The organisation of the school system

Primary School [anglais]

Primary School consists of Nursery school and Elementary school. Obligatory schooling begins at age 6 in elementary school, however, most French pupils begin their schooling at Nursery school, age 3. Since the French Education Reform Act of 8 July 2013, all primary schools have been redeveloped to better fit the needs and abilities of all pupils at each level of learning. Students are taught a complementary curriculum that introduces them to building blocks which will help them succeed in their future schooling after primary school.

Latest Changes

Since the French Education Reform Act of 8 July 2013, nursery and elementary schools have been restructured to better fit the needs and abilities of pupils. Pupils are taught for twenty four hours a week, spread over eight or nine half days. Those with learning difficulties also benefit from tailored support for two hours a week.

Nursery School

Nursery school gives students an environment where they can establish the pedagogical skills upon which their future education is founded. A new reform means that nursery schools are now organised around a single cycle, which is better adapted to the pupils' natural rhythm and activities at home - students are less tired and stressed, their quality of life at school is improved, and better learning conditions have been established. Although compulsory schooling does not begin until elementary school at age 6, nine out of ten children attend nursery school starting at the age of 3.

The main purpose of nursery education is to allow pupils to develop their full potential and to have a successful first experience of school. The emphasis is on the acquisition of language and its development, the discovery of words and numbers, as well as learning about the world around them.

Teaching has been organised into 5 areas which work better with the natural development of the child:

  • language usage
  • self-expression through physical activities
  • self-expression through artistic activities
  • starting to develop the tools to structure thinking
  • exploring their environment

Redesigned Evaluation Process

In order to better facilitate pupils' transition from nursery school to elementary school, teachers pass on summaries of students' achievements and an up-tp-date online report card is created, both to monitor and record students' progress for teachers and parents.

For more information on the new French Nursery school organisation implementation, click here.

Elementary School

Primary schools have been redesigned into the cyclical system of all schools - nursery and elementary schools make up Cycle 2, the cycle of Fundamental Learning. This includes the levels of CP, CE1, and CE2.

In elementary school, students are taught several different subjects and disciplines, which have been specifically redeveloped to better fit the needs and abilities of the pupils. They learn: French, a modern language, art, music, physical education and sports, moral and civic education, history-geography, and math.

Each of these subjects is taught so that students learn not only basic facts and information, but the methodology on how best to learn and engage with this new material. Some skills which hope to be developed and drawn out of these subjects include: critical thinking, oral and written comprehension, mathematical and spacial comprehension, reasoning, language learning, personal and emotional expression, following the rules and being responsible, adapting to various environments, and how to work individually or as a team to achieve certain goals.

The Common Core of Knowledge, Skills, and Culture

Students begin aquiring the Common Core in elementary school. Designed to identify the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes necessary for student to be successful in their schooling, personal life, and life as a future active citizen, the Common Core is taught through different pedagogical methods and courses. For example, students will start to develop critical thinking skills in their Moral and Civic education course. The Common Core is taught to students age 6-16, where they begin learning about it in elementary school first;

To learn more about the Common Core, click here.

Support for Pupils Experiencing Difficulties

'Tailored' responses for pupils experiencing difficulties in the form of two hours support is provided by teachers every week.

Refresher classes aimed at pupils in the last two years of primary school (CM1-CM2)who show serious shortcomings in French and maths are provided in addition to the tailored support. These courses are spread over three periods: one week over the spring holidays and the first and last week of the summer holidays. They take place over five days with three hours of daily teaching tailored to the needs of the pupil.

Educational Support is aimed at pupils from elementary schools in priority education zones and is provided after class. The scheme offers help with homework and classwork, practising a modern foreign language or a sport or familiarisation with art and culture. It is a 'bridge' between the school and the family.

Last updated May 10, 2017
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