Learning Beyond The Book Uncategorized Understand how education works in France

Understand how education works in France

The education system, reviews and facts about schools in the country.

A country that offers free quality schools and a strong teaching of civics and philosophy. Understand below how the education system, assessments and curiosities about how French schools work. Check out for more detail www.eleapsoftware.com

How is education in France?

France’s education system is centralized, its policy is fully controlled by the Ministry of National Education. There are over 60,000 educational institutions of various levels operating in the country, up to 20% of which are private. At the same time, students number more than 15 million people. In France, the Ministry of National Education has existed since 1932 and is directly responsible for educational policy in the country. It is assisted by three secretaries of state: for university education, for research and for schools.

The system is highly centralized, so the most important functions such as the appointment and training of teachers, recruitment and payment, school organization, timetables and vacations are obligations of the State.

Furthermore, the system is almost entirely public and fundamentally secular. However, there are some private educational institutions that are mostly Catholic. But, in both systems, the same subjects are taken, following the same program and applied the same school reforms.

The structure of education in France seems complex, but much of the difficulty in understanding it lies in the acronyms (there are many) and in the periods when classes begin and end (from the Brazilian point of view, things change a lot). For the rest, the curriculum that makes up education in France is simple.

The following guide summarizes the most relevant aspects of education in France: from kindergarten to facs (colleges). We will often see the expression “cycle” in the following paragraphs, because this is the term responsible for grouping the sections that make up the various phases of teaching.

What is the education system in France like?


In the country, school is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16 and is organized as follows:

  • École Maternelle (kindergarten) – from 2 or 3 years old to 6 years old.
  • École élémentaire (primary school) – from 6 to 11 years old.
  • Collège (college) – from 12 to 16 years old.

After the age of 16, the student enters high school. At this point, it is possible to follow three paths: classical, technical or vocational education.

The school year in France

The academic year in France starts in September and ends in June/beginning of July. In other words, the academic year in France 2022-2023 starts in September 2022 and runs until June/July 2023. In addition, the calendar is divided into zones across the country and each includes several academies.

Also, teaching is integral with 24 hours of classes per week. Each school is free to make its schedules flexible, as long as the curriculum for the school year has at least 24 hours of classes per week over 36 weeks.

Subjects in French schools

The main subjects in French education are:

  • French;
  • History;
  • Geography;
  • Civic Education;
  • Mathematics;
  • Physics and Chemistry (from the fifth year);
  • Science;
  • Song;
  • Artistic education;
  • PE;
  • Technology;
  • Foreign language.

In primary education, children are taught French, mathematics, history, geography and foreign languages. Furthermore, it is at this moment of teaching that students begin to have notions of philosophy, so that they question being and its relations with the world.

Upon arrival at school (between 12 and 16 years old), foreign languages ​​become mandatory. During the first and second year you have to choose between English and German and, from the third year onwards, the choice can be between English, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese or even other languages ​​offered by the school.

In addition, students begin the study of scientific subjects such as biology, physics and chemistry, without forgetting civic education. This is one of the main French disciplines, destined to form the future citizens of tomorrow. The study program includes: French history, voting, civil rights, and, of course, the “liberté, égalité, fraternité”.

In addition to school hours, there are some extracurricular activities, for example the book club or the Chinese course.


Access to colleges (ages 11 to 14) takes place practically automatically after completing the third cycle . This stage of student life is divided into four cycles: 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd. Students will have in their college curriculum the following subjects (which may vary in depth depending on the chosen educational institution, whether public or private):

  • French;
  • Math;
  • Humanities and Letters (history, geography, civic studies and modern languages);
  • Life and Earth Sciences;
  • Technology;
  • Arts (visual arts, music and art history);
  • PE;
  • Basic science (physics and chemistry).

the teaching method

In France, teaching methods are much more practical, especially in scientific subjects. In high school, for example, animal organs are examined during classes. That’s because, they prefer a method that brings young people closer to the world of work.

Also, depending on the school, there are two teaching methods. In one, students remain in the classroom and teachers move from class to class, as is usually the case in Brazil. In the other, students move from room to room.

Assessments in French education

The forms of assessment in French schools are quite different from what we are used to in Brazil. In the country, the assessment is done without the use of grades. In this way, we seek to avoid the spirit of competition and encourage interest in learning.

Facts about education in France

  • Education is really free. Students only need to buy notebooks and pens. School books and materials and even excursions are paid for by the school.
  • The recesses are more spread out: 2 weeks of vacation every 6 or 7 weeks of school. In addition to the 2-month vacation between one school year and the next.
  • There is almost no homework. This is because children spend many hours at school. Teachers seek to stimulate students during school hours and exhaust the subject in the classroom.
  • Students do a lot of manual work.
  • Students are exposed to language and artistic expression such as drawing, songs, lullabies and dancing.
  • French schools are located in modern buildings and have the necessary equipment for learning, such as: computers and tablets, laboratories with specific equipment and equipped gyms.


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