Ariège: a unique English immersion school opens next school year

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A first in France. At the start of the next school year, an English immersion school will open in Saint-Paul-de-Jarrat, in the den of Clos Cathala, and will welcome a group of 19 preschoolers.

More than six months after launching a call to find a property, Baptiste and Hannah Delvallé are on their way to making their project a reality. That of opening, for the first time in France, an immersion school entirely in English.

And it is precisely in Saint-Paul-de-Jarrat, in Clos Cathala, that the couple settled in Ariège, with their previous experience of teaching abroad, that the first preschoolers are expected at the beginning of the school year. The realization of a long-term project in which the couple, who already run an “immersive institute” in Foix, strongly believe.

An “ideal” place to learn

Finally, Hanna, an American teacher, and Baptiste, a graduate in Education and Education, found the “ideal” place in Clos Cathala, in Géraldine Portoles. “I had contacted several structures and when I went to Clos Cathala, Gélradine was immediately very interested in the project. She loves children and really appreciated the idea they bring to life on the estate, the 30-year-old emphasizes. Very soon we mentioned the possibility of giving us a place where the school could open. It is therefore in this green setting, with a breathtaking view of the Pyrenees and where the forest and the animals are kings, that the children can develop.

The future director of the IA school went to the town hall to get the necessary permission. He was also warmly welcomed there… and very interested. “I met the mayor, his deputy and even the director of the municipal school. Everyone saw the interest in the municipality and was even prepared to set up collaborations in the future. †

What balm for the hearts of the two project leaders, who have been organizing regular information meetings for more than a year to present their pedagogy to the Ariège parents. Others, in various forms (1)still has to take place in the coming weeks, even though registrations (and pre-registrations) are already open.

A unique pedagogy

Initially, it is a group of 19 children aged 3 to 6 who will evolve in this new environment. All activities will be taught in English, except for French grammar and spelling, in an approach that is more focused on the “processes” than the “product” at this age. “At that age, it’s important to explain the product, to make people understand, before we look more closely at the result, the product, later on,” explains Baptiste Delvallé. This goes through quiet times, but also through group activities in a setting, and an environment that allows a lot (planting a vegetable garden, discovery of nature, etc.)

In addition, parents can opt for a rhythm of four and a half days a week, so including “school nature” on Wednesday, or just for four days. However, this group discovery morning is open to parents whose children are not enrolled in IA school (but who still need a year-long commitment). Finally, the children will eat products on site that they have seen evolve, especially in the vegetable garden, or directly in the kitchen where the supervision team will prepare the meal every morning.

A great project that, if it goes smoothly, will see the arrival of higher levels at the start of the next school year.

A fundraiser to fund AI school’s first steps

To allow for the purchase of school supplies, as well as the payment of the administrative costs inherent in the opening, money is being raised on Leetchi, here. Interested parties can therefore make a small gesture according to their ability.

Note that the team that will take care of the children, consisting of five people, is partially formed. Hannah will be one of the part-time teachers alongside another American, Maggy. They will be supported by three assistants, interns who are currently or nearing the end of their university education in the United States.

(1) Multiple appointments to inform, an information meeting (1 July 6.30 pm); educational moments (June 25 and July 2 from 10 am to 11:30 am) and picnic encounters on June 25 from noon to 3 pm and June 23 from 4 pm to 7 pm. For more information: Contacts: or by phone: 09 86 60 81 70.

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