Open Doors is a small, friendly, family-orientated school community, where English-speaking children are taught English by British-certified teachers from the UK whose classes adhere closely to the British curriculum. Native-speaker literacy and writing skills are developed using a wide-range of teaching methods and materials. We have an extensive reading programme, which begins as soon as children join the school aged 4 and carries on right the way through all the primary classes. In our positive learning environment, children are encouraged to participate in class and share ideas in order to gain confidence in themselves and in their spoken language ability.
We are to be found in Saint Nom la Bretèche, a small town in les Yvelines located about 30km to the west of Paris in the green and leafy suburbs between Versailles and Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Our catchment area includes many of the local towns and also spreads quite a distance further afield, but with the excellent road systems in this area access to Open Doors by car is easy whichever direction you’re approaching from.
The bilingual, bicultural children who attend our classes are all fluent English speakers: either one or both parents are English-speaking; they originate from an English-speaking country and now happen to be in France; or they are non-native English speakers who have spent time abroad in an English-speaking country and now, back here in France, wish to maintain a good, working knowledge of the language. Many of our children go on to study at bilingual secondary schools (Lycée International or Institut Notre-Dame, both at Saint- Germain-en-Laye) or to other local, highly regarded secondary schools, where a good grasp of English is keenly appreciated.
Open Doors has been providing quality teaching in English for English-speaking children since 1986. We endeavour to keep classes small in order to maintain an optimal pupil-teacher contact. Each year over 80 children are enrolled at the school and whilst places are in high demand, it is always worth enquiring about availability. Tuition starts for children aged 4 years old (MATERNELLE – Moyenne Section) and continues up to 11 years old (PRIMAIRE – CM2, which is the last class before secondary school). Our teachers are highly qualified and have experience of both the British and French educational systems. They understand fully the particular needs of bilingual children, especially where literacy and writing skills are concerned.
Our two Maternelle classes (Moyenne and Grande Section) have 20 places each. The children are taught by two experienced and dedicated teachers at any one time. It is reassuring and extremely beneficial for the younger children to enjoy this degree of pedagogical support. At this “infants” level, the children’s English is developed through songs and stories, lots of artwork and interactive games. They follow a well-devised and closely monitored reading scheme where they can progress at their own pace. Most of the children have a good reading ability by the time they begin the “primary” level of Open Doors at age 6. The Maternelle classes prepare a charming Christmas play every year, which is performed to the parents and the children can also let off steam at the annual sports day.
We have five Primaire classes, where the children are aged from 6 to 11. Each class has 12 pupils and is taught by one of our three experienced and motivated primary teachers. There is the additional support of a reading assistant who, on a weekly basis, listens to the children read individually, monitors their progress and streamlines their reading programme accordingly. The children can thus advance at their own rhythm. We use up-to-date British reading schemes and textbooks and have an extensive library of fiction and non-fiction books, from which the children are allowed to choose every week. The primary lessons are based on different topics that are worked on over several weeks. The children are encouraged to participate by discussing the subject in question; presenting their own work done at home and by working individually or in groups in class. Topics differ greatly and are always well researched and interestingly introduced by the teacher who generally uses a wide variety of materials to rouse the children’s curiosity. Our primary classes take place on a Wednesday, and, as such, are entirely complementary to the French system, thus ensuring every opportunity for the children to attend all lessons at their full-time school, whilst also benefiting from what Open Doors has to offer them.
Open Doors expects a certain commitment from the children and their parents: to attend class regularly; to ensure homework is completed and to maintain a regular reading regime. The learning and improvement of English through this kind of partnership is very positive and our children certainly reap the benefits from it. We feel that we offer an excellent learning opportunity that is good value for money, making it accessible to everyone.
Open Doors has an active committee which organises fundraising events, which help to reinforce the good functioning of the school and which are well supported by the families. In addition we organise events for the children and/or parents to get together socially. We encourage parents to participate in the life of the school outside the classroom and hope that this helps to forge a strong bond between the families of Open Doors with the goal of creating a close-knit community for our children to thrive in.
Typically children come to Open Doors from the nearby towns.