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Camden’s new French school offers creme de la creme of education

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 October 2011 | UPDATED: 18:15 19 October 2011

Headteacher François-Xavier Gabet is proud to be at the forefront of the new French school. Picture: Polly Hancock

Headteacher François-Xavier Gabet is proud to be at the forefront of the new French school. Picture: Polly Hancock

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A new French school has opened its doors to cater for the rocketing demand for a quintessential Gallic education in London.

The College Francais Bilingue de Londres (CFBL) opened last month in Holmes Road, Kentish Town, to cater for the huge overflow from the prestigious Lycee Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington, which is run by the French foreign ministry.

The new school will provide a bilingual education following the French curriculum for up to 700 children aged five to 15 for £2,000 a term.

Pupils will be taught one day in French and the next in English and enjoy a three-course gourmet lunch.

French headteacher Francois-Xavier Gabet said he was pleased to be at the forefront of the exciting project and had ambitious plans for integrating the school into the neighbourhood.

He said: “Each time you open a French school, families arrive and live nearby and you have the start of a new community, which takes time.

“To justify the implantation of the school we want to bring something to the area.”

The school will provide language and cultural classes and cookery sessions.

Under Mr Gabet’s leadership, it is branching out from the traditional standard set by its sister school, with the staff and the setting creating a distinct new vibe.

It employs a mixture of French, English, German and Spanish teachers, who contribute to the multi-cultural atmosphere, enhanced by the vibrant Kentish Town location and quirky Victorian building.

“It’s like a castle,” said Mr Gabet. “We don’t have schools in buildings like this in France.”

The labyrinthine 1874 building, which most recently housed an adult education centre, was painstakingly renovated to preserve its original features.

Mr Gabet has embraced everything British in his short time in London and before that taught all over the world.

Nonetheless he insists that certain pillars of the French system will remain.

He likens the French educational system to a “constant diet of the same food every day” as opposed to the Australian educational model which is a “self-service buffet full of tempting treats”.

Pupils are already attending lessons but the official opening of the new school will be attended by government ministers from France, on a date to be announced.

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