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EDUCATION

France to ban mobile phones in schools

France's education minister announced on Sunday that mobile phones will be banned from schools in France.

France to ban mobile phones in schools
AFP
Jean-Michel Blanquer confirmed that the ban, which the government had been mulling for some time, will be implemented in September 2018.
 
Phones are already banned in the classrooms in France but from September next year, pupils will be barred from taking them out at breaks, lunch times and between lessons.
 
“These days the children don't play at break time anymore, they are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view that's a problem,” said Blanquer.
 
But it is not clear how the ban would work. There are suggestions that schools will have to provide lockers where pupils can keep the phones. Teachers also fear they will be asked to search pupils to make sure no one is flouting the ban.
 
“We are currently working on this [ban] and it could work in various ways,” said Blanquer. “Phones may be needed for teaching purposes or in cases of emergency so mobile phones will have to be locked away.”
 
For the education minister the issue of mobile phones and tablets is a matter of “public health”.
 
 
“It's important that children under the age of seven are not in front of these screens,” he added.
 
The minister also sees the move as a way of cutting down on cyber-bullying.
 
The ban would be imposed for primary schools and middle schools called “colleges” for pupils aged 11 to 15, but phones would be allowed in Lycee high schools.
 
French president Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, put banishing mobile phones from all primary and secondary schools in his manifesto ahead of his election victory in May.
   
Experts and trade unions have pointed out that using mobile phones in class is already outlawed in France, even though research shows that many pupils confess to having broken the rules.
 
Some teachers view phones as a source of a distraction and indiscipline which can be used for cyberbullying at school, while others believe they can be harnessed for educational purposes — under strict control.
   
One of the biggest groups representing parents of French school children, known as Peep, said previously it was sceptical that a ban could be implemented.
   
“We don't think it's possible at the moment,” said the head of Peep, Gerard Pommier.
   
“Imagine a secondary school with 600 pupils. Are they going to put all their phones in a box? How do you store them? And give them back at the end?”
 
In an interview with Express magazine earlier this year, Blanquer suggested that pupils might be asked to deposit their phones in secure boxes when arriving at school or for classes.
   
“At our cabinet meetings, we drop our phones in lockers before sitting down together. It seems to me that this should be possible for any human group, including classes,” he said.
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EDUCATION

Fees to class sizes – what you need to know about private schools in France

In many countries, private schools are the preserve of the wealthy elite, but France has a wide network of private schools that are well within the financial reach of ordinary families - James Harrington explains more.

Fees to class sizes - what you need to know about private schools in France

The education system in France has its problems – at the start of the new school year some 4,000 teaching posts were unfilled and the government has launched an ‘emergency plan’ for English language lessons – but there’s no doubting there are wonderful schools and wonderful teachers making every effort to ensure children from aged three to 18 get the education they deserve.

However the country also has a sizeable network of private schools and around 15 percent of French children go to a private school. While some are undoubtedly expensive and elite, others are surprisingly affordable and provide an extra option for parents when deciding on  a school for their children.

Here’s what you need to know; 

Different types

There are two types of private school – sous contrat and hors contrat.

Sous contrat schools, of which there are about 7,500 in France, are part-funded by the state – teachers are paid by the Department of Education, for example – but also charge fees. France’s numerous Catholic schools, or regional language schools are usually sous contrat.

Hors contrat schools – which number about 2,500 – must still meet general education requirements but can choose their teaching methods and have no state funding. Private international schools found in most big cities, such as the American School of Paris, are hors contrat, but still follow mainstream teaching methods.

For comparison, there are around 60,000 state schools in France.

Prices

Yes, there are expensive private schools in France. Sending your child to the exclusive Ecole des Roches Private Boarding School, for example, will set you back more than €12,000 a term – not quite Eton or Winchester-level fees, but still well out of the reach of a large portion of the population. But, like Eton and Winchester, they’re not the norm. 

On average, fees for a day pupil – one who goes home at the end of the school day, rather than one who boards at the school – are in the region of around €2,250 a year. Meals are not included, and are generally charged at a slightly higher daily price than at state schools.

Financial aid, including scholarships, may be available for less well-off families.

READ ALSO French school canteens to cut cheese course as inflation bites

Boarding and hours

A large number of state and private schools offer Monday-Thursday boarding. It is not uncommon for pupils who excel at certain subjects or sports to attend collèges or lycées some distance from home, and board during the week.

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Daily school hours, meanwhile, are broadly similar, with children generally starting their school day at around 8am and finishing soon after 4pm on school days. Collège and lycée pupils also go into school on Wednesday mornings, and some may have classes on a Saturday, too.

Popularity

Smaller class sizes and a reputation for “better” results means that private schools are increasingly popular. The number of French private schools has increased steadily over the last decade, and now 15-20 percent of pupils go to a private establishment of some form. 

On the whole, private schools tend to do better in results league tables – perhaps in part because of the additional investment from parents, but also because class sizes tend to be smaller, which allows for more one-to-one education. Smaller class sizes and more individual attention mean they may also be a better option for children who struggle in big schools.

READ ALSO What kind of school in France is best for my kids?

Qualifications

State schools and sous contrat schools teach to the national curriculum, which leads, in turn, to brevet and baccalaureate qualifications.

In contrast, some hors contrat private schools offer different qualifications, including American High School Diplomas and SATs, British GCSEs and A-Levels, or the international baccalaureate.

Religion

Although many sous contrat schools are Catholic, most readily accept non-Catholic children and are not allowed to indoctrinate the Catholic faith. Hors contrat schools, on the other hand, may include a religious element to their teaching.

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