1. What is the place of CFBL in the AEFE network?
Collège Français Bilingue de Londres is a private independent school under English law. When the school was set up, its Board of trustees signed a contract with the Agence pour l’Enseignement Français à l’Etranger (AEFE), a French public institution working under the aegis of the French Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, which oversees a network of more than 400 schools worldwide.
Being part of the AEFE network, CFBL follows the French Education nationale curriculum (this process is called “homologation”).
There are three types of partnership contracts French schools abroad can establish with the AEFE:
− Schools directly managed by the AEFE (called “EGD schools”), such as the Lycée Charles de Gaulle in London, which report directly to the AEFE - unlike state schools in France which work under the Ministère de l’Education nationale. There are 74 EGD in the AEFE network.
− Conventionnés schools, such as CFBL currently, are separate private legal entities. The ‘convention’ status relates mostly to the appointment of a Headteacher by the AEFE (to which he or she reports – and who is remunerated by the AEFE; and to the ‘secondment’ of a number of French qualified teachers to the school. 156 schools worldwide have this type of contract with the AEFE.
− Accredited schools (or “partner schools”) which are private autonomous schools which follow the French Education nationale curriculum. There are 264 such schools. The AEFE supports such schools with training, educational know-how and, in some cases, career advice for pupils.
2. Why will CFBL be changing its AEFE status on 1st September 2017?
On 12 April 2016, the Board of Trustees decided to evolve its relationship with the AEFE, and as from 1st September 2017, CFBL will be joining the 264 strong AEFE partner schools network.
This decision was motivated by the necessity to increase the autonomy of CFBL management, allowing greater flexibility to adapt to local conditions, and ensuring the School’s sustainability. The objective of the Board remains the excellence in its education for all its pupils.
The evolution of AEFE status will not impact the education successfully delivered by the School: CFBL will continue to be accredited by the Education nationale (homologué).
As a member of the AEFE network of accredited schools, CFBL will continue to benefit from a number of AEFE services, notably in terms of training and educational know-how. It will continue to be inspected by the Education nationale and by Ofsted.
3. What is the significance of « homologation »?
The « homologation » is the process whereby the Ministère de l’Education nationale recognises, abroad, a school’s compliance with the French curriculum. It is seen as a “quality label”. The homologation enables French nationals who attend accredited schools, regardless of their AEFE status, to benefit from means tested bursaries awarded by the AEFE.
4. What is the legal structure and current governance of CFBL?
The School is owned by Collège Français Bilingue de Londres ltd. An English private company limited by guarantee, registered with the Charity Commission (number 1027932). Its Board, chaired by Mr Rémi Bourrette, comprises of an equal number of parents (proposed by the School Parents’ association) (“Parent trustees”) and individuals proposed by the Chambre de Commerce Française de Grande-Bretagne (“CCFGB trustees”).
The Board of trustees is responsible for the overall governance of the School (including compliance with Department for Education regulations) and its financial management. Working with, and at the initiative of the Headteacher, the Board also takes part in defining the School’s educational objectives and the School’s project.
Under a ‘convention’ agreement with the AEFE, the Headteacher (and thus the AEFE) is in charge of the education services and of its administration.
The French teachers (and the Headteacher), who are supplied to the School, work under the authority of the French Embassy’s Cultural Services, working jointly with the AEFE, which manages the AEFE personnel supplied to CFBL.
Other teachers and members of personnel are employed by the School on a local contract but report to the Headteacher (‘convention’).
5. Is CFBL truely bilingual ?
A school is defined as being bilingual when 30% of its education is delivered in a different language. In CFBL’s primary section (GSM to CM2) lessons are taught 50% in French and 50% in English. This parity no longer exists in the secondary section (6 ème to 3eme). However, some subjects are taught in English. Depending on the options selected by pupils, they represent between 30 and 40% of the total volume of lessons.
6. How is CFBL funded?
What financial support is offered by the French state? The creation of CFBL would not have been possible without the initial support of the KT Educational Charitable Trust (KTECT), previously known as French Education Property Trust, which put in place the financial and legal structure of CFBL. KECT obtained bank loans of £21m in 2009 and fundraised £4m. FEPT also donated £503,957.93 of equipment to CFBL in 2011.
In its present structure, CFBL is now mostly financed by school fees. CFBL contributes 69% towards the salaries of AEFE teachers who are seconded to the school. At present, CFBL has 15 full time AEFE teachers.
CFBL can also benefit from AEFE subsidies for school equipment. When it was set up, CFBL received a subsidy of approx. £400,000 from the AEFE and a further £82,000 in 2013.
Schools directly managed by the AEFE and conventionnés schools are required to pay a stipend to the AEFE based on 6% of school fees. This 6% is included in school fees. For partner schools, this contribution is reduced to 2% of school fees.
7. How are school fees determined?
School fees are fixed by the Board, taking into account the projected budgets. Parent trustees participate in the Board’s discussion on budgets and any increase in school fees in order to achieve a consensus at Board level. However, they cannot vote on fees to avoid any conflict of interest.
As a charity, CFBL is a non profit-making entity. The level of fees decided by the Board is not set to make a profit but to balance budgets and to ensure the health of the School’s finances. Any surplus is set aside as part of reserves for the School’s future needs.
8. What is the forecast on future fee increases?
The level of fees is closely linked to the costs of running the School. Fees are the school’s principal source of income.
Operating costs, are primarily made up of salaries and rent, plus other operating costs such as equipment, electricity, maintenance, gas, etc. Although the School endeavours to control costs, it needs to reward its employees taking into account factors such as inflation, years of service and the need to maintain the level of staffing required for the good operation of the school.
Increases in rent are easy to anticipate because they are indexed to inflation over the next 25 year life of the School’s lease. This annual indexation compares favourably to rent increases in the London property market. Nevertheless, additional costs can arise such as maintenance, building improvements or the need for new equipment.
For these reasons, it is impossible to forecast increases in school fees in the medium term with any accuracy. The alternative would be to estimate a very uncertain amount which, naturally, the school refuses to do.
We are fully aware of the financial difficulties some pupils’ families experience and we are strongly committed to limiting increases in costs, insofar as that does not prejudice pupils or staff safety, the wellbeing of pupils and the quality of education. The financial sustainability and control of the evolution of school fees remain constant priorities for the Board and the School management.
9. What help is available to families in financial difficulty?
CFBL being accredited by the Education nationale, its pupils - if they have at least one French parent - can apply for a means tested bursary with the French Consulate in London. A link is provided on CFBL’s website. You can consult it here: http://www.cfbl.org.uk/en/admissions/financial-aid
CFBL can also agree, on application and when possible, to the payment of school fees by instalments although it is not authorised to accept instalments over more than 10 monthly periods.
10. Who is the School’s contact regarding school fees?
If you need further information or if you experience difficulties in the payment of school fees, you can contact Mr Tony O’Grady, CFBL’s Finance and Administrative Manager, who works closely with the Board.
The Board only can decide the general policy on school fees.
11. How does CFBL foresee its future?
CFBL intends to pursue its educational offer, improving its individual support of pupils and continuing to innovate. Bilingualism, the teaching of foreign languages and its extracurricular offer will continue to be its trademark. Pupils who so wish can take the international option of the Brevet at the end of 3ème for which the school has received Education nationale accreditation.
CFBL will remain a medium size school because its maximum capacity cannot exceed 700 pupils.
12. What is FECT? What is its relationship with the French Embassy?
A not-for-profit entity (French Education Charitable Trust), holding no assets, is in charge of identifying new projects working with the think-tank “Plan Ecole”.
Its trustees are Arnaud Vaissié, Jean-Pierre Mustier and Richard Fairbairn as well as three Embassy members: the Ministre Conseillé , the Conseiller Culturel and the Conseiller Culturel Adjoint.
Being a not-for-profit entity, the rent charged by KTECT covers only the loan raised for the project, at no profit for KTECT.
The cost of the acquisition and renovation of the Holmes Road building was financed by bank loans, donations from commercial entities and a donation from the French Embassy Trust.
13. What is the « Charte des établissements français de Londres »?
The “Charter” agreed between French schools in London is a code of good conduct under which schools accredited with the Education nationale (“homologuées”) regulate the transfer of pupils between each other. It enables pupils to continue their French education in London until the end of their schooling (terminale). CFBL, and the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, are obligated to give priority to pupils who apply to transfer from such schools (subject to their admission policy and availability of places) over other pupils arriving from France or other countries.
However, under the Charter, pupils must pursue their studies in the school they initially attend until the end of the programme of studies offered by that school: this means that while parents are free to choose the first school which their child will attend, they cannot transfer their child to another homologuée school until the child has completed the programme of studies offered by the first school unless they obtain the consent of the head teachers of both schools and the consent of the Conseiller Culturel Adjoint.
14. How does the priorities of admission work?
CFBL’s Admission Policy is published on the School’s website. FEPT has provided to CFBL on non-profit terms the land and buildings occupied by the School. Under the terms of its lease with FEPT, CFBL is required to give priority of admission to a pool of pupils (not exceeding 30% of the total school roll) who are children of company or organisation employees named by FEPT satisfying the school’s admissions criteria. The nominated children are likely to be children of employees of companies who have assisted FEPT financially in the funding of this project.
A list of companies or organisations designated by KETCT each year is available for inspection at the registered office of CFBL by appointment only (contacting firstname.lastname@example.org)
An Admissions Committee, chaired by the Headteacher, manages pupils’ admission.
15. What is the Plan Ecole?
The Plan Ecole is a vast exchange forum coordinated by the French Embassy in London. It aims to assist all members of the French education community in planning for changes in the French school network in London. Public meetings make proposals which are then decided upon by the “Comité de Pilotage” chaired by the Ambassador. The creation of CFBL emanates from this forum.