Picture By Michael Surran
We French believe in education. I don't like to make such sweeping statements but today I will make an exception. The French system is incredibly selective and...free, except if you want to graduate from a business school or opt for a private education (which remains the exception rather then the rule). The only problem is that the French education is, well...French, and doesn't really prepare you for the world outside of France. Oh, and you had better be good at maths too.
That said, I have to admit that I was disappointed when my daughter wasn't accepted at the French Lycée in London. I was even more disappointed when I found out that other kids had got in -the selection process was quite opaque. Some things never change.
She started to go to a British school and has never looked back ever since. That said, I am always worried because it is a system that I don't know. To make matters even worse, you are always told that 'everything is fine'. Always. Even when everything is definitively not fine.
This means that you have to be smart. I soon understood that I needed to gather as much information as possible. It is not easy as it sounds, because people don't share their tips (or their tutor. His or her name is a closely guarded secret). My motto is : prepare, prepare, prepare. It can be for my daughters' exams, for my citizenship test for professional certifications.
It is all about finding old papers, exam questions and tips. Google is my best friends. So are the Bond papers for my daughters. I once attended a school presentation when I was told that the selection was based on 'talent and potential'. In essence, they told us that there was absolutely no need to prepare.There is a saying in France 'Talent without work is just a bad habit'. The thing is, you have to pretend that you are managing effortlessly over here. In fact, most kids I know are heavily tutored and all the adults around me trying to get a certification are working like mad to get it. Go figure. Why the big fat lie?