Albyn School and French School Curricula Compared
There are many similarities in the education systems of modern European states although each will have some distinguishing features. Those parents who wish their children to follow the French hybrid curriculum will enjoy the benefits of a bilingual education in French and English while preparing pupils to continue their education in the UK or in France and other countries that adopt either language. The following is aimed as an introduction to this hybrid curriculum.
The French School Curriculum
The French Government’s Common Core of Knowledge and Skills underpins the curriculum for primary and lower secondary education and sets out the minimum standards to be attained by all by the end of compulsory schooling. It is organised around seven key competencies:
1. Command of the French language;
2. Proficiency in a modern foreign language;
3. The key elements of mathematics, scientific culture and technology;
4. Mastery of ordinary information and communication skills;
5. Humanist culture;
6. Social and civic skills;
7. Autonomy and initiative.
As many of the French pupils joining Albyn School will be returning to France, those following the hybrid curriculum will be assessed using the French system of assessment.
Core skills are assessed at the end of cycle 2 in CE2 (Lower 3), and measure the acquisition of three competences: proficiency in the French language, basic mathematics, social and civic skills.
The second stage is assessed at the end of sixième (Upper 1) where pupils are assessed at the end of cycle 3 in the seven competences.
There is a third and final assessment at the end of compulsory schooling at the end of cycle 4 usually in troisième (Upper 2/3). The pupils sit an exam known as the Diplôme National du Brevet (DNB).
Albyn School educates children in three distinct sections of the school. The nurseries provide early years education for children age two to four years old in the Toddler, Ante Pre School and Pre School sections. Regulated by the Care Inspectorate, children learn language and literacy skills and develop their first steps towards numeracy. While there are similarities with the French pre-school system (L’École Maternelle) currently there is no hybrid curriculum for this section of the school where all children are taught through the medium of English.
There is a small but significant difference in the manner in the two pre-school systems are organised. Whereas L’École Maternelle is aimed at children aged 3-5, Albyn’s Nursery is aimed at pupils aged 2-4 so that in terms of equivalence:
La petite section de maternelle ou PS (3 ans) = Albyn School’s Ante Pre School
La moyenne section de maternelle ou MS (4 ans) = Albyn School’s Pre-School
La grande section de maternelle ou GS (5 ans) = Albyn School’s Lower School (Lower 1)
The Lower School
Pupils aged 5-12 are taught in Albyn’s Lower School which is broadly equivalent to L’École Primaire although Albyn’s Lower School starts a year earlier (La grande section de maternelle) and ends a year later (La sixième). The table below illustrates the equivalence in year groups.
Table 1: Comparison between L’École Primaire and the Albyn’s Lower School
Those following Albyn School’s curriculum develop their skills of numeracy and literacy while being introduced to a wide variety of new subjects that include languages such as French, Spanish and Mandarin and using the cross curricular format of the International Primary Curriculum. Subject specialists from the Upper School teach Art, Music, Physical Education and Games from the Upper School. An overview of what is covered each year can be found on the Lower School section of Albyn School’s website.
Those following the French hybrid curriculum will be taught the following subjects in the French language medium: Mathematics for around four hours per week; French for between five and six hours per week and History, Geography and Citizenship for two to three hours per week. The rest of the curriculum will be taught through the medium of English.
The Upper School
Pupils aged 12-18 are taught in the Upper School which is the equivalent of Le Collège and Le Lycée as shown below:
Table 2: Comparison between Le Collège et Le Lycée and the Albyn’s Upper School
Upper 1 and Upper 2
In the first two years of the Upper School (U1 & U2) pupils study a very broad range of subjects. These include the core subjects such as English, Mathematics, all three sciences, IT, Technology, two foreign languages and a range of arts, humanities and social science subjects. In addition, pupils will undertake games, physical education (PE) and a personal and social education programme. Their timetable will include:
Art & Design / Biology / Chemistry / Classics / English / Geography / History / two Foreign Languages* / Mathematics / Modern Studies / Music / Personal & Social Education / Physical Education & Games / Physics / Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies / Computing, Design & Technology / Drama **.
*After an introduction to all four languages, pupils will opt to study two from French, German, Spanish and Mandarin.
**Computing, Design and Technology and Drama rotate in blocks so that a pupil studies only one of these subjects at a time for approximately 12 weeks.
For French pupils following the hybrid curriculum, they will continue the study of French, Mathematics, Geography, History and Citizenship all taught through the medium of French.
Upper 3 and Upper 4
In U3 and U4, those following the Albyn School curriculum will study eight publicly examined subjects including English, Mathematics and at least one science and one foreign language. Most are examined by the Scottish Qualifications Agency (SQA) at National 5 level with a few subjects taught as GCSEs. Together with all the subjects listed in Table 3 we also offer Business Studies, Economics Engineering Science and PE as publicly examined subjects and ensure pupils continue with their personal and social education, Religious Moral and Philosophical Studies (RMPS), Study Skills, Physical Education and Games.
For French pupils following the hybrid curriculum, they will continue the study of French, Mathematics, Geography, History and Citizenship all taught through the medium of French. They will also study English, Physics, Chemistry or Biology, Spanish or German public examination courses with other Albyn School students together with Physical Education and Games although with flexibility in the exact choice of subjects.
Upper 5 and Upper 6
The curriculum in the top two years of the School (U5 and U6) is principally designed for those senior pupils seeking qualifications to gain university places. Pupils need to study five subjects in Upper 5 or five Highers or a mixture of Highers and A Levels. Each subject is allocated 8 teaching periods per week with a mix of 35 and 40 minute periods. U5 and U6 pupils are also obliged to follow a programme of Civics which incorporates elements of Personal Social Education (PSE), Religious, Moral and Philosophical Education (RMPS) and other special events and speakers related to careers and general education. They will also have three periods of Games each week. The subjects listed below provide a good idea of what is open to pupils including more specialist courses such as A Level Music, Higher Engineering Science and the like.
Table 3: Typical Range of Subjects offered in Upper 5
* International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – English proficiency test for non-native speakers
Those French pupils in U5 and U6 will follow courses that the Première and Terminale, leading them to the baccalauréat. They may also follow three subjects from Albyn School’s curriculum provided that one subject is English and one subject is a second language (either Spanish or German).
There are subject booklets that provide more detailed information about the curriculum in different stages of the School that can be obtained through the Admissions Department at Albyn School and more detailed information about the French curriculum can currently be found on the TOTAL French School website, rubrique “pédagogie”.