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France:Early Childhood Education and Care

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Overview France

Contents

France:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

France:Historical Development

France:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

France:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

France:Political and Economic Situation

France:Organisation and Governance

France:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

France:Lifelong Learning Strategy

France:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

France:Organisation of Private Education

France:National Qualifications Framework

France:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

France:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

France:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

France:Funding in Education

France:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

France:Higher Education Funding

France:Adult Education and Training Funding

France:Early Childhood Education and Care

France:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

France:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

France:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

France:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

France:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

France:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

France:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

France:Primary Education

France:Organisation of Primary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

France:Assessment in Primary Education

France:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

France:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

France:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

France:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

France:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

France:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

France:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

France:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Higher Education

France:Types of Higher Education Institutions

France:First Cycle Programmes

France:Bachelor

France:Short-Cycle Higher Education

France:Second Cycle Programmes

France:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

France:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

France:Adult Education and Training

France:Distribution of Responsibilities

France:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

France:Main Providers

France:Main Types of Provision

France:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

France:Teachers and Education Staff

France:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

France:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

France:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

France:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Management and Other Education Staff

France:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

France:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

France:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

France:Management Staff for Higher Education

France:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

France:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Quality Assurance

France:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

France:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

France:Educational Support and Guidance

France:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

France:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

France:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

France:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

France:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

France:Mobility and Internationalisation

France:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Mobility in Higher Education

France:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

France:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

France:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

France:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

France:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

France:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

France:National Reforms in School Education

France:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

France:National Reforms in Higher Education

France:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

France:European Perspective

France:Legislation

France:Glossary

In France, no single structure exists suited to all pre-elementary-age children. France has a juxtaposed model providing two kinds of institution, each coming under different competent authorities, depending on children’s age-group. Children from birth to age three years can be received in other care structures or services that are not part of the national educational system. On the one hand, those are so-called collective or parental crèches, set up and managed, in most cases, by local authorities or by non-profit associations; on the other hand, they are individual care services (nursery assistants) or home childminding.

Pre-primary (or pre-elementary) education is dispensed at nursery schools ("écoles maternelles"), which take children from 3 up to 6 years of age. 2-years-old can be admitted if places are available.

Almost all children attend nursery school from the age of 3 for the last 20 years, even though it is optional (RERS 2014) . Such schools therefore form an integral part of the French educational system and are under the aegis of the Department of National Education, which draws up educational programmes and is responsible for training and recruitment of teachers.
Nursery schooling is secular and free of charge when it is State-run. From a legal point of view, nursery schools are not autonomous public establishments. They have no operating budget as secondary schools (collèges and lycées) do. Municipalities are responsible for buildings and for financing of material expenditure.

The latest regulatory provisions on school hours and programmes are set out in the special Official Bulletin no.3 of 19 June 2008:  “The main objective of pre-primary education is acquisition of rich, organised spoken language that can be understood by others. At nursery school, a child establishes relationships with other children and with adults. It practises its motor, sensory, affective, interpersonal and intellectual skills, progressively becoming a student. It discovers the world of the written word" (extract from the Official Bulletin special edition no.3 of 19 June 2008). The law on restructuring the Republic’s school system has entrusted nursery schools with a new mission, with consultation on a new draft programme for nursery schools held in autumn 2014. The programme, which should be finalised by the end of 2014, has two key aims. First of all, it prepares children for the education they will be receiving at primary school, while respecting each child’s pace of learning; secondly, it contributes to reducing inequalities from the earliest possible age, in particular with regard to language.


A child’s right to receive pre-primary education and the nursery school’s educational responsibilities are asserted in the two fundamental guidance laws for schools:


The most recent regulatory provisions on timetables and programmes are detailed in the Official Bulletin special edition no.3 of 19 June 2008.


Reforms and policies

Due to a change in education policy more favourable to the schooling of two-year-olds, the gross enrolment ratio for this age-group is up for the first time in 10 years, standing at 11.9% in 2013 (public + under-contract private sectors) (RERS, 2014 page 80). The objective is to reduce inequalities between pupils in terms of school success.
The 400 teaching jobs created for the start of the 2013/2014 school year to develop the schooling of children under three years old are assigned, as a priority, to priority education sectors, isolated rural sectors and overseas regions. For more information about current reforms on pre-primary and primary education please refer to section 14.2.1.

In 2013, in line with the European Union’s two quantified objectives following the 2002 Barcelona Summit (providing intake facilities for at least 33% of children under 3 years old and pre-elementary education for at least 95% of children between the age of 4 and compulsory school age), France provided intake facilities for 40% of children under 3 years old and pre-elementary education for all children between the age of 4 and compulsory school age.