I attended the annual AEFE conference for head of schools in the Asia Pacific region this week. My colleagues and I discussed the latest AEFE news, trends in education and how they apply to the French pedagogical model.
One of the topics on the agenda was the attraction of the prestigious Lycée français ‘brand name’ (one of the reasons we changed ours from Section française once we opened Terminale classes). Lycées français have existed outside of France for centuries and have established excellent reputations for themselves all over the world. Being historic institutions however means that there is not always the same buzz about them as there is for the newer anglo-saxon international schools out there, schools such as Dulwich,
Nord-Anglia or Cambridge. Several of my colleagues spoke of how these anglo-saxon international school chains are starting to pose a real threat to student numbers in French Lycées.
It really is a shame to see French schools suffer, especially when you are familiar with the high quality teaching and learning, the rigorous curricula, challenging objectives and outstanding academic results that they offer. The French Section has faced similar competition from the very beginning, but has nonetheless managed to convince plenty of families to join and stay with us for the long term.
At the heart of our arguments is the fact that we offer the French baccalauréat, the national high school diploma that gives our students access to the best universities in the world and moreover prepares them for academic success at a university level.
I know there are still parents out there harbouring the notion that the French Bac leads solely to French universities, but it is not the case. For this reason (among others) we decided to be resolutely proactive this year in encouraging our Terminale students to apply for British and Canadian universities this year – to demonstrate how easily it can be done. At TES, we are in an ideal position of having the full support of the British High School University College Councillors when it comes to university applications in the English-speaking world.
The UCAS and Canadian university place offers are almost all in and they are very exciting. Our Terminale students 2018-2019 have been offered places in King’s College, University of Manchester, University of Exeter, University of St Andrews, SOAS University of London, Lancaster University, London College of fashion, University of Warwick, McGill, amongst others. I would like to
congratulate the students on all of the hard work they have put it in over their years at the French Section to merit university offers from such reputable establishments.
What has been striking is not simply that these universities know and respect the French Bac, but just how well they know it. When they make offers to our students, they are based on the students achieving precise, detailed, particular results in the French Bac exams in June (for example 13 in French, 16 in Maths etc.) Our neighbouring French Lycées in Singapore and Hong Kong send more than half of their graduates to university abroad, not to France, and it is hardly surprising, seen the value that international universities attach to students with a French Bac.
The French Section may have a small student body and a short history, but our first steps are remarkable! We will continue to keep you posted over the coming weeks and to let you know that yes, it is possible to be a French school with a French identity and a unique way of doing things and to be just as well placed to offer the very best to our students as any other international school. Watch this space!