What is an International Section?
An International Section is an optional curriculum available in three Parisian state schools: Camille Sée in the 15th arrondissement (south west), Balzac in the 17th arrondissement (north west) and Maurice Ravel in the 20th arrondissement (east – currently collège only). It offers a tuition free bilingual education to English speaking pupils with 6-8 hours of English language and literature per week and up to four hours of History and Geography in English.
What is the OIB?
Recognised by the French Education Ministry, the International Section prepares pupils to sit the option internationale du baccalauréat (OIB), a prestigious set of supplementary examinations taken that are a part of the French baccalauréat at the end of their schooling. The British OIB curriculum at Camille Sée is administered by the University of Cambridge and is modelled on A-Levels in English, History and Geography.
The British version of the OIB is an integrated Franco-British school-leaving certificate. It combines the breadth and rigour of the French baccalauréat with extra subjects taught and examined in English to A-Level standard, in a single certificate. For a description of the British OIB, see on the ASIBA website http://www.asiba.fr/programme_/
What profile of students is an International Section aimed at?
Pupils must be fully bilingual and capable of following a demanding academic programme comprising grade-level language study in both French and English. Successful students are both bilingual and bicultural, typically with at least one English-speaking parent. The programme is also open to French pupils and other nationalities who have lived in an English-speaking country or previously been enrolled in a bilingual programme.
A child can attend an international section for all or part of collège to consolidate his/her bilingualism, and then go on to a regular lycée and take any French baccalauréat — général, technologique, or professionnel. Most of our students stay on in the programme to complete an OIB.
What do you mean by bilingual?
It means that the children have mother-tongue or near-native competence in both English and French. The school also offers some support to help students coming from abroad who need to accelerate their proficiency in French.
Pupils are required to follow a rigorous academic programme comprising grade-level language instruction in both French and English. The programme follows the normal French secondary school curriculum, plus additional hours for English language and literature as well as History and Geography. Children must be capable of speaking, reading, and writing in both English and French at a level expected of other children of their age or year in school.
What are the pros and cons of an International Section?
- English language instruction at grade level — i.e., native English literature and history and geography courses, and not English as a foreign language;
- Validation of bilingual and bicultural heritage;
- Upon successful completion of the OIB, A Level standard qualifications in English, which may facilitate acceptance into universities in English-speaking countries.
- Longer daily commute to and from school depending on where you live;
- About one hour per day (on average) in add of the standard French curriculum, resulting in a longer school day;
- Potentially heavier homework load.
What are the criteria to get accepted into an International Section?
To be accepted for the International Section, a student must pass a written and oral test, designed to determine whether s/he is capable of following grade-level instruction in English.
As the International Section programme is demanding, and most pupils must travel some distance to school every day, teachers also review a child’s school reports to determine whether s/he is likely to be capable of managing the additional workload of the International Section. Not all of the students who apply to the programme have either the level of English or overall academic qualifications that the teachers look for when assessing which pupils they believe will be successful — and happy — in the programme.
Is it possible to prepare for the entrance test?
The written test typically includes an extract from a work of children’s literature, followed by reading comprehension questions and a short essay. The oral component comprises an examination from an unseen text, such as a poem, a passage from a novel, or an article, followed by a ten-minute interview with the English teachers.
The best way to prepare children for the entrance tests: ensure that they regularly read a variety of English-language texts; speak to them consistently in English; and give them opportunities to write in English whenever possible. Many children in the section have followed a more structured programme, via weekly courses or even language exchanges during the summer months. Some have previously attended school in an English-speaking country, or have been enrolled in a bilingual programme in Paris.
What profile of students attend Camille Sée?
A majority of pupils have at least one parent whose mother tongue is English. However, not all children come from Anglophone families, and even those who do may not speak English regularly at home. There are children from many different nationalities, and some students are trilingual. Pupils from non-English-speaking families may have had weekly language lessons (e.g. British Council), lived abroad and attended school in English, or may have previously been enrolled in a bilingual programme.
Are teachers native English speakers?
Our English language and literature teachers are British and French-American. All have extensive experience in teaching international and OIB classes, either in France or abroad. Our history and geography teachers are bilingual and also have extensive experience teaching international college and lycée students.
What is the maximum class size?
Class sizes vary according to demand, but do not usually exceed 30 pupils in collège. Classes are often bigger in lycée.
Can you apply at any year level and/or during the school year?
There may be places available in several grade levels through to Terminale. It is definitely worth applying if your child is bilingual and would benefit from native English teaching. All pupils wishing to join the International Section should submit an application form by 31 March 2018 and sit the entrance exam in May.
Some students have joined mid-year when arriving from abroad. Make an appointment with the Proviseur (school principal) to learn more about applying outside the scheduled application and exam dates.
What kind of extracurricular activities does Camille Sée offer?
There are a wide range of activities at Camille Sée during school hours and on Wednesday afternoons when there are no classes. Lunchtime clubs include the choir, International Section yearbook, school journal, debating, breakdance, chess and other board/card games. The Association Sportive offers numerous sports activities, principally on Wednesday afternoons, such as swimming, table-tennis, climbing, and fitness/hip hop.
International section students regularly participate in Paris-wide competitions including Poetry by Heart, History Bee and Bowl, the French Debating Association high school tournament. For the past two years, lycée students have taken part in the Paris Model United Nations programme.
Do students go on class outings?
Many teachers organize visits to exhibitions, performances and other educational activities in Paris. This year’s outings have included creative writing at Festival America and the Salon du Livre de Jeunesse, a US presidential debate, the Oscar Wilde and Colour Line exhibitions, theatre trips and a volunteering project. International Section teachers also regularly organise trips. Over recent years students have visited England (London, Stratford, Bath), Scotland and Ireland.
All 5e students at Collège Camille Sée have the opportunity to participate in a week-long classe découverte in the Lozère region of France each year.
Can I visit the school?
Yes! You can attend the annual Open House, typically held on a Saturday morning in January. Faculty, administration, parents, and current students are on hand to present the International Section and answer questions. No registration is necessary. If you missed the most recent Open House, please make an appointment with the Proviseur.
Camille Sée is located at 11, rue Léon Lhermitte, 75015 Paris. It is metro accessible via lines 6 (Cambronne), 8 (Commerce), and 12 (Vaugirard). Buses 39, 70, 80, and 88 are all within a block of the school.
You can also contact parents with children in the International Section by e-mailing CamilleSeeEnglishSection@gmail.com This is the email address of the parent delegates for international section who are happy to help answer any questions.