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January 30, 2024

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Meeting the requirements of expats for quality education

Louise Chen, a Chinese-French, chose the Shanghai French School for her son and daughter when they reached school age because she values the French educational system.

“When I was 12, I immigrated to France with my parents and benefited from the high quality of the French educational system,” Chen told Shanghai Daily. “My younger brother attended the Shanghai French School in 2007 and was later admitted to one of Paris’ best high schools.

“So, even though there are many foreign schools in Shanghai, I enrolled my children in this one without hesitation. Furthermore, if they return to France or Europe, they will be able to complete their education easily.”

According to Benjamin Bilteryst, executive director of the Shanghai French School, the school was founded in 1996 in response to a request from the Consulate General of the Republic of France in Shanghai and the French Embassy in Beijing as the local French community grew to nearly 1,000 people.

It started with 13 children from kindergarten to primary school on the original campus next to the Xijiao State Guest Hotel in Changning District. Within a year, the French and German schools decided to merge to form a French-German school, today known as Eurocampus.

A year later, the student body had grown to over 130, and the school formed a partnership with the Agency for French Teaching Abroad, which delegated some administrators and teachers and ensured that the school followed the French curriculum, as did the more than 550 French schools around the world.

With the number of students increasing, the school relocated to its current campus in Qingpu District in 2005 and constructed a new campus in Yangpu in 2019, along with the German school. The Yangpu campus was the district’s first international school in northern Shanghai.

Currently, the Shanghai French School serves approximately 830 students aged 2 to 18 in Qingpu and 530 students aged 2 to 16 in Yangpu.

Julien Pisselet, principal of Shanghai French School, said that the establishment of the Yangpu campus aligned with the French government’s objective of doubling the number of French students in French schools around the world.

“We currently have over 390,000 students worldwide across 550 schools. We aim to have approximately 600,000 students in French schools worldwide by 2030,” he said.

The school has roughly 25 percent of students with both French parents and more than 45 percent of students who come from mixed French-Chinese households.

The remaining students come from 45 nationalities, including Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada, South Korea and Singapore.

Diverse background

Bilteryst said that all students benefit from diverse backgrounds, which hastens their maturity to discover the world.

The Shanghai French School emphasizes multilingualism in its academic offerings, with French, English, and Chinese required for all students as well as a fourth language such as German or Spanish.

“The multilingual approach is a significant benefit for students in the future and their mobility, because 20 years ago, you could stay and work where you studied, but that is no longer the case.

“So, what we are focusing on with the strategic and pedagogical initiative on this specific point is that you are now global students who will change and have mobility for your job many times. That is why families trust the French school,” said Pisselet.

The school offers special classes for non-French-speaking students and their parents to encourage students to participate in all aspects of campus life and parents to become more active in their children’s education.

The French School administration is especially happy that the French Baccalaureate diploma is recognized internationally. Approximately half of its students attend the best French universities, with the remainder studying in countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and China.

Aside from adhering to the French curriculum, the school also tailors its curriculum to the individual city it serves, particularly in geography, history, culture and languages. For example, in addition to worldwide holidays, the school celebrates Chinese traditions, such as the Spring Festival.

It also engages its students in local community work and has established connections with local art and cultural venues, including Shanghai’s major museums.

The school also collaborates with local institutions, such as through an exchange program with the Ganquan Foreign Language School, which allows foreign students to learn Chinese while Chinese students learn French.

“We want to ensure that students learn about China’s history and culture, as well as try to converse in Chinese,” Pisselet said.

According to Pisselet, the school will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China-France diplomatic relations with the French consulate and embassy.

The first event will be held on January 31, when Joan Valadou, the French Consul General in Shanghai, will talk with the students. French diplomats visiting China this year will also meet with the students.


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