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CRIME

The French website that helps you avoid financial scammers

As anyone who has read The Local for any length of time will have noticed articles warning of scams in France are, unfortunately, not uncommon.

The French website that helps you avoid financial scammers
Be aware of online scammers ready to attack your wallet. Image by Bartek Zakrzewski from Pixabay

Online scams have been commonplace for a while – the government said that in 2017 and 2018 internet fraud accounted for more than half of attempted scams reported in France.

Often, articles on the site alert readers to email “phishing” scams. We have also published features offering advice on how you can avoid being fooled by the, sometimes convincing, criminal cons.

READ ALSO Criminal scams – online and offline – to watch out for in France

And there’s another tool for anyone living and working in France who wants to ensure any financial advice they receive can be trusted.

Usefully, the government has created a list of dodgy websites offering loans, savings accounts, payment services or insurance deals that you can cross-reference if someone tries to sell you financial services that seem too good to be true.

The list – maintained, updated and published by independent administrative authority the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (ACPR) and stock market regulator the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) – has recently been updated with 437 new suspect websites.

The APCR-AMF blacklist names the sites of businesses that are not authorised to offer loans, savings accounts, payment services or insurance deals. 

Users can search by category, url, email, or name to see if a particular financial services business is listed. 

The APCR-AMF blacklist is not exhaustive, meaning that – even if f the name of an entity or site does not appear on the lists, this does not mean that it is authorised to offer banking products or services, insurance contracts or financial products in France.

So, those in search of responsible, regulated financial advice should also search the registre des agents financiers (Regafi) website to see if anyone wanting to offer financial advice is registered. Insurance organisations must be registered on the registre des organismes d’assurance (Refassu); or the organisme chargé de tenir le registre des intermédiaires en assurance, en banque ou en financement participatif (ORIAS) website.

Meanwhile, here’s a feature explaining what you can do if you have fallen victim to a scam in France

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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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