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Finding a school (international or not) that you feel happy with is pivotal to your decision to change your life and move somewhere new, and Paris is no different. 

Lycée International de Saint Germain-en-Laye: British Section

Education in Paris 

Paris has more than its fair share of socio-demographic problems. These, coupled with years of government cutbacks, have made state schools less pleasant places to be. But thanks to government contributions, the private sector’s promises of smaller classes, smarter facilities and better standards all round, can be delivered at surprisingly affordable prices.  

The schools catering to English speaking families are only a sub-set of this sector, but quite a large one nonetheless. On the demand side, not only are there huge clusters of anglophone (and partially-anglophone) families living here, but also swelling ranks of well-travelled French families keen to give their children all the advantages of a second language. 

And, since in France just about anyone can open a private school, you find all manner of organisations and individuals rushing in on the supply side. Some are experienced educators with the noblest of motives; others are much more commercially minded and won’t necessarily have an academic background. 

All this helps explain both the sheer number of international schools out there, as well as the huge variation in standards. It hardly helps that oversight for some schools is minimal.  

Choosing a school in Paris 

International schools 

International schools faithfully follow the curriculum of your home country, or alternatively offer the IB. In addition, certain elements of French language and culture are emphasised, so that your child will be fast-tracked in this area, if desirable and possible. Typical examples might be sitting GCSEs, AS or A levels earlier than usual, in French language and/or literature. 

From an academic viewpoint, this transition may seem easiest on your child, but they will still face certain adjustments: their classmates may come from a spread of cultures, and not all of them will have English as a first language. For a handle on the linguistic mix, get an idea of the numbers of children receiving ESL support. 

These schools are not subsidised by the French government, nor are they inspected by them (other than for periodic and sometimes quite cursory, health and safety checks). The best ones are inspected by, or are members of, bodies such as COBIS or CIS which make their findings available to parents.  

Bilingual schools 

Students in bilingual schools are prepared for variations on the French Bac called ‘Bac Français International’ (BFI), not a separate diploma but rather a specialisation within the framework of the French Baccalaureate, see our article, or ‘Mention Européenne’, which are examined in two languages. 

Quite apart from the obvious advantage of producing a number of highly-cultured, bilingual students, these schools are prized by many for the way the French learning style (with its emphasis on rigour, structure, retention of information) combines nicely with and balances out the more creative and holistic Anglo-Saxon approach. 

In sous-contrat schools (subsidised by the state and follows the national curriculum) the French Ministry of Education keeps tabs on what’s going on in the French teachers’ classrooms only, while hors-contrat schools (not subsidised by the state with pedagogical freedom) are not inspected other than for basic health and safety standards. 

Bilingual: sections internationales 

These are basically French state schools, mainly following the French National Curriculum, but with some additional subjects taught in English (usually language, literature, and history/geography), and following a specially adapted version of the curriculum from back home (UK or US). 

New arrivals usually follow a special ‘adaptation’ programme of study during their first year, designed to bring them quickly up the curve in French language. A child can start in a Section Internationale (there are as many as 14 sections at the Lycée International in Saint Germain en Laye from as early as primary school, or feed into one (ideally by 6ème) from either a pure French school or a bilingual one. Children will sit a combination of the French Brevet with some GCSEs or equivalent, going through to sit the prestigious Bac Français International (either US, British or, say, German option). 

These highly regarded schools particularly suit motivated, academic students who are bilingual (or close enough, or who start young enough to become fully up to speed in time for the final baccalaureate). Fees are low, covering just the non-French part of the programme; the remainder is paid by the French state. At Lycée level, these schools are selective. 

Bilingual private schools 

Think of these as private versions of Sections Internationales schools. Often partly subsidised by the French government, although some choose to remain hors-contrat in order to preserve complete autonomy of teaching programmes and methods. In addition to being popular with expats, these schools attract well-off French families with international backgrounds or aspirations, so the mix of nationalities in these schools is one thing to check. On the one hand, this may bring your child quickly up-to-speed in French (depending on how ‘segregated’ the playground feels); on the other hand, if there is no proper streaming, it could slow things down a little in the English-led lessons. Some schools will offer classes with different levels of English.  

Bilingual: Sections Européens and French plus 

These two categories of schools cater mainly for French families returning to France or French families believing in the added-value of English fluency. 

Sections Européens 

Not quite bilingual, but very nearly so and becoming more and more popular with French families wishing to give their children a broader education. A few schools, some of them very prestigious and progressive in their approach, offer Sections Européennes (usually alongside Langues Orientales, hence the acronym SELO). ‘European’ students can choose between German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian and English streams. They study for the mainstream French bac with just one non-linguistic subject (for example, history-geography, biology or maths) examined in their chosen language. A good performance in the assessments and final exams earns you a bac with ‘mention européenne’, opening doors to many good universities abroad. And, if you're staying in France, it's a sure ticket into the classes préparatoires, giving students a good stab at the Grandes Ecoles or Sciences Po. 

French-plus 

Our roundup of schools includes a handful of establishments offering what you might call ‘near-bilingual’ education. These are French schools where children prepare the straight French bac, with the added option of studying for (and sitting) extra exams in English. The English-language exam most usually offered is the Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE)*. Sometimes the odd GCSE will feature. 

French-plus is a very good option for bilingual, French-dominant kids. It was ostensibly created for French families returning from Anglophone postings. Nonetheless, there are examples of Anglophone or bi-cultural children, very strong in French, doing extremely well in this system. The proviso being, of course, that they respond well to the French teaching style. 

Special education needs in Paris 

The Paris SEN landscape is unfortunately bleak and scarce. It is a complicated set up at the best of times but there are some English-speaking associations such as Sprint France and Ekipp that will be of great assistance. French state schools rarely have the required support, obtaining it can be an extremely lengthy and difficult process. Very few bilingual or international schools provide professional assistance to children with special needs; the larger ones such as International School of Paris, American School of Paris, British School of Paris will have a certain level of support.  

Pre-schools, kindergarten and nurseries in Paris 

In a country where people have long resisted learning a foreign language, the explosion of bilingual nurseries is quite remarkable. Some are more traditional than others - the Montessori offering is quite en vogue at present. The amount of time dedicated to English tuition varies from one school to another; from half an hour per day to all day with a French and English teacher in the class at all times. It is also essential to check if the English teachers are native speakers, more often the case than not. Furthermore, the length of the school day will differ from one school to another. Lastly, many bilingual nurseries sit within well-established (hard to get into) renowned schools. 

Be warned the application process is lengthy and some have waiting lists - it’s not uncommon for a school to receive between 200-300 applications for 50 places in nursery (so start early). Moreover, it’s worth casting a wide net when applying as there are many bilingual preschools in the immediate outskirts of Paris, areas such as EIB in Bougival, Open Sky Boulogne-Billancourt or Marymount International Neuilly-sur-Seine.  

Best schools in Paris 

American School of Paris 

American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; independent; private non-profit; 800 students 

Located in the western suburb of St Cloud, 10 kilometres from central Paris. Notable facilities. Academics very sound and arts, sport and tech equally so. Governed by a board of trustees, composed of members of the school community and the head. 

Click here to read our full review of the American School of Paris

British School of Paris (The)  

National Curriculum for England/ GCSE/ A level; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 800 students 

France’s first British school, founded in post-war Paris and located in Croissy, a suburb in the western outskirts of the city. About 30 per cent of the families are British with the remainder coming from 50+ nationalities. Three-quarters head off to UK universities, including Oxbridge and Russell Group. 

Click here to read our full review of the British School of Paris

Concordia Bilingual School Paris 

French National Curriculum/ National Curriculum for England: ages 3-11; 110 students; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

Concordia School Paris is a Franco English bilingual primary and middle school in central Paris. Follows the Education Nationale Francaise and the ENC.

Click here to read our full review of Concordia Bilingual School Paris

École Internationale Bilingue: de La Jonchère  

French National Curriculum; ages 3-15; co-ed; day; independent: privately owned (Globeeducate); 315 students 

One of several Globeducate schools, EIB La Jonchère offers a bilingual education for children ages 3-15 in a beautiful setting just 30 mins drive from central Paris. 

Click here to read our review of  École Internationale Bilingue: de La Jonchère

École Jeannine Manuel - Paris 

Adapted French curriculum/ Brevet/ French Bac/ IB Diploma/ IGCSE; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; state subsidised; private non-profit; 3,000 students 

Bilingual school, founded in 1954 by Jeannine Manuel, moving to current main campus in 1979 but also located on two other campuses. Very high academic standards and students can choose the option of the IB Diploma.  

Click here to read our review of Ecole Jeanine Manuel

Ermitage International School 

French curriculum/ Brevet/ French Bac/ MYP/ IB Diploma/ OIB; ages 3-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 1,400 students 

Located on the western edge of Paris, in Maisons Lafitte on four different sites. A member of Round Square. Aiming to become a fully bilingual French-English school, it was recently, licensed to teach the IBMYP and the IB Diploma and now aiming for PYP authorisation so that the IB programme can be followed by tinies to graduates. 

Click here to read the full review of Ermitage International School of France 

Please click on each of the individual schools to see further information: 

Forest International School 

Adapted National Curriculum for England/ French curriculum/ International Primary Curriculum)/ International Middle Years Curriculum; ages 2-15; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

Small private school (sister school now open in North London) outside St Germain-en-Laye on the edge of the Marly forest, offering bilingual English-French programmes to children from over 20 different nationalities. A reputation for excellent SEN support. Language instruction in English to small classes with high staff: student ratio. 

Click here to read our full review of Forest International School

International School of Paris 

PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 750 students 

Only school in central Paris (15 minutes’ walk to the Eiffel Tower) to offer all stages of the original IB programme, taught in English. An all-through school on two campuses in the 16th arrondissement catering to a truly global mix of nationalities. Fees top end. 

Click here to read our full review of International School of Paris

Lycée International de St Germain-en-Laye: American Section 

Adapted curriculum/ Brevet/ French Bac/ BFI; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; state; 700 pupils 

American arm of a huge public French school, structured to teach both French and foreign students. Far above average rates for the BFI (formerly OIB - French Baccalaureate with the international option) with impressive results. On three campuses in St Germain on the western edge of Paris. 

Click here to read the full review of Lycée International de St-Germain-en-Laye: American Section 

Lycée International de St Germain-en-Laye: British Section 

Adapted curriculum/ IGCSE/ Brevet/ French Bac/ OIB; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; state; 870 students 

Largest foreign section in a vast public school on the western edge of the city which developed the international version of the French Bac (OIB). Combines the best of the French state sector teaching with an outstanding British element, similar to that of an elite UK grammar school. The ultimate example of an international school. 

Click here to read our full review of Lycee International de St Germain-en-Laye: British Section.

Malherbe International School  

Adapted or school-developed curriculum / French National Curriculum / National Curriculum for England; ages 2-11; 160 students, co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

Primary school located in Le Vesinet. Pre-school classes are Montessori based, exclusively taught in English. Classes follow an English curriculum with two half days of French instruction.

Click here to read our full review of Malherbe International School  

Section Internationale 

Adapted curriculum/ I/GCSEs/ BFI; ages 5-18; co-ed; day; Independent: private, non-profit; 290 students

An English and French programme run through local French partner schools offering a bilingual, bicultural education to girls and boys from 5 to 18 years old. With sites in La-Celle-Saint-Cloud and Noisy le Roi. Hard-working but good results at I/GCSE and BFI.

Click here to read our full review of Section Internationale

These schools have been brought to our attention, but until we have more reports from parents, we are unable to consider reviewing them. 

Anglophone Section of Fontainebleau  

Adapted curriculum/ French curriculum/ Brevet/ IGCSE/ French Bac/ OIB; ages 6-18; co-ed; state-plus-private; 600 students 

English section contained inside three separate local state schools, each catering to a particular age group and all situated on one extended campus in Fontainebleau, a western suburb of Paris. Providing a bilingual education for international and French students with 25 per cent of learning time in an English environment, the remainder in a French one. A truly international education and offering the French Baccalaureate with the international option. 

Bilingual International School of Paris 

French curriculum/ Cambridge 1, 2: ages 3-14; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

The school model involves dividing the day into 50/50 French/English instruction, taught by native speakers of each language. The lower and upper primary plus lower secondary are located in the same street and the pre-school is just round the corner. The classes are small and the parents are enthusiastic. 

Canadian Bilingual School of Paris 

British Columbia curriculum: ages 5-18; 275 students; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

Cours Molière 

French curriculum/ Brevet/ French Bac/ American High School Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

A bilingual, private school, founded in 1926, covering nursery school to Baccalaureate, with the choice of the French Baccalaureate or the American High School Diploma. Founded in 1926 and accredited by the French Ministry of Education. 

École Bilingue Chardin 

French curriculum/ Cambridge International Primary Programme: ages 2-12; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

École Masillon 

Adapted curriculum/ French curriculum; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,380 students 

Originally opening its doors in 1877 in the 4th arrondissement in a building, designed by the famous 17th century architect Mansard, but much altered subsequently. A Catholic, (Oratory of St Philip Neri) all-through school with an English language section for nursery, primary and secondary students. 

Eurécole Paris 

French curriculum; ages 3-15; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 300 students 

An unusual concept as its curriculum is half-way between a bilingual and a trilingual programme. Basic instruction is in French with an increasing English influence but there are also lessons taught in German and Spanish. 

ICS Paris International School 

Cambridge Primary/ candidate PYP/ candidate MYP/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 515 students 

Formerly EIB, Victor Hugo but taken over by the Globeducate group in 2020. The curriculum has changed to the International Baccalaureate programmes but, as yet, only authorised to teach the IB Diploma. Students from a very wide range of nationalities with approximately 10 per cent being either totally French or with one French parent. 

Institut Notre Dame, St Germain-en-Laye  

French curriculum/ Brevet/ French Bac/ Anglais Bilingue Programme/ IGCSE/ OIB; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; state; private non-profit ; 2,130 students 

Divided into primaire-maternelle and lycée on two campuses in St Germain-en-Laye to the west of Paris. Offers a Bilingual English section to French people who have lived in English-speaking countries or belong to a bicultural family. Strong Catholic ethos and serious attention paid to academics with very impressive results. The majority of graduates stay in France. 

Kingsworth International School 

Adapted National Curriculum for England/ French curriculum/ IGCSE/ A level/ American High School Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

Opened in 2014 and teaching 40 different nationalities, with around 15 per cent of students being French passport holders. Located in the 16tharrondissement, offering a bilingual French-English primary and secondary education.  

La Petite École Bilingue 

Adapted French/English bilingual curriculum; ages 2-10; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

Teaching children in French in the morning and English or Russian in the afternoon. On leaving the school the largest number of pupils move on to either private bilingual schools or into the French state system,(often into the international sections). 

Lennen Bilingual School 

French curriculum/ American curriculum; ages 2-11; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

Founded in 1960 and also known as the Franco American School of Paris, the school offers a genuine dual language programme from the start with one English and one French teacher for each class. In primary, they spend half the day learning in French and half in English following both French and American programmes. On leaving, students usually continue their education at bilingual secondary schools in Paris. 

Lycée Camille Sée 

Adapted curriculum/ French Bac/ OIB; ages 11-18; co-ed; day; state 

 

Lycée International Honoré de Balzac 

French National curriculum / OIB; ages 11-18; 2,000 students; co-ed; day; state 

Marymount International School, Paris

American curriculum; ages 3-14; girls; day; independent; private non-profit; 360 students 

Member of a global network of 19 RSHM (Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary) schools in nine countries. Small Catholic school in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a western suburb of the city whose pupils mainly move on to senior school at the international options in or around Paris. 

Notre Dame International High School 

American High School Diploma/ IB Diploma; ages 15-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned 

Open Sky International School 

Adapted curriculum/ GCSE/ Brevet; ages 3-15; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned 

For more information on the schools above, please go to each school’s individual entry on the Good Schools Guide international section.

 

 

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