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France forced to step up security at schools

UPDATED: France's education minister announced on Monday that the government would be stepping up security at schools after a teacher falsely claimed to have been stabbed by a man shouting about the terror group Isis.

France forced to step up security at schools
A forensic expert and a police car are seen outside Jean-Perrin nursery school in Aubervilliers.Photo: AFP

On Monday afternoon, the teacher admitted to making up the entire story about being attacked, according to the prosecutor. However, his claims had sent shockwaves throughout the country, prompting a strong reaction from the French government.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s minister of education called the alleged attack on the nursery school teacher near Paris “an unacceptable act of immense gravity”.

The minister confirmed that security would be stepped up at schools in the country, where measures are already in place following the Paris attacks of November 13th.

“We will continue to work with the Ministry of Interior, to strengthen security measures in a context where, yes, schools do feel threatened,” said Vallaud-Belkacem.

The teacher had claimed that a man armed with a box cutter had entered the classroom at around 7.30am while he was preparing for the day.

He said he was stabbed several times by the man, who then shouted “This is for Daesh. This is a warning”. Daesh is another term for Isis.” The teacher claimed that the attacker had fled, sparking a police hunt.

Local authorities have said that the police presence would be stepped up at all the schools in the Aubervilliers area.

The school where the teacher worked remained closed on Monday with authorities and police set to hold a meeting on Tuesday.

French authorities were particularly concerned because earlier this month the Islamic State's French-language magazine Dar-al-Islam called in its November edition for its followers to kill teachers in the French education system, describing them as “enemies of Allah”.

“This education, in the case of France in particular, is a means of propaganda used to impose the corrupt way of thought established by the Judeo-masonry,” it said.

“Muslims must know the French education system is built against religion and Islam as the only religion of truth cannot cohabit with this fanatic secularism.”

With France under a state of emergency following the Paris attacks, security measures are already in place for schools including a ban on parking outside the front of establishments. Police patrols have already been stepped up although school trips are now allowed after they were banned in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

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SCHOOLS

‘Section internationales’: How do France’s bilingual secondary schools work?

For foreign parents in France looking at secondary school options for their children one option to consider is the bilingual 'international sections' in certain state schools. But how do they work?

'Section internationales': How do France's bilingual secondary schools work?

What is an ‘international section’

Essentially international sections in French secondary schools allow students to learn a modern foreign language, such as English or German in much more depth than a standard state secondary. These sections also facilitate the integration of foreign students into the French school system.

There are about 200 ‘International’ establishments (primary schools, colleges and high schools) around France offering international sections in 16 languages.

Most are state run, so for many foreign families they are a much cheaper alternative to private schools, though it should be noted that some of the international sections are fee-paying.

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Even state establishments can charge for enrolment into their international sections. Fees are usually in the region of €1,000 to €2,000 per year (although that’s still cheap compared to somewhere like the American school of Paris which charges between €20,000 and €35,000 a year)

American and British sections are particularly popular – and, as a result are usually the most expensive, while less-popular German sections are less costly. 

Why do they exist?

These sections are ideal for the children of immigrant families, as well as those where one parent is of foreign origin. Syllabuses are set up and developed by French educational authorities and those of the partner country.

In addition to lessons dedicated to modern languages, students benefit from lessons in another subject given in a foreign language. The international sections promote the discovery of the culture and civilisation of the countries associated with the section.

Top tips for raising a bilingual child in France

What languages are available?

According to the government website, 19 languages are available. But that’s not strictly accurate as it then lists American, British and Australian as separate ‘languages’, along with Portuguese and Brazilian. It’s more accurate to say these establishments offer education in 16 languages.

It’s more accurate to say that there are 19 “sections”, dedicated to learning with a linguistic and cultural education slant in favour of the following nations/languages:

American, Arabic, Australian, Brazilian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Franco-Moroccan, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Russian.

In total, there are two Australian schools, 20 American ones, over 50 British schools – most in Paris and the Ile-de-France (Versailles is very popular)

So, what’s studied – and what qualifications do you get?

As well as usual collège-level classes in core subjects, such as maths, history and the sciences, students have four hours of classes in the language, including literary studies, of their choice.

From troisième (age 14), an additional two hours of classes per week cover that country’s history and geography and moral and civic education – the latter is replaced by maths for those studying in Chinese sections.

They can obtain the diplôme national du brevet with the mention “série collège, option internationale”. The dedicated brevet includes two specific tests: history-geography and foreign language.

At lycée, students study four hours of foreign literature per week, as well as two hours of history-geography in the language of the section (maths for the Chinese section) as well as two hours of French as they study towards an OIB (option internationale du bac), often at the same time as a standard French bac.

How to enrol

The first step is to contact the collège you wish your child to attend. This should take place no later than January before the September rentree you want your child to go to the collège.

If you live in France, and your child is attending an école primaire or élémentaire, you should do this in the January of the year they would move up to collège.

Be aware, that some schools require potential students to pass a language test – written and oral – before they can enter an international section. A child wishing to enter sixth grade must be able to read books of the level of Harry Potter in English, to enter the international school of Sèvres’ British section, while another has said that only 20 percent of candidates achieve the grade that would allow them entry into an international section.

Find a school

You will find sections internationales de collège at educational academies across the country. For a full list, with contact details, click here.

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