Back to school: the French schools network in the UK [fr]

This week, nearly 6,900 pupils are returning to lessons at French schools in the UK. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to provide an overview of the French schools network in London and beyond

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An increased number of places in London since 2008

Since the beginning of the 2000s, the French population in London has been growing steadily and rapidly, and has been settling down. This has led to significant pressure on French schools, starting with the Lycée Charles de Gaulle.

In 2007, London had seven schools, including just one secondary school (Charles de Gaulle). Under constant pressure to find concrete solutions quickly, in 2008 the French Embassy in the UK drew up its Schools Plan, with contributions from all stakeholders, in particular elected representatives, heads, teachers and parents.
Among the targets was to create 1,500 new places at French schools in the capital.

The Schools Plan enabled the Collège Français Bilingue de Londres (CFBL) to be built in 2011 and the Lycée international Winston Churchill in 2015, creating an additional 2,000 French school places in London. Other new schools have followed: the Ecole internationale franco-anglaise and the Ecole Jeannine Manuel.

Several bilingual sections have been set up, mainly in Greater London, supported by the Institut français in the UK, which is working to create other sections, particularly in east London.

London currently has 15 accredited French schools:

- Lycée et collège Charles de Gaulle (LFCG)
- Ecole primaire de South Kensington (LFCG)
- Ecole primaire Marie d’Orliac (LFCG)
- Ecole primaire André Malraux (LFCG)
- Ecole primaire de Wix (LFCG)
- Lycée International de Londres-LIL-Winston Churchill
- Ecole Jeannine Manuel (accredited from nursery level to year seven)
- Collège Français Bilingue de Londres - CFBL
- Ecole française de Londres-Jacques Prévert
- La Petite Ecole Française
- L’école des Petits - Battersea
- L’école des Petits - Fulham
- Ecole le Hérisson
- L’école bilingue
- L’Ecole Internationale Franco-Bilingue-EIFA (School belonging to the Mission Laïque Française, MLF, accredited from nursery level to year six)

Among new developments in the 2017 autumn term, the Ecole Jeannine Manuel is now accredited (from pre-school to year seven) and the Lycée Churchill is opening a year 13.

A French presence extending beyond the UK capital

The French presence is not confined to London, as there are two schools outside the capital:
- L’Ecole française de Bristol (accredited from nursery to reception level)
- Ecole Total à Aberdeen (MLF school)

While some towns and cities have no French schools, many FLAM (Français LAngue Maternelle) schools exist across the UK – for example in Edinburgh and Glasgow, which host La Petite École d’Édimbourg and L’École Buissonnière de Glasgow respectively. Thanks to the Schools Plan, these voluntary organizations – which provide French language lessons to French-speaking or bilingual children going to British schools – have increased in number. There are currently about 50 of them, taking in more than 4,200 children; this makes them the world’s largest FLAM network. Forty-five have clubbed together under the “FLAM umbrella” (http://www.parapluieflam.org/) and thus enjoy the support of the Agency for French Education Abroad. Other voluntary organizations are being created.

Making education accessible to all

In addition to existing French schools, the French Embassy in the UK encourages the development of bilingual sections in the British system. As part of this policy, the Embassy supports the project by the French Education Charitable Trust (FECT) to create a new “free school” to provide quality education to pupils wishing to master English and French simultaneously while continuing their English-language education. The aim is to open the school in the Borough of Newham, east London, but it would accept children from outside the catchment area. More than 600 people have expressed their interest via the project’s dedicated website. However, the project is currently waiting for the British government to announce a new round of free school approvals.

For other French schools, the parents of French children can apply for school bursaries from the French state, awarded on the basis of social criteria. The second phase of the 2017/2018 bursaries programme is under way. Applications can be made until 22 September 2017, by appointment only (appointments can be made three weeks prior to the desired date). For further information, please consult the French Consulate General in London’s website.

We wish everyone a happy school year!

Text by Lola Tiphagne.

Published on 19/09/2017

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