Schooling and Education in France

The education system in France: information includes all the stages from crèche to pre-primary, primary and secondary education and international schooling...

Education in France is compulsory for children aged six to sixteen, although many children start school at the age of 3. President Macron announced at the end of March 2018, that school will become compulsory for children from age 3 onwards, although this will affect few children in Metropolitan France, given that less than 3% of under 6s are not yet in pre-school. This new law will come into effect from September 2019. 

State (public) education is free, secular with mixed-sex classes. Education is also available in private, fee-paying schools (which include most religion-based and international schools). Here is information on:

  • The required vaccinations
  • The structure of the school year and the canteen, or school lunch
  • Detailed information on pre-school facilities and enrolling in primary education; the structure of secondary education, collège and the brevet, the lycée and baccalaureate qualifications
  • International schools
  • Special needs education in France and the national policy on home schooling in France
  • Guidelines on what to do about bullying and violence in the classroom and school with links to the Department of Education website and French Government information on schooling

How does the French school system work?

There are 4 stages to schooling in France. Children generally start with preschool (Ecole maternelle)at around the age of 3. This is not compulsory but considered important in the child’s development. At the age of 6, kids move onto primary school (Ecole primaire) until the age of 11. At age 11, children start lower secondary education at a collège, where they stay for 4 years before moving onto the Lycée, which lasts for 3 years. 

Schooling for children that don't speak French

Children under the age of 6 who do not speak French do not receive any specific French lessons when they start school. In general, they can pick up the language fairly quickly. From the age of 6, when compulsory schooling begins, newly-arrived children can be given intensive French lessons. These are given during school hours, and will continue as long as the child needs it.

Vaccinations for Children

There are currently 11 compulsory vaccinations for children under the age of 2 (since January 2018). For children over the age of 2, the only compulsory vaccinations that schools can currently expect are Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP). When enrolling in a school, a certificate may be required to verify this, or you will need to show the vaccination page of the health booklet (carnet de santé). In July 2007 the Tuberculosis (BCG) vaccine was declared to no longer be obligatory except under certain criteria.

Other vaccinations are recommended by the state. Service Public has a vaccination calendar.