The organisation of the school system

Lower Secondary School: Le Collège [anglais]

Lower secondary school educates all pupils after primary school. There, they follow four years of schooling, age 11 to 15.

After the French Education Reform Act of 8 July 2013 lower secondary schools were reorganised to allow each student to develop their potential skills, in particular those defined by the Common Core of Knowledge, Skills and Culture. Since the start of the 2016 schoolyear, educational teams have more autonomy to adapt their pedagogical practices to the needs of their environment and, in this way, facilitate learning of these key competences by their students.

A New Strategy in place at Lower Secondary School

The redefining of key stages, as designated by the French Education Reform Act of 8 July 2013, reinforces the continuity of learning and inscribes the progression of each student in the long run, with a closer liaison between primary and lower secondary schools. The creation of a primary-lower secondary council should encourage the dialogue of teams and the harmonisation of methods and professional practices, within the framework of a local policy adapted to their local needs. The ability of lower secondary schools to better accompany their students in their transition from primary to lower secondary school is based on the networking of lower secondary schools, the development of teambuilding in this context, as well as an effective integration of pedagogical and educational policies.

Diversified Ways to Teach

There are three types of obligatory teaching which aim to deliver the Common Core of Knowledge, Skills and Culture through different pedagogical routes:

  • disciplinary teaching;
  • complementary teaching, which takes two forms and addresses the contents of teaching in a diversified way: customized support (AP) which helps students to learn and progress by developing their autonomy and various transversal skills; the aim of the interdisciplinary practical project (EPI), starting in the second year (12 years, 5th grade), is to build and deepen knowledge and skills through a project approach leading to a concrete, individual or collective achievement.

Furthermore, complementary lessons could be proposed to voluntary students from the 2nd year. They engage with languages and cultures of Antiquity (LCA) or regional languages and cultures (LCR).

These allocated times are adjustable within the year or cycle, conforming to the cross curricular project of the school action plan, in identical fashion for all students in the same year.

Programmes for Compulsory Schooling

Programmes of compulsory schooling prioritise the mastering of key competences. These programmes, designed in cycles of three years, feed into each of the 5 domains of the Common Core of Knowledge, Skills and Culture. They define the contribution of each discipline or lesson to the 5 areas of the Common Core. The intersections between the different lessons are explained in order to guide the interdisciplinary work, which reinforces the meaning of the learning. These programs are adapted to the contemporary challenges of society, offering, in particular, learning two modern languages starting in second year, as well as integrating the digital dimension in its different aspects, from the point of view of technological tools and the introduction of coding.

The Evolution of Assessment

The methods of evaluation favour a constructive evaluation, simple and readable, which valorises progress, supports motivation and encourages the initiative of pupils. 

The online report card (livret scolaire unique) makes it possible to monitor the scholarly achievements of pupils from age 6 to 16, including if pupils change schools. It gathers periodic assessments and end-of-cycle reports, as well as certifications.

The National Diploma of Brevet (DNB) evaluates the knowledge and skills acquired at the end of lower secondary school. This includes the path of Citizenship Education, career guidance, and art and culture as well as other core disciplines. It is based on continuous assessment and consists of three compulsory formal exams completed at the end of cycle 4 (last year of lower secondary, 14-15 years):

  • an oral presentation on a project carried out in the context of a project, a cross curricular project (EPI) or one of the educational pathways;
  • a written exam analysing French, history and geography, and moral and civic education;
  • a written exam analysing mathematics, physics-chemistry, life and earth sciences, and technology.

The result of the National Diploma attests to the mastering of the Common Core of Knowledge, Skills and Culture.

Last updated May 10, 2017
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