The young students that come to spend a term, a half-year or a full school year in France generally arrive for the start of school in September, January or March. The French school year starts around the 1st September and ends around the 6th July. After receiving the application forms of the students applying for the “School in France” programme and before their arrival the SILC team carry out many procedures.
Here is an overview of the different stages once the student’s application documentation is complete.
- Placement in a family
Nadine explains that “when we receive the student’s file we add it to a waiting list. This list provides a short portrait of each student (personal details, character, passions, allergies, wishes…) and we send this list, updated each week, to our local agents situated all over France.
Upon receiving the list the agents consult the list of host families in their area and try to make compatible matches according to the profile of the student and that of the family. The families have a period of reflection to consider welcoming a particular student. Once they agree SILC collects a detailed description of the family with photos and sends it to the agent so that he can send it on to the young candidate. In this way the agent can move forward and make contact with the family to get to know them.
Based on the profiles of the students, matching them with a family can take between a week and two months. For example, a student who follows a gluten-free diet requires us to find a family that is experienced in this type of diet, or that is able to provide for it with appropriate products and cook appropriate meals. In this case the search for a family may require more time.”
- Enrolment in a school
Once the family has been identified it is necessary to proceed with the enrolment of the student in a school. There are several possible scenarios:
- the host family has a child who already attends the school and they will take the necessary steps to enrol the young student,
- the local agent has a contact with a local school and will organise the enrolment,
- if there has been no previous contact with the school SILC will contact the school to present the school programme and the young student to make sure that the school agrees.
In all cases SILC provides the school with the full academic file that the student provided in his application. This enables the School Head and teachers to have an overview of the student’s level, his behaviour in class and his motivations.
Then, according to the chosen formula (Classic or Care free) it is the student and the family and/or SILC who registers the student at the school canteen, if necessary registers them for the school bus or buys a student bus pass so they can get to school, purchases the school textbooks for each of the relevant subjects and purchases the necessary school materials.
- Obtaining a visa
For young non-Europeans a French ‘residence’ visa is generally required to be able to study in France. It requires a D-Minor School visa or a D-Student visa for the over-18s.
SILC sends the student the necessary forms to obtain the visa, in particular:
- a certificate of accommodation in a host family
- a certificate of enrolment in a school
- a certificate from SILC certifying that the student will be monitored during his stay in France.
Then it is up to the student to carry out the procedure and gather together all the required documentation. Then they can go to the French Embassy in their country with all of these documents (generally it is necessary to make an appointment) to start the visa application.
Normally the visa is obtained within a month. Occasionally, in very rare cases, the visa may be refused without SILC knowing the reason for the refusal.
- Travel and arrival in France
Once the visa is obtained, SILC invites the student to reserve his own flight to Paris. The flight information (flight times, flight number, airline) should be sent to SILC so that they may make the necessary arrangements.
For the start of the 2018 school year the meeting date is Tuesday 28th August, preferably with an arrival in the morning local time. Members of the SILC team will be present to welcome the students in the Arrivals Hall after baggage-collection. All of the students are then taken in charge to organize group transfers into Paris where they will be accommodated by families for 3 nights.
The students then get together for 3 orientation days in Paris. They will visit the main tourist sites in the Capital, get to know each other and participate in workshops organized by SILC personnel during which they will be reminded of the instructions and rules of their stay. This time for discussion also enables us to answer all of their questions, to reassure them and ensure that they become familiar with French culture so that they integrate quickly.
On Friday 31 August SILC will organise travel in groups to the regions where their host families will be waiting for them. The students will then have 3 days to settle in and explore their new environment, sort out any final details and get to know their families before starting school on Monday 3 September.
A well-oiled organization therefore, which is necessary to anticipate and prepare each student’s stay in the best possible way.