέλεσμα που ευελπιστούμε!
    Καλή χρονιά σε όλα τα παιδιά!

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    1. Thank you for your comment Sofrano which I have Google translated below as I doubt too any readers of this blog speak Greek! It seems Greece has many education problems and I hope, if you have children, they still manage to do well at school.

      "Schools in Greece starting on 11 September. Children should be at school at 8 in the morning and as classes are over 1.30 to 2.00 noon. Only in primary education schools 12.00 or 1.00. The children get a snack from home or buy from the school canteen (cheese-sandwich-chocolates etc.) The school bags are unbearable from the first grade of elementary (primary) until the last year of high school (secondary) and here children suffer! The books from the State while, but there are always various lists (like foreign language books or miscellaneous) This course is never enough in school, leading children to run afternoons in schools and parents to spend fortunes! The school buildings have many problems, insulation, heating, lack halls, they have gyms, cleanliness is lacking! In short do our cross from the infant before 4 years until they finish."

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  2. Reading this makes me want to make the move to France even more, I have heard good things about the education system and I love that they get a 3 course meal!

    #allaboutfrance

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    1. They certainly do eat well which is just as well because having got up so early they never eat a big breakfast and by lunchtime are ravenous!

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  3. Excellent post and very informative. Mine are both still in primary so we don't have the issues that kids do in secondary. I think they would be jealous though of the long and decent lunches!! The hours sound very hard, much like when I was in school in the States way back when. Classes started at 7.30am but we finished at 2.30pm because of the Texas heat! Thanks for putting your link up on the All About France linky...even though I know we follow on Twitter, sometimes I miss posts and this is a great way to catch up! xx

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    1. Thank you - I always thought French school also finished earlier but not so - at least they have Wednesday afternoon off and don't have the heat of Texas to contend with.

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  4. Well, I'm sure that's a first Rosie...it's all just Greek to me!!!!! It doesn't surprise me to hear Greece has difficulties in its education system, but that's not why I'm here! La rentrée is such a big deal in France, isn't it? I wonder how many people will write about it for the link up? 3 so far (though mine is an oldie!) I hope your boys cope with the even earlier bus, that's tough! Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance

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    1. I did expect a few rentrée posts! One advantage of the bus this year is it starts from the village now and the driver parks it there overnight so they have no need to huddle under a tree in the rain as they had to last year when he was late and parking nearby was difficult. We'll also not have to wait to see if he arrives when the weather is bad and we'll know straight away if the bus isn't going.

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  5. 7.50 start that's crazy! The village school here starts at 9am but they still finish at 4.30pm, an hour later than they would have done if they were at school in the UK. But then they get a longer (2 hour) lunch break so I guess it all balances out?! Here they have Wednesday afternoons off too, though in some private schools they still have the whole of Wednesday off. We've just had our first experience of 'the list' which wasn't too bad as eldest has just started CP. Youngest is now going full time too so I'm free!

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    1. It's funny how each department/region is different, our village primary school starts at 8.35am but they finish at 3.30pm each day! They still get Wednesday afternoons off and finish at 11.35am on a Wednesday.

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    2. It does seem strange there are so many variations between schools. Our local école privée has all Wednesday off which the boys are very jealous about!

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  6. Loved reading this, especially as I just blogged a little about La Rentrée too, but not in such detail! Each area of France is so different, our College school days are shorter than yours and they don't start until 8.30am and finish at 4.45pm which is slightly more civilized! Also they can leave things in the lockers all year if they wish, it is their locker with their own key for the school year. As I drive them and it's only 8kms, we don't leave the house until 8.15am, it's all rather civilized!!!


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    1. That does sound civilised - I don't think I'll tell the boys about this!!

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  7. Really interesting. I love reading about schooling, find it fascinating how different it can be. Food sounds great! I home educate so school for us is whatever we want - hard work for me at times!

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    1. I did briefly toy with the idea of home educating but I know I could not be disciplined enough. I have a lot of respect for Mums like you who do it.

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  8. Hi Rosie. Between your blog and Phoebe's I think I have a good understanding of what it is like for your children going back to school in France. I think the parents and children have it a bit easier in the UK. My grandson has his books provided so my daughter's "rentrée shopping" is for new items of school uniform which he has so inconsiderately grown out of !! I love the fact that the kids get a really good midday meal in France, from what I read in the press, a lot of English schools have really lost the plot about good nutrition and as we know - you are what you eat! On an un-related subject, I do wish there were more hours in a day, more days in a week and more weeks in the year as I haven't been to Normandy for several years now and just love the whole area. I had friends in Cormeilles and visited them from time to time but they returned to the UK and now there are so many place to go - and so little time!

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    1. Lisa, you must find the time and come and stay at Eo-Gites of Lenault! You are right - there is so much to see and do in Normandy.

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  9. Those are long days-my two would struggle with that! Although having said this, from your description there is plenty room for relaxation amongst these hours. I have seen the volume of rucksacks in French Supermarkets and always marvelled at the size of them-now I know why :)

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    1. My two just about cope but we all agree we would prefer shorter days. No long lie-in on Saturday, either, as they both do sports on Saturday mornings. We nearly missed yesterday as we all overslept!

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  10. I really enjoyed this post. I am frequently taken aback by how different something as simple as school can be in two countries so close together...

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  11. thank you for stopping by my blog via #mondayescapes...although I don't have kids yet and I've graduated highschool 15 years ago, I stumbled upon this comment that a fellow Greek lady left on your blog and I felt compelled to reply! I didn't suffer as a student having to carry all these books and notebooks (but indeed for a 6 year old my bag was super heavy). As for school conditions etc it always depends on the location of the school and the willingness of the director to have a clean and tidy school. (these are about public schools we're talking, because private ones are different). Timetable wise during the last 10-15 years the "all day" school was introduced, meaning that after 2pm children can stay at school and study and return home by 4pm (as to make sure that their mother or some other family member is at home). Needless to say that the all day school is deemed as a relief for working mums!
    As for the additional tutoring that this lady refers to...It is somewhat "mandatory" during the last 2 years of high school as to prepare for the end of high school exams. These exams are crucial for getting into university. Extra tutoring is necessary even for private school students, because the professors at school do not spend that time revising for the exams and lets be honest, most of them have private students as to make more money! I hope I didn't bore you with my comment. Our education system has indeed flaws, but let's not be ungrateful. At least we have the option of free (of charge) education from primary school to university!

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    1. Hi Anna and thank you very much for your comments about the Greek education system. It is good that there is free education for everyone, including University, but sad if there are families who cannot afford the extra tutoring for their children to get good exam results.

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