Friday, 19 October 2012

A steep learning curve

As many of you know getting Hannah into the School in Toulouse has been a very long involved process, but after meeting with the agency today it seems like it is going to happen!  In fact if the costings are all approved she could even start on Wednesday.  It has been a very interesting journey for us as we have had to come to grips very quickly with employment law, finding a teacher aide and an agency to employ the teacher aide  as well as just dealing with a sad little girl who doesn't really understand why she can't go to school with her brother and sister.

It has taught me a lot about perseverance but also that sometimes in order to achieve something you actually need to just do what is asked of you.  Firstly the school rejected Hannah's application but would reconsider if we found a full time teacher aide plus if there was space in the class (it is capped at 26).  We could have dug our toes in and fought the school but instead decided to do as they asked.  A friend put a request on an English Facebook site and within days we had found our wonderful Emma who is going to work with Hannah.  We reapplied to the school and Hannah was accepted.

Due to employment law in France the school can't employ Emma as they are not able to do fixed term contracts and when we leave in two years Emma would still be entitled to keep her job which could be difficult for the school.  The easiest way for them would be for us to employ Emma - this of course is not easiest for us and in fact is very complicated!!!  In the end it was suggested by the school that we use an employment agency which employs Emma and then we use them to get Emma to work with Hannah.  As I don't speak any French Emma found an agency which seemed good but then started demanding that Emma (a British citizen) needed a work visa - this is false. So she found another agency which have proved to be fantastic!  They deal specifically with children and have this year moved into providing support for children with special needs.

Today was my meeting with the director of the agency and as he spoke no English and I speak no French I rang a lovely bilingual Mum in Jasper's class who came and translated for me.  It went very well and I now feel like we are moving forward.  The agency does all the complicated French paperwork including tax, insurance etc and all we need to do is sign the contract.

It has been an interesting experience and we have made many compromises along the way in that Hannah is starting school 7 weeks late, only doing half days and has a full time teacher aide but on the flipside for the first time the international school has accepted a child with Down Syndrome.  We may not have made any difference to French law but we have made a difference to one wee girl and maybe have paved the way for children with special needs in the future.


  1. Good going guys, you are trail blazers, I do seem to remember how you stuck to your guns when Hannah started school in Christchurch too, they also presented a few barriers for you to knock down. I look forward to hearing about her activities at school, she will be so pleased to join Penelope and Jasper going to school. So proud of you.

  2. Great to hear Hannah can go to school soon. So different being in another country with a different system. Praying Hannah will make some friends quickly. Lol