Lycée Français Louis-Massignon, located in Abu Dhabi, is one of two French schools in the capital. The school has been in operation since 1972 and currently has approximately 1,750 students on its roster.
The Story so Far
Lycée Louis-Massignon (LLM) was the first French school to open in Abu Dhabi. Established in 1972, LLM educates children from Maternelle (KG) to Terminale (Grade 12).
The school was founded by the Petroleum Society becoming, in October 1972, the French Companies' School. Its initial cohort of around 40 students was housed in a room near the Méridien hotel. With increasing demand, LLM relocated, in 1981, to its current site, and in 2019, established a new Primary school building to meet the continued requirement for places. In 1982, the school was inaugurated as the Lycée Louis-Massignon.
The school's core values are "Freedom, dynamism and culture".
Today, LLM is home to almost 1,750 students. According to the most recent ADEK inspection report for 2018-19, at the time of the inspection in February 2019, 45% of students were French nationals, 10% Lebanese and 6% Canadian. A further 5% of students were from the local Emirati community. In total, students from 40 different nationalities attend LLM.
The school has reduced its teacher numbers from 135 in 2016-17 to 82 in 2019. Teachers are supported by a further 27 teaching assistants. The teacher overall teacher to student ratio is 1:21 - a reduction from the 1:25 in the KG and 1:27 in the other sections reported in 2017. These ratios are both higher than average for the UAE and also higher than average for France, where the average teacher to student ratio of 1:18. The teacher turnover rate for the school is 15% which is low for the UAE, a country which often sees teachers transition to other schools or countries.
What about the curriculum?
The school is monitored by the L’Agence pour l’Enseignement Français à l’Etranger or AEFE, the agency for French schools abroad which is based in Paris but is represented in UAE by the French ambassador. The school also hosts the Regional inspector from the French Department of Education who co-inspects schools with the local education authorities.
LLM provides very little details on its website of the construction of the curriculum. However, in offering the French national curriculum, students would be expected to follow the following regime:
The core curriculum in the Elementary section includes French, Mathematics, Art, Music, Physical and Sports Education, Moral Education and Social Studies, and World Knowledge. From CM1 to 6ème, students also study Modern Languages, History and Geography, and Science and Technology.
Core subjects for the Middle school section (5ème, 4ème et 3ème) curriculum include French, Mathematics, Art, Music, Physical and Sports Education, UAE Islamic/Social Studies and Moral Education, Modern Languages (including Arabic), History and Geography, Information Technology, Life and Earth Sciences, Physics, Chemistry, and Information and Media Studies.
For the Secondary school and new from 2019-2020, in line with changes to the Baccalaureat in 2020-21, further curriculum changes have been made by the French Ministry of Education. These include lessons common to all students on a weekly basis: French (Première only), 4 hours; Philosophy (Terminale only) 4 hours; Geography and History, 3 hours; Modern languages A and B, 4.5 hours; Sciences, 2 hours; Physical and sports education, 2 hours; Moral Education and Social Studies; 18 hours per year.
At the end of Seconde, students following general pathway will choose a combination of three specialty lessons which they will take in Première of 4 hours weekly per specialty. At the end of this year, they will choose from these three courses, the two specialty courses which they will pursue in Terminale (6 hours per week per specialty).
The school will offer combinations of specialties from different disciplines including, for example, Mathematics, Numerics and Computer Science; Physics and Chemistry; Life and Earth Sciences; Engineering Sciences; Economic and Social Sciences; History and Geography; Geopolitics and Political Sciences; Humanities, Literature and Philosophy; Modern Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures; Ancient Literature, Languages and Cultures; and Art.
In Terminale, students may have the option to choose additional subjects including Law and major issues of the contemporary world, and Further Mathematics (for students who have chosen Mathematics), or Complementary Mathematics for students who have not chosen the Mathematics in the final year.
The school also offers an International section which we understand offers the option of cross-curricular learning in English for students in the Middle and High School sections. Details of this curriculum are not provided on the school's rather outdated website, but, we believe, will be similar to that of the other French school in Abu Dhabi, Lyçée Théodore Monod which will be opening a new all-through school (including Middle and High School) at Saadiyat Island in September 2020.
Curriculum details for the International Section can be found here.
What about academic achievement?
LLM provides very little information about academic achievement publicly - noting only that there was a 100% pass rate for the Baccalaureat in 2019. However, the ADEK inspection report from 2016-17, though somewhat outdated now, provides far more useful and positive information, noting that:
In the Baccalaureat French National tests for Grade 12 students, the school’s average results have been significantly above all French schools over the past 3 years. The proportion of students who achieve a ‘mention’ (honours to highest honours) for 12 points and above is consistently higher than all French schools. In the Brevet French National tests in French, mathematics and history/civics in Grade 9, the school’s results have been significantly above all French schools over the past 3 years. At least 80% of LLM students achieved a ‘mention’ compared to 50% in all French schools.
In the 2018-19 ADEK Inspection report, inspectors noted that English 2017-18 Grade 12 Baccalauréat results indicated outstanding attainment. Grade 9 Diplome National du Brevet (DNB), Grade 11 in Épreuve Anticipée de Français (EAF) and Grade 12 in Baccalauréat, indicated that students’attainment in French was outstanding. Similarly,
2017-2018 Maths and Science Baccalauréat and Brevet examination results indicated outstanding attainment.
What about the Facilities?
The school provides little information about its facilities. However, the development of a new Primary section would suggest that money is being invested in modernisation of the original buildings which are now somewhat aged. General facilities in addition to classrooms include Science laboratories, libraries, Art rooms, music rooms, an auditorium, and drama rooms. Sports facilities include an outdoor sports pitch, school gymnasium and swimming pool.
What the Inspectors Say
The overall performance of the school is rated highly, with its most recent ranking Very Good (2018-2019) across four of the six inspection indicators and Outstanding for the remaining two. This is the same overall rating as that of the previous inspection in 2016-17 and up from the previous inspections which found the school to be Good (2014-2015) and Acceptable in 2012-2013.
Since the 2016-17 inspection, the School Principal (Proviseur) has changed to M. Gilles Lassarrade (who moved up from his previous position as Principal of the Primary School). It would seem that his influence has been particularly effective in moving overall school performance forward. The school has also launched a detailed development programme which is available to view here.
In the most recent report, inspectors noted that "students’ achievement is now outstanding in French, science and mathematics in all phases, and in technology, history and geography in middle and high schools. Their personal development, arrangements for the protection, care and guidance of students, and parent partnerships have all improved since the last inspection and are now rated Outstanding. High levels of challenge and teachers’ questioning now develop students’ critical thinking in most subjects and lessons."
Of the six key performance standards against which the school was measured, both Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation skills, and the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students improved their rating from Very Good to Outstanding.
The other four measures remained at Very Good, although with French, Science, and Mathematics all rated Outstanding across the school, and English rated Very Good, only the performance in the Arabic-based subjects - largely rated Good - appears to be holding the school back from achieving the highest rating for this key performance standard also.
Inspectors defined the strengths of the school as:
As far as improvement areas are concerned, LLM was asked to:
With these high standards, LLM joins a small group of the highest performing schools who will no longer be inspected every two years, but instead will move to a four yearly inspection. If this is not evidence of the high regard in which the school is held by ADEK, then it is difficult to see what else is needed.
If you would like to read the full inspection report, and we strongly advise that you do so in order to understand the reasoning behind the ratings, you will find it here.
Unfortunately, ADEK does not provide any formal feedback on the relationships between students, teachers, parents and the school. However, we do know that students have "very positive and responsible attitudes, excellent relationships and exemplary behaviour. Students from all cultures and abilities get along very well."
In addition, "Parents participate in numerous school events and activities. Newsletters, curriculum information, electronic messaging and detailed reports keep all parents fully informed about policies, school events,what their children’s learning. There are very strong links with local, national and international schools, and with the community, including with Sports Action who promote sports activities in school, the UAE and abroad."
As is usually the case for schools that exist to support their own culture, language and community, it is evident that Lyçée Louis Massignon sits very much at the heart of the wider French-speaking community in Abu Dhabi.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at LLM and would like to share your experience with other potential members of your community, please do so by completing our survey here.
What about Fees?
In Abu Dhabi, the fees for the school are considered average to high, starting at AED 28,600 in Maternelle (KG) and rising to AED 47,290 for the final years of high school.
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