Saturday, July 9, 2011

Expat Children in France - Education is only Part of the Equation

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It seems that Education is the number one concern of parents with children considering moving to France.  On many expat forums there are countless discussions stressing about the minuscules of education in France to the exclusion of all else.   Yes of course the schooling of our children is a primary concern and we all want what’s best for them, but education is only one part of the equation - an important part it’s true, but not the only part.

It would be unwise (perhaps) to take your children to a country with a very poor standard of education, but this is France we’re talking about, not the third world,  There are many criticisms that can be made of education standards here, but there are plenty of successful people out there who have gone through the system and managed to succeed either despite or because of it. 

Once we’ve accepted that by going through the French education system our children are not going to become gibbering idiots, we can embrace all the other considerations that form part in the equation.       

Pace of Life

Consider the benefits of living life at a slower pace giving the opportunity to experience and share the simple pleasures in life as a family.  

Safer Environment

The opportunity to grow and flourish in a safer environment, where pollution, crime and drug rates are lower and children can explore freer from harm. 


What about the benefits of being exposed to a culture where family life is celebrated and children are not seen as inconveniences that need to be ‘catered’ for?  Isn’t it beneficial to live in a country where children are “children” for longer and where respectfulness is inherent? 

Second Language

Let’s not forget to mention the benefits gained from being bilingual – a gift that provides a multitude of advantages throughout life.  In addition, recent research suggests that bilinguals are better at retaining their mental abilities into old age than monolinguals. So not only will you be improving your child’s job prospects, but you may be helping to prevent them going senile too!

What I’m really saying is, try to take a more rounded view of what is most beneficial for your children.  There is so much more to life than just education and France has such a lot to offer.  In my opinion the equation should look something like this:

Pace + Safety + Culture + Language + Education =. Well-balanced, content child

After all, that is what we are all striving for, isn’t it?   


  1. A lot of expats get tied up with the education and for some reason fear that the local schools abroad are not as good as back in the UK. I have no idea why this is because I have met some very well educated (and especially well travelled people) from all over.

    For example, a German expat who was schooled in Portugal speaks about 5 languages and is currently at university in the Algarve. After that my guess is she'll work in another country because she certainly has the skills to do so.

    Education is, as you say, only part of the equation. But also, I don't think it is as bad as people think abroad and education by the parents is just as important.

  2. Good point Sarah, I think too many people get hung up about education, not only expats but in their home countries too.

  3. eeek we move to France on 28 july so please do send me any tips, advice asap! 3 kids in tow, all start french school sept, know v little french now, luckily mine is rusty but A-level... am expecting a bumpy next few months...

  4. Hi Caroline, good luck with the move. Where are you moving to? Please feel free to email if you want to know anything, I'd be happy to help where I can :)

  5. I have no idea why this is because I have met some very well educated (and especially well travelled people) from all over.