This evening I went to visit my eldest's new school - the collège. It was a special evening for parents and we were taken around it in groups. It brought flooding back memories of school, and how ghastly it was, with the smells of the canteen, science benches and so on.
I knew some of the mummies, and one was going on about how bad her son's present teacher is to other mummies of children in the same class. My son's teacher, in fact. I think the teacher is great, but it seems that she expects very high standards, and lots of effort. She would not do well in a sink school... The boy in question is a problem child; very sensitive, fragile and a total coward. His mother reckons his teacher didn't make any attempt to bring him out, but just pushed him down.
My son tells another story about how this boy is such a disruptive element in class, never answers questions, never works and drives the teacher mad. His mother is hoping that the new school and new teachers will help her son forget this last year and set him on a new educational path... I hope he doesn't get in with a bad crowd. Children come from very many local villages to this school so there are over 700 pupils, thus increasing the likelihood of bad elements.
When I was at school it was the teachers who took on various pastoral roles. In France, the pastoral aspect is dealt with by 'Vie Scolaire' comprising of a whole office of staff. Each child has a liaison book where absences etc. are notified, and if they are not dealt with properly, parents receive a letter sent by the post informing them that proper procedures have not ensured an explanation of their child's absence. It seems to be very well organised.
My eldest will be taking German next year as his first language. He'll also have the sciences split into their component parts, study technology, and manual skills. Weirdly however, he won't learn how to type. I find this very odd and a great shortcoming in education. It's one of the primary skills in the modern age - as important as writing, and yet children are left to struggle. I had downloaded a freeware teaching typing before my hard drive died a death last week, and will search out another for my new one. I'm one of those terrible middle class mummies who invests effort to improve her children's future...
It will be quite daunting for my eldest next September. He'll go from being top dog in a small school, to small fry in a big one. I hope he'll take advantage of all that's on offer, however, especially amongst all sporting activities at lunch time that are being proposed in the super new sports' hall.
By the way, my youngest has gone from wanting to play the electric guitar (too young, said the teacher) to playing the flute! I didn't even know he knew what a flute was, but he has the lips for it so we'll see... what he says next week...