The Hours

This truncated week was a reminder to our French primary school teachers – and to all of us who went to school in France – of the joys of having Wednesdays off school, of having a of rest mid-week (even though it did mean our school days finished later – 4:30pm in general).

The French Section has a particularly intense school rhythm. According to the instructions laid out by the French Ministry of Education, students should be in school 180 days a year, spread over 36 weeks. At TES, our students do the 180 days as instructed, but they are spread out over more weeks (38 this year)*. Primary pupils should spend 24 hours learning a week, a number that can be increased to 26 if a school runs a special project – as is the case with our French-English programme and daily Chinese classes – bringing the total number of FS primary pupil learning hours to 936 a year – the maximum allowed.

In secondary, the total hours are drawn up slightly differently, with the priority placed on the number of weekly hours studied per subject, for example: 5 hours of French, 4 hours of Maths…giving us a total of between 28 and 32 hours of learning a week in collège (middle school) depending on the year group. That number can reach 35 at a lycée (high school) level. We should also respect the 36 weeks of lessons rule, just like in primary, but the authorities are not as strict about it, and allow for some flexibility particularly for exams, training and work experience.

At the French Section, we do far more than the maximum number of learning hours prescribed for secondary on account of our extensive language programme. For example, in 6ème, the national curriculum requires 4 hours a week of modern foreign language studies, whereas we do 5 and an a half – an hour and a half more per week means 54 hours a year – which in turn leads to 378 extra hours in secondary school.

If we add the 2 extra hours a week spent in primary school (26 instead of 24) to the 378 in secondary, we get 954 hours – which translates as one entire extra year of schooling for a French Section student in comparison to a student in France. In reality, our students do even more than that on account of all of the additional options they can choose to study in secondary over and above the regular curriculum, but I’ll spare you any more details. You get my point: our students spend an awful lot of time learning!
And every second of the time they spend with their talented and dedicated teachers is precious. Each year, when university application time comes around, we have the proof. Our Terminale students can confirm it again this year with offers coming their way from some of the most prestigious schools in France, the UK and Canada.

Which just goes to show, going to school on a Wednesday pays off after all!

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