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French Education System - Schools in France

An article all about French schools, the school year and timetables and education

The French education system: one of the best in the world

France is renowned for having one of the world's best education systems, which most people attribute to the high standards expected, the rigorous teaching methods and the discipline instilled in the children. For some people hoping to live abroad in the long-term, their children's ability to integrate successfully into French life and French school life in particular, is one of the deciding factors. The good news is that there are lots of options available so parents can choose the one that they feel will work best for their child. A child that has grown up in another country is likely not only to become bilingual but also have advanced personal skills for his or her age at every stage. It is important to remember these significant long-term advantages whilst coping with the short-term traumas that moving your family abroad will inevitably entail.

Schools in France - overcoming the language barrier

Most international pupils arrive in France with little or no knowledge of the language. This hasn't stopped the majority from leading a successful school life. Parents are advised to employ a tutor to assist their children in their learning. However, most parents are surprised at how quickly their children start feeling comfortable conversing in French. It really is true that the younger you are, the easier it is to learn a new language so it may well be your older children that need the most support in this respect. The innate curiosity of young children makes them fearless language learners where as the self-consciousness of teenagers tends to inhibit their language acquisition. However, beware because the same applies to adults - unless you already have a relatively good grasp of French your children could be fluent before you are!

A good French tutor can make all the difference

Moving to a foreign country is bound to be unsettling for children but if you are upbeat, your children are less likely to let the stress of the situation get to them. Remain positive and encourage logical solutions to all the obstacles they face. Choose your child's tutor with care, as he or she will play an integral role in helping your child to integrate into the community by building their confidence alongside developing their linguistic skills. A good tutor will monitor their work at school and stay in contact with their schoolteacher.

The state system in France

The vast majority of French pupils enter the very successful state education system. Here, mandatory schooling starts at six and goes on until at least sixteen, although some children start as young as two (this is optional). The days are generally slightly longer in French state schools, there is often one day off a week (although you usually have to go in on Saturday mornings), and there are four two-week breaks every year (see below for school holiday dates). The structure is as follows:

Ecole Maternelle - for ages 2-5
Ecole Primaire - for ages 6-11
Collège - for ages 12-15/16
Lycée - for ages 16-18
University then follows

Going private: More affordable than you might think

The state system is by no means the right choice for all pupils. Foreign children and those with special needs may be better catered for in a private school where more individual attention can be given, preventing children with these disadvantages from becoming frustrated as they might be in the state system. As a result, most international parents put their children into the surprisingly affordable private schools to benefit from their more flexible approach to teaching. You can do things here that would be frowned upon in a state school, such as skip lessons to see your private tutor. The school day also follows a more similar pattern to that in the UK. Children do not have to go in on Saturday mornings as they do in the state schools and both the lunch break (2 hours in the state system) and the school day as a whole are shorter. You'll also find that private schoolteachers do not go on strike as much as their state sector colleagues.

Grading, setting and repeating a year

Your child will inevitably be put through a great deal of grading during his or her school life irrespective of which country they are educated in. Pupils move up and down 'sets' just as in the UK. If it is deemed necessary, they may even repeat the year. However, this is not nearly as dramatic as most people think and does not carry the same connotations of failure as it would in the UK. A third of all pupils repeat a year at sometime during their school career in France. In fact, to repeat a school year in France is so common, there is even a phrase to describe it: "redoubler la classe".

Vocational versus academic routes

At the age of 15, French pupils must decide whether to go down the academic or vocational route. There is still some snobbery attached to the latter option, although attitudes are gradually changing. The French are beginning to realise that those with vocational qualifications are most in demand and that a vocational career comes with greater job security. At age 18, the academic pupils will sit the university entrance exam, the Baccalauréat. If your child passes, he or she will have a free place at any one of France's 77 universities. If they attend an international school they will sit the International Baccalauréat.

A recent move towards decentralisation

Just like in the UK, the French school system is constantly being assessed and changed to some extent. The latest move is to give control of both school finances and the curriculum to local authorities. This decentralisation of the French education system will align it more closely with the UK system, which, not surprisingly, many see as a step backwards! Proponents of the move claim that it will bring greater diversity to what has always been a monolithic system dictated by Paris. However, others argue that the result will be greater inequality and too much scope for local politics to come into play in the decision-making process. As for who is right, only time will tell. In the meantime, try reading Joanna Simm's account of her experience of moving to France and enrolling her two teenagers in the French education system: Real Life: Starting School in France

French school holiday dates

Holiday dates for state schools in France do vary. It depends on what zone your school is in (see www.education.gouv.fr for a map of these zones), and then it may also vary depending on what department your school is in. The following are the holiday dates for the school years 2010 - 2014 for French state schools as submitted by the French government website, though it would be best to check with your Mairie for local variations:

ZONE A

This zone covers Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Rennes and Toulouse.

2010 - 2011
Return to school - 2 Sep 2010
Saints holidays - 23 Oct to 3 Nov 2010
Christmas holidays - 18 Dec 2010 to 2 Jan 2011
Winter holidays - 26 Feb to 13 Mar 2011
Spring holidays - 23 Apr to 8 May 2011
Summer holidays - 2 Jul to 4 Sep 2011

2011 - 2012
Return to school - 5 Sep 2011
Saints holidays - 22 Oct to 2 Nov 2011
Christmas holidays - 17 Dec 2011 to 2 Jan 2012
Winter holidays - 11 Feb to 26 Feb 2012
Spring holidays - 7 Apr to 22 Apr 2012
Summer holidays - 5 Jul to 3 Sep 2012

2012 - 2013
Return to school - 4 Sep 2012
Saints holidays - 27 Oct to 11 Nov 2012
Christmas holidays - 22 Dec 2012 to 6 Jan 2013
Winter holidays - 23 Feb to 10 Mar 2013
Spring holidays - 20 Apr to 5 May 2013
Summer holidays - 6 Jul to 1 Sep 2013

2013 - 2014
Return to school - 2 Sep 2013
Saints holidays - 24 Oct to 3 Nov 2013
Christmas holidays - 21 Dec 2013 to 5 Jan 2014
Winter holidays - 1 Mar to 16 Mar 2014
Spring holidays - 26 Apr to 11 May 2014
Summer holidays start - 3 Jul 2014

ZONE B

This zone covers Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen and Strasbourg.

2010 - 2011
Return to school - 2 Sep 2010
Saints holidays - 23 Oct to 3 Nov 2010
Christmas holidays - 18 Dec 2010 to 2 Jan 2011
Winter holidays - 19 Feb to 6 Mar 2011
Spring holidays - 16 Apr to 1 May 2011
Summer holidays - 2 Jul to 4 Sep 2011

2011 - 2012
Return to school - 5 Sep 2011
Saints holidays - 22 Oct to 2 Nov 2011
Christmas holidays - 17 Dec 2011 to 2 Jan 2012
Winter holidays - 25 Feb to 11 Mar 2012
Spring holidays - 21 Apr to 5 May 2012
Summer holidays - 5 Jul to 3 Sep 2012

2012 - 2013
Return to school - 4 Sep 2012
Saints holidays - 27 Oct to 11 Nov 2012
Christmas holidays - 22 Dec 2012 to 6 Jan 2013
Winter holidays - 16 Feb to 3 Mar 2013
Spring holidays - 13 Apr to 28 Apr 2013
Summer holidays - 6 Jul to 1 Sep 2013

2013 - 2014
Return to school - 2 Sep 2013
Saints holidays - 24 Oct to 3 Nov 2013
Christmas holidays - 21 Dec 2013 to 5 Jan 2014
Winter holidays - 22 Feb to 9 Mar 2014
Spring holidays - 19 Apr to 4 May 2014
Summer holidays start - 3 Jul 2014

ZONE C

This zone covers Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris and Versailles.

2010 - 2011
Return to school - 2 Sep 2010
Saints holidays - 23 Oct to 3 Nov 2010
Christmas holidays - 18 Dec 2010 to 2 Jan 2011
Winter holidays - 12 Feb to 27 Feb 2011
Spring holidays - 9 Apr to 25 Apr 2011
Summer holidays - 2 Jul to 4 Sep 2011

2011 - 2012
Return to school - 5 Sep 2011
Saints holidays - 22 Oct to 2 Nov 2011
Christmas holidays - 17 Dec 2011 to 2 Jan 2012
Winter holidays - 18 Feb to 4 Mar 2012
Spring holidays - 14 Apr to 29 Apr 2012
Summer holidays - 5 Jul to 3 Sep 2012

2012 - 2013
Return to school - 4 Sep 2012
Saints holidays - 27 Oct to 11 Nov 2012
Christmas holidays - 22 Dec 2012 to 6 Jan 2013
Winter holidays - 2 Mar to 17 Mar 2013
Spring holidays - 27 Apr to 12 May 2013
Summer holidays - 6 Jul to 1 Sep 2013

2013 - 2014
Return to school - 2 Sep 2013
Saints holidays - 24 Oct to 3 Nov 2013
Christmas holidays - 21 Dec 2013 to 5 Jan 2014
Winter holidays - 15 Feb to 2 Mar 2014
Spring holidays - 12 Apr to 27 Apr 2014
Summer holidays start - 3 Jul 2014

your questions...

1. Ruth Lundi from America asks about school holiday dates in France (added 8/9/06)...

I have been reading your excellent and very informative articles on relocating to France. One thing I couldn't find is the actual school schedule. Do you know the approximate time frames children will have off from school? Any assistance would be appreciated. Thank you!

Our answer...

School term schedules depend on where your children go to school and whether they are privately or state educated, but the following may help, which is based on the 2006 and 2007 state school holidays in France:

Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris, Versailles

5 February - 19 February (2006)
9 April - 23 April (2006)

18 February - 4 March (2007)
8 April - 22 April (2007)

Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orleans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen,

12 February - 26 February (2006)
16 April - 1 May (2006)

25 February - 11 March (2007)
15 April - 1 May (2007)

Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse

19 February - 5 March (2006)
23 April - 8 May (2006)

11 February - 25 February (2007)
1 April - 15 April (2007) plus....

All schools

5 July - 3 September (2006)
26 October - 5 November (2006)
24 December (2006) - 7 January (2007)

5 July - 3 September (2007)
28 October - 7 November (2007)
23 December (2007) - 6 January (2008) Hope this helps.

2. Shirley Riley asks about exams in France (added 17/10/06)...

I have been scouring the Internet for information relating to exams. My concern is for my 14-year old son who has just chosen his subjects here in the UK. Do you know at what age the exams are taken and how they are made up, i.e. coursework or written final exam? I understand they have to take an exam to get into university at 18.

Joanna Simm, author of the above article, replies...

At about 15 they take the Brevet... the nearest equivalent to the GCSEs we have in the UK. It is taken in Troisième (3eme), my son is doing it this year. Troisième is the last year of college, or secondary education.

The Brevet

There are two parts to the Brevet, which is taken by pupils in 3eme. The first part involves Controle continu, which are tests taken throughout the year, worth 200 points. The second part involves exams which are taken in June, each of which last for about two hours, with longer ones for French. The exams taken are usually French, Maths, History, Geography and Civics, and these are worth 120 points.

However, very clever students may be awarded a pass at Brevet before they are due to take the exams in June, if they have averaged over 16 points (out of 20) in every test in every subject during the past year (3eme). This is very rare. (Incidentally, the Brevet has changed slightly, in that from this year, only marks taken from controles (tests) done in 3eme count towards the Brevet. Up until last year it included marks from 4eme.)

Vie Scolaire

There is one exception to this... the newly introduced Vie Scolaire, which marks kids out of 20 for their general demeanour, behaviour, effort in class and all non-academic aspects of school life. This can be a boon for English kids... and it counts from 4eme as well as 3eme.

Lycée or Lycée professional

Having done the Brevet, children then go to Lycée or Lycée Professional to do the Baccalauréat. (It is worth noting that it is not necessary to pass the Brevet to go to Lycée and do a Baccalauréat... but it helps!) The Lycée is for the more academic kids who will want to go to university, the Lycée Professional for those who will wish to gain a skill and work sooner rather than later. The Baccalauréat is usually taken at 18, which will get you into university or not.

Coursework versus exams

There is no coursework that contributes towards passing your Brevet, as in England with GCSEs. As mentioned previously however, the results of tests taken throughout the year contribute instead.

3. A question on the requirements for attending school in France (added 17/10/06)...

We are seeking to move to France in the near future, could you please advise us on the requirements needed in order for our granddaughter to attend school in France.

Joanna Simm, author of the above article, writes...

In order to join a school in France there are some requirements, which differ from school to school I think. Your granddaughter will need copies of her vaccinations, the French insist on this, which her doctor in England can supply (a faxed copy is fine). The French all have a Carte Sante, which details all treatments from birth. They are quite unbelieving that the British don't have these.

Reports from the UK

Copies of reports may or may not be required, we had to produce them for one school but not for the other.

Schools in your area

To find out about schools in your area, it is a good idea to go to or contact the Mairie of your proposed town. They know most things! Otherwise try the internet, though this may not tell you of all the options. You could also try posting on ex-pat forums (Total France can be a helpful one), maybe someone in your proposed area can help with info.

Visit your chosen school

Other than that, you just make an appointment to see the school head. Your granddaughter may have to go through some sort of orientation process (usually if it is a state school).

From personal experience

From personal experience and that of my pals here, with a child of that age:

1) Be prepared for her to repeat her first year. If she starts in Cinquième, expect to repeat Cinquième the next year, unless her French is already nearly fluent. There's no shame in this, most English kids do it and many French kids who haven't done as well as they would have liked. There are several ages in each school year here. For a 13-year old she will probably begin in cinquième, or quatrième. Cinquième is equivalent to Year 8 in the UK. It gives her a year or two before things get too serious. Troisième is the Brevet year, similar to GCSE.

2) Do consider private school. State schools don't have time for non-French speakers. It can be VERY hard for them to cope in this environment even in a good school. Sometimes they are seen as another foreign problem, rather than as an asset to the school. Private doesn't have to be expensive. I pay about 100 euros per child per month and that includes four lunches per week. It's not like private school in the UK, it is just a smaller and more friendly option.

4. A visitor to the site asks about special needs schools in France (added 11/5/07)...

Could you let me know if there are any facilities in France for children who have severe learning difficulties?

Joanna Simm, author of the above article, replies...

It is nowhere near as clear cut as in the UK... apparently things are moving forward in this respect but it is very much a question of individual provision in different areas and schools. I think there are some schools in France that cater entirely for children with special needs, but they are not that widespread. Many children are absorbed into mainstream schools, with extra help or extra classes. It does depend entirely on the level of need.

To do this, to get extra help or classes in mainstream schools in France, you must collect all possible documentation before you move... of course, this is France, drowning in a sea of paper! So you will need statements, doctor's reports, school reports, educational psychologist's reports etc.

Then I think the best bet would be to go and see the school in your area which your child would attend, tell them the situation and ask for an assessment. Also, go to your doctor in France and ask for his assessment.

Hopefully, from here something will happen. Some areas in France do have educational psychologists doing the rounds, others don't. As in the UK... push, push, push... he who shouts loudest gets heard. Bon chance! (And if you haven't moved yet, research the areas very thoroughly... try posting on ex-pats boards such as Total France to see if anyone has any experience of special education in your area.)

I do hope this information will be of some use.

5. A question about schools in Bressuire (added 11/5/07)...

We are a family with three boys, aged nine, twelve and fourteen, and we are thinking of moving to the Bressuire area. Can you let me know what schools would be available for them? I have no idea what age grouping the schools have, e.g in the UK the children change their school at circa eleven years old. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your help in this matter.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links, replies...

Thank you for contacting us about French schools. Generally, the French school system runs as follows:

2-5 yrs - Nursery school
6-11 yrs - Elementary school (Primary school)
12-15 yrs - College/Secondaire (French secondary school)
16 - 18 yrs - Lycée
19 - 21 yrs - University

There are private schools or state (public) schools. In order to find out what schools are available in your area, I would suggest that you contact your local Académie (or Education Authority equivalent) for the Bressuire area, which is:

Deux-Sèvres Department
61 avenue de Limoges BP 515
79022 Niort
Cedex

Tel : 05 49 77 11 11
Fax : 05 49 24 96 40
Email : ce.ia79@ac-poitiers.fr
Website: www.ac-poitiers.fr/voir.asp?r=32

From here can obtain the details of all the schools in your area.

I would also suggest that you contact your Mairie, who will be able to let you know which commune you are in, as this will affect which schools your children will be able to go to.

A very helpful website is www.education.gouv.fr, which has all this information and much more. (I'm not sure how good your French is, but if you would prefer this in English, if you search for "French Education" in Google, you can access the translated pages of this site by clicking on the link found next to the www.education.gouv.fr entry that appears.)

Finally, we have a few articles on our site which may be of interest to you, if you haven't already seen them. These are:

French School - experiences of a fourteen-year-old (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/frenchschool.html)
Starting School in France
(http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/french-schools.html)

I hope this information is of use and good luck with your move to France!

6. A question about private schools in the Languedoc area (added 11/5/07)...

My husband, myself and son of five are looking to move to the Languedoc area in the near future. We are hoping to send James to a private school and wondered if you could send me a link to private schools, or recommend any within this department?

Joanna Simm, author of the above article, replies...

I found our private school by word of mouth... so many little private schools exist it is just a case of where exactly you are going to live. Private schools here are not at all like those in the UK. (About 100 euros per child per month... including 4 x 3-course meals per week.)

I can certainly recommend the school my kids go to. This is in Castelnaudary and called Jeanne d'Arc. The headteacher/ Directrice is MMe Pelletier. It is incredibly old fashioned, scruffy round the edges like all things in southern France, has no money or fancy equipment... BUT has an ethic of caring and respect... from kids to staff and back again... second to none. Also my kids are doing pretty well academically there, though if this is the main issue, it is generally held that the state schools are best for pure academic results. I would dispute this on local evidence though.

However, the big point in favour is that private schools are small and friendly and have time to help foreign kids. At the big state school we tried first it was awful, no understanding of the predicament of kids who didn't speak French at all. Mine were twelve and thirteen when we came, a very difficult age, and they spoke no French. The first year was hell. Then they went to Jeanne d'Arc. Two years on, Kell, at 16, with the hardest task, has passed his Brevet Blanc, and we hope he will pass the real thing in June. He is passed to move up to Lycée to do a Baccalaureate anyway on his grades so far. Joasie, at 15 (nearly), is either top or second in her class all the time, and there are some good kids in her class. I do hope this is of help. It is such a worry, getting it right is so important.

7. A question about temporary schooling in France (added 7/6/2007)...

We are planning a year-long family sabbatical in Europe next year and would spend two blocks of time of six-eight weeks in France. We were wondering if our children (six and four) could attend school in France during these periods. The six-year old goes to a French bilingual school here in Australia. Does the public or private school/maternelle system accept short term, non-French kids such as ours?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links, replies...

Thanks for your email. I have been in touch with my colleague in France, who suggests that you contact some private schools in the area that you are visiting, as each school will have its own rules. Generally, French private schools will be more flexible than French public (state) schools, though she doesn't see why taking your children in temporarily will be a problem.

You may find the site www.fabert.com useful, as this lists private schools in all areas of France.

8. A question about schools in the Bergerac area (added 4/12/07)...

I would like some more information about schools in the area of Bergerac. The children are twelve, ten and six years old. Are there English schools and are there any large properties (like guest houses for sale) near good schools? The two older children are learning French and are in their 4th year with regards to learning the language but a dual medium school would be great.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. If you are wanting an English-speaking school near Bergerac, a list of International Schools in France can be found at http://france.english-schools.org/. An International School may be your best option if you are wanting an English-speaking school.

It doesn't sound from your email if you know exactly where you will be living yet, but once you do, in order to find private schools or state (public) schools in your area, I would suggest that you contact your local Académie (or Education Authority equivalent) for your area, which you can find from the website at www. education.gouv.fr. I would also suggest that you contact your Mairie, who will be able to let you know which commune you are in, as this will affect which schools your children will be able to go to.

I am afraid I am not in a position to search for property for you, but our site is very user-friendly. Once you know the area you wish to be in, you can search by town, department or region, or indeed be more specific with your search. I wish you all the best.

9. A question about summer schools and boarding schools in France (added 27/5/08)...

I truly appreciate your article. My son Peter is in the Lycée In Rome, Italy. He is in troisieme and not doing so good. He has an average of 12 out of 20 but is very weak in Mathematics. I was wondering If you know of any summer schools in France which revise the troisieme year, subjects like French, Maths, plus Spanish, Greek, Latin, Science. My son has already redoubled in 6eme. He was far too young so it was ok. If he passes we need him to do a month of solid revision. Furthermore do you know of any good boarding schools in France? My ex-husband would like to send Peter to boarding school in France if he fails the year. It would be very sad for me but unfortunately my husband insists on French education even though he is American. Thanking you in advance for your time.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links, replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna in France, who is unable to recommend any particular boarding school in France, but says that almost all the schools she knows, whether they be state, private or international, do board... weekly anyway. She also unfortunately does not know of any summer schools.

Have you considered the International Schools? But you would need to check which curriculum they follow, as they are all different. If you haven't read our article on International schools in France, may be this will help. You can find it at http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/international-schools-in-france.html. Perhaps the International School in Toulouse would be able to suggest some summer schools too? Or as you are in Italy, maybe one in Provence would be better?

Incidentally Joanna also says that 12 out of 20 is a pass and not too bad. But if this is in troisieme, he will find it gets harder in seconde. I'm sorry we cannot be of more help, but we wish you and your son all the best and hope that you'll be able to find a satisfactory solution for all concerned.

10. A question about English "streams" in French schools (added 12/3/09)...

I have just found your information about French schools. We are an Australian family who have been living for almost two years in the Loire Valley. My son has just turned four and has commenced his second year at maternelle. His first year of school was very difficult with no assistance available to assist him with his language needs. He has reasonable skills with French language comprehension and expression, but the stress of his last year has made him block the language somewhat. We are moving soon to Dijon and I am wondering about bilingual options for children of this age. I have heard that there are some French public schools which have a English "stream" but I think this is for an older age group. I would be happy to find a normal French school which is willing to support him as his French language skills develop; but I also need to think about his English language development. Do you have any suggestions?

Our reply...

The trouble is it is almost impossible to advise without knowing the area and what is available there. (I live in the south.) Usually the little schools for younger kids, are very good at helping. The only thing I can say as a teacher of EFL is that it is normal for a child to refuse to speak the language for the first year to eighteen months... they sort of soak it up and finally it all pours out. So what you perceive to be blocking may not be.

As for schools with an English stream... well, there isn't really one in our school though there is a supporting French class twice weekly in the lunch break for non native speakers. What about trying an international school, this would help with English too?

I still recommend the ordinary private schools such as Jeanne d'Arc where my kids are... there are similar schools everywhere... they have small classes and generally the level of "caring" is far better. And of course a great way to get the language without tears and stress is to join up to an activity... such as skiing with a club, sailing on a local lake with a club, join a drama group, yes, even at four!!! The kids play and don't realise they are learning, which is the principle I use to teach English to all my under 12s. Almost inevitably a four-year old will pick up the language easily given a little time... just let him take his time.

A helpful follow-up

Thank you so much for the information. I feel reassured by your comments about children refusing to speak the language. I have friends in Reims with ten and eleven-year old girls who have been in a school more than one year now, which has an English language stream. It is a normal public school. Apparently there are a few schools like this in France, but it does not apply to children under the age of nine years. If I find any information about this system, I will forward it to you.

11. A question about summer schools and notice needed (added 12/3/09)...

We are a family of six - our children are all young ages eight, five, two and nine months. We are hoping to move to the South of France possibly Var region or Vaucluse. Can you advise about summer schools that we could perhaps access to give the children a liitle start before the academic term begins, and also the main question… how much notice do you need to give to "register" your child with a school? I think that we will go down the route of a private school, it seems as though the smaller numbers and more individual attention would be beneficial during the transition phase.

Joanna Simm, author of the above article, replies...

I don't really know about summer schools... maybe contact the Mairie of your proposed town. They know most things! Otherwise try the internet, though this may not tell you of all the options. You could also try posting on ex-pat forums (Total France can be a helpful one), maybe someone in your proposed area can help with info.

I wouldn't worry about the kids catching up though, not at these ages. They are young and although at first they will be a bit shell-shocked it won't take long. Just let them take it at their own pace.

At our school you can register and start immediately... or nearly... if you are lucky. I don't think there is a set time for registration, but private schools can become full if they are popular... although most are keen to have the pupils as they are dependent on numbers for funding.

12. A question about college in France (added 13/8/09)...

Hello there - I have just been reading through your articles re: the French Schooling system and I must say it is very helpful. However, can you advise? My dautghter is 16 in August and commences college here in England in September. However, we plan to move over in November. We would like her to continue her course ( Hair and Beauty) but not sure if they will take her on in November, or will she have to wait? What do we need to do?

Thank you for your time.

Joanna Simm, author of the above article replies...

As I understand it you can join any college here at any time, many kids change colleges mid-term etc. To do Hair and Beauty your daughter would have to go to a Lycee Professionnelle type place (non academic Lycee), and of course she must study in French. The trick would be to contact the Lycees in the town you are moving to, now, to arrange a place for your daughter. You can take their advice on what you then would need to do.

13. A question about French league tables (added 15/10/09)...

Hello - my son has just started his 2nd year at Maternelle (he's nearly 5) so I am a little ahead of the game in looking into the "best" schools in the area but am thinking that it might take a while to find the information I'm looking for. Being English, I have League tables and the like in the back of my mind but having asked around if there is anything similar here in France, have been told "no". Is there not some kind of schools directory which can give some partial guidance to the standard of schools? I have understood that the private route is not necessarily the better route but am still a bit muddled as to how people select schools for their children. Is it simply a case of being in a certain catchment area? Thanks for your help.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna in France who says:

"I think that it is really a case of local knowledge in France. Some schools have a good reputation, others not, but the only way of knowing for sure is to get to know people in the locality who have first hand knowledge. Private schools aren't supposed to be better by rights, but in practice we have found it works that way. Our daughter has just left the state lycee after 1 month to go to the private lycee in Carcassonne as there were 35 in her state class, whereas there are 15 in the private one... judge for yourself. It also seems that in general, the "nicer" kids go private... obviously not across the board as there are good kids and bad everywhere, but the atmosphere at the privees is nicer, the teachers have more of a caring attitude and kids are treated as people not numbers."

I hope this information will be of use.

14. A question about school times (added 6/5/10)...

Hi - my partner, kids and myself are hoping to move to France in the near future and I just want to know what time ranges the schools start and finish at, eg starting 9am and finishing say 3pm. Any assistance would be appreciated.

Joanna Simm, author of the above article, replies...

Schools here are rather tougher than in Britain... not sure about the very young ones, maybe just half days at a very young age, but Primary they do start a bit later, maybe 9am, but still finish at 5pm... or at least they did at the Primary part of my kid's old school!

Secondary schools, called "colleges", where kids from 11 go, begin at 8am and finish at 5pm. Wednesday is a half day. Some schools used to have Saturday morning classes, but these seem to have been phased out, here at least.

Lycees, like 6th form, are roughly the same as the UK, but sometimes have classes that finish even later, at 6pm, and also some of them have Wednesday afternoons off too.

15. A question about school places (added 22/7/10)...

I am about to move to Thoiry (near Geneva) and want to know if children are guaranteed a school place or if you have to apply to several schools as we do in the UK. My son is due to start school in September (and had a place lined up in London) but my husband suddenly got relocated to Geneva. We are hoping to live in Thoiry but as the schools have now broken up for the summer I am not sure if he will get a place for next term. Any help on how to solve this problem greatly appreciated.

Joanna Simm, author of the above article replies...

Every area has its own ideas, but all kids are required to attend education up to the age of 18, so there will be a place for your child somewhere, though in public schools (state schools) you will find your child will be sent to the school nearest to your home. Private schools, of which most towns have several, are a good option too, and inexpensive. Very inexpensive. (The website www.fabert.com lists private schools in all areas of France.)

If you haven't already tried, there may still be people at the schools to help, as some schools retain admin staff after closing. If there is no answer from the schools direct, try the prefecture or the main educational body for the region. You should be able to find this, and a list of schools in your area from the website www.education.gouv.fr. I would also suggest that you contact your Mairie, who will be able to let you know which commune you would be in, as this will affect which schools your children will be able to go to.

And even if you have to wait until the beginning of term, things should happen very fast. We moved in October and the kids were in school within a few weeks. (It is common for kids to change schools mid term in France, on a whim, so I wouldn't think there is anything to worry about.)

16. Some questions about private schools (added 16/9/10)...

Hi - after reading your articles "Schools in France", please can you advise on the placement guidelines with private schools? Do you have to be within a certain catchment area or have been a resident for a certain period of time before your child will be accepted? We are looking to move to the Carcassonne area, have two boys aged seven and four months.

Joanna Simm, author of the above article replies...

There is no catchment area at all for private schools in France, you can go to one at the other end of France if you wish, nor do you have to have been a resident for any length of time. It is purely a matter of there being a place for your child and them wanting to have your child in their school. For example, some are not happy to take a child with a bad behavioural record. And of course you must be able to pay the bills, but they are very inexpensive. Most private schools have boarding facilities, also inexpensive and widely used.

I'm not sure about schools for very young kids, but Carcassonne has a Jeanne d'Arc private school. I think it takes children from four years old to troisieme (fourteen years old), so it is worth checking out as it is supposed to be very good. And just in case you stay in the area, my son went to an excellent Lycee in Carcassonne. It takes the older kids from the Jeanne d'Arc school from fifteen years old to the end of the Baccalaureate. It is called Saint Stanislas and was superb in every way.

17. Some questions about schools in the south of France (added 16/9/10)...

We are relocating from Australia to the south of France, Juan-les-,Pins and I was wondering if we need to be in the French system for our four-year old daughter to attend school? We will be there for one year but will not be earning any money in France! I have been told that if we send our daughter to a private school then we may not need to be in the system. Can you recommend any private schools in the area and does this include Montessori schools? Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. My colleague Joanna in France is not familiar with any particular school in Provence, but has the following to say about being in the system:

"As far as I am aware, there is no need to be 'in the system' for schools, though it depends what you mean by 'in the system'. When we came, we enrolled the kids in a public ie: state school, and all we had to do was have details of our address as far as I can recall. Certainly at that point we weren't paying social contributions or anything... although we did within that year. I can't remember ever being asked for anything like that though."

You can find a list of state schools in your area from the website www.education.gouv.fr, and I would also suggest that you contact your Mairie, who will be able to let you know which commune you would be in, as this will affect which schools your child will be able to go to.

If you want to go down the private schools route, the website www.fabert.com lists private schools in all areas of France, which should include Montessori schools. A list of International schools in France can be found on the website www.france.english-schools.org/.

I hope this information will be of use.

18. A question about public schools in France and non-residents (added 28/12/10)...

Hello, my daughter is fifteen and due to start lycee in September. We are thinking about moving back to the UK (we have been French tax residents for four years) as she wants to go to Uni in the UK and my husband is unwell and would prefer to be treated in the UK, so we will have a UK address. Can she go to a public lycee in France if we become UK tax payers/residents? We would live in France with her as we have a barge/ boat in the town she wants to go to school and return to the UK for the holidays and visits as we are going to sell our house in the France but have no residency.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague in France who says:

"I do know of kids here whose parents are UK tax payers who go to public lycees and colleges here. So I think it happens, but what the offical position is I am not sure. Private lycees I would imagine cannot be a problem, and there are loads of private lycees everywhere, often several in any decent sized city like Carcassonne. As with college, going private is not expensive here in France."

I hope this information is of some use. And of course if you know which lycee she would be going to, I would think the best course of action would be to ask them.

19. A question about schools near Toulon (added 4/1/11)...

We're looking for a private catholic school in/near Toulon, does anyone know of one there? We're considering moving to France this year, but searching for the right schools first. We have two daughters, three and six years old, and we've been told the small Catholic schools are good. Thanks for any replies.

20. A question about short-term schooling in France (added 4/3/11)...

Hello there - my family and I have decided to take an extended vacation in France. It may be as little as one month. My children are both in French immersion, they are seven and nine years old. Would we be allowed to send them to a French public school for such are short time? My husband is not French but is Spanish and holds dual citizenship (Spain/Canada). We would like to do this in early spring. Thanks for any info.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in contact with my colleague in France who says that she doubts very much that a public school would take your children for such a short period, though the only thing to do would be to contact the school near where you will be and ask the question. There may be more chance in a private school, but bear in mind many schools are winding down for summer in May.

21. A question about summer schooling in France (added 15/4/11)...

I would like to arrange for my 16-year old son to spend some weeks in a "real" French school or other academic environment from May 23 till end-July 2011. I've done some research and talking to French contacts. Here's where I am:

(i) Regular classes seem to end around June 15 for secondes... or is it even sooner?
(ii) My idea to let my son, who has completed AP French in the US but needs work actually speaking the language, be a paying "visiting student" for a period of one month is meeting much resistance from the few French schools and people I've been in touch with.

But I really want this to work out. We've done an immersion course before and that is not what I want this time. I want an academic-type environment where he can be with French teens. I've thought of UCPA, but I'm afraid my son can easily play sports without speaking very much French. I see others have asked about summer school, and the answer seems to be it doesn't exist in France. Is that right, or could you suggest some links to summer camps or programs for French teens that are focused more on academics than on sports?

So my two main questions are:

(i) When does the regular school schedule stop for the year?
(ii) Are there summer programs for French teens?

In terms of location, I prefer Paris but would go anywhere if you or someone else could suggest a private school that might be willing to take my very well-behaved and motivated son for one month. (We can't come earlier than May 23 as he needs to finish his own US high school year... which reminds me to say... he doesn't need to obtain any credits or anything from the French school - just be a visitor.)

Joanna Simm, author of the above article replies...

One of the problems is that although the academic year for 2010-2011 may not end officially until July 2nd, in my experience, which includes numerous schools both private and public, kids actually start drifting away from school at the end of May, often encouraged to do so by the teachers. So I would not expect anyone other than exam takers to be in school near to that time. Most regard the end of May as the time when school becomes optional, and exam takers won't attend after they have taken their last exam which is often in early June. So, I think it is unlikely that visitors would be welcomed into a school year at the beginning of June/July.

The question of academic courses in holiday time is probably more pertinent, but I do not have experience of these nor would I know where to begin, other than to post on forums as mentioned previously. There is a person called Pomhorn on the Total France forum who I think is French and very knowledgeable about everything apparently! Perhaps you could try contacting them?

Or maybe an educational authority may be able to advise. Ours is based at Montpellier, but if you are looking at Paris, then that would be a possible course of action, to contact the government education site perhaps (www.education.gouv.fr)? I would imagine these courses exist, although the academically concerned parents I have come across seem to get in private tutors for their kids if they wish them to continue studying in holidays. Perhaps this might be something for you to consider for your son, though I understand that it isn't what you had in mind?

22. A question about moving from the US to France (added 15/4/11)...

We are planning to move from the US to France. My daughter is studying International Baccalaureate and French. Do you know how the process will be, exams, etc. to be accepted? Any information about tuition and process?

Also, can I own a property in France being a non Euro national? Can I live in my house year around or I will have to leave and come back? How does the residence process work in France?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in contact with my colleague Joanna in France who says:

"Re: school, I think any school will accept your daughter, it's not hard to get into public or private schools, but to continue an IB as opposed to a French Baccalaureate, she will probably, almost certainly, have to go private. An International School is most likely to offer IB. Otherwise she will need to integrate into the French system, studying in French and doing the French Baccalaureate."

As with International Schools, private and public schools may request recent results, reports and examples of written work from the last school. Also they may ask for vaccination records. Sometimes they may want to do an assessment to check the standard of French.

You may be interested to read our article, "International Schools in France" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/international-schools-in-france.html), if you have not already done so.

With regard to you owning a property in France and the residency process, I would suggest you contact the French Embassy to get accurate up-to-date advice, as our advice and site is UK-based.

I hope this information will be of some use, and I wish you all the best with your move.

23. A question about enrolling in school (added 22/7/11)...

Hello - I wonder if you could help me. I am currently in the process of trying to find information about getting my children enrolled in a French school as we are moving to Gouarec on the 7th August 2011. Unfortunately I am not having much luck as I have emailed a few places for information and had no response. My children are aged five and two. Could you please give me some advice as to where to start as I'm stuck. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am not sure if you are trying to contact schools directly, but if not, and you want to find schools, you can find a list of state schools in your area from the website www.education.gouv.fr. I would also suggest that you contact your Mairie, who will be able to let you know which commune you would be in, as this will affect which schools your child will be able to go to.

If you want to go down the private schools route, the website www.fabert.com lists private schools in all areas of France, which should include Montessori schools. A list of International schools in France can be found on the website www.france.english-schools.org/.

Meanwhile if you have tried to contact schools directly, have you tried to call rather than email? Always worth a try. I know schools taking older children start slowing down at the end of May, but I would have thought even here administration staff would be around to answer your emails.

24. A question about Waldorf Steiner schools (added 8/9/11)...

My family is planning to move to southern France this year but as we are having great difficulty in finding a Waldorf Steiner school (other than Avignon) in the Nice area where we would prefer to live. Or alternative school to the GCSE based curriculum. Any ideas... desperate?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Both my colleague Joanna in France and myself are not familiar with Waldorf Steiner schools, but searching the web I see there are two in the Alpes-Maritimes, one near Nice/Monaco and one in Valbonne, but only kindergarten level I think.

For older children, state or private schools in France do not do GCSEs, they follow the French system of Brevet and Baccalauréat. I am not sure if this is what you are trying to avoid as well? You may find the site www.fabert.com useful, as this lists private schools in all areas of France. Ones near Nice may be worth contacting to see if they offer any alternative teaching methods.

Alternatively there are the International Schools, but these I guess follow similar educational methods as those you may be trying to avoid. If not, a list of International Schools in France can be found at www.france.english-schools.org/.

I am sorry to not be of more help.

25. A question about class ages in France (added 11/10/11)...

Help with French School class terms please! In Ecole maternelle they divide the classes into PS, MS, GS & CP then they have CE1, CE2 & CM. I am totally confused and wondered if you could give me the age groups for each please? Thank you!

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna in France who has found out the following:

Maternelle:

PS = Petite Section : 3 years old
MS = Moyenne Section : 4 years old
GS = Grande Section : 5 years old

Primary school:

CP = Cours Préparatoire : 6 years old
CE1 = Cours Elémentaire 1st year: 7 years old
CE2 = Cours Elémentaire 2nd year: 8 years old
CMI = Cours Moyen 1st year: 9 years old
CM2 = Cours Moyen 2nd year: 10 years old


At 11 years old, they start College, the equivalent of our secondary schools. This starts with Sixieme.

But she says you will find all ages are approximate as it is common practice in France for kids to re-do years if they do not get the grades their parents wanted them to achieve. So you can have a big variation in ages in the different classes as they can re-sit each year, twice if necessary. (This usually happens in later years.)

I hope this information is of use.

26. A question about home schooling (added 25/1/12)...

I wonder if you'd be able to help me. I'm currently trying to find information on whether my son can leave part way through his first year in Lycée. He has applied for a two-year music course in a college in the UK. This requires him to sit four IGCSEs. He passed his Brevet this June and has started in 2nd at Lycée. I have got him on a home learning course for IGCSE English Language, and he will be taking IGCSE Maths and French and a further subject. I have finally come to the conclusion that he would be better off staying at home and studying for his exams there.

Would I be able to take him out of the Lycée, and if so how would I go about doing it? I hope you're able to help, thank you for your time.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna in France, who says the following:

"This is quite similar to what happened with us a couple of years ago. When we took my daughter out of Lycee here (in the early weeks of Premiere) it was easy to do, but you have to complete a certificate of radiation which states where the child is going to be next. We were told that she must be either in education or an apprencticeship until the age of 18. It was OK for us because she went straight to the UK so it didn't apply, but we had to sign a form to say that was happening.

I have heard of kids being home schooled here in France, but I guess you will have to prove it in some way. Sorry, I dont know how but I imagine the school will be able to advise.

I would agree that home schooling will be more useful in the circumstances than continuing at Lycee. The courses he will be studying are very different from what he would be doing in France."

I hope this information will be of some use. I would suggest you contact your son's Lycee and get their advice on what needs to be done.

27. Schooling Question from Casandra in the US (added 14th March 2012)

I was wondering, is it possible for american citizen teens aged 14 could be enrolled in a public school right away? And not being a European citizen is it possible to buy property? And what do public schools usually require to register a student?

If you can help answer this question - please use the comments box below. Thank you!

28. Tammy B. wonders how French subjects compare with UK? (Added 20/3/2012)

We are thinking of moving our children to our house in France in May 2013, they will be aged 14 and 11 by then. My youngest I am not too worried about, if he has to repeat a year so be it. My oldest will be my problem as she is currently deciding her options and wants to do the core subjects plus Art and Design, Geography, French and Business Studies. The courses in the UK look quite good with a wide spectrum of work being covered in each subject, how will these subjects compare in France? I have read that French education is better than the UK, which I don't doubt as she seems to watch TV a lot!!

If you have any experience of these types of subjects in France we would be delighted to hear your views. Please comment using the box below. Thank you

29. A question about the Brevet and GCSEs (added 31/7/12)...

My question is actually going in the opposite direction. My daughter has been educated in France and wanted to go on to Lycee to do photography, but for this she needed good results in Maths and Science. She has dyslexia and these are her worst subjects, so has no real chance of going to Lycee to do what she wants. I have contacted a college back in England who have a two-year course in photographic and creative media imaging, but they require at least four GCSEs. She has passed her Brevet but they want to know what the equivelent is in GCSEs and I don't know how to go about finding this out as the Brevet is not marked in A,B,C,D & E passes.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna who says:

"My daughter left France to go to sixth form in England too. At first the college said they didn't know how to rate the Brevet, but eventually accepted it as a GCSE pass. The Brevet covers many subjects, so it should be fine. If not, maybe your college will allow her to take an entrance test? If I can help any more with this I would be happy to do so. I can perhaps supply a contact for the college who accepted my daughter's Brevet results. The Brevet is the only near equivalent to GCSEs in France, so it is the only possibility."

30. A question about schools in the Carcassonne area (added 31/7/12)...

I am moving to Carcassonne in the summer for twelve months with my eleven-year old daughter, can anyone recommend any good schools please? Are there any requirements to get into the schools?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. My colleague Joanna suggests you looking at this school:

http://www.enseignement-prive.info/etablissement/college-prive-jeanne-d-arc- carcassonne/ET011-36/colleges

She says "This is private, but not expensive. I think it is a few hundred Euros rather than thousands! It is the college that feeds the lycee where my son went. It attracts lovely families. I have no personal knowledge as my kids went to the Jean D'Arc in Castelnaudary, but certainly some of my son's friends came to his lycee from that school, and I would definitely recommend an appointment to take a look.

Re requirements, there shouldn't be any academic requirements really, certainly not at that age, though a private school may require a reasonable report. As in to say the child is not a troublemaker etc. Then they will need things like a doctor's records of vaccinations, so it is worth collecting those in advance. It is best to ask the school, private schools can make their own rules, but there won't be much to worry about.

Though they will also probably ask about language. The schooling will be in French, but I assume they will do as our school did and offer extra help with French if needed. And if you don't speak good French, you can ask for an English teacher from the school to translate for you when you contact them, that's what we did at first."

I hope this information will be of use.

31. A question about enrolling children in school (added 24/1/13)...

Hello - I wonder if you could help me. I am currently in the process of trying to find information about getting my children enrolled in a French school as we are moving to Lyon on the 17th August 2013. Unfortunately I am not having much luck as I have emailed a few places for information and had no response. My children are aged six and ten. Could you please give me some advice as to where to start as I'm stuck? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies

Thanks for contacting us. I would certainly try calling the schools rather than emailing. Emails are all too easily ignored/lost. I have also been in touch with my colleague, Joanna, who suggests looking on ex-pat forums, to find other people in the area who might be able to provide information about the schools there. Hobos in France is very helpful apparently.

Joanna waited until she arrived in France before enrolling, and it wasn't hard. Primary kids usually go to a village school. She says it might be worth looking at private schools though, which are not expensive. They are often better at helping kids settle and with their French.

(Also see answer to question 23.)

32. A question about schools in Corsica (added 25/7/13)...

Hi - please could you tell me if schools in Corsica follow the same pattern as schools in France? If they don't what are the differences?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am not aware that schools in Corsica are different, but it may be worth checking with some schools yourself by using the French Government website www.education.gouv.fr and/or www.fabert.com which lists private schools in France.

And as mentioned in the answer to the previous question, I would certainly try calling the schools rather than emailing. Emails are all too easily ignored/lost. Ex-pat forums are also useful, to find other people in the area who might be able to provide information about the schools in Corsica.

33. A question about getting into a lycee professionnel (added 25/7/13)...

Hi there - I'm a little stuck. We lived in France for 20 years. All three of the children were born in France and speak fluent French with local French accents. But in March we moved overseas. We are now looking to move back to France - we will be moving down to the south area ( Nice/ Cannes) back to where we lived before. But where as my youngest will just slip back into ecole primaire, and my older 14-year old will go to college, my 15-year old daughter was in a lycee professionnel, so will she be able to get into a lycee professionnel again easily enough? What steps can we take to find out if we are not yet in France?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna who used to live in France, who says:

"I would imagine all your kids will be able to pick up the right schooling for their ages. I think France has a duty to place all resident kids in local education of the right type. I would write or call the academie, the ruling body for education for the area. This, I think, is the one you will need:

www2.ac-nice.fr/pid28837/le-rectorat.html"

Also, could you not contact the lycee professionnel your daughter was at, from where you are, to find out the options? You could try too the website www.education.gouv.fr for a list of schools in your area, and check with these.

34. A question about vaccinations (added 3/10/13)...

Do you please happen to know what vaccinations and how many a five-year old needs to enrol to a French school?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. My colleague Joanna says they would have to have the normal childhood vaccinations they would have in the UK, that's what she had to prove when her kids enrolled in France. You can get certificates from your doctor. Once in France, the French expect patients/parents of patients to keep their own records, unlike in the UK.

35. A question about school exchanges (added 3/10/13)...

An English friend of mine who lives in France knows of a fifteen-year old boy who wants an English penfriend that he hopes I will be able to find for him. The French boy then wants to come to England for three months and wants the English boy to go to France for three months, staying in each other's houses. The intention is that they would attend each other's schools. I don't know if this is permissible in France or England. I am about to try to find out about the English side. Could you let me know what the situation would be in the French education system?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I believe this to be quite common, though these swaps normally are not for three months, but a week or so. It would be a matter of contacting schools in both France and the UK, and sorting this out through them (when perhaps a longer swap could be arranged). I would think the best course of action would be if the boy in France checks with his school first of all, as they may already have links to a school or schools in the UK.

36. A question about schooling in France for a one month period (added 7/11/13)...

My mother is contemplating taking my four nieces to France for a month (sometime around Jan-Feb 2014). Is it possible to enroll children (ages ranging between five and ten) in school for a one month period? Or is it possible to find private instruction for them? She wants to be in the region of Provence, maybe Nice or Cannes.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. My colleague Joanna says:

"I very much doubt that you can put kids into state schools for one month only, it may be possible in private education. I would imagine the best way would be to find a private tutor, perhaps by searching the internet. There are organisations that provide private tutors in France. Or you could search informally by using ex-pats forums for that region? There are many English speakers in that region, so I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult."

The website www.fabert.com lists private schools in France, in case you would like to check with them about taking your nieces for a month only.

37. A question about registering children for school in France (added 7/11/13)...

Hello - we are a familly with three school kids. We are planning to move to France and we want to register our kids in public school in Carcassonne. What do we need to register them? They are nine, sixteen and fourteen. Thank you.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Our answers above should help you, particularly the answer to question 3.

In order to find out what schools are available in your area, I would suggest that you contact your local Académie (or Education Authority equivalent), which you can find from the website www.education.gouv.fr.

I would also suggest that you contact your Mairie, who will be able to let you know which commune you are in, as this will affect which schools your children will be able to go to.

38. A question about short-term schooling in a public/state school in France (added 14/1/14)...

My son is attending a French Bolivian school in La Paz. The director has suggested that my son needs 1-2 months of attending a school in France in order to improve his French. Is there a way to apply for a public school for such a short period of time?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I am not sure what the minimum length of time a French public school would accept a child for, but it would certainly be worth checking if there are any schools in France that run exchange programmes with the school your son is at, if you haven't done so already. If your son's school in La Paz has no links with any schools in France, you could always check with individual schools in France yourself, though this may take time. Public schools in France can be found from the website www.education.gouv.fr, however I would be surprised if a public school would take a child for 1-2 months with no exchange programme in place. Perhaps private schools might. They are listed on the website www.fabert.com.

39. A question about international schools (added 27/3/14)...

Hey - I'd like to know if you could give me a list of all the international schools in Lille, France. Thanks.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. As we mention in our article "International Schools in France" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/international-schools-in-france.html), a list of international schools in France can be found on this site:

http://france.english-schools.org/

This lists one in Lille.

your comments...

1. Negative comments from a visitor to the site about the French education system (added 18/12/12)..

I live in France and I google about how bad the French education system is! This article is the only one that claims the opposite. The French education system is very bad. Teachers teach a foreign language while they do not speak it. My seven year-old son is registered in a private school and his teacher this year, she teaches them English while she can not write or speak this language. This is a national phenomenon here in France for public and private schools. Teachers all over the country are forced to teach foreign languages that they can not read, write or speak! That was just an example. There are many articles on the internet which say the same thing, and more.

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