Nursery and Primary: the externés
Pressure on places is such across the different national sections that it is difficult to enrol a child ‘full time’ in the system in the early years. ‘Full time’ in this sense means that the child obtains a place in a French class on the Lycée site.
Thirty years ago, a way was found for many more children to benefit from a bicultural curriculum in the nursery/primary years by the invention of the externé arrangement. This allows pupils to attend their local French primary school somewhere in the St Germain area, but to be released from it in order to attend national section lessons at the Lycée International on the two half-days relevant to their year group. French teachers co-operate by avoiding the teaching of foundation skills in French and Maths while their bilingual pupils are absent for this purpose. Our primary classes therefore consist, in varying proportions, of children who are ‘full time’ in the school and those who attend just for the course in English.
The Ecole Primaire d'Aigremont is one example of a school which has worked in close partnership with the Lycée since the beginning of the project. The Head, Mme Poinat, does not deny the extra organisational challenge of having "externé" children in her school - but the advantages are (in her view) considerable. She is particularly enthusiastic about the international and cultural dimensions which it introduces to her school and their class programmes. In Aigremont, the national section parents and pupils contribute actively to the life of the school accross a diverse range of activities. (See the Aigremont Primary School website)
The externé system applies only to the Lycée International, not to the Ecole Félix Eboué and the Ecole Jehan Alain in Le Pecq, where British Section children are full-time as of Maternelle 3 (5 year olds). Those families living in the Le Pecq catchment area are expected to attend the Ecole Félix Eboué (Primary) and the Ecole Jehan Alain (Maternelle 3 class). See Partner Schools.
The system comes to a natural end in Year 6 (or 7ème/CM2). At the end of that year, all our pupils – full-time and externé alike – are allocated to one of our three secondary sites.