Ermitage International School of France – Creating a Legacy in Holistic Education
Ermitage International School

Language is at the core of teaching and learning in education. It influences not only the way students learn but how they perceive themselves, interact with one another and interpret the world around them.

Recognizing the importance of language learning, bilingualism is at the heart of international education. Communicating, sharing, and learning in two languages not only develops language skills, but also intercultural understanding.

For Generations Z and Alpha, international education is not only about creating opportunities in today’s ever-changing landscape but is also about setting students up for success no matter where they might live or work, physically or virtually without cultural or linguistic barriers.

Ermitage International School of France offers students the keys to unlock a bright and promising future in the university, career, and country of their choosing. Their diverse range of bilingual, innovative, and ambitious pedagogical methods are adapted to each student, emphasizing curiosity, critical thinking, and collective intelligence in order to develop students’ competencies to excel and succeed in tomorrow’s world. At the heart of this institution is its focus on bilingual education dating back to its origins almost 80 years ago. For this reason, they are featured as our 2020 choice for Most Valuable School in France.

Ermitage is a bilingual K – 12 IB World School located 20km west of Paris in the vibrant and historic suburb of Maisons-Laffitte. Its dynamic student body of 1,400 students represents over 70 nationalities.

Ermitage is a co-ed day and boarding school. The school was founded in 1941 during World War II when access to education in the Paris area was restricted by the occupation of France and the limited resources available to civilians. Madame Anne-Marie Thommeret, a university student in French Literature at that time, started giving classes to local students out of her home. This was the beginning of her long career as founding principal of Ermitage.

Rising of an Apex Institution

After their original school building was destroyed during WWII, the students were relocated to one of the many abandoned houses in Maisons-Laffitte. From a mere handful of students, the school continued to grow and has embraced We work to create a learning environment in which our students can be creative and reflective and where they can find opportunities to demonstrate initiative, leadership and a sense of responsibility the resilient nature that enabled its survival and success in the early years of the war to become a leader in bilingual and international education in France almost 80 years later. From its French origins, the school quickly embraced internationalism and bilingual education as a benchmark of its educational philosophy. As early as the 1970s, Ermitage built partnerships with schools in England, Ireland, and the United States to offer student exchange programs. During the 1980s, Ermitage focused on giving students the ability to follow a French curriculum with a strong English language program. This ensured that students become bilingual in French and English, while also studying a third language like German, Spanish, or Mandarin.

In 2009, Ermitage became one of the first schools to offer the IB Diploma Program (IB DP) in France and has had a track record of near-perfect passing rates. The Middle Years Program (IB MYP) was officially launched in 2016. The distinct programs that Ermitage offers are as follows:

  • International Studies Program offering instruction in English, including:

IB Diploma Program (IB DP, Grades 11 — 12)

IB Middle Years Program (IB MYP, Grades 6 — 10)

IB Primary Years Program (candidate school)

  • Bilingual and French programs offered:

Lower School (Pre-K — Grade 5)

Middle School (Grade 6 — 8)

Lycée including French Baccalaureate with International Option (OIB) American Section (Grade 9 — 12)

“We are proud to announce that Ermitage will be launching the IB Primary Years Program (IB PYP) and will become the second full IB continuum school in France,” states the staff of Ermitage

The International Studies Program

The most represented nationalities in the IB MYP & DP are French, American, British, Spanish, and Indian. This is due to a longstanding tradition of catering to the local community, which has grown along with the school to be quite anglophone and international. The International Studies Program offers instruction in English for 190 day and boarding students who are enrolled in the IB MYP and IB DP. With an engaging approach to teaching, students are at the center of their learning and encouraged to think critically. Classrooms are organized in a round-table format, facilitating inquiry with a variety of co-curricular opportunities to enhance student engagement.

Ermitage offers a unique and balanced education, where students can follow an international curriculum within the IB classes, while still developing their French language skills and roots within the local culture. For students who live on campus, they have an opportunity to participate in the community of Maisons-Laffitte. They can connect with native-speaking French students and access a variety of enriching experiences worldwide. Ermitage believes in taking care of its community and partners and then sharing these qualities with the peers of the world.

Versatile Experiences  

“We offer a multitude of international and service-learning experiences throughout the year,” says the team of Ermitage. One of the most transformative opportunities takes place in India with partner schools such as the Dhirubhai Ambani International School of Mumbai, The Daly College of Indore, and The Emerald Heights International School of Indore.

Ermitage has collectively offered eye care to thousands of people each year. Similarly, students can participate in conferences, exchanges, and adventure trips to destinations such as South Africa, Thailand, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the USA, and Costa Rica, etc. A typical life in the day of an Ermitage student includes a balance of rigorous academics in addition to projects that support the community, competitive athletics, and team activities. A recent IB MYP student said, “instead of the learning guiding us, we guide our learning.” This statement is a reflection of the student-centered and personalized approach taken by the international teaching staff of the school. Students are encouraged to launch personal projects, ranging from humanitarian causes to intramural sports clubs and share their rich intercultural experiences with the community.

Ermitage has always encouraged students to not only be strong academically but to also be global citizens, engaged with the world around them. As the school offers a variety of academic programs, this philosophy is woven into the fabric of its offerings, both in and outside of the classroom. Ermitage is also the only Round Square Global Member School in France. This international network is the bridge that links its various academic sections together, enabling students to become adaptable and global citizens who are curious and aware.

Students lead through the Ermitage Student Government, Model United Nations, World Scholars Cup, and Round Square Conferences. The open campus design lends itself well to IB students enjoying a breath of fresh air between their lessons, creating, and facilitating a more university style experience. Boarding students can visit Paris every weekend, with all of the offerings such a vibrant city has at hand. Some of these offerings include museums, concerts, sports, restaurants with various cuisines, pastry shops, and shopping. Parents can feel comfortable having their children in this exceptional setting, with close access to state of the art healthcare facilities and services.

Located twenty minutes from Paris on a main train line, students get to experience French life in a traditional setting that Ermitage facilitates which is unparalleled to any other institution. The setting includes a stunning seventeenth century château which was built for Louis XIII and has occasionally been used for school events. It is situated at the heart of the pedestrian park of Maisons-Laffite. It is also known for riding with over 3000 horses in the town. Horses have the right of way throughout the lush streets, where students also access the school on bike or scooter. Bakeries and cafés in the town center allow students to practice their French language skills while tasting local treats. The pedestrian-friendly and natural atmosphere offers a nice balance outside of the city center, while still allowing students to easily access Paris at their doorstep.

Students enjoy excursions into Paris to support their learning and explore all that the city has to offer. As an example, Upper School students typically enjoy the annual prom and graduation just beside the Opéra Garnier. The town of Maisons-Laffitte, and Ermitage, offers several sporting and cultural activities. Ermitage students can join activities such as golf, tennis, swimming, rowing, and horseback riding, etc. Ermitage is a family school for motivated, engaged, and ambitious students. These attributes reflect the necessary qualities that were required to build a successful, multicultural, open-minded, and academically strong institution.

Maintaining the Legacy

Ermitage International School of France is a cosmopolitan community of lifelong learners committed to developing individuals who are aware and compassionate, knowledgeable, and responsible, and able to act in their own lives and their world.

Given the range of diploma options, including the French baccalaureate and the IB Diploma, Ermitage students have access to prestigious universities worldwide. The school hosts an annual university fair on its campus, welcoming over 40 universities from around the world to meet the students, in addition to the individual meet and greets that the students can participate in throughout the year with top tier universities.

“We strive to provide an education that stimulates the mind and develops critical thinking while imparting the values of respect and mutual understanding, honesty and cooperation, empathy and open-mindedness,” says Benjamin Hunter. He is not only the new Head of School, but also grand-son of the Founder, Anne-Marie Thommeret, and son of the former Head of School, Christopher Hunter.

He is the third generation of the founding family to take over the school’s leadership and has spent much of his life learning the ins and outs of Ermitage. Having a Master ’s in Education Leadership and Management from the University of Bath, Mr. Hunter has been part of the Ermitage staff team since 2009.

Previously, he held titles such as Deputy Head, International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Coordinator, Creativity, Activity, and Service Coordinator. He was also Round Square Representative for Ermitage and the European Region. The diversified roles of Mr. Hunter at Ermitage include being a student, teacher, and parent, and alumnus besides being the Head of School.

The success of the school is intertwined with the Thommeret and Hunter family history, a family that has dedicated itself to provide education to its school community, working tirelessly to develop and enhance the learning opportunities available to students. The longstanding teaching staff’s strong commitment to children’s education and belief in every student’s potential has contributed to the school’s success throughout the years.

As the school approaches its 80th anniversary in 2021, a range of projects are in planning to continuously improve this exceptional school and offer an even more enriching learning experience for current and future students alike.

Recent Posts