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Primary Schools in Vence?

Posted by Jodie_B - Created: 5 years ago
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10 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 10)

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Posted by AnniefromAustralia - 5 years ago

Hi Jodie, I've just moved from Sydney, australia and have been living in Vence since March 2013. Vence is nice little village but I definitely miss the aussie spirit. I hope you and your little one settle in well... I'm looking to enrol in a French summer class, so feel free to message me if you're also interested (currently doing research). All the  best to you... P.S there's an outdoor music festival coming up in July/Aug 2013 in Vence, I'm sure you'll appreciate knowing that warm, festive summer nights are soon approaching ;)

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Posted by k1_oz - 5 years ago

Hi Jodie,

My son is currently 5 & is at one of the maternelle schools in Vence (there are 4). There is a teacher that comes in to help the foreign kids with their french twice a week for 1 hour sessions and this helps but this is not really enough for accelerated learning, I think...

You should consider, as one of the other posters has suggested, some french classes before leaving....or perhaps once you arrive here, you should have a french tutor for a number of months. Do you speak french? As one of the other posters has mentioned, the issue is not just the language, but that school can become somewhere that your daughter may not want to be, as everything (language, attitude, school routine, cafeteria food) is so foreign & so she might decide not to accept it (and therefore not to learn the material or the language).

Our experience of the Vence maternelle school that my son attends is that the teachers are very caring & have some flexibility. Although the system & expectations are far more rigid than in australia. English is a nice second language to have as most of the french parents would like their children to learn it & so play dates are easy to set up.

Primary school, CP1, is fast and the children need to read and write during this year, and need to be able to write in cursive. In fact, during the final year of maternelle (children aged 5 years), they start to learn cursive.

The french system is based on 14/20 being a good score. A little different to Oz, where a good student can get 10/10. One error (like one forgotten accent) and the mark is entirely lost (no half marks here). The days are also longer 8:30-4:30pm.

The Freinet school has a 3 year waiting list, I believe, and even though its more of a montesori style, its still 100% french. There are no bi-lingual schools in Vence itself, so as mentioned by another poster, pain de sucre is the closest option.

Vence is a nice place to live, and there is always something going on. There is an english library, and a 4 public parks, which always helps.

All the best with your move,



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Posted by Norab6 - 5 years ago

Can someone please explaine to me what exactly this school is? The blog is sort of overwhelming to me to find information. Is it Primary only? My husband has tried calling school but so far no answer. Thank you!

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Posted by kiwogs - 5 years ago

As a fellow antipodean with a 4yo and an 8yo who started in full emersion French schools here in Sep this year with no French I would advise against it unless you child is is a very strong, thick skinned little person .

In terms of schooling in NZ & Oz & schooling in France it's like moving from the equator to the South Pole.  My children went from loving their school & kindy in NZ to hating school in 3 short weeks here.  We have 'perhaps' been very unlucky but you need to be very aware that, in my personal experience, the schooling here is based on rote learning with no positive encouragement whatsoever.  You as a parent will be expected to shove your beloved through a door or gate which is then locked behind them & not return until 4.30pm when they're released back to you.  You may be lucky enough to get the very first morning where you may accompany them to classroom door but that's about it.  We removed them from the state school we started at after 3 weeks because the Directrice of the Maternelle screamed at us 5 days out of the first 7 for things as rediculous as walking through the wrong door.  My daughter was yelled at for trying to take her little brother to his class, she was bawled out for trying to see him at break time to see if he was OK, etc, etc, etc.  Also, do not under any circumstance be even 30 seconds late or you will be locked out & very likely not let in at all that day - another lovely experience which included being screamed at through the door - not much you can do about a car accident blocking the road on the way to school though.

Next comes the private school where my 4yo was bullied by his teacher because his writing was not up to scratch.  He was yelled at & told he was just like a pig.  My daugter managed to get 8 out of 10 spelling words correct but rather than being praised for the effort made in that 1st week she was marked down further because she forgot to use  the accents & told 'you must learn this - you are not correct'.  She was shouted at because after 5 weeks in French school she would not stand up infront of her class and try to read CE2 level French.  This school told us they knew how to work with children arriving without any French, that they would do extra work with her & help her in her class of 13 students.  Our experience is that you may well be told they'll help & have some empathy but don't expect for it to actually happen.  Perhaps someone has personal experience of real compassion & assistance but I have not found it in practice.  

Given the chance to start over I would go for bi-lingual from the start.  That way there are some kids they can really connect with using their own language, rather than feeling so very different and being teased.  I'm sure the schooling style is still the same, but I think they'd do better all round - though I don't have experience of it because sadly I thought that in the deep end would be the best way.

Everyone's experience is very different and I really hope you find the right school because happy children are vital to a happy life - very sad when every day they wake up saying do I really have to go.  Sorry to be such a sad sack about it - but please do consider bi-lingual and really do your homework as best you can with schools.  It is so very different to Oz & when kids have given up everything they know & love for this 'adventure' and are treated so coldly it does affect them.

On another note, if you can afford a private tutor for lessons before she starts school here or on Saturdays I can highly recommend a wonderful English woman who lives in Grasse & is fully qualified to teach both English & French.  She has been a godsend for my daughter & comes to our house.  Send me a note if you'd like her details.

Wishing you all the best with you move.

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Posted by Norab6 - 5 years ago

Thank you so much for the link!

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Posted by nissalabella - 5 years ago

Hi there,  please find below the link for ecole Freinet in Vence.  Although a lot of people - mainly non-French - think Freinet's philosophy is adapted to turn young children into responsible adults, which is probably the case, at least I really hope so, I have found 2 cases where it did not work at all, probably due to the fact that the children moved straight from Freinet to traditional school


Anyhow, I hope this helps.


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Posted by Norab6 - 5 years ago

Can someone please tell me what the Freinet school is and if they have a website? Thank you!

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Posted by Jodie_B - 5 years ago

Ok! Great! Thank you! Freinet I gather, is not public - do you have an idea of annual fees any chance?

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Posted by trae1107 - 5 years ago

Freinet, BTW, has an amazing reputation and an equally amazing waiting list, so if you want to try to get her in here (and I would, if it was me), I would start the process and contact them ASAP!

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Posted by trae1107 - 5 years ago

She will start in CP, the first year of Primary school or Grade 1. As her birthday is January and the cut off date would normally be 31st Dec for the school year, she could also go into Grade 2 or CE1. This would obviously NOT be a good idea, as she's starting in French - so make sure you insist on CP. They wouldn't normally do anything but, CP, but you never know...! The school year starts on or around 1st September and enrollment simply involves going to the local Mairie with anything you can think of paperwork-wise, ie. proof of residence (EDF, water or phone bill ), and passport, your rental agreement, etc.and medical records with vaccinations are always useful. Depending on when you are due to arrive, it might be worth getting in touch with the Mairie by email or phone and pre-inscribing. I know places in the classes with help for foreign kids fill up quickly.