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France - School System

The French education system is the responsibility of the State and is controlled by:

  • Ministère de l’Education Nationale
    110, rue de Grenelle
    Tel: + 33 (0)1 5555 1010

The whole school system is financed by the State. Public sector institutions provide schooling for 80% of the children. Nearly all private schools have entered a contract with the State, which involves the latter assuming responsibility for teacher remunerations, and in most cases, the functioning of the school.
In order to implement this policy, the Ministry has 'external' administrative departments known as academies. France is divided into 29 such academies each headed by a 'recteur acting directly on behalf of the Minister.

Schooling is mandatory from the ages of 6 to 16. French children have to get through three educational cycles :

  • kindergarten (école maternelle), for 3-to-5-year-old children;
  • primary school (école primaire), for 6-to-10-year-old children;
  • high school (collège), divided into junior high schools from 11 to 15 years old and senior high schools or Lycée from 16 to 18 years old.

At the end of the education you have to pass a series of exams leading to a diploma called Baccalauréat, ideally obtained at the age of 18 (if no classes were repeated).

If you don’t pass the Baccalaureate, you can choose a shorter education at the end of high school. You can then obtain a BEP (Brevet d’Etudes Professionnelles)  or CAP (Certificat d’Aptitude professionnelle). With these diplomas allow you to can start working, usually in manual work.

The Baccalauréat is a national examination that permits you to enter the higher education colleges. There are three kinds of Baccalauréat:

  • the general Baccalauréat, opening the route to a long advanced study in various domains, such as sciences, fine arts, literature, human sciences;
  • the technical Baccalauréat, usually leading to short college cycles
  • the professional Baccalauréat, allowing the continuation of studies, but mostly enabling the graduates to find employment.

After your baccalauréat you have different opportunities:

  • University
  • Private or Public School (computer, trade, marketing…) for 2 or 5 years studying

For further information you can rely on the Centre d'Information et d'Orientation (C.I.O)