The current one as previously mentioned has a yard 20m by 10m. All ages play in this space from the small maternelles at 3yrs old up to the CM2 at 11. The access to the two classrooms is up a dark staircase. The classes have 3 different year groups in them. Our youngest's class has two rows of desks each facing a different wall. The desks are old. At first glance there is very little order in the classroom with piles of books and papers on desks on the far side of the room. The eldest's class is similar, accept that they all face the one blackboard at the front of the class. The headmaster is also a full-time teacher only having Friday out of the classroom to attend to headteacher stuff. There is no school secretary. There is a before / afterschool service and these ladies also look after the kids at lunchtime because the teachers have no responsabilty for the children during this time.
A good thing about being here is taking part in the "out of the classroom" lessons. Two weeks ago the boys went cross-country skiing for the day at le Plateau de la Beille. The weather was amazing and it was a fantastic day. It allowed me to see first hand the differences between UK and French ways of doing things. There were no seatbelts on the bus. The teachers did the cross-country skiing instructing, however given that for most it was their first time, either ever, or at least for a year, there was no basic instruction of how to put on the skis, how to move or even how to stop! I was walking with the bottom group helping to pick them up when they fell but I was a bit concerned about my two given that they had not done this before and they were put in the top two groups because they had done downhill skiing. At lunchtime the children were told to sit on the snow and have their packed lunch whilst the teachers all sat together. There was no real concern to ensure that all the children were drinking enough or staying warm. It was then that I learned that teachers in France have the right to hit a pupil! Listening to my eldest describe his morning it sounded like a testosterone filled group that had been out to go as fast as possible uphill and down. Although he is competitive at other things he felt out of his depth, not helped by the fact that the teacher mocked him every time he fell over. This was more evidence that he has not settled and feels completely under-confident in everything that he does. Luckily he was able to change groups and went in the next one down with his brother and loved the afternoon session.
In January we had put in an offer on a house and had it accepted. We had even got as far as going to the lawyer's to sign the first of the documents leading to purchase - the compromis de vente. However the seller dragged his heels on completing a survey required for sale on the septic tank. When it eventually came in, it transpired that he had not had a new survey done just the old report re-written. He thought it said that everything was fine. He ignored the part that said that it was fine for up to 5 people! Given that it was a house that could sleep over 8 with gites that slept 12 we were not going to be able to take the "do nothing" option with the septic tank. The cost was unknown and was probably going to be very high. Too high for our budget so sadly, we pulled out of the sale.
Where does that leave us? The situation is thus: no house, a school system that does not appear to offer what I think my boys need, a rental that is too small for our needs, all our stuff in storage and a husband at home 4 nights a month. This all adds up to not much of a life. So we have had to admit that, this time around, our french dream is not to be. It is something for later on, for hubby and I together when we only need to worry about watering vegetable patches and having a cave du bon vin.
The question now is where do we live? As of 7 April we have no house nor a school for the boys. Answers on a postcard please!