12 things you should know about French schools
Insurance for your child, long lunch breaks, no school uniform and enrolling in school – here are 12 things you should know about French schools
1. Nursery school is called maternelle and children start at the age of 3
2. Primary school is called école primaire and children start in September of the year they turn 6 – so children born in 2010 all start primary school in September 2016
3. Middle school is called collège and children attend from the age of 11 to 15.
4. Secondary school is called lycée where students from the age of 15 spend 3 years studying for their baccalauréat – the equivalent of A levels in the UK.
5. If a child doesn’t achieve the grades they will have to repeat the year (redoubler) – this is much more common in France
6. You will have to enrol your child in a French school – take their birth certificate, medical records, your passport and proof of address to your mairie
7. School pupils don’t wear a school uniform
8. Pupils get a long lunch break and either eat at the school canteen which offers freshly cooked healthy meals or go home for lunch – no packed lunches in France!
9. Parents must take out insurance for their children, called assurance scolaire, for school trips, sport and extra-curricular activities. This costs between €10 and €35 and covers any damage your child might do to school property and loss of belongings.
10. Schools are strictly secular (expect faith schools) so there won’t be any nativity plays
11. You have to provide all stationery and equipment, except textbooks, for your child but you can apply for and income-dependant grant to pay for these. This is called Allocation de Rentrée Scolaire and you can apply for it at your local CAF (Caisses d’Allocation Familiales)
12. The school day in France starts at 8.30 and finishes at 4.30 with a long lunch break. Some schools close on Wednesday afternoons which is when children participate in extra-curricular activities
More on the French education system:
A guide to the French education system
10 differences between French and British schools
Ian Moore: back to school in France
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