senior school comparisons

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hi-are any english families with children in either chalabre senior school-10 plus age,or quillan senior school--10 plus in  age  if so what support do english speaking children get and what do you think of each school-would you put a 11-12 year old in junior school if the junior school allows this? grace alex zosia

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Hi Grace,

My son is a lot older and we have been here a good while now (around 8 years) so I am not really in your position, but hopefully can give you some pointers.

By Senior School I assume you mean College and Junior Ecole Primaire? From what I hear from friends etc, the Chalabre College is not a bad school at all and I would have no problem sending my child there. From another post I see you are Nebias I think, so that is not far to get to school, though I don't know if there is a bus in the morning so you might have to drive.

France used to have a policy of re-doing a school year if the child fell behind (re-doubling) so it is possible that a Primary school might take your child even if it was the year below their age group. However, personally I would not recommend it. Your child is better off mixing with kids their own age in their correct year from the off. It will make their integration so much easier - and they will pick up the language relatively easily even at that age. You will have to check with the schools to see what additional support is given, but in my experience it is pretty much zero. Maybe things have changed? Someone else might be able to tell you that. Try not to stress it too much - kids want to make friends!

The best bet is to try not to mix only with other ex-pats. Not easy I know at the beginning, but you should check out things like the MJC (Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture) - Esperaza and Puivert both have active ones - which run all sorts of activities for adults and kids. THere will not be much going on over the summer, but come September they will start up again. The Espé one at least has adult French classes in groups - and the prices are cheap.

If you want other info in English, try the English Library in Quillan- next to Carrefour superrmarket - they are a mine of info!

Good luck


christianb 1404115200

that is very helpful, even for me. thank you

graceinfrance-965272 1404227883

HI MANY THANKS- i have  mixed views,the junior school say he is 2 years out,but are happy to accept him as they  say other uk parents have done this-usually when a child is 1 year older,the bus takes kids to quillan school from nebias,or i drive to piuvert and he catches a bus from piuvert for chalabre,people say good things about both but i understand quillan  has more sports facilities,he is  quite young for his age so i thought the junior school would be better,either for a year or even a term till christmas,but i am not so sure thats what  will be good  to do,i looked up both schools and for the breve quillan school scored better than chalabre even  though  chalabre  has smaller classes.However i feel maybe the quillan school and sink or swim is better--he will be 12 when he enters school,whichever one.

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Do you really have to decide right now? I would not have thought so. I would wait a bit and see who you connect with over the summer... If you hang out at either Quillan pool or the Lake at Puivert, your kids will probably start to make friends, you will chat more with other parents and will have a better idea then.

Go with your gut instinct Grace, and bear in mind that kids do move schools here not infrequently. It will not be the end of the world if you opt for one school and it does not suit and you have to swap!

Good luck whichever you chose.


graceinfrance-965272 1406041051

hi-thanks for that,you see if he goes into last class junior  school he will be 2 years out of the age range--as he is  september  and they run jan to december,however i have been to nebias primary-it has 4 school years  in 2 classes,about 25 children in each,they agreed to take him and both teachers know english,some of my friends recommend this,others do not,

i am slowly coming round to quillan senior school--he will still be 1 year out,if he goes to the  youngest year--he is born september,but thats okay as the french children do stay behind,and it has good sports facilities,and a bus from nebias-chalabre bus is from puivert village,i looked up statistics on computer--in french--everybody was telling me of such large classes--eg 30-35,but i worked out its 20-25 in each class,of course i could be  wrong,as i never had time to see the school,but  i do think its better to be with your own age group more or less,many thanks

graceinfrance-965272 1406041187

hi--many thanks,i agree ,i will see when i get here  but i do think quillan school is good as bus from nebias can take him--can meet kids  on bus,and the french official web site re schools speaks highly of quillan,and good sports facilities,and as you say it can be changed if it does not work out-

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Good luck!

I hope you are having a good summer..




jmandrewes 1415841716

Hi, we have three boys (12, 9 and 1) and spent three months living in Quillan from April to July 2014. We put the two older boys in to the Ecole Paulin Nicoleau (primary) in the old town as it was convenient walking distance from home. We spent a lot of time pondering the relative merits of keeping Mr 12 with his age group (college) or holding him back in CM2 (with 10-11 year olds. In the end, after lots of research, including talking to the principal of the primary, we held him back. I don't regret that in our case as we were only there for three months, and I cannot recommend the principal of Paulin Nicoleau more highly. He is an excellent teacher and a lovely man. At the same time, we were advised not to send our son to college in Quillan because of the inadequate management of delinquency there. Having said that, it may be fine. Will be interested to know your thoughts as we would like to go back to the area again - but had hesitated because of the college situation,


graceinfrance-965272 1415846951

Many thanks for your reply. It's hard to work out because some people definitely say to stay behind as though the child has redoubled and others say to keep the child in the correct age group    The nebias school agreed to take him even though he will be by far the oldest. - he is very young for his age   I am not sure how savvy french children are.   I am upset to hear about bad behaviour at quillan school as it has a school bus from the bottom of my road whilst chalabre has a school bus from puinvert which would mean a car journey every morning either to chalabre or puinvert for the bus . How recent is  the news about the delinquent behavoir?what research did you read about putting the child in junior school even though their age is incorrect?is the bad behaviour widespread or just a few children?  We come in two weeks   I have underestimated the time it's taking to pack and sort stuff out from this end  many thanks  grace



jmandrewes 1415864499

Hi Grace, we looked at as much info as we could find about the schools we were considering online, then asked as many local people as we could (mainly through potential accommodation owners). After that we phoned the school. It was only when we arrived though that we made a final decision. I would be prepared to wait, visit the options you are considering and make a choice only after that. We had quite a lot of advice about the nature of the college in Quillan, inclluding from some in the education system. But I would still advise you to wait, visit, and make a decision that is right for you and your children, based on all the factors in your situation. Every situation is different and what has worked for some, will not necessarily hold for others. If we had been staying for longer I probably would have opted to keep our eldest with his age group, but because it was only 8 weeks in the last term of the year, I deliberately wanted it to be as easy' as it could be language-wise and also adjustment wise, so having them both at the same school was convenient (and a good comfort blanket for Mr 9). If we'd only had Mr 12 we might have made a different decision. Hope that helps. Enjoy. We visited Nebias several times. Lovely village, with an amazing natural labyrinth. Do you own or are you renting? If the lovely French-Vietnamese couple are still running the village restaurant you must go there as the food is AMAZING. And say hello from us!

TASKER-497318 1415877576

for JMANDREWES   (I know Grace personally and also live in Nebias)    we have 2 boys who were 5 and 10 when we arrived.    David started in Nebias primary school and then Quillan collège  and finally Lavelanet  lycée  -  whereas Daryn went to Maternelle in Puivert then primaire at Nébias and Chalabre collège -  he is now at lycée at Castelnaudary.  We chose Chalabre for Daryn as we hadnt been 100% happy with Quillan -  although David was quite happy there -  one main reason was the class sizes -  Quillan averages 30/35 students per class when Chalabre is far smaller with sometimes only up to 12 students.   Daryn is dyslexic and we thought a more intimate class would be best.  We were lucky to have other parents in our village so we shared the drive to Puivert mornings and evenings for the school bus. We have found the french teachers are just like the english -  if a student wants to learn they will do everything they can to teach.  They expect parents to respect their rules -  unlike all you hear about the english education system where the students seem to rule.   I can only speak from english school experience up to Junior school.  I think it is best to start a child off at your allocated school as its probably where their friends will be -  after that if you arent happy its easy to change.  Overall we have been very happy with the french education system - which is a personal experience not hearsay -   dont listen to people who havent experienced the schools personally and who dont even have children -  alot of it is just gossip.  Most parents I know have also been happy with the school system -  also the choice is vast if you want to send your child to a collège or lycée out of your area which offers boarding facilities   

graceinfrance-965272 1415911041

Hi again many thanks.    A lot to think about.  I will put both my daughter aged 8 nearly 9 and Alex in the junior school till Christmas as its only a few weeks then see both senior schools  the quillan one is more convenient and I will try to check out the behaviour.   In UK people can visit a school on request or attend open days. Not sure if france has that     We come in two weeks.  Grace 


jmandrewes 1415955695

Good points TASKER. Grace (and others) feel free to also check out our blog at, to which we all contributed. You may find our boys' posts on the school experience helpful. Also our latest post (and travel article) 

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