Primary brochure

The English National Programme provides secondary and primary teaching in English for pupils within the French educational system.
At the start of the school year, parents are asked to re-read with particular care the points on safety of pupils on the school site and near the school. These are in the
Rules, procedures and safety section.
If you would like to volunteer to become a classroom assistant on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday afternoons, please contact  Lucy Howen This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The primary programme provides three hours of teaching in English each week. Pupils attend their local French primary school (or French private school) and are permitted to come to the International Lycée for the whole an afternoon to receive teaching in English. CP, CE1 and CE2 classes take place on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, CM1 and CM2 on Wednesdays or Fridays. There are about 400 pupils in the primary section. Pupils are tested on entry, and are expected to be able to speak and understand the language with reasonable fluency. There is no requirement about nationality. All classes are based on the English National Curriculum. Pupils in the oldest class (CM2) are tested for entry to the first secondary class (6ème) in the International Collège/Lycée in Ferney-Voltaire. Most students who attend the primary section go on to attend the Collège International, where they will receive tuition in English, English Literature, history-geography with the option of taking English maths.
The Programme is not subsidised by any government or other organisation. It is run by a parents’ association, known as ALA-ELP. An elected committee deals with tuition fees to pay teachers’ salaries, provide teaching materials, and cover other costs. Parents of children who pass the entrance test must become members of the association and pay fees for tuition.
Further information on the Programme is available from the English National office: contact details are at the end of this brochure.


English National primary classes exist for children in the upper five years of French primary education: CP, CE1, CE2, CM1 and CM2. These are the age-group equivalent of British years 2, 3,4,5 and 6. Any child attending English National primary lessons must be in one of these classes in a French school in the Pays de Gex.
As far as possible we operate classes of 24.
Children are always placed in our classes in accordance with their class in French school, even if they have to repeat (redouble) a year in that school.
We label our classes according to the French system, and then use the name of the teacher to designate the teaching group. For example, CE1, Mrs. Horsford's group.

Primary Staff -  please see the Staff web page

Testing  and entry requirements

Testing for our intake class (the youngest CP class) takes place during the June preceding the beginning of pupils’ first academic year within the Programme. Most pupils will be approaching the end of their GS year at this point. All French maternelle schools in the Pays de Gex are informed of the test date and asked to give written information to families. The test date is placed on our website in advance. Normally, five or six primary teachers conduct the oral tests in parallel. The testers’ main goal is to put children at their ease, so that they can respond in English with their usual fluency and confidence. Places are awarded strictly on the basis of performance in the oral test.
For older classes (CE1 upwards), testing contains both an oral interview and a written test. This consists of a brief piece of continuous writing and a comprehension exercise based on a short passage of prose (comprehension exercise only at CE1 level). Candidates are only asked into school for testing if it is clear that there are places available in the relevant class. Normally, this is in mid to late September, but potentially could be at any point during the school year, if places become available.


If you accept a place for your son or daughter, we expect him or her to attend every week, except when illness or exceptional circumstances prevent this.

You may not withdraw your child temporarily because of activities (such as skiing) organised by the French primary school on an exceptional or regular basis. Places in our primary section are not always sufficient for demand; if you accept a place, we ask you to take full and regular advantage of it.

The school year

 ‘Pre-rentrée’ details are posted on the website in late August or early September. The rentrée is in mid-September, giving primary students a period of one or two weeks in their French primary school during which they do not have to deal with the extra demands of English National lessons.
Holidays within the English National primary Programme are those which apply to French secondary schools. These holiday dates are on the 'Important Dates' page of the website.

Times and places

Primary lessons take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, between 1:45pm and 4:40pm in the Lycée / Collège International in Ferney-Voltaire.
Parents are responsible for bringing and picking up their children. You should use the
lower gate of the Lycée. This is immediately next to the sports grounds and near the swimming pool. Please park safely near this entrance, and use the marked pedestrian crossings if you need to. The gate will be open from 1:35pm. Stay with your child at the gate, and then bring him or her into the waiting area, where you will find the classes lined up in rows. Children will wait with their teacher until 1:45pm. The teacher then takes the class to the classroom.
At the end of school, classes line up with their teacher, as at the beginning of the afternoon. The gate will be open from 4:40pm so that you can come in and collect your child. Once you have picked up your child, please leave the Lycée site as quickly as possible, and in any case before 5 pm, at which time this gate must be locked.
We ask families to declare in writing which adult will pick up their child each week, so that the teacher can be sure the child has been handed over to the parent or another authorized person. Please signal any exceptional arrangements to the Programme by email or by telephone, to the office, before the end of the school day.
The Programme cannot take responsibility for any child dropped off or collected in a manner which does not comply with the arrangements described in the preceding paragraphs. Staff will, of course, deal with emergencies, but parents must not expect them to supervise and be responsible for children on a routine basis beyond the times stated above.

 Rules, procedures and safety

The Lycée/Collège school site was not built for the use of smaller children. We must therefore insist that certain rules are obeyed by our pupils, and that all of those involved - pupils, teachers and parents - keep elementary safety issues in mind at all times.

  • Please take great care when parking and accompanying your children in and out of the Lycée site. The road outside is busy and can be dangerous. Always cross the road on the marked crossings and do not park in the bus lane.
  • Since pupils have to gather and then wait with the teacher until the whole class is present, it is important that they are properly equipped to withstand the weather. They will need coats, hats and raingear in winter, and at the hottest times may well need a cap or something else to protect them from the sun. Please take the measures which you think appropriate for your child.
  • While pupils are in the playground during break-time, they must stay within the limits explained to them by their teachers. They may not play any game involving running or chasing. Ball games, skipping ropes, etc. are not allowed in school. Pupils must follow the instructions of the teachers on duty at all times.
  • When moving around the school, pupils must obey the instructions of their teacher. If they are going somewhere as a class, they must move in pairs (in a ‘crocodile’) quietly and in good order. 
  • Any incidents involving the older pupils of the Collège or Lycée behaving inappropriately towards primary pupils should be reported to the class teacher and the Head of Primary immediately.

We believe that the pupils’ own sense of responsibility is the most important factor in ensuring safety in school. For this reason, teachers will spend some time discussing and explaining safety in general and the rules set out above at the beginning of each school year, and at other moments, if necessary.

Work in class

All work in class is based upon the National Curriculum for English (end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2), as applied in England and Wales. We also apply the theory and practice of the National Literacy Strategy, which we update by regular staff training. Teachers work together  in small teams on curriculum and lesson planning and refer explicitly in their work both to the National Curriculum and NLS. The primary Programme adapts the requirements of the Curriculum and the Strategy to suit our pupils, all of whom are in French schools, and most of whom receive no tuition in English outside their English National classroom.

The content and techniques of our English teaching remain close to current practice in England, to ensure that we retain high standards which will lead on, in the long term, to measurable success in such examinations as GCSE English. The Programme does not carry out testing at the end of KS2. Instead, all pupils must pass an entrance test to be admitted to the English National secondary section.

Educational advisors from England inspect and train us regularly.

Parent-helpers and their role

It would be very hard for us to deliver the content and follow the techniques of the National Literary Strategy in our classes without using parents as assistants in the classroom. We strive for each class to have at least one such assistant, who works under the supervision of the class teacher. Assistants are never in charge of the whole class, but may work with small groups and individuals, as well as assisting the teacher in managing the whole class.
Parents who would like to apply to become classroom helpers in the future are invited to contact our secretary, Lucy Howen This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
. We greatly value the assistance of such parents, and feel that this is a rewarding as well as a responsible role. We ask assistants to undertake to be regularly available for the whole of Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, from 1:45pm until 4:40pm.

Homework and what you can do to help

Homework is an essential part of the pupils' work in English and we expect each pupil to spend about 2 hours or more on their English homework. The more support and time that parents can give to helping their child, the quicker the child will progress. We understand that family circumstances however do not always make this easy and if this is the case, or your choild is struggling with the homework, you should speak with your child's teacher in order to find out the most important areas to focus on. Homework should be matched to each child's abilities and it might therefore be more appropriate for your child to use the two hours on reading a bit each day to an adult for example.If on the other hand, your child is coping easily with the work set then they should be encouraged to choose their own extension projects such as writing stories, poems or websites! Homework usually involves several components and if your child is capable of completing all the components then they should do so. Homework should never beome a source of conflict however, as praise and encouragement are, we believe, key to a child's success. Often there will be a challenge homework but children should be encouraged to choose their own areas of interest, which will always be received with interest by their teacher. 

In order to save paper homework is made available on a website each week. Most homework is to be handed in one week later.

You should attend the parent-teachers’ meeting at the beginning of the year, which is normally in early October. Your child’s class teacher will give you valuable advice about what types of homework will be set during the year, and how it should be done. Details of this meeting are given out in late September and are posted on the Important Dates page on this website.

There is also an individual parent-teacher meeting in late January. Nearly all primary parents attend this important meeting. You can raise any questions you have about homework and how to support it effectively during this meeting. Details of this meeting are given out about two weeks in advance and are posted on the Important Dates page on this website.

Books and equipment

Teaching in class is based upon a variety of resources, but includes the use of course books. Some books used in class, such as class readers, are provided on loan free of charge. You will be asked to pay for any book which your child will write in, annotate, or that he or she must keep for future reference and revision. Charges made for such books are currently of the order of 30-40 euros per year. They are clearly shown on the Fees and Books page of this website.

All other equipment, including audio-visual equipment and resources and computers are, of course, provided for your child’s use by the Programme or the Lycée/Collège.
In line with the practice in French secondary schools, we ask students to provide for themselves most paper and other stationery. Full details of what to buy are placed on this website in August/September.

Display and publishing of work and performances

Each class has a room within the Collège, which is treated on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday afternoons as their room. There are notice boards in each room, as well as in the corridors outside the Programme’s rooms. These are used as a means of displaying written work done by the class. This helps to reinforce learning, to motivate children as writers, and to establish the identity of the class. We also use such displays to show parents and other visitors written work produced by our pupils.
Parents can see work displayed when they are invited into school for meetings during the year.
Display of oral work is also important, and to this end each class produces a performance once a year. Performances are of various sorts but might well involve reading aloud, performing poetry and drama, or acting out stories. The material used is sometimes scripted as well as performed by the class. Parents are invited to these performance whenever possible.

Parents' evenings

Although we hope that the information contained in the primary brochure and on the website is useful, we know that it cannot replace contact between parents and teachers. Because of this, we organise an annual parents’ evening early in the year, normally in the first part of October. You will be invited to spend about 30 minutes with the teachers of your child's class level. If you have children in two classes we would advise going to the presentation for the eldest child. The teachers will present the curriculum for the year, and explain the organisation of the afternoon sessions, homework and other important matters. There will then be time for your questions. At an informal aperitif after the meeting, you will be able to meet other staff, members of the parents’ association, and, of course, other parents.

The meeting starts at 6:15pm. Full details are by letter about two weeks in advance of the meeting, and the date is posted on the Important Dates page on the website. This is always a pleasant as well as a useful occasion, and attendance levels are high.

An individual parent-teacher meeting is organised in late January. An appointment is given, and there is a chance to see your child's class-work before talking to the teacher. All appointments are made by email. The date of this meeting is posted on the Important Dates page of this website and a written reminder is sent home with pupils about two weeks in advance of the meeting.


Please inform us immediately by  email or telephone if your child is not attending an afternoon session of primary teaching. This helps us to keep teachers informed and to keep an accurate register for the French inspector. You must also inform us about any exceptional problems involving lateness in dropping off or picking your child up.

Email is our preferred means of routine communication. Please ensure that you place your main email address(es) on your ALA-ELP enrolment form, and that you keep us informed of any change of address(es).

The Programme's e-mail addresses

You will receive a written report on your child’s work and progress once a year, at the end of the school year in June.

Remember that staff have a supervisory role when waiting with their classes at the end of the afternoon: please understand that this is not an ideal time to discuss details of your child’s work.

It is your right to ask to see (or talk to by telephone if this is enough) your child’s teacher at any moment in the year. Please use email, or telephone to request an appointment.

You may also ask to speak to the Head of Programme or make an appointment to see him.  Please use the email address above.

In the same way, if there is any problem affecting your child or his or her work, we will contact you by email or telephone, and, if necessary, make an appointment to meet. We will act as promptly as possible when we feel that our expectations about work in class, homework, behaviour or attendance are not being met.

We appreciate your comments, feedback and suggestions on all aspects of the primary Programme, since we believe that we can improve our service by listening to you. Please write to us, using the above email addresses.

Summary of contact details

Postal address:

English National Programme
Lycée / Collège International
Avenue des Sports
01210 Ferney-Voltaire


Telephone:  +33 (0)4 50 40 82 66 (English National Programme Office)
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional information