I closed my last letter of 2017-2018 referring to Heraclitus, who said that no man steps in the same river twice; everything changes from one time to the next – the water, its banks and those who bathe in it. It’s a pertinent metaphor when it comes to our school; everything feels familiar about this first week back and yet a great deal has changed.
The kids have grown so much; after a summer full of exciting experiences and adventures with their families, they have returned to us with renewed enthusiasm and new areas of interest. This year at school, they will discover and learn a myriad of new things, and acquire reams of new skills and competencies. They’re also going to meet plenty of new classmates – we have 77 new students enrolled this year, a similar figure to previous years, which works out at approximately one in five of our students students being new to the French Section this year.
The teachers have changed too. They have read about, reflected on and refined their teaching methods, drawn up new teaching plans and dreamt up new projects. They are welcoming new teammates too: 10 new teachers have joined us and will be sharing everything that they have learnt and seen in action in French schools from Cape Town to New York, Dakar to Ottawa, from Paris to Siem Reap.
TES has also changed: some new classrooms and new installations in the playgrounds, construction work ploughing ahead in Yangmingshan, more and more traces of the Eco-School project to be seen…I’d like to take a moment to thank the maintenance team who worked so hard all summer to make sure all of this was completed on time, so that we had a smooth first week back.
The summer was a successful one, by which I am not (merely) referring to France winning the World Cup, but also to the excellent exam results our students achieved again this year- firmly establishing the French Section as a highly performing school. The average pass rate for the French Baccalauréat in AEFE French schools abroad over the past two years is 97%, 75.4% of which obtain an honourable mention. The French Section pass rate over the same period is 100% with 86.6% honourable mentions. Not forgetting our middle school students, who have obtained a 100% pass rate for six consecutive years in the Brevet exams (in France, the rate fluctuates between 84 and 89%).
These figures are definitely impressive, but the 100% that I am proudest of is the 100% retention rate in the transition from CM2 to 6ème. Every single one of our final year primary students last year has made the move up the mountain for secondary. It is an undeniable sign of the confidence that FS families have in us. We do our best to be worthy of your trust, continuously proposing new and more fulfilling options for your children. I will be presenting one of these initiatives to you in the coming weeks and will be turning to you during the year, so that together we can build a School Development Project and more generally, our school of the future.
I am most certainly looking forward to these new challenges: we might not step in the same water twice, but our school is most definitely sailing on calm waters. Although as Bachelard says, it takes a lot of dreaming before we can understand them.
Have an excellent weekend