Lycée Français International Georges Pompidou Sharjah (LFIGP–Sharjah) is a private, non-profit Primary School for French expatriates and international students. LFIGP–Sharjah is part of the LFIGP school group, which is approved by the French Ministry of National Education and recognised as part of the network of Agency for French Teaching Abroad (AEFE).
Located in the Al Abar area in Sharjah, Lycée Français International Georges Pompidou Sharjah (LFIGP–Sharjah) was established in 1978 to provide education in accordance with the objectives, programs, and methods set by the French Ministry of National Education.
The LFIGP school group, which also has two branches in Dubai – a Primary school at Oud Metha, and an all-through school in Dubai Academic City to which students may transfer for Secondary education – has set itself the goal of “excellence in a multicultural environment”, combining traditional French teaching with local educational contexts and requirements. To achieve this, the school’s ethos is centred around a number of core values that direct its operation: tolerance, humanism, equal opportunities, intellectual curiosity, and promotion of critical thinking.
In addition, LFIGP–Sharjah singles out three key values that it seeks to foster throughout the learning community:
To understand the school’s method, there is no one who explains it better than the Head of School, Pascal Charlery:
“French-style education, which guarantees each child, whatever their level, their specific needs, a constructive environment and a studious atmosphere, conducive to development and the desire to progress. Our pedagogy aims to train open young people, future enlightened citizens aware of the major planetary issues. It is based on humanist values of openness, benevolence towards others and commitment to work. Finally, it benefits from a very rich cultural and international environment, with nearly 50 nationalities represented and a multilingual curriculum which contributes to the excellence of our students.”
But it is not just the Head of School who decides the direction of LFIGP–Sharjah – the governance of the LFIGP schools is carried out by a School Council, which consists of 9 Administrative representatives (such as Heads of School); 6 Teaching and Education Staff representatives (3 from Primary and 3 from Secondary); and Parent/Student representatives (6 parents and 3 students). There is also a dedicated Secondary Council, made up of the Director; the Assistant Principal; the Administrative and Financial Director; the Main Education Advisor; 3 elected representatives of Teaching Staff; and the elected representatives of Parents and Pupils (2 parents and 2 students).
In late 2020, this combined leadership team put to vote and approved a school project to mark the LFIGP group’s route for the next three years:
“Expression of the collective will of our educational community – in accordance with the guidelines defined by the AEFE and in perfect harmony with the UAE education authorities – this project is also the expression of the expectations and hopes of each of us. It is both the roadmap and the vehicle that will allow us to reach our destination.”
This school project is intended to structure the way LFIGP schools approach any questions and challenges, from Nursery School through to the final year, and place emphasis on what the school considers the most essential priorities for their current community. In order to achieve this, three guidelines have been defined:
By creating a unified, all-encompassing goal and pathway, the LFIGP group certainly seems to be on the right road to achieving “the success and development of our students, both as individuals but also and equally, as members of a community, of a collective: futures citizens of a constantly changing world that they in turn will inhabit, shape and who knows, rebuild”.
For prospective parents and students, LFIGP–Sharjah and the wider group are certainly explicit in their aims and values – but what about the day-to-day realities? Below are some quick facts that new entries to the school may wish to know:
LFIGP–Sharjah follows a mixed French and Ministry of Education (MOE) curriculum, with the majority of subjects being taught in French. The school website notes that the “promotion of plurilingual education is at the heart of our school project”, with an aim to help all students strengthen their mastery of at least three languages – students therefore have the option of additionally studying English, Arabic, and a choice of either German or Spanish.
Education at LFIGP–Sharjah starts in the Nursery School, which is designed to prepare children for the compulsory education that begins at age six. The Nursery School is organised into small, medium, and large sections (determined by the age of the children).
LFIGP–Sharjah sees Nursery School as “an essential step in the students' journey to guarantee their academic success” and believes that this stage of schooling should be based on one fundamental principle: all children are able to learn and progress. LFIGP–Sharjah’s Nursery School identifies its main mission as making children want to go to school, in order to learn, assert, and develop their personalities.
In order to achieve this, LFIGP–Sharjah works to create an environment where children can develop their oral language as they interact, as well as discovering essential areas of learning such as writing and numbers. Children are encouraged to learn by playing, thinking, solving problems, practicing skills, memorising, and recalling.
Lessons are organised into five key learning areas:
The first three areas allow for the development of interactions between action, sensations, imagination, sensitivity, and thought, while the final two areas aim to develop an understanding of each child's environment and to arouse their desire to question. As the school explains, by “relying on initial knowledge related to their experiences, nursery school sets up a course that allows them to organise the world around them, to access usual representations and knowledge that elementary school will enrich”.
The teachers in each class are responsible for setting up various learning situations (such as games, problem solving, or training); these are chosen in accordance with the needs of the class groups and of each child. LFIGP–Sharjah also believes that reception, recreation, rest, naps, and hygiene are all educational times in their own right, providing young children with a reassuring sense of structure and benchmarks.
As mentioned, formal education begins at age six, and LFIGP–Sharjah welcomes pupils between the ages of six and eleven to the Elementary School. As per the French national curriculum, students are divided into two cycles made up of five levels of classes (note that the Nursery School is considered to be Cycle 1):
Cycle 2 (the ‘basic learning’ cycle)
Cycle 3 (the ‘consolidation’ cycle)
Building on the knowledge and experiences from Nursery School, elementary classes are designed to ensure the acquisition of ‘the fundamental instruments of knowledge’: oral and written expression; reading; arithmetic; and problem solving. These classes promote the development of intelligence; artistic sensitivity; and manual, physical, and sports-based skills.
Education at this stage covers subjects such as History, Geography, Science, and Visual and Musical Arts. Technical subjects like ICT are also included in the curriculum, not just to help students become proficient computer-users, but to develop each students’ understanding and independent, responsible use of media. As previously mentioned, students are introduced to linguistic diversity early on, starting with a modern foreign language. As is required by the MOE, Arabic, Moral Education, and Islamic Studies (for Muslim students) are also included in the curriculum.
Beyond individual subjects, Elementary School is also where students acquire and come to understand a number of different concepts related to their personal and social development. For example, LFIGP–Sharjah teaches its students to respect every individual, their origin and their differences, as well as respecting the rights of the child and equality between men and women. Working alongside parents, LFIGP–Sharjah honours its French foundations by offering a moral and civic education which teaches students the values and symbols of the Republic and the European Union, in particular the national anthem and its story.
Outside of daily classes, LFIGP–Sharjah runs a program of cultural and sporting extracurricular activities every day from 1.45pm. The schedule of activities changes quarterly, and includes activities such as Arts & Crafts, Cooking, Theatre, Dance, Swimming and Football. There is a Sports Association that is responsible for the discovery or specialisation of sports or artistic activities for interested students, as well as organising inter-school competitions and offering help at events, such as refereeing.
For students interested in competitive sport, the LFIGP group offers two training sessions per week at its Section Sportive Scolaire Football, which launched in 2019. Open to both boys and girls, Section Sportive Scolaire Football is not only certified by the French Football Federation, but it even has Amandine Henry, captain of the French national women’s football team, as its ‘Godmother’.
LFIGP–Sharjah also offers three trainings session per week in swimming. Not only can students take sessions to improve their four strokes, but they can also participate in individual and relay competitions, represent their school in local and national French competitions, and can later on in their school career take specialised courses such as Young Rescuer, Young Coach, and Nutrition – Physical Preparation.
Finally, LFIGP–Sharjah brings together various initiatives and events organised around the theme of the Arab-Muslim world and the culture of the Gulf. These are designed to take advantage of the opportunity represented by expatriation, by making students more aware of Arab-Muslim culture and of the changes that the United Arab Emirates is constantly experiencing. Previous examples of events include:
LFIGP–Sharjah is constantly working to improve the services it can offer to students with Special Educational Needs (SEN), and aims to provide additional support to students with the following:
The school can also offer extension work for gifted students.
All SEN services are provided by the school’s Inclusion Centre – new students to the school can be referred to this team upon their enrolment, while current students can be referred by their class teachers. The Inclusion Centre provides specialised training for both students and teachers, support for parents, and is responsible for the Petit Café, a meeting place where parents can get advice and discuss any issues with Inclusion Centre assistants.
As the school website does not provide exact details as to what provisions the Inclusion Centre offers for SEN students, parents should contact the school directly for more information.
As a Primary School, LFIGP–Sharjah does not have any student achievement results available. However, given the high success rate of the LFIGP Secondary Schools (with the pass rate for both the National Brevet Diploma and the Baccalaureate fluctuating between 97% and 100% every year), parents can be confident that LFIGP Primary Schools are offering a strong educational foundation.
Unfortunately, the most recent inspection of LFIGP–Sharjah took place in 2014. However, it should be noted that the school did achieve the highest possible rating at this time.
Unlike schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah schools have not participated in regulatory inspections on a regular basis; while there were a few instances of inspections being undertaken by the Ministry of Education, schools did not generally publish the outcomes. With the initiation of SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority), the intention is that schools will be inspected using the common framework already in place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
However, SPEA has decided to seek a collaborative approach with the schools for this process, and although we understand that initial inspections did take place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, results of these inspections have not been published.
As a result of the pandemic, Sharjah schools have participated in Distance Learning Evaluations (DLE), implemented by the Ministry of Education throughout the UAE (these results have been published). In its most recent Distance Learning Review Report (2020), LFIGP-Sharjah’s implementation of distance learning was rated as Partially Developed.
Inspectors found student attendance and engagement in online lessons to be a positive feature, and felt that students were maintaining the momentum in their learning. They praised teachers for communicating learning objectives clearly to both students and parents, providing helpful feedback to students about their progress, and for adopting a supportive approach to ensure students could access learning opportunities.
In terms of school leadership, the evaluation noted that school planning took account of the needs of both students and their families, and that plans were being “reviewed regularly and adapted as necessary to address changing circumstances”.
In addition to outlining LFIGP–Sharjah’s strengths, the report also offered a number of areas for improvement. Firstly, it suggested that the school offer clearer guidance for students and parents around online and cyber safety. In addition, inspectors felt that further developing students’ IT skills would help facilitate a wider range of learning activities – one example of this offered by the report was the inclusion of “effective and meaningful group work”.
Finally, inspectors suggested that the school work to engage proactively with parents, in order to equip them with the skills and knowledge that would enable them to support their child’s learning. An example offered by the report was that LFIGP–Sharjah facilitate the development of support networks.
If you would like to read the full inspection report – which we strongly advise you to do in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings – you will find it here.
LFIGP–Sharjah offers a number of modern facilities, such as a gymnasium, two football fields, a library, a computer room, a dedicated science room, and a cafeteria. All classrooms are equipped with computer equipment and an interactive digital board.
The four LFIGP schools also have a specialised Health Service, which is made up of a team of doctors, nurses, and a psychologist. Each school site has its own infirmary – the Sharjah campus has two doctors who work in the infirmary part-time.
LFIGP–Sharjah is also ‘twinned’ with one of the neighbouring German schools, which allows them to share facilities such as a swimming pool, as well as organise inter-school events together.
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As a result of the collaborative nature of the LFIGP–Sharjah leadership, parents can get involved in the running of the school by joining the Ordinary General Assembly. All twelve members of the General Assembly are parents of volunteering students, and non-members are welcome to attend all General Assembly meetings. Parents are encouraged to ask questions and learn about what measures have been put in place in the interest of students.
Fees at LFIGP–Sharjah range from AED 26,500 for the Nursery School up to AED 32,000 for the final year of Primary School. It should be noted that these fees do not include transportation costs, extra-curricular costs, education outings and school trips, and exam fees. A deposit of AED 500 is due upon re-enrolment.
The school offers both one-way and two-way bus services, at AED 5,000 per year and AED 8,000 per year respectively.
Students of French nationality who are registered with the Consulate General of France in the UAE can benefit from a scholarship funded and awarded by the French State – the school should be contacted for further information about this process.
Finally, LFIGP–Sharjah offers discounts for families with more than two children enrolled in the school: parents can receive a 15% discount on school fees for their 3rd child, a 25% discount for their 4th child, and a 35% discount for their 5th child.
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