Category Archives: 3.2 Classroom Organisation & Management

School Structure

One thing that took some getting used to when I first arrived in France was the structure of the school day. This is something that is very different to Scotland. There are aspects of the school day that I believe are very good, however, there are also ways in which is believe the Scottish system works better. The school day structure just shows how various parts of the day are deemed more important in other countries.

The school day begins at 8:30 am. In the beginning of placement, I found this strange as primary school in Scotland do not usually start until 9:00 am (Chevalier-Karfis, 2016). This is not considered an early start and the children are always at school on time, ready to start the day. This is another difference. Over my six weeks of placement, not once has a child in my class ever been late to school. They are all punctual and begins lessons on time. The children have a morning break starting at 10:15 am until 10:30 am. However, I have noticed that often, the teachers do not stick to this time frame. When the bell goes for break the children do not rush out of their seats to go outside. If the teacher is still teaching, she will continue the lesson until they are finished. This means that sometimes the children are going out 5 sometimes 10 minutes late. However, the teacher allows them to stay in the playground longer if this has happened. This has happened a lot during my time at school. Therefore, it can be confusing when teaching lessons as sometimes pupils won’t be in the class when they are supposed to be.

Lunchtime is the biggest difference between France and Scotland. I couldn’t believe it when I was informed at the beginning of placement that lunch is two hours long. This is something I was definitely not used to. In Scotland children don’t even receive a full hour for lunch, it is usually fifty minutes. However, in France lunchtime is seen as their big meal of the day. Therefore, most of the children in my school go home at lunchtime to have a meal with their family. From sitting in the staffroom, I was able to see the kinds of things that French people typically eat at this time of day. A lot of the teacher sit and have a pasta dish or a vegetable dish with bread on the side. I felt very strange the first lunchtime sitting there with my sandwich. Having a nap at lunchtime is also something French people like to do; therefore, two hours is the perfect amount of time to enjoy a meal and have time to sleep before getting back to work. I can see how this might work and it gives both children and teachers a good break in the middle of the day and can come back into class feeling refreshed. However, I personally have found lunchtimes my least favourite part of the day. Commencing at 11:30 am and finishing at 13:30 pm is a long time to sit around. Although it gives me time to get work done, I would rather get back into the swing of the school day. I believe that it would make more sense to cut lunch by and hour and finish school an hour early. Nevertheless, this is not the French culture and I respect that lunch is their important family time.

The children have an afternoon break as well as a morning break. Another aspect of the school day that differs from Scotland. Having two breaks as well as lunch means that the children spend just over an hour in the classroom working before they have a break. This is something that seems to work in France as the children have the chance to release their energy. Because the French education system focuses a lot on French and maths the children do not participate in a lot of expressive arts subjects. I believe that this is part of the reason why they are afforded so many breaks. The children focus so much when they are in the classroom, they sit quietly and get on with their work, so I believe it is only fair that they have the chance to go outside and play.

The school day finishes at 15:40 pm, this is the time I used to finish high school in Scotland. Most primary schools would typically finish around 15:10 pm. Overall, the French school day is longer than a typical primary school day in Scotland, however, they have more breaks and a longer lunch, meaning that they don’t spend any longer working. Personally, I like the way in which schools are structured in Scotland, this is because it is what I am used to and do not enjoy the two-hour lunches when I am in school. However, I believe that this structure works well in France.

Week 6: Monday

I can’t believe that that this was my final Monday of placement. Going into my last week I was overcome by different emotions. I was sad to be leaving the school, however, I was also very happy about completing my learning from life placement having had such an amazing experience. I truly believe that this experience has made me grow as a person and look at the world in a different way. I have had to overcome various challenges along the way. Despite this, I have taken advantage of every opportunity afforded to me and involved myself in every aspect of the placement.

Knowing that on Mondays I don’t have any classes to teach I like to make sure that I take full advantage of the time I have to observe French lessons. I also thought it would be a good idea to reflect upon the cultures and values of the school. Over the past six weeks I have gotten to grips with the way in which the French Education system is implemented as how this specifically works in Romain Rolland. Having time on the Monday to read and research was very helpful in gaining a greater insight into the values of the school. Having spent a lot of time observing as well as teaching I have been able to see how the school days run as well as the various subjects that are taught each day. I have had the chance to see how the children work as well as see how the teachers tackle things such as classroom management and behaviours.

The children had an English lesson on Monday with Asif the English assistant. It is always very interesting watching how someone else teaches English as a foreign language. The children were revising the concept of time, they had been working on this last Monday. Each week it is clear to see progression. The teacher used interactive clocks, allowing the children to see the physical time and change it. This reinforces the importance of making lessons as interactive as possible. This is something I have tried to do in each lesson that I teach. I make sure that there is an aspect of the lesson where the children are very involved, most of the time I use games. It has also proven to be a successful way of getting the children to repeat the vocabulary, allowing them to remember it.

This was my last day with Madame Pasquer. Over the weeks i had hoped that the language barrier would lessen and I would be able to converse with this teacher. However, this didn’t really happen. I just went into Monday’s knowing that I would not have any involvement in the school day. As much as I tried to speak French, it was too difficult when someone cannot speak any English.

Week 1 Reflection


Wednesday is a half day in France meaning that the children finish school at half past eleven. This is very different to Scotland as school runs to and from the same time every day. It felt very strange leaving the school at this time. However, it did allow me to recharge and go into the next two days feeling energised. It was a supply teacher that was in on this day which proved a challenge for me as she didn’t speak English. I attempted to use my French, however, this was a very difficult morning. The language barrier meant that I didn’t have much involvement in the day, I merely sat at the back of the classroom and observed. This supply teacher usually takes the class on a Monday as Amélie, their normal teacher doesn’t work Monday’s. This means that I am going to have to improve my French in order to be able to communicate with this teacher over the coming weeks.

The children followed the same structure and the day before, having both maths and French in the morning. I have noticed that the do the same things in these subjects everyday however it become progressively more difficult. The children are always very engaged and always offer answers when the teacher asks. Having now seen them with two different teachers I have noticed that they do not act differently with the different teachers. From experience in Scottish primary schools, children may act up or work harder when they are confronted with different teachers. This further emphasises the level of respect children have for their teachers in France. They do not test the teacher’s boundaries and misbehave. However, despite this I believe that the supply teacher had a much stricter approach with the children than Amélie. The tone of her voice was stern at all times and she didn’t allow talking during lessons. This made me feel slightly on edge as the children were so well behaved and didn’t require this approach. This allowed me to consider the way in which I will approach lessons when I begin teaching. I believe that positive reinforcement and a smile goes a long way.


On Thursday I found out that I am going to be involved in the class radio project. They will be planning and recording a radio sequence. Part of this will involve an interview. I will be asked questions by two of the children in French and I will be required to answer in French. I was very worried when I found out as my French is not very strong. I was worried about the pupils’ reaction to my lack of French coupled with my Scottish accent trying to pronounce French words correctly. However, during the week two of the children sat with me to discuss the various questions that I will be asked and also helped me to formulate some answers. This was a great opportunity for me to involve myself and talk to the children more about their studies. It also made me realise that although I am there to teach them, they are also teaching me. The children are very patient with me and try to help when I struggle with the language. This is another reason that I feel so at home in the school. Although at times I have felt embarrassed due to my lack of French, both the children and the teacher help and are not judgemental. I am looking forward to being involved with someone within the class that is different from merely teaching English.

The structure of the day was very much the same as previous days. One thing I noticed was how studious the children are and how every child completes their homework. It is clear to see that all of the children enjoy being at school.This is so refreshing to see, as during my placement in Scottish primary school that this wasn’t the case. Many children would not turn in homework and every day at least one person would be absent from class. In my school in France the class has been full everyday thus far. This emphasises how successful the French education system works. Although there are certain aspects that I disagree with, the way in which they run schools obviously works very well. This has allowed me to understand more about French culture and values. I am very interested to see over the coming weeks if what I have seen for far continues as we grow closer to the spring holidays.


I was unsure at the beginning of the week if the children were excited to have me in their class or if they thought of me as someone who just sits at the back of the classroom and observes lessons. However, when the teacher explained that they would be doing an English lesson their response was “Avec Briony?”. I was happy that they were so enthusiastic about me teaching English and understood that I was going to be a part of their class for the next six weeks. This was the first time that I was able to sit with groups of children on my own and assess their knowledge of English. I was nervous at first because I didn’t know how the children would react to me teaching English as I was foreign to their classroom. I played a sound game where thy had to match up jigsaw pieces that had the same sound. I found that most of the children picked this up very quickly, however, there are some sounds that we use in English that are very difficult for the French to pronounce such as H and WH. I found that when I introduced words that they were unfamiliar with, they repeated them in a Scottish accent. This was because they were merely imitating the way in which I was saying each word. This was all very new to me and it was very interesting to see their reaction to the game. When they grasped a new word, they were very excited. This was very rewarding as I was helping them to develop their English language skills without any help form the teacher.

By this day I felt very comfortable in the school and felt as though I had been there for more than a week. The children began to greet me in English and I did my best to talk to them in French. I believe that over the coming weeks I will be able to build relationships with the pupils as I become more confident teaching English as a foreign language whilst also improving my French speaking skills. The language barrier will prove to be an issue however, my goal is to be able to overcome this and eventually be able to converse with others in French confidently. I am looking forward to the various lessons and activities I will be involved in over the course of placement. I couldn’t be happier about how my learning from life placement has started.

One thing I feel bad about is not being able to learn the children’s names. I am usually someone that finds it simple to learn names in a classroom, however, this has proved difficult in France. I have never come across any of these names before and the pronunciation is very difficult. I hope that as I progress through placement I will be able to remember names whilst using the correct pronunciations. The children have also found it difficult to pronounce my name which allowed me to understand that it is difficult to pronounce names that are uncommon in your country.

Overall, I have had a very successful first week in Orléans and I am looking forward to the coming weeks. I aim to develop and progress as I go whilst gaining further insight into the French education system.