The organisation of the school system

Teachers and Teacher Training [anglais]

Since the French 2013 Education Law, teacher training in France has been redesigned and re-prioritized. Teachers can now enroll in specific teacher training master's programmes specifically designed for them at teacher training colleges called ESPEs. 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 2016, there are 874,844 teachers, both public and private, in the French school system.

Teacher Training

The 2013 education Law  established new teaching colleges, and a new policy in regard to teacher training and continuous education. Called ESPEs (Écoles supérieures du Professorat et de l'Éducation), the teacher training colleges opened their doors on September 1, 2013 to engage teachers in a specific  Master's degree. ESPE are to provide and organise education and training for student teachers. ESPEs are higher education institutions embedded in - and working with - universities.

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

  • accreditation criteria for ESPEs
  • a revised 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
  • the nature and timing (at the end of the first year) of the new 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 new 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 2016

  • 874,844 teachers, including 711 165 in the state sector
  • 379,966 teachers at primary level (43.4%)
  • 494,878 teachers at secondary level (56.6%)
  • 82,700 educative assistants for special needs students

For the Ministry's publication on Teacher Training and its importance in the implementation of Education Reform, click here.


Source: References and Statistics 2016 - The State of Schools 2016 - 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 May 10, 2017
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