AFTER two months of holidays parents and children are now ready for la rentrée this week.
The cartables, or school bags, and school equipment listed by the teachers have been bought. I weighed my seven year old granddaughter's school bag, full of equipment, and it was 5.2 kgs.
She has a school bag on wheels as the weight is too much for her.
The bus passes have been issued so the children can take the bus scolaire and everyone can relax as school reopens for another year.
According to the government all children should have school insurance, assurance scolaire, not for obligatory activities but for the acitivitiés périscolaires or extra-curricular activities.
It is advisable to discuss with your insurance provider cover for risk of harm to your child, décès-invalidité and individuelle accident and harm they might do another child, résponsabilité civille just to check all is up to date and covered.
Insurance covers things like school trips, foreign trips, dental braces, glasses, theft of school equipment and home tutoring during periods of illness.
Children who will be starting school for the first time, moving up the school or changing school are best having their insurance cover checked.
But, for everyone in maternelle and primaire the adjustment to the compulsory service minimum, four day school week, along with a 'back to basics' curriculum will take some getting used to.
We haven't received anything definitive from either of our grandchildren's schools but according to the French education site from September 2008 children in maternelles et élémentaires will have 24 hours of teaching per week, that is six hours per day Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Some schools have opted to change the Saturday morning school for a Wednesday morning; but it seems most schools will be sticking to the four day week.
Wednesdays have traditionally been kept free for extra-curricular activities.
The compulsory service minimum puts the emphasis on oral language in maternelle where it is an important factor for children to learn to express themselves by sounds, sentence structure and writing, preparing themselves for the transition to primaire.
As part of the new 'back to basics' approach to education in the first two years of primaire, CP and CE1, when children traditionally start to read there will be 10 hours of French per week; five hours of maths, while the rest of the hours will be split between other subjects of modern languages, sport, art and world discovery.
From CE2 to the end of primaire, eight hours will be devoted to French and five hours to maths. Modern languages, sport, experimental sciences, technology, history, geography, civic education, art and art history will be split between the remaining hours.
Children in CE1 and CE2 will be facing new tests, with extra support of two hours per week and holiday courses on offer for those who are considered to be falling behind. The new approach is to cut the levels of children who leave primaire without the basic 3Rs.
However, it appears that la rentrée will be accompanied by disruption as strikes against the new reforms and job cuts are likely.
It has been announced that more than 11,000 staff will not to be replaced at la rentrée and over the next year another 13,500 cut backs are expected.
Strikes can be expected at the end of September and early October. The CGT union are particularly concerned by the cut backs, who have said, "if we don't keep up recruitment how are the children to succeed?"
They are also expecting reactions to the service minimum, as well as the need for 48 hours notice of strikes and the new curriculum.
There is also a relaxation in rules covering catchment areas, the carte scolaire, which the unions also have concerns about, the CGT said "this could be unpopular as some schools could receive high demand while others not enough and face closure".
Parents especially wait to hear of further outcomes.