Education in France

Education in France and moving your children to France


No matter how daunting this could possibly be for you, remember, lots have done it before and succeeded – so, fear not ! We all know that France is a very family orientated country and children of all ages are welcomed everywhere and “family time” is very much valued.

Education is compulsory between 6 and 16 years old.


Education in France – Nursery Schools (Maternelle)

Schooling in France is mandatory from age 6. Most parents send their children to Maternelle (nursery school) at age 3 which are usually affiliated to a borough’s primary school.  Some can even start earlier at age 2 in the très petite section classes of the Maternelle. The last year of Maternelle (the grande section)  is when they are introduced to reading, so an important step before they enter the Primary School.


Education in France – Primary School (Primaire)

After which, the children move onto the l’ecole primaire (primary school). They will stay in Primaire for 5 years, until they are 10-11 years old.  The classes are :

CP (cours préparatoire)

CE1 (cours élémentaire 1)

CE2 (cours élémentaire 2)

CM1 (cours moyen 1)

CM2 (cours moyen 2)

French primary school students usually have a single teacher (or perhaps two) who teaches the complete curriculum.

The children will call their teacher as ‘maître’ (masculine) or ‘maîtrese’ (feminine).


Education in France – Secondary School (College)

After primary school, there are two educational stages, the first being college (secondary school).

The Collèges cater for the first four years of secondary education from the ages of 11 to 15.  They follow the curriculum towards their Brevet exams at the end of Troisieme.  The classes are :

Sixième (6th form) 11-12 years

Cinquième (5th form) 12-13 years

Quatrième (4th form) 13-14 years

Troisième (3rd form) 14-15 years


Education – Further secondary education (Lycée)

The second education stage is Lycée.   Lycées provide a three-year course of further secondary education for children between the ages of 15 and 18.

Here, the pupils are prepared for the final ‘Baccalaureate’ (also known as le bac). This baccalauréat can lead to higher education studies or directly to professional life.

Lycées are divided into (i) the lycée général, leading to two or more years of post–baccalauréat studies, (ii) the lycée technologique, leading to short-term studies, and (iii) the lycée professionnel, a vocational qualification leading directly to a particular career. General and technological education courses are provided in “standard” lycées, while vocational courses are provided in separate professional lycées.

Seconde 15-16 years

Première 16-17 years

Terminale 17-18 years

Vaccinations for Children

Currently only 3 vaccinations are compulsory Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) When enrolling in a school, a certificate may be required to verify this.

Other vaccinations are only recommended by the state and the decision whether or not to vaccinate a child is the parents decision. However, French Health Ministers want to make compulsory 11 immunisations against conditions such as measles, hepatitis B, meningitis C, rubella, mumps and whooping cough. Service Public has a vaccination calendar.


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