The organisation of the school system

Teachers and Teacher Training [anglais]

Since 2013, teachers can enroll in specific teacher training master's programmes specifically designed for them at teacher training colleges called ESPEs (Ecoles supérieures du professorat et de l'éducation). After completing a two-year master's programme, students can pass different competitive  exams to be recruited to teach in state schools or in private schools. As of 2017, there are 884,300 teachers, both public and private, in the French school system.

Teacher Training

In 2013 have been established new teaching colleges called ESPEs (Écoles supérieures du Professorat et de l'Éducation). ESPE are higher education institutions embedded in - and working with - universities, which provide and organise education and training for student teachers. They propose specific Master's degree.

A global approach leading to a centrally defined set of objectives so as to improve and encourage teacher training:

  • accreditation criteria for ESPEs
  • a national framework for teacher competences
  • a template for two-year Masters' degrees in Education (Masters des métiers de l'enseignement, de l'éducation et de la formation), which may fall into one of several streams - Teaching in Primary Education, Teaching in Secondary Education, Non-teaching School Staff, Adult Training - although a common core of approximately two thirds of courses is to be common to all students
  • competitive exams for entry into the teaching profession (as a trainee state civil servant during the second year)

According to the OECD, the most effective initial training programmes are those that guarantee an appropriate balance between theory and practice and collaboration between teachers. In the French programme, future teachers have early contact with pupils, spend considerable time in classes and receive quality support, including through tutoring by other qualified teachers.The training programme of teachers and educational professionals includes a core curriculum offered to all students that teach not only pedagogical skills, but also how to handle difficult situations between students, mastering the use of technology in the classroom, and working with students who come from diverse backgrounds. 

Several Competitive Exams

Teachers in the French public School System are State Civil Servants and are recruited after passing a competitive exam, depending on the grade level they wish to teach, and after completing a two-year master's program. Training at ESPEs is highly encouraged. Teachers in private schools work under contract to the state and are also recruited through a competitive exam. They are considered public contractors.

In order to teach at primary level, candidates take the primary teacher recruitment competition (CRPE) organised by the regional educational authority.

There are several national competitive exams for teaching in the public sector at secondary level:

  • The Certificate of Aptitude in Secondary Teaching (Certificat d'aptitude au professorat de l'enseignement du second degré, CAPES);
  • The Certificate of Aptitude in Physical and Sporting Education teaching (Certificat d'aptitude au professorat d'éducation physique et sportive, CAPEPS);
  • The Certificate of Aptitude in Vocational Teaching (Certificat d'aptitude au professorat de lycée professionnel, CAPLP);
  • The Agrégation (more selective than the CAPES and leading to different teaching conditions).

Key Figures 2017

8784,300 teachers, including 741,800 in the state sector

384,800 teachers at primary level (43.5%)

499,600 teachers at secondary level (56.5%)

For more information on Teacher Training, click here.


Source: The State of Schools 2017 - Direction de l'évaluation, de la prospective et de la performance (Assessment, Forward-Planning and Performance Directorate), - Ministry of National Education, Ministry for Higher Education and Research)

Last updated November 23, 2017
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