Magazine topic: 
Life around the world
Total votes: 109

French Collège versus English secondary schools

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Hundred of teenagers flooding into the school gates; bags crammed with school books talking about dramas with best friends, new outfits and who has the worst lesson that day. A similar scene happens everyday across the world. Who would have thought however, that the differences between English and French high schools would be so striking!
Blazers and ties substituted for track suits and hoodies
First impressions are everything my dad always taught me. And amongst the sea of French students the first impressions here couldn't be more different from their English equivalents. The variety of track suits, caps and hoodies are in stark contrast to the ties, shirts and blazers worn by all English students.  Sure many English students love disobeying rules on school uniform and would give anything for the chance to wear their own clothes more often. But as many French teenagers have pointed out to me in lessons, a uniform is often a safeguarded of equality and limits bullying.
'Vie Scolaire'
After I am through the school gates I am greeted by the 'Vie Scolaire' (school life) which doesn't exist in my country. This army of young adults, often university students, provide pastoral support to students, acting as a bridge between the teachers and students. Sometimes teachers just don't have the time to chat about a problem or follow up on an absence and this is something that the French system certainly does well.
French students
French kids don't have it easy in terms of the length of the school day. Not only do many 11 year olds have to drag themselves out of bed for 8am lessons, but the final bell doesn't ring until 5pm! Getting home at 6pm doesn't leave much time for sport, dance or seeing friends. The only silver lining to this exceptionally long school day is that the majority of French students have Wednesday afternoons off. In the south of France, that means regular trips to the beach basking in the warm Mediterranean sun. Not too bad at all!
It certainly is fascinating to see the differences between the two systems up close. But to be honest I secretly liked my bottle green school uniform and adored my 3:30pm end to the day.

Which aspects of French schools and English schools do you like? Which system sounds better to you? 


hadia's picture
hadia 30 June, 2016 - 18:49

Um.....! I've an important question to ask. Although, I've searched much and also know about this, but still I'm not clear about this.
"What's the main difference between College and High School?"

Are they same..?? Or Not?

I've also learned that some countries refer to High School as College?
Please explain. Here in our country, people usually have School till 9th and 10th grade. Afterwards, we have College. And then University. So please tell what's the High School period :-)

29 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 6 July, 2016 - 05:36

Hi Hadia. Let’s look at the UK first. Here’s the situation:

  • Up to age 16 (Year 11): secondary school
  • Age 16-18 (Years 12-13): secondary school or sixth form college
  • Age 18+: university

The word college isn’t used for a stage of education in the UK, but it is used in some particular school names (for example, the famous Eton College), some university names (e.g. University College London) and some specialised types of school (e.g. teacher training college, sixth form college, further education college).

In the USA:

  • Age 14-18 (Grade 9-12): High school, or age 15-18 (Grade 10-12): Senior high school
  • Age 18+: College, University or Undergraduate school
  • For studying Master’s degrees and PhDs: Graduate school

There are also community colleges, which run sub-degree programmes. Unlike in the UK, college or university is often just called school, so in the USA if someone says ‘I’m going to school’, it means they are a university student.

It’s confusing! But does that help to explain these words?

Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

37 users have voted.
hadia's picture
hadia 8 July, 2016 - 08:33

Thanks a lot Jonathan!
It's really helpful. Now, I understand everything perfectly. Different areas and countries have different words to define an institution. Isn't it ?? So, it's OK.
( Grade 11-12); College and after that if we want to join any professional studies we go in University. The people attending Grade 13 or on wards remain in College. But professional studies like M.B.B.S , Engineering, B.D.S , Law, any specialized study in Humanities etc are having their own Universities.
And also, there's no age limit for a person to study. Anybody can give exam and study. But the average age range you gave in your comment are exactly the same here, in Pakistan.
Thanks again for making it clear to me :P
Hadia :))

32 users have voted.
Little Dragon's picture
Little Dragon 9 December, 2014 - 11:53

I'll say I prefer English schools to French ones, partly because they sound a bit similar to those in my country. Just a bit, though. We only study either in the morning or the afternoon and we have to go to school on Saturdays. But usually there are less classes on Saturdays and we can go home earlier.

33 users have voted.
Silvermist's picture
Silvermist 7 December, 2014 - 11:19

Look, I'm not being bias or partial or whatever, but the English schools sound better. Yet there is a likely chance that I might be wrong, but according to what I read, English schools sounds better.

32 users have voted.
Monisa's picture
Monisa 7 December, 2014 - 06:35

It is astonishing that though France and England are minutes far from each other, there is such a huge cultural difference!
Our country is a member of the Commonwealth nation, and a former British colony. ;( So, the English school system is followed. Therefore, I like that.
9 hours at school sounds too long and tiresome to me. Ours is only 6 hours.

30 users have voted.
Evelynhsu's picture
Evelynhsu 7 December, 2014 - 06:13

I love the school time of English school ,which allows students to have more time for doing some outdoors activities ,but on the other hand ,I am also fond of French school because they have two weeks of vacations after seven weeks of school time !!

32 users have voted.