French get more respect

30th June 2006 at 01:00

French primary schoolchildren respect their teachers more than English ones do, and teachers in England work more in teams, according to British and French student teachers.

They described their classroom experiences in each other's countries to French education minister Gilles de Robien and British minister for schools Jim Knight.

They were some of this year's trainees on placements, organised under the 2003 Franco-British Touquet agreements which marked the centenary of the two nations' Entente Cordiale.

Every year around 400 primary trainee teachers from each country spend four weeks working in the partner country.

Anna Comfort of the University of the West of England, Bristol, said her school in Rouen "in terms of respect was much more traditional, more like England 15 years ago".

"Children had their own desks, children listened to me. English schools now are more daunting, with children giving teachers a hard time. In France there is more respect for teachers."

Lewis Cook, also a trainee at the University of the West of England, who visited a different school in Rouen, agreed: "From the minute I walked into the school, children knew they were there to learn, whereas in England I'm not sure whether a more relaxed atmosphere with parents and visitors has affected behaviour."

Emmanuelle Boutineaud, who studies at a teacher-training college in Antony, south of Paris, and who visited a school in Cambridge, said teaching practice in the classroom made a difference. "The theoretical training on the ground, contact with pupils, and other teachers was good - we appreciated working in a team in England. The role of management within the school was the key, with one person responsible for motivating the team, keeping everyone informed."

After meeting the students, the two ministers signed a new three-year agreement to develop exchanges at all levels of education.

pound;25,000 prizes for linking

There are pound;25,000 of prizes in this year's TESHSBC Make the Link awards for schools and colleges working with partners overseas. This year there are separate categories for primary and secondary schools. Find your online or postal entry form on our campaign website, The deadline for entries is July 21. The Make the Link campaign is supported by HSBC and the British Council

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