Cité Scolaire Camille Sée’s International Section
About Camille Sée’s International Section
Located in the heart of the 15th arrondissement of Paris, the International Section (IS) at Cité Scolaire Camille Sée offers tuition free native English language instruction to bilingual students in a public, French middle (collège) and high school (lycée) setting. Created in 2011, there are seven classes – one in each year from 6ème up to Terminale. The IS prepares students for the French Baccalaureate Option Internationale (OIB).
What is an International Section?
An International Section is an optional curriculum available in four Parisian state schools: Camille Sée in the 15th arrondissement (south west), Montaigne in the 6th arrondissement (central - currently collège only), Balzac in the 17th arrondissement (north west) and Maurice Ravel in the 20th arrondissement (east). 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 OIB (option internationale du baccalauréat), a prestigious set of supplementary examinations that are part of the French baccalauréat at the end of their schooling. The British version of the OIB is an integrated Franco-British school-leaving certificate. There are two supplementary exams: one in English, one in History and Geography which are modelled on the British A-level exams. The OIB combines the breadth and rigour of the French baccalauréat with the extra subjects taught and examined in English to A Level standard, in a single certificate.
- It is jointly certified by University of Cambridge International Examinations and the French Ministry of Education.
- It makes academic and linguistic demands to an equal level in both English and French.
- It provides students with an internationally-recognised university entrance qualification. The OIB is regarded as a plus in applying for foreign universities as recruiters are aware of the extra workload that it involves and see it as evidence of diligence and an appetite for hard work. However, some universities still ask for English language proficiency tests for proof of language level.
What have been the OIB results for Lycée Camille Sée?
2017 100% success, 33% mention très bien
2018 100% success, 66% mention très bien
2019 100% success, 46% mention très bien
2020 100% success, 34% mention très bien
What kind of student is the International Section aimed at?
English is not taught as a foreign language in the International Section and students must be fully bilingual and capable of following a demanding academic programme in both French and English.
What do you mean by bilingual?
It means that the children have mother-tongue or near-native competence in both English and French. The programme follows the normal French secondary school curriculum, plus additional hours for language and literature as well as history and geography taught in English. Children must be capable of speaking, reading, and writing in both English and French at a level expected of their counterparts in the UK and France. If you are not sure, ask yourself if your child would be capable of following an English or History class in the same year group in the UK or France.
Can you apply at any year level?
There may be places available in several grade levels through to Terminale, although this is not always guaranteed in any one given year. However, it is definitely worth applying if your child is bilingual and would benefit from native English teaching.
For lycée, there are usually more places available in 2nde – there is naturally some movement in this class as some students in 3ème decide that they don’t want to study Shakespeare for their baccalaureate! The Option Internationale du Baccalauréat (OIB) involves an increased workload and is not for everyone. Also, owing to the new reforms, all the students, including those who are already in the section are now assessed (alongside new applicants) to enter the lycée.
Can you apply outside the application deadlines?
All pupils wishing to join the International Section should submit an application form by the end of March and sit the entrance exam in early May.
The school is no longer able to test or accept children outside the fixed testing dates.
The school receives many enquiries from parents at the beginning of the school year who have missed the application dates and hoping there may be some flexibility in the system but this is simply not the case. The application process is controlled by the Rectorate and the testing dates are fixed.
The only exception might be where there are school year differences such as the Australian system but even in this case, the decision would be made by the Rectorate.
What is the cost of tuition?
The International Section at Cité Scolaire Camille Sée is part of the French state school system and so there are no tuition fees. That said, families do pay for minor costs of the novels studied in the year and the outings here and there.
What nationalities are represented in the Section?
It’s truly international - bicultural and bilingual - a fantastic mix of cultures and experiences: francophone families who have lived abroad and whose children have the required level of English from studying in an English speaking school system; children whose parents are native-English speakers but have lived in France for some years; families who have one French parent and another native-English speaker; and even, in a few cases, children with 2 native English speaking parents, and recently arrived in France. Most of the children in the Section have lived abroad or have had one English speaking parent at home.
What exactly do the children study in English and History/Geography in English class ?
The pupils follow the Key Stage 3 curriculum working on exactly the same topics as they would if they were in the UK. In English we tend to study one novel or play per six week term and add in other works of literature like poems and stories, or grammar points and functional writing that cover the same theme. Examples of class novels: 6ème: Matilda, by Roald Dahl, 5ème: Boy, by Roald Dahl, 4ème: To Kill a Mockingbird, 3ème: The Call of the Wild and Great Expectations, as well as Shakespeare (Macbeth) and poetry.
In 1ère and Terminale, the IS follows the official Cambridge OIB programme for English.
In History and Geography, the syllabus for collège aims to develop the students’ analysis skills. Topics from the French curriculum requested by the Ministère de l’Education Nationale are followed, combined with the English KS 3 & 4 syllabus.
In lycée, the students prepare the Baccalauréat Option Internationale Britannique in three years. The OIB History Geography exam assesses both the French and the British curriculum, combining the breadth and rigour of the French baccalauréat and examined in English to A Level diploma standard, in a single certificate.
French Education Nationale and Cambridge inspectors work closely to establish several topics to be studied in class during Première and Terminale years, that will be assessed during both the written and oral examinations at the end of Terminale.
More information can be found on the official website (in French): http://www.education.gouv.fr/pid25535/bulletin_officiel.html?cid_bo=73092
What kind of extracurricular activities does Camille Sée offer?
Students benefit from a selective and rigorous bilingual programme but there are a range of opportunities outside the classroom for them to expand their skills and experiences. Lunchtime clubs include the choir, Debate Club, Theatre Club and the International Section Yearbook. The Association Sportive offers numerous sports activities, mainly on Wednesday afternoons, such as swimming, table-tennis, climbing, futsal and fitness/hip hop. IS students also regularly participate in Paris-wide competitions including Poetry by Heart, the YAFF creative writing competition and the French Debating Association high school tournament. The teachers work hard to find projects which will encourage the students to work in groups and be given the opportunity to speak in front of an audience. For example, for the past three consecutive years, the Beauville Arts group has been invited to the school to work with the 5ème and 6ème classes to stage the musicals Oliver Twist, Matilda and Mary Poppins.
Is it possible to take art as an optional subject?
Not really in collège – you are better off finding a local art atelier outside of school. At the lycée level, students can select option art – but this will be taught on Wednesday afternoons at a different lycée.
Some class projects involve creative work & plays. Most years 6e & 5e students have done an intensive 2 days musical theatre workshop and performance with an external anglophone theatre company that has come in especially for this. The school also has a theatre club for lycéens that does bi-annual performances (mostly in French).
What kind of class outings are organised?
Many teachers organize visits to exhibitions, performances and other educational activities in Paris. Past years’ 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 volunteering projects. 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.
What does the entrance test consist of?
For collège, 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 is an examination based on a text (given on the spot), such as a poem, a passage from a novel, or an article, followed by a ten-minute interview with the English teachers.
How can I prepare my child for the entrance exam?
Your child can prepare for the entrance test by doing activities such as regular reading, doing short reading comprehension texts, creative writing and simply talking a lot in English!
How do we choose the right school for us?
The school day for the International Section is an average of one hour longer and there is a heavier homework load. You should consider what the daily commute to and from school will be, taking into account the children start at 8am on some days and could end as late as 5:30pm. Some IS children at Camille Sée commute from the 10th arrondissement each day and are flourishing. However, your decision has to be based on what school you respond to most positively and what you think your child can manage. It is a good idea to visit the school on the Open Day if possible.
- 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 addition to the standard French curriculum, resulting in a longer school day
- Potentially heavier homework load.
Are the IS students mixed with the ‘mainstream’ French students for core subjects?
In collège no – the IS class stays together for all classes, apart from some mixing for the additional language options from 5ème (Spanish, Italian, Latin, and later Greek). In lycée, the students in the IS class are only together for the subjects taught in English.
Are the teachers native English speakers?
Mrs Popa-Jones, the coordinator of the Section is British; Mrs Joubert is South African and Ms Okunhon spent her formative years in an American public school. 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.
Are newcomers to IS welcomed separately and supported at the beginning of term?
We organise welcome picnics before classes start, allowing new students (and their parents!) to meet future classmates before that first day. Parents are also available to talk to new families. Most support is via ASICS (the IS parents’ association) and parents in the school community.
What is the procedure for applying for a place in the International Section at Camille Sée?
Currently, application forms can be downloaded from the school website (although this system is going to be overhauled this year with an online application process introduced by the Rectorate). In past years, the application deadlines are before the end of March.
The written and oral tests are undertaken on separate days (usually within the same week and often in early May). If Camille Sée is your first choice, the tests take place at Collège-Lycée Camille Sée, 11 rue Léon Lhermitte, 75015 Paris.
For candidates who live abroad and are unable to take the test at the school, it’s possible to take a ‘test à distance’. You should complete the document attached to the application form. If your child attends a lycée français abroad, you will be requested to name someone to supervise the test connected to the school. If it’s an English-speaking (or other) school, whether state or private, you will need to contact the Consulate, the Embassy or the Alliance Française and then provide the name of a referee who will be responsible for overseeing this exam.
If your child attends a private school or is in another state school system outside France, in addition to the English test, they will also have to take a test organised by CASNAV to test their proficiency in French. See this website (in French) for more information: https://www.ac-paris.fr/portail/jcms/p1_1951835/nous-contacter
Can I visit the school?
Yes! You can attend the annual Open House, typically held on a Saturday morning between January and March. Faculty, administration, parents, and current students are on hand to present the International Section and answer questions. No registration is necessary.
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 the International Section who are happy to help answer any questions.
Admissions - Practical Considerations
In addition to the simple, standard application form, you will generally be asked to provide:
- The child’s results for the current year
- The child’s school results for the previous 2 years
- Photocopy of the ‘carnet de famille’ or birth certificate
- 2 stamped, addressed envelopes
- Passport photographs of your child
- As requested on the application form, you must indicate your first choice of school, but it is strongly recommended to provide your second and third choice. This is to give you options: if your first choice is oversubscribed, your child may be allocated a place in one of the other Parisian schools which offer the same IS curriculum.
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