Depending on who you're talking to, you'll get a completely different idea of where your child is able to obtain a good education.
This week, I've heard two conflicting views: one French, one British. A friend of mine who lives in one of the villages around Montpellier has sent her eldest daughter to the UK to attend a public school for a term. Normally, this school would charge £4,000 per term for a day pupil, or £20,000 full time per year. A staggering amount. If I was paying that I would certainly expect my child to receive a very fine education and lots of extra-curricular activities.
This child attends a private Catholic school in Montpellier mainly because the local school was so crappy she was getting nowhere fast. It was a very small pond and she was neither stretched, nor motivated to do her best. In desperation, then, her parents decided to send her to a private school, 400€ per term. For that she gets, as her mother was telling me, an education that is made up of the most boring material possible, no extra-curricular activities, but a strict work ethic and encouragement to do her best.
To show her another side to education, she has been sent to the English boarding school for this term, staying with her grandparents. Apart from the fact that she is homesick, she is loving it. She is part of acting groups, the choir and anything else she has time to do. The teachers are top notch and she is taught creatively and with enthusiasm. It sounds like the English education system at its best.
A woman I met just yesterday at my youngest's school; a French woman married to a Welshman, told me they decided to come to France, to Montpellier where her mother and grandparents live, because she wanted to be near them, and also because a French education is better than an English one.
It's perhaps unfair to compare the best of British with the ordinary of French, but, while infant and primary education may be fine, in my experience, the problems start with collège and lycée. My children are lucky. We live in a comfortable area where the well-to-do parents are happy enough with the local schools to send their little darlings there. They might receive an acceptable education, but it's a shame the schools only cater to their academic success. All extra-curricula activities have to be undertaken outside school. There is no sport, no music, no drama. Nothing to bring the school together. No sense of belonging through sporting triumphs; musical or dramatic productions. The result is that children have ambivalent feelings about their school.
I would never send my children away to school, but I do wish the best of the different education systems could be studied and adapted to local needs for the benefit of all types of children, and give them a solid reason to feel they belong to their school in heart and mind.