France:Teaching and Learning in 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

Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours

Currently applicable primary school curricula are described in the B.O hors série no.3 of 19 June 2008.

They "define, for each teaching domain, the knowledge and skills to be attained within the framework of cycles; they indicate annual references to organise progressive learning in French and Maths. They however leave teachers free choice as to their methods and approaches, adapted to pupils' requirements" (Preamble to primary school curricula).

The times and content of curricula are set out per subject :

  • French;
  • Maths;
  • Physical and Sports Education;
  • Discovery of the World;
  • Art and History of Art;
  • Experimental Science and Technology;
  • Modern Languages;
  • History-Geography-Civic and Moral Instruction.


The objectives to be attained are defined by the "multi-annual learning cycle" (basic learning cycle and consolidation cycle).

One of the finalities of the primary school curricula is to lead children to reach the first two stages of the common base of knowledge and skills. Each of the two stages are assessed in a standard way: the first stage is assessed at the end of the first learning cycle (CE1 class, 7-8 year olds), the second at the end of the second cycle (CM2 class, 10-11 year olds). The objectives to be attained for each stage are also defined in the curricula.


Common base of knowledge and skills

The common base of knowledge and skills is a key provision of the guidance and planning law for the future of schools of 23 April 2005, a law whereby the French State redefined what each citizen should be taught in school. It was enforced by the decree of 11 July 2006. This law designates all knowledge and skills that each pupil should master at the end of compulsory education, considered to be necessary to have successfully completed education, to continue training, build personal and professional life and contribute to success of life in society.

The Department for Education is committed to transmitting 7 major skills:

  1. mastery of the French language;
  2. practice of a foreign modern language;
  3. the main components of mathematics and scientific and technological culture;
  4. mastery of usual information and communication techniques;
  5. humanist culture;
  6. social and civic skills;
  7. autonomy and initiative.


Each major skill is designed as a combination of fundamental knowledge, capacities to be implemented in various situations and attitudes needed throughout life.

This "common base" acts as the reference for drafting school and college curricula (ISCED 1 and 2). The 7 skills are progressively acquired from nursery school to the end of compulsory education (which corresponds to the first year of lycée - ISCED 3). Each skill requires the contribution of several subjects and, reciprocally, a subject contributes to the acquisition of several skills. At primary school and collège, all teaching and subjects play a role in the acquisition of the base.

Official texts specify that compulsory education is not reduced to a common base: "even though it is the foundation, the base does not replace primary school and collège curricula; nor is it their condensed version. Its specific feature lies in the will to give meaning to basic educational culture" (Department for Education).

The common base is organised into three stages, which are assessed throughout compulsory education: the first stage is monitored by a standard test in the second year of elementary school; the second stage in the last year of elementary school; the third stage in the last year of collège.

Education Code - art. L.122-1-1
Education Code - art. D 122-2: "Objectives and missions of school education".


Elaboration of curricula

Elementary school curricula are devised at national level, following the same procedure as curricula of other teaching levels.


Timetables by subject

The order of 9-6-2008 sets the distribution of teaching hours per group of subjects, with, for each group, a minimum and maximum number of hours, allowing teachers to adapt their teaching to the level, specific rhythms and possible difficulties of the pupils in question.


                                                                         Basic learning cycle (CP-CE1)

Subject fields


Annual teaching length


Weekly teaching length


French

360 hours

10 hours

Maths

180 hours

5 hours

Physical and sports education

108 hours

9 hours*

Modern language

54 hours

Art and history of art

81 hours

Discovery of the world

81 hours

TOTAL

864 hours

24 hours

   Source: order of 9-6-2008
   * The adaptation of this weekly length of time will depend on the teachers' education project, respecting annual volumes set for each subject field.


Consolidation cycle (CE2 - CM1 - CM2)


Subject fields'

Annual teaching length'

Weekly teaching length'

French

288 hours

8 hours

Maths

180 hours

5 hours

Physical and sports education

108 hours

11 hours*

Modern language

54 hours

Experimental science and

 technology

78 hours

Humanist culture

 - art and history 

 of art**

 - history-geography-civic and moral instruction 

 78 hours


 78 hours 

TOTAL

864 hours

24 hours

    Source: order of 9-6-2008
    * The adaptation of this weekly length of time will depend on the teachers' education project, respecting annual volumes set for each subject field.
    ** Annual teaching of history of art is 20 hours and concerns all subject fields.


Content of curricula - basic learning cycle

The basic learning cycle starts during the "final year section" of nursery school and, at that level, uses its teaching method. It continues in the first two years of elementary school, during the "cours préparatoire" (CP - preparatory class) and in the first year "cours élémentaire (CE1 - elementary class).
Reading, writing and the French language, knowledge and understanding of numbers, their numeric writing and arithmetic in small quantities are the main learning objectives of the CP and CE1.
Here is the list of subjects taught, followed by a few extracts of curriculum content for each subject (B.O hors-série no.3 of 19 June 2008):

  • French;
  • Maths;
  • Physical and sports education;
  • Modern language;
  • Art and history of art;
  • Discovery of the world (introduction to the world of Information and Communication Technology);
  • Civil and moral instruction.


French

In the CP, reading is taught by decoding and identifying words and progressively acquiring knowledge and skills needed to understand texts. The alphabetic code is systematically practised from the beginning of the year. Reading and writing of words, sentences and texts are taught together, for mutual improvement throughout the cycle. This learning is based on oral practice of language and the acquisition of vocabulary: it is accompanied by an introduction to grammar and spelling.
Pupils progressively learn to master the gestures of cursive handwriting: using appropriate graphics, linking up letters, accents, spaces between words, punctuation marks, capital letters. They are also led to use a computer: writing with the keyboard, use of an electronic dictionary.

Maths

Maths teaching develops rigour and precision and a taste for reasoning.
Knowledge of numbers and arithmetic are the priority aims of CP and CE1. Problem-solving is progressively taught and helps to build a sense of operations. Together with regular mental arithmetic, it is indispensable. Pupils become progressively familiar with usual representations: tables, graphs.

Physical and sports education

Physical education targets development of capacities needed for motor action and offers an introduction to physical, sports and artistic activities. While satisfying the need and pleasure of exertion, it helps to develop a sense of effort and perseverance. Activities are organised over the two years of the cycle, using local resources, i.e.:

  • Athletic activities;
  • Swimming;
  • Traditional and collective games with or without a ball;
  • Dance and gym activities.


Modern language

During the preparatory class (CP), there is an initial, oral introduction to a modern language. From CE1 up, language teaching combines oral and written work, focusing on understanding and oral expression. Modern languages are learned from the beginning through regular practice and memory training.

Discovery of the world

In CP and CE1, pupils have easier access to knowledge resulting from their reading and mathematical skills. They acquire references in time and space, knowledge of the world and master corresponding specific vocabulary. Pupils start to acquire skills required for the brevet informatique et internet - IT and internet certificate. They discover and use basic computer functions.
They use reference and time measuring tools: calendar, clock, etc.
Pupils discover and memorise references that are more distant in time: a few dates and characters in French history; they become aware of changes in lifestyles.
In CP and CE1, pupils start to identify the features of living entities: birth, growth and reproduction; nutrition and animal diets. They learn a few rules of personal and collective hygiene and safety.

Art and history of art

Artistic sensitivity and expression capabilities go hand in hand with use of precise vocabulary that allows pupils to express their sensations, emotions, preferences and tastes. An initial contact with works of art leads them to observe, listen, describe and compare, i.e.:

  • Visual arts: art, cinema, photography, design, digital art, etc.
  • Musical education: trying to stay in tune and in rhythm, breathing...


Civil and moral instruction

Pupils learn rules of politeness and behaviour in society. They progressively acquire responsible behaviour and become more autonomous by:

  • learning moral principles;
  • practising the use of collective rules: polite phrases, saying "vous", etc.
  • learning basic health and safety notions: pupils become aware of risks linked to the use of the internet; they receive appropriate information on the different forms of child abuse;
  • learning to recognise and respect the emblems and symbols of the Republic: the Marseillaise, the tricolour flag, the bust of Marianne, the motto: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity".


Content of curricula - consolidation cycle

In continuity with the first years of primary school, mastery of the French language and of the main elements of mathematics are the priority objectives of CE2 and CM classes. However, all teaching contributes to the acquisition of the common learning and skills base.
Specific attention is also paid to understanding and expression in a modern language.
Autonomy and personal initiative, conditions for success at school, are progressively implemented in all fields of activity and help pupils to feel confident and efficient.
The use of ICTEs (information and communication technologies for education) becomes regular within the framework of the IT and internet certificate.
Pupils prepare to learn different subjects for their benefit.

Here is the list of subjects taught, followed by a few extracts of the curriculum content for each subject (B.O hors-série no.3 of 19 June 2008):

  • French;
  • Maths;
  • Physical and sports education;
  • Modern language;
  • Experimental science and technology (use of ICTEs);
  • Humanist culture: Art and history of art; history-geography-civic and moral instruction.


French

Ensuring that all pupils acquire precise and clear oral and written expression is the aim of French teaching, but also of all other subjects.
The French language (vocabulary, grammar, spelling) is studied in specific sessions and activities. It is taught with a concern to highlight its links with expression, understanding and correct writing.
Handwriting is practised daily and pupils are asked to draft texts regularly.
In reading, the goals to be attained are:

  • automatic word recognition, easy reading of irregular and rare words;
  • increased rapidity and efficiency in silent reading;
  • understanding of sentences;
  • understanding of school texts (problems, instructions, lessons and exercises);
  • understanding of informative and documentary texts;
  • understanding of literary texts (stories, descriptions, dialogues, poems).


Moreover, the literature curriculum aims to give each pupil a repository of appropriate references for his/her age, taken from children's heritage and literature of past and present. The extension and structuring of children's vocabulary is covered by specific sessions and activities, in particular using intentionally chosen textual media.
Pupils progressively acquire grammatical vocabulary: the sentence, classes of words, the functions of words, the verb, agreements, propositions, grammatical and lexical spelling.

Maths

From CE2 to CM2, in the four fields of the curriculum, pupils enrich their knowledge, acquire new tools and continue to learn problem-solving. They reinforce their mental arithmetic skills. Mastery of the main elements of mathematics helps action in everyday life and prepares them for studying at collège.
Organised study of numbers continues up to one billion, but even larger numbers may be encountered. The following are taught:

  • Natural whole numbers;
  • Decimal numbers and fractions;
  • Mental arithmetic;
  • Written arithmetic: mastery of an operating technique for each of the four operations;
  • Arithmetic using a calculator.


Moreover, learning geometry should allow pupils to move progressively from perceptive recognition of objects to study based on the use of drawing and measurement instruments.
Pupils should know the following notions:

  • Lengths, masses and volumes;
  • Areas;
  • Angles;
  • Time;
  • Lengths of time;
  • Currency;
  • Problem-solving.


Physical and sports education

Physical and sports education aims to develop motor capacity and physical, sports and artistic activities. It contributes to health education by helping pupils know their body better and safety education by showing them controlled risks. It encourages empowerment and autonomy by showing moral and social values to pupils (respect for rules, respect for oneself and others).
Activities are organised over the three years of the cycle, using local resources, i.e.:

  • Athletic activities;
  • Swimming;
  • Collective games (e.g. handball, basketball, football, rugby, volleyball);
  • Combat games;
  • Racket games;
  • Dance and gym activities.


Modern language

At the end of CM2, pupils should have acquired skills needed for elementary communication defined by level A1 of the "Common European framework of reference for Languages" which is the basic reference for teaching, learning and assessing modern language skills.

Experimental science and technology

Experimental science and technology is aimed at understanding and describing the real world, nature and the environment built by Humans, acting on it and controlling changes induced by human activity. Its study allows pupils to understand the difference between verifiable facts and hypotheses on the one hand and opinions and belief on the other hand.
Observation, questioning, experimenting and argumentation practised through example, "getting one's hands dirty" (preferring the construction of knowledge through exploration, experimentation and discussion) are essential to achieve these aims.
The themes to be explored are:

  • Sky and Earth;
  • Matter;
  • Energy;
  • The unity and diversity of living beings;
  • How living beings function;
  • How the human body works and health;
  • Living beings in their environment;
  • Technical objects.


Humanist culture

Humanist culture opens the mind of pupils to diversity and evolution of civilisations, society, territories, religion and the arts; it allows them to acquire time, space, cultural and civic references.

History and geography give shared, time and space references to start to understand the unity and complexity of the world.
History is taught in chronological order through description and observation of a few heritage documents. The aim therefore is not to treat all aspects of themes in the curriculum (prehistory, antiquity, middle ages, modern times, the French Revolution and the nineteenth century, twentieth century and our times) but only to make sure that pupils will know the representative characters or events of those periods.
The geography curriculum aims to describe and understand how humans live and develop their territories. Subjects studied are located on the local and national level; the aim is to identify and know the characteristic principles of French geography in a European and global framework Familiarisation with a globe, maps and landscapes is necessary.
Individual or collective practices develop aesthetic sense, they favour expression, thought-out creativity, controlled gestures and the acquisition of work methods and techniques. They are highlighted, within the framework of art history, by a sensitive and reasoned approach to works considered within a chronological framework.

Information and communication technology (ICT)

Digital culture imposes reasonable use of ICT, multimedia and the internet. From primary school onward, a responsible attitude to the use of these interactive tools should be targeted. The consolidation cycle is organised according to five areas presented in regulatory texts and defining the Brevet informatique et internet - IT and internet certificate:

  • appropriating a working ICT environment;
  • adopting a responsible attitude;
  • creating, producing, treating and using data;
  • informing, finding documents;
  • communicating, exchanging.


Civil and moral instruction

Civic instruction and moral education allow each pupil to better integrate the class and school collective at a time when he/she is beginning more character and independence as well as understand relations between personal freedom and the constraints of life in society.
Through civic instruction, pupils identify and understand the importance of values, founding texts, symbols of the French Republic and the European Union, in particular the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
The following subjects are tackled:

  • Self-esteem: rules of politeness and civility, safety rules, first aid, elementary road safety rules;
  • The importance of the rule of law in the organisation of social relations;
  • Elementary rules in the organisation of public life and democracy: election, parliament, government, welfare protection;
  • Characteristics of the French nation: territory, unification stages, rules of acquiring nationality, national language;
  • The European Union and French-speaking: European flag and hymn, diversity of cultures, French-speaking community.


Teaching Methods and Materials 

National curricula and instruction are compulsory for all teachers and all schools. They are precise and detailed in terms of objectives and content to be taught, while remaining open in terms of method in order to strictly comply with the principle of educational freedom written in the Guidance and Planning Law for the Future of Schools.
Teachers and the school's staff should determinedly embrace this freedom. Teachers' role is to help their pupils progress in attaining objectives set in national curricula and targets: they have the choice of choosing the methods most adapted to the individual characteristics and specific needs of their pupils. Primary school teachers are not simple executors: on the basis of national targets, they need to invent and implement educational situations to allow pupils to succeed in the best possible conditions.

Individual school supplies, insofar as they are materials used by one single pupil and remain his/her property, are not free and are to be provided by families. In theory, school books, as individual school supplies, could also be purchased by parents. However, practically all communes provide pupils at public-sector schools with school books. All or part of small school equipment necessary for each pupil, stationery or writing material, may be supplied by the municipality, even though this is not generally the case.
Excluding supplies paid by the municipal budget, pupils' school equipment list should be drafted and handed to families. School supplies lists should be as short as possible to have a slight impact of the family budget and not create inequality between pupils.

Teachers choose school books and equipment as a symbol of their educational freedom. The choice is based on proposals made by private publishers. Choices are made after consultation of the School Council.
Accompanying documents, teaching and documentary resources are made available to the education community by the Centre National de Documentation Pédagogique (CNDP), a French administrative public institution, controlled by the Department for Education.

Articles L 132-1 à L 132-2 of the Education Code.