“My father took over West Point School with a very international vision,” says co-executive director, Cindy Thomasset, the daughter of the man in charge of the Lyon school, Jean-Pierre Chabrier. “Speaking English has always been hugely important, but in the future, will it be enough?”

West Point, in the heart of Lyon, teaches a French curriculum but the children aged from two to ten spend half the day immersed in English. All teachers are native speakers, the anglophones drawn from as far as Australia and Canada. Mrs Thomasset points out: “We have more than 30 nationalities here and many children are already on their third language when they arrive.”

However, on the question of whether English is enough, Mandarin has been added to the mix, with Mrs Thomasset launching an ambitious exchange programme with a sister school in Shanghai. “We want to foster a real sense of openness and exchange,” she says, “It’s as much about language as it is about culture and we now have a Mandarin teacher on staff.”

The school has a similar programme set up in England, which includes training for teachers and exchange programmes for pupils who stay with host families.

Sports and the arts are also an important part of life at school and there’s a weekly bilingual theatre class, as well as a chess club, “The non-academic elements allow us to discover who the children really are and what makes them tick,” explains Mrs Thomasset.

Similarly, in a country where quality food is considered an essential part of life, rather than an optional extra, lunch is cooked on site every day from scratch by the school’s own cook, all of which helps the pupils get the most from the school.

“The pupils are curious, full of energy and really look out for each other,” says Thomasset with a smile. “We call it the West Point Family: teachers and students are all in this together”.

West Point | A family-orientated school geared towards internationalism


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