MAABN Education Survey 2011 Results

Bilingual Education in the Aix-Marseille Area – Results of the 2011 MAABN Survey


In 2010 and 2011, the MAABN joined forces with the British Consulate to organise two conferences on the development of international education in the Aix-Marseille area.

The conferences, which took place in the presence of Jean-Paul de Gaudemar, Rector of the Academie d’Aix-Marseille, Kathy Riley, the then-US Consul General, and British Consul Simon Taylor, were well-attended by representatives of all the leading schools (both public and private), universities and businesses and development agencies (Provence Promotion) with stakes in the organisation of successful bilingual education programmes.

Lively debate took place involving audiences of English-speaking expatriate families and organisations, resident English-speakers, French families and both French and foreign-owned companies working with the English-speaking world.

A lot of interest was raised by the conferences. Indeed, further to the first conference on the subject of primary and secondary international schooling, Jean-Paul de Gaudemar asked the MAABN to conduct a survey of its members to obtain a clearer picture of the concerns businesses and families have regarding international education.

The survey was conducted online throughout 2011 and attracted 129 responses, of which 98% were from families residing in the Aix-Marseille area. It revealed that:

♦ 75% of the 220 children concerned are aged between 6 and 18, with 40% of these between the ages of 11 and 15;

♦ 34.5% live in Marseille, 63.5% in the Aix area;

♦ 59% of families and 80% of businesses say they feel they lack information on the bilingual education facilities available;

♦ Although 90% of families are interested in their children receiving a bilingual education, 60% say their children aren’t currently getting one;

♦ 75% say they do not know the difference between the different types of high school qualifications available (European, IB and “international option” Baccalaureates) and 65% do not know the difference between a “European section” and an “international section” in French lycées;

♦ 51% of families consider transport difficulties to the schools in question to be a major concern;

♦ 68% are concerned about the quality of the teaching staff;

♦ 59% cite cost as a major issue (this would apply particularly to the primary/elementary sector where there is no public school currently offering a bilingual section);

♦ 50% of businesses claim to have encountered problems recruiting staff because of a lack of bilingual teaching facilities available for their families.


Both conferences highlighted the need for bilingual teaching programmes to satisfy the needs of the local business community, whether through training a bilingual workforce (with young people attending university-level classes taught in English and ready to enter the job market with written and spoken English on their CVs), or through better availability of international sections in schools, thus making the region more attractive to highly-qualified personnel and their families.

It was made clear in both conferences that great strides have been made, and continue to be made, in the provision of international programmes at university and grande école level, as well as at secondary school level, in particular at the lycées in Luynes and Manosque and the collèges in Aix and Les Pennes Mirabeau. Private schools such as the IBS and EPIM continue to provide quality bilingual education to a growing number of children at primary and secondary levels.

However, it should be pointed out that none of the public schools in the area provide bilingual classes at primary level. Furthermore, the City of Marseille still does not provide any English-speaking secondary-level bilingual education whatsoever. The MAABN feels that this is a key issue that makes Marseille less attractive to overseas investors and one that should be addressed by opening an international section in both a collège and a lycée, along the lines of those in place in Aix, Luynes and Les Pennes Mirabeau. Failing this, providing better transportation to the establishments hosting the existing sections in Les Pennes Mirabeau and Luynes would be the minimum  for bilingual education to be made accessible to those families living in Marseille.