School Education in France

Lower secondary school: le collège [anglais]

Lower secondary schools take all pupils from elementary school without an entrance exam from the age of 11.Its primary objective is to help all to master the Common Core of Knowledge and Skills.It also prepares pupils for the rest of their general, technological or vocational schooling.

What is taught

Teaching in the lower secondary is organised by subject: French,mathematics, history and geography, civic education, life and earth sciences, technology, art, musical education, physical education, physics and chemistry, two modern languages as well as the crosscurricular teaching of the history of art.

The objectives are set through a national curriculum.


The four years (sixième - cinquième - quatrième - troisième: years 6 to 9) of compulsory schooling are organised in three stages or cycles.

Sixième (year 6): the adaptation cycle

The purpose is to consolidate the achievements of primary school and initiate pupils in the working methods of lower secondary education. Particular emphasis is placed on integrating pupils particularly when they make the transition from primary to lower secondary school. This link favours joint-working between the teachers of last year of primary and those of first year of lower secondary, ensures continuity of learning and allows the pupil's difficulties to be tackled in the most appropriate way [‘Programme personnalisé de réussite éducative - passerelle',tailored support...].

All pupils benefit from two hours tailored support a week. In sixième, pupils continue learning the modern foreign language taken up in primary. In so-called ‘bilangue-two languages' classes they take up a second modern foreign language.

Cinquième and quatrième (years 7 and 8): the central cycle

The objective is to enable pupils to develop their ‘knowledge, skills and behaviour'. This cycle is characterised by its consistency over two years and the gradual enrichment of the syllabus through the introduction of optional subjects. A pathway for familiarisation with the world of work and training is offered to all pupils. In cinquième physics and chemistry are taught for the first time. Pupils can take Latin as an optional module and continue learning it  in quatrième and troisième.In quatrième pupils choose a second modern foreign or regional language.

Troisième (year 9): the orientation cycle

It allows pupils to build on what they have learned in lower  secondary and to work towards general, technological and vocational study. Pupils continue learning the modern foreign languages studied in quatrième. They can also choose, as an optional module, an ancient language (Greek) or or a three hour weekly module of vocational familiarisation. More over, families can also request entry to a vocational preparation class  with an adapted syllabus to reconcile mastery of the common core of knowledge and skills with developing educational plans at the end of collège, focussing on the vocational route.

At the end of this year, pupils sit an exam to gain the diplôme national du brevet (DNB) which assesses the knowledge and skills learned in lower secondary and certifies the command of the Common Core of Knowledge and Skills. It takes coursework into account and includes three written tests in French, mathematics, history and geography, civic education and an oral exam in art history..

Last updated May 27, 2013
fermer suivant précédent