The Lycée International de Londres was officially named as Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill on Saturday 24 January to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the former British Prime Minister’s death, on 24 January 1965. Its inaugural year also marks the 75th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s first becoming British Prime Minister and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The lycée’s name was chosen in recognition of the crucial role played by Churchill in the victory of the Allied forces in World War Two and the 1944 Liberation of France.
London’s other French lycée, in South Kensington, is named after the French military and political leader General Charles de Gaulle. Churchill and de Gaulle were famously pictured marching down the Champs Elysées in Paris on 11 November 1944, following the Liberation of France. It was therefore natural to celebrate this historical partnership by naming the new school after the courageous war leader who supported Free France, in the same year as the Lycée Charles de Gaulles celebrates its first 100 years of existence.
The Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill opened its doors to its first group of students in September 2015.
The Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill is an independent school set up by the French Education Charitable Trust (FECT). It joins the growing worldwide network of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), a government agency overseen by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development. The AEFE’s network today numbers 494 educational establishments in 135 countries. Around 330,000 students are educated in these schools, with French nationals making up 40% of the student body and the remaining 60% originating from other countries.
Arnaud Vaissié, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Mireille Rabaté, Head of the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill, said: “By naming the new French international lycée after Winston Churchill today, 50 years after his death, we remember the immensely important role he played in France’s past and make his memory present in our country’s future. We hope our new students joining will feel inspired by the legacy of this great historical figure.”
Sylvie Bermann, French Ambassador to the UK, said on inauguration day: “It is very rare for a French lycée to adopt the name of a non-French figure, and this alone should stand as a symbol of the unique and very special ties between France and the UK. With the other French lycée in London’s South Kensington named after Charles de Gaulle, we now celebrate the two men who shaped France’s destiny in this very city. As the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill prepares to welcome its very first students, I wish it all the success of its big brother, the Lycée Charles de Gaulle, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.”
The Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill occupies the site of the former Brent Town Hall, a 1940s Grade II listed building which was bought from Brent Council by the French Education Property Trust on 1 February 2012. The new lycée’s campus is set over five acres, with 12,000 square metres of newly refurbished and purpose-built teaching spaces for the three levels of schooling (Primaire: reception – Year 6, Collège: Years 7-10, Lycée: Years 11-13).
The campus boasts multiple onsite sports facilities including a running track, two outdoor sports pitches and an indoor gymnasium. A newly-constructed Annex building houses modern science classrooms and a large, bright dining area.