I had a great, albeit intense, week at l’école du Marteroy in Vesoul. Marteroy is a private school with around 500 students from maternelle (3 year-old kinder) to troisieme (Year 9).
The primary school day starts at 8am and finishes at 4:15. Sounds long, I know, but there’s 2 hours for lunch, 2 20-minute breaks and no school on Wednesdays (until Year 8 – even then, it’s only the mornings). The Grade 3 class and I worked out that students in France spend 36/52 weeks at school (Aussies spend 40).
I spent time with most of the primary grades, plus had a cinema date with the maternelle kids, and was interrogated about Australia by a Year 7 English class. They sang me songs in English, with their lovely French accents, cooked me banana bread and learnt about swagmen, billabongs and jumbucks! They were most interested in the differences between school in Australia and France, and Australian animals. They were amazed that Aussie kids wear uniforms and bring their lunch to school, and that Australians eat one of their national icons. But they took it in their stride when I pointed out that they eat frogs, snails and horses!
I ate lunch at the school cafeteria, a first for me. The food was plentiful and delicious – the typical French lunch. The teacher’s table had wine and a fancy-pants coffee machine! Around half of the students eat at the cafeteria, the other half eat at home. A packed lunch really is unheard of.
I spoke more French than English, which was great with the primary kids because really, I’m at the same level!