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

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Overview France

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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

Pre-primary teaching (ISCED 0) for children over 2-3 years is dispensed in nursery schools.


Geographical accessibility

Geographic accessibility to nursery school is guaranteed throughout the French territory. Practically all 3-6 year olds (between 97-100% depending on départements) currently attend nursery school.
However, for 2-3 year olds there remains tremendous geographic inequality. Differences depend on cultural contexts, geographic distribution of collective reception structures for young children and the educational policy of académie inspectors.


Admission Requirements and choice of ECEC institution

Parents living in France are entitled to enrol their children, regardless of their nationality, in a public or private nursery school. It is however necessary to fulfil certain conditions, in terms of the child's age and choice of school.

Enrolment at a nursery school is not compulsory It is done by parental request. Parents should contact the town hall of their commune which will indicate which nursery school their children will attend. Generally speaking, the child is allocated to the school in the "school sector" (i.e. "schooling zone") where his or her parents live. The municipal council (the town hall's decision-making body) defines the commune's school sector map, by municipal order. Parents wanting to enrol their child in a school outside their sector or a school in another commune should, in the first case, ask for a dispensation from their commune's town hall or, in the second case, apply to the relevant targeted host commune. Dispensation and reception applications may be rejected.

To enrol a child, parents need to submit (by June preceding the following school year in September) the following documents to the town hall:

  • the family record book, an identity card or copy of the child's birth certificate or any other document proving his or her identification and of his/her parents;
  • a recent residence justifying document
  • a document certifying that the child has received compulsory vaccinations for his/her age or justifies any counter-indications.
  • Other documents may also be required for the canteen and extra-curricular activities if relevant.


If the child does not change schools, the registration does not need to be renewed every year.

  * Education code: article L113-1 ;
  * Education code: articles L212-1 to L212-9 ;
  * Education code: article D113-1.


Age Levels and Grouping of Children

Children spend 3 years at nursery school between the ages of 2-3 and 6.
Generally speaking, children are grouped into age groups in three sections:

  • the "reception section" (2-3 to 4 year olds);
  • the "middle section" (4 to 5 year olds);
  • the "final year section" (5 to 6 year olds).


This breakdown can be flexible in order to take into account each child's pace, maturity and acquired skills. The teaching staff, in agreement with parents, may decide to place a child in a sector that best suits his/her needs, even if it is not precisely his/her age group.

In the Guidance law of 1989, primary education - which in France consists of nursery school (ISCED 0) and elementary school (ISCED 1) - is organised not only into school years but also "learning cycles" which can include one or several school years. Cycles were introduced in a concern to adapt teaching more precisely to pupils' learning rhythms.
The three years of nursery school form the "initial learning cycle"; the second year (final year section) is also part of the "fundamental learning cycle" corresponding to the first two years of elementary school (ISCED 1) This guarantees continuity between pre-primary and elementary teaching.

There are no national rules establishing a maximum and 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 Director's policy. He/she decides on the budgetary base of positions allocated by the Department of Education to each département.


Organisation of Time

Management of school time depends on the school calendar elaborated nationally by the Department of Education. The 2011/2012 school year officially starts on Friday 2 September 2011 and ends on Thursday 5 July 2012.

Nursery schools often stagger the back-to-school period for children arriving for the first time (3 year olds or younger); this helps them to get used to the collective environment by keeping them away initially from a very large group of children.

Order of 09/06/2008


Organisation of the day and week

The length of the school week is set at 24 hours for all pupils. Pupils do not go to school on Saturday morning.
Teaching is organised from Monday to Friday:

  • either four days: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday;
  • or nine half-days, adding Wednesday morning: by proposal to the School Council and subject to approval by the académie inspector.


The organisation of the school week is decided by the School Council.
The maximum number of hours in the school day must not exceed six hours.

Teaching is not structured around a distribution of subjects with strict times and boundaries. The teacher organises the day's activities as he/she chooses, while complying with pupils' needs and the skills to be acquired and defined by the national curricula for each cycle.

Personalised help is proposed free of charge to pupils encountering learning difficulties, in addition to the 24 hours of compulsory teaching right from the first year: this help consists of 2 hours per week. Personalised help is given in small groups by the class teacher according to an organisation chosen by the school.

Order of 09/06/2008