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Parents highlight the bilingual programme as their primary motive for seeking out the school. ‘The bilingual teaching is superb’, ‘I couldn’t recommend it more’, and ‘They are so comfortable in both English and French and seamlessly move between them’ were just some of the superlatives we heard. Parents unanimously agree that school’s focus on providing an international education, ethos and mindset is second to none, and they are proud to be part of the school’s founding history. If you are looking for a bilingual education within a high-achieving, internationally-minded community…

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What the school says...

École Jeannine Manuel in London is a French, bilingual, international school which opened in London in 2015. The school is housed across three sites in Bloomsbury, all within a five minute walk of the British Museum. The school welcomes pupils from all nationalities, cultural traditions and native languages from 3 to 18 years old (Nursery - Sixth Form). Non-French speakers are welcome at any stage.

Ecole Jeannine Manuel's curriculum is based on an enriched, bilingual adaptation of the French national curriculum, including English, Science and Chinese programmes developed by and for the school and inspired by its core vision: to promote international understanding through a bilingual education.

École Jeannine Manuel is the sister school of its Paris namesake, a UNESCO associated school founded in 1954 and one of France’s most prestigious schools ranked top French Lycée for the tenth consecutive year. The London school is a British “Charity” inspected by ISI and is also an accredited member of COBIS; it shares the Paris school’s commitment to pedagogical innovation through the search for best practices with the aim to have pupils who are happy to come to school to think, do and share with others.
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International Baccalaureate: diploma - the diploma is the familiar A-level equivalent.

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All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2015, Pauline Prévot. Degree in biology and science education from Versailles and Saint Quentin University and a DESS, or masters, in computer science. Celebrating 20 years with École Jeannine Manuel schools. Started out in École Jeannine Manuel Paris where she taught for 12 years (maths and science, then head of computing) before she was enticed to establish the ‘sister school’ in London. Arrived not just with family in tow, but as a full family affair – her husband is the school bursar and their two children are pupils in the middle school (‘Yes, they love it and yes, [at home] we talk about school a lot!’).

Quietly assured and softly spoken (we don’t imagine too many harried ‘Ooh là là’ moments within her day), she admits that having ‘arrived like a tourist with her French way of thinking’ setting up a school in London was a steep learning curve. She smiles when telling us that, while the curriculum and ambition for students is aligned with the main school in Paris, they have developed their own family atmosphere and embrace ‘where we are [in London] and what families here want’. But there is no time to rest on her laurels as she says they must continue pedalling to keep the (proverbial French?) bike moving forward. Current ‘projects’ include the introduction of an international year 11 stream (with increased selection of IGCSE choices) and building greater SEN support.

She talks proudly of students quickly achieving bilingualism, even in those arriving with no French or no English (and occasionally without either), calling the assimilation of multiple languages and cultures as a gift. She frequently references Jeannine Manuel’s founding vision of a school where students ‘are proud of who they are and understand how rich it is to be different’. Equal pride for her staff – each given a book on growth mindset on their first day – and the supportive culture that is fostered thanks to their being on campus, and therefore accessible to students, all day (unlike in France where, contractually, teachers may come and go between classes).

Parents say they are ‘touched by her dedication’ and show admiration for how she has set the vision and evolved the school while staying true to the remit and spirit of the Parisian school, which they all hold in the highest regard, though acknowledge that day-to-day contact is more likely with the (‘really good’) heads of school sections. She has an office in two of the three school buildings and enjoys dropping into the younger years as a foil to long days in the office. Is prepared to be tough when needed – she jokingly refers to herself as ‘the bad cop’ with her uncanny ability to spot a sloppy uniform a mile off, but says she makes a point of finding time to meet and praise students.


Not ‘which child’ but ‘which family’. School is looking for those who buy into its mission and are ready to embrace the demands of a bilingual education. Non-French speakers are welcomed into any year group; non-English speakers up to year 7. No long waiting lists for any year group; most demand seen in nursery/PS, reception/MS and year 7/6eme (parents relieved to sidestep other schools’ ferocious 11-plus process).

Informal ‘exercises’ (note: not called tests) in English, French and maths (context-based to family background and former learning environment). The process is personalised – they care about how an applicant thinks rather than the answer per se. ‘Good fit is everything,’ head tells us.

English and French year groups in use (classrooms labelled in both) and a French admissions calendar followed, though ‘out of year’ placement is possible with good reason.


Like all international schools, a few leave every year as families move around the world. A few also ship out ahead of sixth form to follow more creative or other paths.

Small graduating cohorts (around 25). About half stay in the UK, heading to Russell Group universities including Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, King’s College London, UCL, Durham and Warwick. A handful to France (eg Sciences Po, Sorbonne, ESSEC Business School), Canada (eg McGill, University of Toronto, Concordia) and the USA (NYU, Northwestern, Rhode Island School of Design, George Washington) and one or two elsewhere, eg Trinity College Dublin, ESADE Barcelona or as far afield as ESSEC Singapore.

Latest results

In 2023, 100 per cent in the BFI (International French Bac), all with honours including 73 per cent ‘Tres Bien’ and 27 per cent ‘mention Bien’. At IB diploma, 100 per cent pass rate with an average of 36 (against a world average of 30). At IGCSE, 69 per cent scored A*/A in English lit and 67 per cent A*/A in English lang.

Teaching and learning

‘The bilingual teaching is superb’, ‘I couldn’t recommend it more’, and ‘They are so comfortable in both English and French and seamlessly move between them’ were just some of the superlatives we heard. Parents highlight the bilingual programme as their primary motive for seeking out the school, ‘We wanted them to be proficient native speakers but French schools can be too rigid and American ones too loosey-goosey. École Jeannine Manuel is the perfect match.’

Half days in English and French from nursery through to year 4/CE2, moving to alternate days throughout the rest of the primary school. In primary, teachers swap between the classes (rather than students moving between an English or French classroom) and whichever the language of the day, activities are held in the other, so that on any given day a child is engaging with both languages.

In primary school, teaching follows the French national curriculum with an advanced English language and literature programme. Maths, history and geography are taught across both languages, science in French. We spotted the youngest children comfortably chattering to one another over play-based activities in both languages (or charmingly singing happy birthday in English with a French accent as in one classroom we dropped by), and colourful classroom displays in both English and French. Enthusiastic parents say that they love how one half of the class learn a subject, the other half another and then they teach it to each other, saying that children not only learn in two languages but learn how to explain and present from an early age. No exams or testing and daily reading at home prioritised over homework. ‘Much less homework than other French schools,’ say relieved parents.

Moving into secondary, teaching remains fully bilingual (except for students joining the international track in year 11). Parents love that context and perspective are heavily applied, eg learning about Napoleon and how he was perceived by both sides. ‘It helps them to develop critical thinking skills, understand sources and bias, and we see maturity in their learning,’ we heard from parents. Sciences split into separate subjects from year 10 – students thoroughly enjoying the chance to don lab coats and protective glasses for an experiment to test the conductivity of solids and their solutions in one classroom we passed by. Parents say that small classes and good teachers help develop a strong work ethic without endless testing. In-class ‘contrôles’ (rather than exams) help teachers track progress. From year 7 exam weeks are introduced so that children ‘know how to work for them’.

Reading is prioritised. Daily DEAR (drop everything and read) moments see children reading both French and English books (La Mer des Monstres by Percy Jackson, a well-thumbed read). A classroom full of teenagers sitting on beanbags and quietly absorbed in their books is not something you see in every school. ‘I really look forward to that peaceful moment in my day,’ we were told by our cheery student guide.

In year 4, children start Mandarin, in year 7 they may swap this out for Latin, and in year 8 they add Spanish or German. Multilingualism is the norm and ‘they don’t just learn the language, but the history and literature too’. We dropped into a Spanish class and watched three teenagers confidently and almost flawlessly roleplay a scenario. Quite apart from the impressive lack of embarrassment in performing in front of added guests, we were wowed to hear that two of the three had been learning Spanish for less than two years.

From year 11, students choose between the French or international track. A selection of IGCSEs join the menu for students in either track wanting to bank some formal qualifications (fewer take them in the French stream as it’s not the ‘norm’). The addition of maths, three sciences and three languages (Mandarin, Spanish and German) IGCSE options welcomed alongside English lit and lang.

In year 12, students move on to study for either the BFI or the IB diploma. Both graduating pathways demanding; academic ambition and rigour fostered through small classes and high levels of interaction between students and teacher.

‘Academically, it’s really good,’ we heard time and again. In an English literature IB class, a small group of students were busy scribbling on the whiteboard (‘How and to what effect are moral values conveyed in two works you have studied?’) with encouragement from their teacher to highlight keywords and illustrate with examples. Ideas quickly covered the whiteboard. Sixth-formers clamour to tell us (over a much-enjoyed pizza lunch) that there is no competition between them, that they support one another as the academic demands ramp up.

Teachers are highly regarded, often young and well-travelled. Confident, chatty children and young adults clearly at ease in their classrooms and in the company of teachers.

Fewer opportunities for parents to step into classrooms (especially in younger years) than in British schools (‘It’s the French way of thinking, leave your children with us,’ parents say). Parent mornings three times a year, ‘helpful’ workshops (eg How we teach maths) and ‘excellent’ report cards are all appreciated.

Learning support and SEN

Plenty of FAL and EAL support with drop-in AP (alternative provision or accompagnement P) sessions in lunchtimes (for maths too), and pull-out support for those needing one-to-one. ‘She quickly became fluent. I don’t know how they did it, but they level up very quickly.’

No formal SENCo but school says they support students with lots of different profiles within the classroom, eg ADHD, ADD, dyslexia (which is ‘tricky’ with bilingualism), and will work with families to offer specialist input. ‘What we can do, we do,’ the school told us. Parents confirmed this, ‘My child found writing French script hard and so they scheduled a handwriting specialist.’

The arts and extracurricular

‘The curriculum is really packed so there’s less opportunity for music or sports, so we need to build this in ourselves,’ parents told us, continuing, ‘If you can’t accept this, then this isn’t the school for you.’ The official line from the school is that the high number of teaching hours and already long days doesn’t leave much room for extra activities, and it offers what it can. With this ringing in our ears, we were pleasantly surprised to find there was considerably more on offer than we expected. Lunchtime and after-school clubs include martial arts, basketball, volleyball, chess, drama, school newspaper, choir, cypher coding, arts club and dance. Parents, however, sounded word of caution that limited spaces (‘We have to warm up before the clubs sign-up race!’) and additional costs still mean lost opportunities and that children ‘want more, like they see their friends have in other schools’.

Music, art and drama are built into the school day (up to year 10) with rotating blocks (no year-round provision or individual music lessons). We were treated to a nursery class sing-along and leafed through some fabulous art books while dropping in on a lively music class for year 10 (shared art/music room), who were all learning chords on a keyboard (with headphones!). If it’s rousing choirs, school-wide performances and art exhibitions that you are after, you will need to look beyond the school gates. Most parents seem comfortable with this , shrugging their shoulders that this is an area in which the school feels most French.

IB students complete the CAS (creativity, action, service) programme and the Duke of Edinburgh award is offered in secondary years.


With its central location, it’s hardly surprising that you won’t find rolling fields and numerous sport pitches here. The school makes the best of its limited space and supplements with external spaces/providers. Primary years enjoy a lovely, large outdoor space behind the main building (enough space for up to three different year groups at a time) complete with a gardening corner and friendship bench, and little feet are also marched across to Russell Square to enjoy outdoor space for some class projects. In middle school, there is considerably less open space. A basketball hoop is tucked into a courtyard, ping-pong tables have been slotted into downstairs rooms (‘very popular’) and an indoor area doubles up as PE space and school canteen (roll-away tables). Students can let off steam with lunchtime jaunts to the gym in the local YMCA or nearby Coram’s Fields to make use of its open space, basketball and football facilities (supervised until year 10 – sixth formers can, and do, take themselves), but this is not a sporty school in the traditional sense. Parents largely accept the status quo (‘It’s still better than any other French school I know’) and compensate with external activities. School is making improvements, eg forming a mixed football team ‘complete with tryouts’ and matches with other schools, and says that the planned addition of two halls, a rooftop outdoor area and climbing wall will be a ‘game-changer’.

Ethos and heritage

Opened in 2015 as the youngest of three École Jeannine Manuel schools and the first outside France. The Paris school, widely regarded as one of the top international schools in Paris, was established in 1954 by the indomitable Jeannine Manuel, who joined the French Resistance (and was a member of the Free French in London when in the city 1940-44). Her vision of education was to shape the ‘whole person’ in expectation of ‘playing a part in world affairs’. The link to the founding school is integral at a strategic level (Jeannine Manuel’s son is a regular visitor and cross-school leadership meetings take place monthly) but not felt by students on a day-to-day basis – though a week’s residential trip for primary students in both schools may see closer bonds being forged.

Steady growth has seen the school expand from one building to three, all within walking distance of one another in Bedford Square (middle school) and Russell Square (primary years and college/sixth form) – look for the distinctive red front doors – and handily close to the British Museum, a de facto cultural classroom space. The timeless façade of each Georgian building (Robert Palmer, 1770), their beautifully sculpted balconies and tall windows are suitably elegant for a French-founded school, but once inside the décor is minimal. (Parents were quick to point out, however, that they enjoy decorating the school for cultural festivities, eg Lunar New Year.)

There is a strong sense that the school is still evolving (innovating says the school, adapting say parents) and families are forgiving of its quirks (‘It is a young school, we know it will take time to sail the ship’) but some frustrations that a French ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ culture overrides a more British ‘our doors are always open’ approach with regard to suggestions. Top of the wish list would be for school to celebrate its students’ achievements. ‘You find out that some children are doing amazing things, but school doesn’t shout about it. It’s only through the parent chat that we learn that we have a national fencing champion or prima ballerina in our midst. It would be so motivating for our children to hear what others are doing.’ School acknowledges that it doesn’t have space for whole-school assemblies but says they do bring together school sections when they can.

Lunch is a happy, noisy, communal moment with multiple year groups sitting together at a time and teachers supervising for good manners and behaviour. The ‘grab and go’ salad, pasta and panini lunch offering, however, doesn’t hit the spot for everyone, so some bring a packed lunch instead.

Parents unanimously agree that school’s focus on providing an international education, ethos and mindset is second to none, and they are proud to be part of the school’s founding history.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

No reported discipline issues. ‘There are never any problems in the classroom, everyone behaves nicely and listens,’ parents told us. The small class sizes cited as the reason. Classes mixed up each year (that lunchtime supervision helps spot any unwanted friendship dynamics). Parents say that school is confident in its responsibilities and takes any trouble seriously – ‘They call it when they see it.’

Kindness posters (‘Look out for someone who may be lonely or anxious. Let them know you care’) spotted all around the school. Mindfulness challenges too. We especially loved the leaf display in the gymnasium area where students leave motivating quotes for others, eg ‘Don’t always go for glory’. The student care committee (a student-led initiative) runs drop-in sessions to ‘reach out and talk it out’.

Parents press home that this is a very happy school, that there is a ‘happy vibe’ and that socially the children love it. Students agree. On talking to a group of sixth formers, the camaraderie and genuine interest in each other’s different backgrounds and experience was joyfully evident, with notable excitement when new students join their close-knit cohort.

Pupils and parents

Attracts families who value languages and culture – international mindset over Euro-flash. Majority are longstanding London residents but of all nationalities. ‘It’s a good mix of families, many have one parent who is French or someone in the family who is from a French-speaking background, eg French Arabic,’ but it is gradually becoming less French, we heard, and families are as likely to be Italian, Spanish, American etc. ‘It is very multicultural, much more so than other French schools in London,’ and ‘This is what drew us in, it’s important to have a mix of cultures and languages.’

Corridor chat is largely English and no mention of cliques or hierarchy whatsoever (many siblings and cross-year friendships). Students come across as refreshingly down to earth and we didn’t spot any overt flashiness or bling. The school uniform (Jeannine Manuel top – T-shirts or hoodies – worn with own bottoms and shoes) seems well liked (‘expensive but regular second-hand sales’) and ‘normalises everyone’, we heard.

The parent community is ‘the big drawcard’. A thriving parents’ association, class mum network, WhatsApp groups, coffee mornings, quiz nights etc all foster a ‘tight-knit family feel’ and all the parents we spoke with say they enjoy and value the opportunity to meet other families.

Money matters

‘It is expensive, but we like it so much that we are prepared to pay more for it.’ Recognition that it is a private bilingual school so no French government subsidies (as with a school within the French Lycée network) but parents comfortable that they get what they pay for.

School has a strong board of trustees. A charitable foundation raises money to offer financial aid to up to 20 per cent of the student body.

The last word

Its roots lie in France, but its shoots are multilingual and multicultural. If you are looking for a bilingual education within a high-achieving, internationally minded community in central London, this is it. A young school born of impeccable heritage that is fast establishing its niche and evolving to the needs of parents. In the words of one parent, ‘Just go and have a look.’

Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

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