In each meeting, the hosting students presented their school system.
Latvian education system
Italian education system
Polish education system
Croatian education system
French education system
Compulsory education in France
French education is compulsory from the age of 6 to the age of 16, although the majority of French children start earlier. They enter nursery school at the age of three.
Most French schools follow a national curriculum set by the Ministry of Education.
There is no school uniform in most schools in France.
The school year in France
The school year starts at the beginning of September. French schools have long holidays – a two-month summer holiday starting in July, two or three weeks at Christmas and Easter, as well as half term breaks. Dates vary according to where you live; France has been divided into three zones for school holidays
The school week in France
Most schools are closed on Wednesday afternoons.
In primary schools and middle schools, the school day usually starts around 8.30am and ends at 4.30pm with two breaks (récré) and at least an hour and a half for lunch. In high school the school day usually starts at 8 and ends at 5 or 6pm. Students can return home for lunch but many students stay and eat in the school canteen.
Students, even younger children, are expected to do homework most evenings.
The structure of the French education system
After nursery school (which we call “l’école maternelle”), which is optional, the French compulsory education system is divided into three stages:
- primary school (l’école)
- middle school (le collège)
- high school (le lycée)
There are five levels in primary school (CP, CE1, CE2, CM1 and CM2).
Middle school (collège)
Between the ages of 11 and 15, students in France attend a middle school. We call it ‘collège’. All pupils are accepted; there is no entrance exam.
There are four levels. The syllabus aims to give all pupils a general education and consists of French, mathematics, history/geography, civics, biology, technology, art, music, and physical education.
At the end of the four years, at the age of 15, all students must sit the brevet, a national diploma called le Brevet des Collèges. Students are tested on French, mathematics and history/geography /sciences but they must also have reached a level A2 in a foreign language. The brevet is also marked on continuous assessment.
After the brevet, most students continue their education in a high school which we call le lycée. Academic pupils will move onto a lycée général or lycée technique to take more general classes, while less academic students will go to a lycée professionnel where they will take more vocational classes.
High school or lycée
The last three years of secondary education – from 15 to 18 years old – are spent at a high school a lycée general, a lycée technique or a lycée professionnel.
There are three years of high school so three different levels:
La Seconde from the age of 15 to the age of 16
La Première from the age of 16 to the age of 17
La Terminale (BAC) from the age of 17 to the age 18
Lycée général and lycée technique
In a Lycée général and technique, students start to specialize with the aim of sitting the Baccalauréat which is the qualification to enter university at 18 years old. Students choose different streams called ‘series’. The general bac consists of the L series (literary studies), ES series (economic and social studies) or S series (sciences studies). There are also BTech A levels which are diplomas based on specific technical skills.
Each subject of the bac is weighted with a different coefficient. Some exams are taken at the end of Première, while others are done at the end of Terminale. For Première French is always the first exam.
Students have to get 10/20 in the exam to pass.
At a vocational high school, students work towards qualifications to help them get a job or pursue further vocational studies. The professional baccalaureate requires three years of study.
Higher education in France
The baccalauréat diploma guarantees access to university. The best students can take another one or two years of prepatory classes to sit for an entrance exam into highly selective and prestigious schools known as The Grandes Écoles of France (for engineering, business, and politics or administrative studies).