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The educational system in France

Updated: Feb 29

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. How the French School System Works

  3. Early Childhood Education

  4. Education, Primary and Secondary

  5. Scholarships and Financial Assistance

  6. Assistance for Foreign Students

  7. Needs for Special Education (SEN)

  8. Changing Education and Involving Parents

  9. Educating Children at Home

  10. Useful Resources


Is your family relocating to France? This handbook is your go-to reference for learning about the French educational system and the range of academic support options.

How the French School System Works

Children in France must go to school from the age of three to sixteen. The system is split into four levels:

  • Ages 3 to 6 attend preschool (écoles maternelles).

  • Ages 6 to 11 attend elementary school (école élémentaire).

  • Middle school is for kids 11 to 15 years old (collège).

  • Kids in lycée (high school) are between the ages of 15 and 18.

Early Childhood Education

Preschools, also known as écoles maternelles, provide a helpful setting for non-French-speaking kids to learn the language while preparing three to six-year-olds for elementary school.

Education, Primary and Secondary

Primary school, or école élémentaire, is attended by children ages six to eleven. The French Ministry of Education mandates secondary education up until the age of sixteen.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

The state provides low-income families with financial aid starting at primary school age through initiatives like the Allocation de Rentrée Scolaire (ARS).

Assistance for Foreign Students

To help with curriculum assimilation and language integration, newcomers should get in touch with the local CASNAV office for an evaluation.

Needs for Special Education (SEN)

France provides individualised education plans (PPS) for students with impairments, ranging from homeschooling to specialised educational units.

Changing Education and Involving Parents

Changing schools during the academic year is possible, with procedures varying between public and private institutions. Parental involvement is encouraged.

Educating Children at Home

Recent legislation has imposed stricter regulations on homeschooling, requiring prior authorization for specific circumstances.

Useful Resources

France Education International provides insights into the French education system. Eduscol, the official website of France's Ministry of Education, offers detailed information on educational policies and practices. and the International Baccalaureate (IB) website are valuable resources for understanding social welfare, educational rights, and globally recognized secondary education certificates in France.



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