Fury as London Lyce makes room for Sarkozy's son

London's leading French private school is faced with its second cronyism row in less than year after it granted a place at short notice for the son of Nicolas Sarkozy, despite being massively over-subscribed.

Ccilia Sarkozy, the ex-wife of the French President, is moving to London now that their 11-year marriage has ended, and has applied to send their son, Louis, 10, to the Lyce Franais Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington.

Places at the school, where fees can exceed 1,900 a term, are highly prized. It takes in 3,300 boys and girls of primary and secondary school age. But demand is so great that the French government, which owns it, struck a deal with Hammersmith and Fulham council two months ago on behalf of children from London's rapidly growing French-speaking community who had been unable to get places at the Lyce.

The Hurlingham and Chelsea comprehensive, in Fulham, is to be converted into a bilingual school, where British children would be educated free while the children of French ex-patriates will pay fees.

Reports that a place had been found at short notice for the President's son have set London's large French community talking and provoked anger among those who feel that family connections have triumphed over other considerations. One parent said: "This is very sensitive. It is better not to talk about it just now."

Ccilia and Nicolas Sarkozy were divorced on 15 October after a legal separation. The couple had separated once before, and she became romantically involved with an advertising executive. They were briefly reunited, but she did not vote for him in the second round ballot for the French presidency in May, and made only three public appearances with him after he was elected.

Lyce Franais Charles de Gaulle is regarded as one of the best independent schools in the capital, and not just by the French community. About one pupil in eight is British, placed there by parents wanting their children to benefit from a bilingual education.

Madonna sends her daughter, Lourdes, there. Former pupils include the dancer Nicholas Johnson, who died this year, the broadcaster and former Tory MP Gyles Brandreth, Vanessa Redgrave's daughters, Joely and Natasha Richardson, and the popstar Mika, then known as Mica Penniman. Mika hated it. "I had a cruel teacher who made my life hell," he said in an interview earlier this year.

The main site is located in Kensington across the Cromwell Road from the Natural History Museum, and next door to the French consulate general. There are primary school adjuncts in Ealing and Clapham.

The school was hit by allegations of nepotism after a popular teacher was replaced by the deputy headteacher's wife. More than 400 pupils staged a protest outside the school in April, demanding the reinstatement of Thierry Grpinet, head of the sixth form.

Twice that number of pupils were said to have signed a petition asking that he be kept on, and it was also reported that three quarters of the academic staff abandoned lessons for a day in protest.

Mr Grpinet said that he had been asked to stay on after his five-year contract ended, but that the decision to reappoint him was overruled in Paris, and he was replaced by Natalie Routier, wife of the deputy head Yves Routier.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

ICT Teacher

£22000 - £35000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

SEN Learning Support Assistant

£60 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Youth Support Workers Glouceste...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London