I am writing to you this week from Singapore, where Carine Capel, Nicolas Blanc and I are attending the annual AEFE seminar for heads of French schools in the Asia-Pacific region. It’s an opportunity for us to meet colleagues, share ideas and exchange good practices while also attending conferences on subjects such as cognitive science, professional development, communication, and language learning.
While each and every French school abroad is unique, there is a trend we are all experiencing at the moment: the growing number of dual-nationality families (one French parent, one parent from the country where is the school is located) enrolling in our schools.
In the French Section, 87 of our students are French-Taiwanese. In terms of demographics, they represent our largest group (in second place, the 60 other children who hold a French passport, with our Taiwanese-American and Taiwanese-Canadian students tieing for third place, at approximately 40 students each.)
Thanks to statistics provided by the French Representative Office in Taipei, we know that there are plenty of French-Taiwanese children in Taiwan who do not attend our school for a number of reasons: the high tuition fees at TES, the desire for their children to master Chinese to the extent that they can attend university here and the fact that they live far away from school, to name a few. We would obviously be delighted if more of them came to join us: this school is also theirs, which is why we do our best to reserve places for them every year in our classes, should they decide to join us.
As our school has grown, we have had to redefine our admissions policy. The number of applications we receive has increased substantially in recent years. This year, for example, the TES Admissions Department has received twice as many French Section applications as they did at this time last year. We are delighted to see that most applications are the result of recommendations from current French Section families. We take it as a sign of your confidence in us and we are as diligent as can be in the processing of those applications.
The School Development Project that we began working on four years ago is starting to yield the expected results: from August 2018, we will no longer be accepting children who do not speak French into our elementary or secondary classes (CP up). Non-French speaking families have understood that if they would like a place for their child in our school, they should start early – in our maternelle classes. This can be seen clearly in the fact that there is currently a waiting list open for places in for our PS class for 2018-2019 whereas, not too long ago, it was considered an ‘unattractive’ option.
These changes force us to think about our school in a different way, with the majority of our families seeing themselves staying with the French Section for the long haul.
In the coming weeks, I will fill you in on the pedagogical developments we will be proposing for the next academic year. The key word moving forward will be accompaniment. More than ever, we will be accompanying students and their families, guiding them along their educational pathway and ensuring that they are excellently equipped to face each and every milestone they might meet along the way.
Have an excellent weekend!
Photo credit: Irène Dubois, 2de