WITH the support of the French Embassy in London, Colchester’s Les Alouettes French-speaking school is booming.

Based at Straight Road Community Centre, it was started by a group of French mums who wanted their bi-lingual children to keep up their French while learning something about the country’s culture.

One of those mums is Anne Claydon. She said: “Although raising children to be bi-lingual is a challenge, it is a very important aspect of life for bi-cultural families who would like their children to feel happy and comfortable with their double identity.

“We wanted to assist them, and the wider French speaking community, to teach their children spoken and written French, as well as give them some cultural knowledge.”

The school, which runs every Saturday morning during term time, is aimed at French-speaking children from three to 11 years old from north Essex and south Suffolk.

And since it started in September, pupils are coming from further afield.

Karine Walklett, another mum, said: “At the moment the furthest is Harwich and Sible Hedingham, but we’ve had an enquiry from Brentwood.

“We started with six families and 12 children, and now have 27 families with 38 children, 41 from January. It’s been a real word of mouth thing.”

Anne added: “We also have to thank the French Embassy which has put us in contact with French-speaking families here. They helped us get the grant to start the school off, enabling us to buy learning and reading material as well as teaching equipment.”

For information, contact Les Alouettes on 07547 728526 or e-mail lesalouettes@ymail.com