Dealing with Dyslexics in French Schools

8 Replies

We are thinking of moving to Brittany next year but I am very concerned about my five year old , who is showing all the signs of dyslexia. From what I have read French Schools seem to concentrate on French and Maths, neither of which he can do. Does anyone know how the French deal with learning difficulties? Also is the school day really 8am until 5pm. he is exhausted with 6 hours at school over here.Emma

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Carole-381843 1066044931

Hi there,

My daughter goes to school from 9 am to 4.30 pm but only 4 days a week. The break mid week is quite nice, for me to, we both get a lay in mid week.   She's 8 years old, but I think the times change when they go up to "big school".

Ellen7-381735 1066071962

Most French primaries go from 8:30 to 11:30 then 1:30 to 4:30. The number of days a week varies. There are basically three systems. the classic is no school on Wednesday and school on Saturday morning. No school on Wednesday and slightly shorter holidays (semaine de 4 jours) Or school on Wednesday morning (9-12) and no school on Saturdays. This is what my kids do but it's pretty unusual

The day is longer at collège. Either 8-4:30  or 8:30-5:00 (but with at least an hour and a half at lunch) I did work in one school where it was 8-5 but they had 2 hours at lunchtime. Lycées are longer

As for dyslexia, it depends a lot on the school. Some are part of a RASED (resau d'aide I can't remember the rest) where there are "specialised" helpers. You'd be best warning the school straight off.

I'm a collège teacher and the dyslexic pupils I've got mostly see speech therapists (orthophonistes) outside of school. Nothing is provided for them in school. We've just set up a reading tutorat. But that's teachers doing it in their spare time.

French children start primary school at six. it's calculated on their birth year (i.e all the children born in 1997 started this September)  Before that they are at maternelle (same times) My daughter started this September and yes, it's reading and maths most the time.

If your son starts school next year at six, he will be learning to read alongside other children who have never learnt to read. In fact, if he is learning now, in Britain, he could have techniques that the others haven't yet acquired. My sister works in a reception class in Britain and she talks about letter sounds. Here in France they learn the names


troubled-382124 1066082959


Thanks alot for  the information. It's the first time I've managed to get any info on learning difficulties at all.



bob-381779 1066088203

Dear Troubled,

Dont be! If you let me know what area you are considering, we will ask at the local schools and have the definitive answers for you in a jiffy - anyone i have asked has said that the French system, with their holding pupils back a year when necessary (without stigma) really helps all levels of pupils to progress, without them feeling they are a "special case".




Ellen7-381735 1066123006

Bob, the holding back system (redoublement) is less and less available. I found it bit odd when I first started teaching here, but now I'm a big fan. Unfortunately, the rectorats seem to have recently discovered that it is expensive and so they are encouraging us to limit ourselves (we have unofficial quotas in collège) This has been good because pupils who really can't or really won't improve aren't forced to stay on a year. But it has meant that a lot of "border line cases" go on year after year.

In primaries it is more and more unusual, mostly limited to those who can't read at the end of CP. And not always then.

As for the no stigma, the problem isn't the pupils it's the parents! But I agree that being a year older or younger than the others in the class is no bid deal.


Marion-387037 1108039532


I would recommend that any parent of a dyslexic child who is attending school in France contact the French federation of parents' dyslexia support associations (APEDYS France) to obtain contact addresses throughout France.

Fédération des associations de parents d'enfants dyslexiques

88, rue Charles le Bon
Tél. : 0820 207 507
Fax : 03 20 05 18 75
Internet :
Mel :

I was the founder president of APEDYS Hérault (covering the Languedoc Roussillon : 220 families are members) and am at present the vice-president of APEDYS France.

Scottish, a dyslexia support teacher, a French-trained English teacher, I am also the parent of a dyslexic child.

APEDYS has nothing to sell. We are all unpaid volonteers. There are more and more British couples coming to live in France and since the French school system is very different from the British one in many respects (eg no special needs services) it is vital that parents know how to obtain a diagnosis of dyslexia, how to get remedial help (speech therapy), and what arrangements can be asked for in schools (extra time for tests and exams, scribes, computer etc.).

I have written a page on the site for English speaking parents. Don't hesitate to contact me!

In Brittany  there are 4 associations: Apedys 22; Apedys 29; Apedys 35; and Apedys 56.

Bon courage!

Marion Rondot


Clover-382222 1108039925

My son had mild problems and his collège asked me to get him to an orphoniste (spelling! -speech therapist). You get an appointment first with one and then person will write a letter for you to give to your doctor here to write a prescription so that the lessons can be part of your health insurance. My son had two years of 40min visits for bilingue and benefitted no end. I paid back then, about 140F per visit and had to use our Carte Vitale to reclaim the money back.

orme-384975 1108043424

My son has mild dysorthographie (same as dyslexie but affects the writing and especially the spelling and application of the grammar rules when writing).  This was diagnosed during primary school in Switzerland.  When we arrived here I went to discuss it with his class teacher (he is in collège) and the school director.  The result is that the French teacher keeps an eye on him and points out repeated errors more kindly.  The other subject teachers also concentrate on the content of his work rather than its presentation, although they don't let him get away with not trying!

Just after our arrival APEDYS gave a talk at the university which was very instructive and they gave out details of people to contact afterwards.

To see an orthophoniste first you must go to your GP who will give you a prescription for an assessment (bilan) with the orthophoniste.  He/she will then advise whether orthophonic sessions (séances) are necessary and you tell the GP who will give you a prescription for the sessions.  If you have already been advised of a problem the doctor may give you both prescriptions during the first visit to him (ours did).  Unfortunately we stopped the orthophoniste after three sessions - she was much too biased towards 'psychology' and my son felt very uncomfortable with her, so it's worth shopping around for someone you feel good with.  The logopédiste (same thing but in Switzerland) he went to in primary was excellent and gave him all sorts of hints and methods to help.

All of this to say that help is available and it is worth going to see the school and your doctor and of course contacting ADEPYS for support.

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