The organisation of the school system

The French school system is organised in several parts. These sections include not only the general descriptions of the school system, such as the levels of schooling, information on teachers, and the role of devolved powers; but also current key figures, general principles of the school system and French schooling overseas. The purpose of this page is to help explain the different key factors that make up the French education system in all its capacities.

  • Key Figures (2016)

    This page includes all the current figures of students and teaching staff in schools. This also includes budget and the number of schools across the country. As of 2016, there are 12 million students in French schools.

  • French Schooling Overseas

    The French Ministry of Education works with different organisations and agencies around the world to facilitate French school programmes and to prepare French exams abroad.

  • Devolved powers

    Since the 1980s the State has been devolving powers in order to strengthen the role of local authorities in the management of the school system.

  • Teachers

    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.

  • Table of School System Structure

    Primary School begins at age 3 with non-compulsory Nursery School. Students begin compulsory education at age 6 in Elementary School. They progress to Lower Secondary School at age 11 to Upper Secondary School at age 15 where they have the option of choosing between three baccalaureate programmes: general, technological, and vocational.

  • Primary School

    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.

  • Lower Secondary School: Le Collège

    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.

  • Upper Secondary School: Le Lycée

    After successful completion of lower secondary school, pupils advance to upper secondary school where they complete three years: seconde, première, and terminale. A general education is provided to all students during the seconde level, after which they choose more specific routes in première which will lead to their baccalaureate exam at the end of terminale. Students have the choice between three potential schooling routes: general, technological, and vocational.

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