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France:Organisation of Primary Education

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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

 

Geographic accessibility

Geographic accessibility to elementary schools is guaranteed throughout the French territory. Article L212-2 of the Code of Education establishes that "All municipalities should have at least one public elementary school. The same applies to any hamlet separated from the main village or any other conurbation by a distance of three kilometres and bringing together at least fifteen school-aged children. However, two or several municipalities can join forces to establish and maintain a school. This joint effort is compulsory when, two or several localities being at least three kilometres distant, the school population of one of them is regularly less than fifteen children. One or several hamlets linked to a municipality can be linked to the school of a neighbouring municipality. 

In 2015, in France there are 36,823 elementary schools, of which 5,172 are private, for 4,193,000 pupils (RERS 2016). The creation and geographic positioning of a school (choice of location, construction, layout of premises) as well as school closures are decided by the municipality and the municipal council in particular. However, insofar as it is the State that decides on job allocations and assignments of teachers, the decision to create a school or class taken by the municipal council may only be effective after approval by the State's representative, the préfet of the département, who usually confirms the opinion of the académie inspector. This competence is therefore effectively shared between the State and local authorities.

As far as school transport is concerned, responsibility for its organisation and operation lies with the département (articles L213-11 to L213-12 of the Code of Education). 

If no transport is organised and if parents are required to take their children to school in their own vehicles, they may obtain an individual transport grant. If regular lines (coaches, urban buses or trains) are used, the family may obtain a reduced-rate pass from transport companies. All children taught in a public or "private school under contract" (primary and secondary right through to the final year of lycée) and who live a certain distance from the school are entitled to the pass.


Admission Requirements and Choice of School

All of the children having reached their sixth birthday during the civil year are required to enrol at elementary school in September the same year: there is no maturity criterion for children. However, children attending nursery school and who are judged by teachers to already have learning difficulties, could be kept back in nursery school for an extra year after examination by a specialised commission. This takes into account the opinion of the school and parents, a psychological examination of the child and, if necessary, the opinions of doctors or specialists working with the child (speech therapist, therapist, psychotherapist, etc.). There are very few children in this case (mainly physically disabled children).

If the child attended the nursery school of his/her place of residence, the school will often take charge of transferring the dossier. In other case, the enrolment conditions are the same for elementary and nursery school.

Generally speaking, pupils are enrolled in the school sector closest to their home. School sectors for elementary schools are defined by municipal councils.

Parents wanting to enrol their child in a school outside their sector or a school in another municipality should, in the first case, ask for a dispensation from their municipalities' town hall or, in the second case, apply to the relevant targeted host municipality. Dispensation and reception applications may be rejected.


Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils

Generally speaking, at elementary school, children are put into classes of their age group:

  • 1st year (CP) – 6-7 year olds;
  • 2nd year (CE1) – 7-8 year olds;
  • 3rd year (CE2) – 8-9 year olds;
  • 4th year (CM1) – 9-10 year olds;
  • 5th year (CM2) – 10-11 year olds. 

However, as teaching is organised into multi-annual teaching cycles (defined by article D311-10of the Code of Education) over primary and lower secondary education (the basic learning cycle which covers CP, CE1 and CE2 classes, the consolidation cycle that covers CM1, CM2 and the Sixième classes), variants in teaching organisation should be introduced in order to implement teaching most adapted to each pupil's success (articles D321-1 to D321-17). 

Moreover, in elementary school, there are two ways to have a pluri-level class: in certain schools, the number of pupils is such that pupils from two different but successive levels may be regrouped in one class, which is called “multi-niveaux” (multi-level). Finally, in certain school (particularly in a rural environment) have only one class, over the totality of the elementary school levels; this is called a “classe unique” (unique class).

The teachers’ council (composed of teachers and the school head) may propose the family of the pupil to repeat or skip a grade in both cycle 2 and 3.

As regards class composition, there are no national rules establishing a maximum or minimum number of children per class or a set teacher/children ratio. The distribution of teaching posts in primary education (nursery and elementary schools) is defined by the académie inspector's policy. He/she decides on the distribution as per the budgetary base of positions allocated by the Department of Education to each département.


Organisation of the School Year

In France, article L521-1 of the Code of Education determines the principles applicable to the determination of a school holiday calendar: it sets the length of the school year at "36 weeks at least, distributed into five work periods, of about the same length, separated by four holiday periods" and stipulates that the school holiday calendar for primary and secondary education should be finalised by the Department of National Education, Higher Education and Research for a period of three years. It also adds the possibility for Mayors to adapt the calendar (to take into account local situations". The academic year is divided into quarters.

Académies are divided into three holiday zones (A, B, C):

  • zone A includes the académies of Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon, Poitiers;
  • zone B includes the académies of Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Caen, Lille, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Reims, Rennes, Rouen, Strasbourg;
  • zone C includes the académies of Créteil, Montpellier, Paris, Toulouse, Versailles. 

                                                                           2016-2017 School Year 


Holidays

Zone A

Zone B

Zone C

Starting date of Teacher's school year

August 31, 2016

Starting date of Pupils' school year

September 1, 2016



Autumn holidays

(2 weeks)

October 19, 2016 - November 3, 2016

Christmas holidays

(2 weeks)

 December 17, 2016 - January 3, 2017 

Winter holidays

(2 weeks)

February 18 – March 6, 2017 

February 11 - February 27, 2017 

February 4 - February 20, 2017

Spring holidays

(2 weeks)

April 15 - May 2, 2017 

April 8 – April 24, 2017

April 1 - April 18, 2017 

Summer holidays

(9 weeks)

End of lessons: Saturday 8 July 

Source: School Calendar 


Organisation of the school day and week

Since the 2013 academic year, general organisational principles of schooling time in primary education are:

  • teaching is done in the framework of a 9 half-days including Wednesday morning;
  • all children continue to have 24 hours of class per week, over 36 weeks;
  • the teaching time during the day is at maximum 5h30 long, and the teaching time during the half-day is at maximum 3h30 long;
  • meridian break (to eat) cannot be shorter than 1h30.

The reform incorporates some additional educational activities supported by teachers. Each teacher is expected to dedicate 36 hours per year to carry out these activities with students divided into small groups. On the other hand, within the framework of the territorial educational project, municipalities are entrusted the organization of extra-curricular (sport, cultural and artistic) activities. The collaboration between the Ministry of National Education and the municipality will thus promote the conduct of educational activities taking into account the timetable of the child in its entirety, allow equal access to culture and sport for all and enhance the pleasure of learning and being at school.