English 31 was founded in 1981 by parents of English speaking pupils to deliver weekly English lessons. The association’s objective, unchanged over the years, is to ensure English-speaking children maintain their fluency in their mother tongue while progressing through the French school programme.
The association is closely linked to the international aerospace community in the Toulouse region. The founding parents worked for British Aerospace, which became the association’s sponsor in 1984. The association continues this aerospace tradition with over 50% of members having a family member employed by Airbus who continues to support the English 31 program as a sponsor.
In 1984, three years after the first classes, English 31 moved into the newly built Lycée Internationale Victor Hugo in Colomiers and began teaching in the Paul Bert primary school. The association had 66 pupils taught by 2 full-time teachers.
Over the years, English 31 has continued to grow steadily with many important firsts. In 1987, the first pupils passed their University of Cambridge International Examinations O-level exams and in 1989 the first GCSE exams, both with a 100% success rate, the beginning of a long tradition demonstrating consistent high level educational success for our pupils.
In the 1990s, the association began the integrated Primary programme to complement the successful weekly programme and to reach a new student population attending Paul Bert. The association also expanded its secondary programme by establishing classes in Collège Voltaire and other secondary schools in the Colomiers area in order to adapt to the demographic changes of the student body. Since, teaching has been concentrated for best efficiency and coherency in Victor Hugo and Lucie Aubrac. By the turn of the century, English 31 had grown to over 300 pupils and 10+ teaching and administrative employees.
English 31 continued to grow and adapt to the changing local and national environment during the first decade of the 21st century. A significant development during this time was the updated French law (décret n°2008-263 du 14 mars 2008 – art. (V)) concerning international sections, which provided a guiding framework for member funded International Sections like English 31. Additionally, the collège programme was consolidated back to a single school at Victor Hugo.
In September 2014, English 31 closed a 30 year chapter in its rich history by moving the Primary programme from the recently closed Paul Bert school into the newly built Lucie Aubrac school. The association now delivers a highly regarded education in English language and culture to over 410 pupils. Many challenges remain, including: continuing to develop the association’s governance with increased transparency; recruiting new staff to replace those moving on to new opportunities or retirement; and formalizing relationships with our educational partners. Going forward, the association has a bright outlook building on a strong foundation of enthusiastic members, dedicated staff, and strong community ties.