Back to school – guide to the rentrée scolaire 2017

It’s that time of year again, the rentrée scolaire, with kids going back to school in most cases next Monday 4 September. As usual it’s a minefield of information, and more so this year.

The things you need to know about are of course based on your child’s personal circumstances and depending on which school they attend. But one of the main changes this year is the possibility for nursery and primary school classes to revert back to a 4 day week.

Main changes for 2017

From this year the municipalities can organise the school week over 4 days instead of 4 and a half, which means no school on Wednesday mornings in most schools. The majority of the schools on the French Riviera, and in particular in Nice have chosen to go back to the 4 day week. You can check individual school schedules to find out if your child has school on Wednesday mornings or not using the Service Public online tool.

Colleges (for children aged 11 to 15) now have the possibility to offer a second foreign language from the 6ème (first year of collège), to implement a European section (which includes additional language classes and some lessons in the chosen foreign language) from 5ème, and can propose Latin or Greek from the 5ème class.

School supplies

At the beginning of each school year, there is a list of school supplies that each child should have. The list can be long! Service Public have provided a recommended list for all students.

Nursery and primary school curricula

Programmes are regulated at a national level. Information about the programmes that must be taught within schools can be found online

Information for parents

All parents have the right to be informed about the schooling of their children, whether they have parental authority or not. This information, for example school reports, can be shared electronically and/or at parent teacher meetings.

A mobile eParents application is available to provide parents of pupils in elementary and secondary school with practical information such as school schedules and general information about the facilities. The application is suitable for parents of children from the CP to the 3ème class (final year of college).

School meals

The cost of school meals depend on the school and commune/department.

All students must take at least 30 minutes meal time and be offered a variety of menus and portions appropriate to their age. The links below explain more.

School insurance

School insurance covers any damages caused by or sustained by pupils. It is usually voluntary, but it may be mandatory in some schools, and schools may request proof of insurance. Although special insurances for school, notably MAE, exist, it should be noted that in most cases household insurance covers school insurance. Contact your household insurance provider for further information.

Student health

All children must be vaccinated prior to joining school. In primary school kids can benefit from health check-ups and participate in prevention and health education activities.

If your child is ill and can’t attend school, you must notify the facility, and you should indicate if your child has a contagious illness. The school should also be notified if your child has a chronic illness that requires special care.

For children and adolescents with health problems, an individualised care plan (PAI – projet d’accueil individualisé) will be in place.

School Holidays

Back to School Allowance (ARS)

A back-to-school allowance (allocation de rentrée scolaire) is available for parents and guardians of children aged 6 to 18 and is paid by the CAF (family allowance office) every August. The amount received depends on the child’s age and the income declared in the previous year’s tax return. The child must be enrolled in full-time education. It is not necessary to reapply each year, as the CAF gathers information from your previous tax return and pays automatically each August if you qualify. To apply for the first time, contact the CAF; a form must be filled in and proof of income is required.

For more information about the education system in France see the useful guide on Schooling & Education in France.

Bonne Rentrée!

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