International education options are on the rise in Aix-Marseille

International education options are on the rise in Aix-Marseille
View of the Cité Scolaire Internationale project in Marseille – Bouygues Bâtiment Sud-Est, Rudy Ricciotti, and Carta Associés
12 September 2023 /

New schools and classes scheduled to open in 2024

In keeping with the cosmopolitan nature of Marseille and its global port complex, the city will welcome a landmark international school complex in the Euroméditerranée district at the start of the 2024 academic year. The school will eventually accommodate 2000 students. This establishment will be the flagship of Aix-Marseille’s fast-expanding international education network, which is opening more and more international sections at primary and secondary schools across the territory. The number of international options for students will almost double by 2024. 

As at the start of every new school year, the diverse range of students returning to classes reflects the dynamic multicultural nature of Marseille and the different communities that live in the city: Italians, Armenians, North Africans, Africans, Comorians, and many more. To ensure this rich mix of cultures continues to thrive, the Aix-Marseille academic authorities are increasing the number of international schools open to the children of people working at global firms, expatriates, and young people from the city’s priority neighborhoods in order to meet the challenge of fostering academic excellence and social diversity. Bilingual schools are also becoming more widespread. In 2022, new English-speaking international classes were opened at the Sylvain Menu and Marseilleveyre junior high schools in Marseille to further expand the city’s educational opportunities.

Meanwhile, in the wider metro area, along with the international school in Luynes and the Lycée Mignet international school in Aix-en-Provence, new international classes are expected to open in 2024 at the La Nativité school in Aix-en-Provence and the Georges Brassens school in Bouc-Bel-Air.

The Aix-Marseille school district, which currently has 22 international sections at schools, plans to almost double this number to 42 sections by 2024, almost as many as Lyon but far more than Montpellier (22), Bordeaux (18), Toulouse (8), or Nantes (9). This doubling of the number of sections is part of an initiative to offer access to international education across the territory while giving as many opportunities as possible to students of all backgrounds.

In this respect, Marseille will be at the vanguard of international education starting in 2024 with the inauguration of the Cité Scolaire Internationale thanks to co-financing from the Region Sud (49%), the Bouches-du-Rhône Department (37%) and the City of Marseille (14%). The opening of this school is a watershed moment for the city’s educational ecosystem.

An international school complex that embodies Marseille’s openness to the world

In France, international school projects were traditionally a response to a specific objective or to serve a particular project.

For example, the international high school in Valbonne was built to accommodate the children of people working at the Sophia-Antipolis technology park, which is the biggest such park in Europe and is home to a large number of global companies. The international school in Manosque was opened for families that were coming to Provence from 35 different countries to work on the ITER nuclear fusion project. Beyond the South of France, an international school in Lyon was built for the children of Interpol employees, one in Strasbourg was built in conjunction with the presence of the European Parliament, and the one in Saint-Germain-en-Laye outside of Paris was built 70 years ago to serve the children of NATO officers.

In Marseille, the Cité Scolaire Internationale project is the result of a unique quest to offer an educational facility that will enhance the overall attractiveness and performance of the territory and its economy. It also reflects the ambition of the City of Marseille and the Aix-Marseille-Provence metro area to continue to welcome people from around the world. The Cité Scolaire Internationale will be a key factor in attracting companies and employees while also serving as a genuine springboard for local students seeking opportunities in the global economy.

Designed for 2000 students, the Cité Scolaire Internationale will open in different phases between 2024 and 2027. Under the supervision of Isabelle Negrel, who has been appointed the director of the school to oversee its opening, four grades will start in 2024: CP (Grade 1 or Year 2), CM1 (Grade 4 or Year 5), Sixième (Grade 6 or Year 7) and Seconde (Grade 10 or Year 11). By 2027, all grades will be present at the school, although incoming students will need to pass both the written and oral language level tests. There will be five main language sections, and with other optional language classes, there will be a total of ten languages active at the school (German, English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Armenian, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, and Provençal). This language diversity mirrors the territory’s identity as a flourishing multicultural community at the crossroads of Europe and the Mediterranean.