Lycée Sainte Marie is a private secondary school under contract to the state. There are 1,200 pupils in 43 forms from the level of the "seconde" (the equivalent of a British "year 11") to the level of students of higher education who prepare a degree for the tertiary sector in 2 years.
The staff includes 125 teachers and about 50 employees (cooks, cleaners, etc..) who are dependent on a managing association called "Institution Sainte Marie".
Cholet is a sub-prefecture of the Maine-et-Loire département and has a population of 50,000 inhabitants. The textile industry has long flourished there but is at present undergoing a serious crisis.
The lycée attracts young people from rather varied social backgrounds. However, most of them come from Cholet’s middle class families.
In the region of Cholet, tertiary and industrial activities can be found side by side with the rural activities of the surrounding area. The urban and rural populations are quite mixed, and this remains a characteristic of the area.
The population is rather young, the replacement of generations is ensured, in spite of a slow decrease in birthrate. Besides, the population is evenly distributed between town and countryside: in the whole area of Cholet, about half the inhabitants live in the town of Cholet, the other half lives in rural areas and the surrounding countryside.
Cholet is situated 450 km from Paris, 50 km from Angers or Nantes. It takes two and a half hours by TGV to go to Paris and 40 minutes by motorway to go to Angers or Nantes. Situated in the north of the Armorican massif, at about 100 km from the Atlantic coast and about 40 km from the River Loire, Cholet offers excellent opportunities for leisure activities.
Here are a few examples of cultural activities in Cholet: the School of Music, Drama, and Dancing; the theatre season, the summer festival, the Museum of Art and History, the Museum of the Textiles industry.
Practising a sport in Cholet is easy: football, tennis, swimming, ice sports at the skating-rink, etc. Clubs and town infrastructures have recently been built or renovated to do so in the best conditions.
Not far from Cholet, you can visit the castles of the River Loire, the Abbey of Fontevraud, the historical towns of Angers or Nantes. Green tourism has made great strides in the whole region. Furthermore, all the seaside activities can be practised on the Atlantic coast from Nantes to Les Sables d’Olonne.
Opening up Europe and the rest of the world is one of Lycée Ste Marie’s priorities. This is the reason why the school:
- welcomes students from Europe or other foreign countries;
- offers language workshops (in Chinese, Italian and Russian);
- keeps rather close relationships with European schools and schools from other foreign countries within the framework of the "Cercles Europe" (a European network of 400 schools);
- organises cultural and language stays abroad for its pupils;
- encourages its pupils to welcome foreign students in their families, to go abroad, and to learn how to get information about European issues.
The "Espace Europe"
The "Espace Europe" was originally created in 1997 to set up a "Comenius" project (a European programme encouraging school exchanges). It is a European resource centre and it aims at promoting information about Europe within the school.
Pupils come here to get information and advice about schools and universities abroad, linguistic opportunities, the European activities within the lycée, the partnership with UCAPE (Union for culture and professional future in Europe), an INGO which validates a European diploma proving the linguistic competences of the student and their real knowledge of European reality)
The "Espace Europe" plays an active part in the "European and International Week".
The "European and International Week":
Each year, during the European and International week, the pupils of Ste Marie are urged to attend lectures on European and international themes. Most of the time, these lectures are organised with the help of trainers from the regional council. In March 2009, the emphasis was put on the different programmes offered by the European Union to help young people who are willing to travel abroad.
The same week, a few forms go on trips to different European countries.
The European "Section" (with English as their first foreign language):
There are about a hundred pupils in this "section", in the three levels of year 11, year 12, year 13 (seconde, première, terminale).These pupils have more classes of English, and another subject (history-geography in Sainte-Marie) is taught in English. In "Seconde" (year 11), the pupils spend a week in a European country. In Première (year 12), the pupils have two trips, one to Strasbourg, one to an English-speaking European country. In Terminale (year 13), the pupils take the "First Certificate of Cambridge".
Opening up Europe
We adhere to the European Movement, to the network MyEurope, to the foundation Robert Schuman and to the OING endowed with the participative status with the Council of Europe UCAPE (Union for the Culture and the professional Future in Europe).
During their three years in secondary school, some of our pupils prepare a European Diploma of Competence for which we worked out a European passport. This diploma is delivered by the UCAPE. With the UCAPE, our pupils (of Seconde generally) also participate in the international colloquiums of young people (Castel di Sangro in Italy in 2006, Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg in 2008).
We have at present a Comenius project on the future of the European school system: the European Secondary school of the Future (LEA project which associates 7 schools from 5 different countries, Italy, Spain, Finland, Germany and France); this project will come to an end in June 2009.
Foreign language assistants
We welcome foreign language assistants (English, German, Spanish), either within the framework of partnerships with universities or within the framework of the project Comenius (assistants Comenius ).
European Voluntary Service (EVS)
For the fourth year, we also have a young European Volunteer within the framework of the EVS of the youth program Europe. For this school year (2008-2009), we welcome a student from Hungary.
Relations with other schools
We also maintain relations with Russian, Rumanian, Czech, Lebanese establishments amongst others.
We are associated with two other schools from Anjou with a European opening (Sainte Agnès in Angers and Saint Louis in Saumur) within the framework of the European and International Pole of Anjou (PEIA).
Support provided by public services in charge of promoting Europe
We regularly work with the European services of the Region of Pays de la Loire and those of the DAREIC.
Foreign students in Sainte Marie
Every year, we welcome about thirty pupils of various origins, European and non-European, for stays from one month to the whole academic year.
Promoting travelling abroad
Individually, our pupils are also given the opportunity of studying, working or travelling in Europe and in the world either with associations specialised in cultural and linguistic holidays or through au pair trips, or thanks to the schools with which the lycée has some relations. It is the case of the French-German exchanges which involves some pupils every year with the support of the OFAJ (French-German Service Office for the Youth).Our pupils go to Oldenburg or Schleswig Holstein. The durations of these stays are very variable, from some weeks to the whole school year.
Discovering other languages and cultures
Workshops in linguistic initiation are proposed one hour a week: this year, in Chinese, Italian and Russian.
A new European diploma
A new training leading to a European diploma has been proposed in lycée Sainte Marie since September, 2008. It is a diploma in events management under the aegis of the European Federation of Schools.