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The Ministry for Education defines France’s national educational curriculum. The Ministry is organized on a regional basis, with 17 academic regions responsible for maintaining nationwide standards in education policy, along with 26 mainland academies and four academies in France’s overseas territories responsible for public service aspects of education (including defining strategy and managing schools and personnel) and along with 17 academic regions rectors.

In France, school is mandatory for all children aged 6 to 16. Children may also attend school from the age of three. At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, a number of schools opened classes for children aged two.

International school programs are presented here.


Different types of school

There are three different types of school:

  • State schools, which are run by the government.
  • State-funded and controlled private schools. These establishments must adhere to the terms and conditions of their contract with the government. In exchange, the government pays their teaching staff. Local authorities fund these establishments to the same extent as state schools.
  • Privately funded schools, which are also subject to government inspections of both their management and teaching; all staff must possess the required qualifications. The teaching provided must comply with French education law and meet minimum standards of knowledge.


For further information (in French):

Private schools (French Ministry of Education)

Stages in the French educational system

Age  Section  Grade   Objectives



Petite section

Teaching children to co-exist.

At this stage, they develop their spoken language skills and begin to discover the written word, numbers and other areas of learning.

 4 Moyenne section
 5 Grande section

Ecole Elémentaire

(Elementary School)

CP Mastering the French language and basic mathematics are the primary aims of elementary schools, the aim being to equip children with the tools they need to expand their knowledge.
 7 CE1
 8 CE2
 9 CM1
 10 CM2


(Junior High School)


“Adaptation cycle”: consolidating the skills and knowledge acquired in primary school and introducing students to the teaching methods used in junior high school.

Learning a foreign language.

12 5ème

“Central cycle”: expanding knowledge and applied knowledge. This cycle is notable for the consistent way in which subjects are taught over the two years and the gradual enrichment of the program with optional subjects.

A second foreign language is taught starting in the final year (quatrième).

13 4ème
14 3ème “Orientation cycle”: completing the skills and knowledge acquired in junior high school and preparing students for general, technological and vocational training.
Diploma awarded: Brevet des Collèges


(Senior High School)

2nde The so-called general and technological seconde year offers the same program for all students before they follow general or technological programs in future years. They choose their path at the end of seconde.
16 1ère The première and terminale grades in each stream* lead to the baccalauréat examination. The baccalauréat tests the knowledge and skills acquired by students by the end of their high-school years and is the first higher-education qualification.
17 Terminale
Diploma awarded: Baccalauréat

*The general streams are Literature (L), Economics & Social Sciences (ES) and Science (S).

The technology streams are: STL (Laboratory science and technology), STI2D (Industrial Science and Technology and Sustainable Development), STD2A (Science and Technology of Design and Applied Arts), STMG (Science and Technology of Business Management), ST2S (Science and Technology of Health and Social Care), TMD (Music and dance Techniques), Hotel Management, STAV (Science and Technology of Agronomy and Living Organisms).


When a kindergarten and an elementary school are located in the same establishment, this is referred to as a primary school.


For further information :

Ministry for Education: Primary School
Ministry for Education: Junior High School
Minisry for Education: Senior High School



Registering a child for school

The family’s place of residence determines which school the child will attend.

Anticipating the procedure as soon as possible is recommended.

When registering for public kindergarten or elementary school

The municipal offices inform the parents regarding the establishment their child will attend and registers them at the school. The municipal offices then provide the family with a registration certificate. This certificate must be handed to the head of the school, who approves the registration. Depending on the availability of places, enrollments may be possible during the course of the academic year.


For further information (in French):



When registering for junior high-school

The local education authority determines which junior high-school the child will attend, depending on the catchment area in which they live. The child must be registered at the relevant school.
Depending on the availability of places, enrollments may be possible during the course of the academic year.


For further information (in French):



When registering at a state senior high school or a state-funded and controlled private senior high school

the family’s wishes must be expressed to the head of the school. In public establishments, the local education authority inspector then determines the school to which the student will be assigned.
Depending on the availability of places, enrollments may be possible during the course of the academic year.


For further information (in French):

The school year

The school year lasts 10 months. It begins in early September and ends in late June or early July.

There are four school holidays spread over the year, in late October (Toussaint), at the holidays season (Christmas/New year), in the winter (February/March) and in the spring (April/May). These holidays last for two weeks, except for Toussaint, which lasts for 10 days around All Saints’ Day (November 1).

Each year, the French Ministry for Education sets holiday dates for the different academic zones. France is split into three areas, A, B and C, each comprising various academic regions.

The calendar for the 2018-2019 academic year is as follows:

Holiday Zone A  Zone B  Zone C 


Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand,

Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon, Poitiers



Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Caen, Lille,

Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Nice, Orléans-Tours,

Reims, Rennes, Rouen, Strasbourg


Créteil, Montpellier, Paris,

Toulouse, Versailles


Classes resume on: Monday, September 3, 2018 

Toussaint holidays

Classes end on: Saturday, October 20, 2018

Classes resume on: Monday, November 5, 2018

Christmas holidays

Classes end on: Saturday, December 22, 2018

Classes resume on: Monday, January 7, 2019

Winter holidays

Classes end on:
Saturday, February 16, 2019

Classes resume on:
Monday, March 4, 2019

Classes end on:
Saturday, February 9, 2019

Classes resume on:
Monday, February 25, 2019

Classes end on:
Saturday, February 23, 2019

Classes resume on:
Monday, March 11, 2019

Spring holidays

Classes end on:
Saturday, April 13, 2019

Classes resume on:
Monday, April 29, 2019

Classes end on:
Saturday, April 6, 2019

Classes resume on:
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Classes end on:
Saturday, April 20, 2019

Classes resume on:
Monday, May 6, 2019

Summer holidays

Classes end on: Saturday, July 6, 2019

The holidays begin once the day’s classes are completed.  For students who do not have classes on Saturdays, the holidays begin on the Friday evening. Classes resume on the morning of the dates indicated above.


International school programs


International school programs stem from partnerships set up between France and foreign countries. They enable children of any nationality to be taught within the French education system by offering them bilingual and bicultural tuition. The educational content and teaching methods employed are largely inspired by those used in the partner countries.

There are international programs at every stage of the school curriculum: elementary school, junior high school (collège) and senior high school (lycée). In senior high schools, only the general streams (Literature, Economics & Social Sciences, and Sciences) have international programs.

The International Option Baccalaureate (IOB) is an international version of the French Baccalaureate diploma, which comes with the words ‘international option’ and the language in which the pupil has been educated. To obtain this qualification, pupils must have studied in a school with an international program during the second and final year of the International Baccalaureate course.

Pupils must study all the subjects from their chosen pathway, which are either languages and literature (L), economics and social sciences (ES) or maths and sciences (S). They must also sit specific oral and written examinations for the foreign language of the program as well as history and geography. There is also a set test in mathematics, which replaces the history and geography examinations for those studying in Chinese language programs. The qualification is recognized in both France and the partner country.

Anyone interested in enrolling on the International Option Baccalaureate course is advised to register as early as possible.

For further information, click here to download a brochure on international programs (in French and English).


 International programs in figures:

  • 553 international programs at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year in 284 schools and educational establishments (both in France and establishments teaching in French abroad)
  • 24 foreign partners
  • 17 languages and cultures represented, with American, Arabic, British, Brazilian, Chinese, Korean, Danish, Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish programs.


For further information (in French):

Ministry for Education: International programs in primary schools
Ministry for Education: International programs in junior high schools
Ministry for Education: International programs in senior high schools

International private education


There are many private international schools in France, some of which are accredited by international bodies guaranteeing the quality of education provided. Here is a list of these accreditation bodies:


International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate, also known as the Geneva Baccalaureate, is a non-profit educational foundation based in Geneva, which has developed four international programs to enrich students’ intellectual and personal abilities, as well as their cultural knowledge. It accredits institutions, both on the teaching methods used and on the content of the programs. Institutions have the option of developing one or more programs offered by the IB.

More than 4,000 schools around the world offer one or more IB programs. In France, 19 institutions are IB accredited, including the American School of Paris, the International School of Paris and the International School of Nice. The locations of IB-accredited institutions can be viewed on our interactive map.

For further information on the International Baccalaureate, click here to go to the foundation’s website.


Council of International Schools (CIS)

As a global non-profit organization, the Council of International Schools offers programs developed by its members for primary and secondary schools, higher education institutions, and private individuals.

These programs provide students with a strong international and intercultural grounding enabling them to adapt to the increasingly global nature of modern day society.

What’s more, primary and secondary school members must commit to undertaking an external quality assurance process to enhance student learning.

There are more than 1,000 CIS accredited schools and universities around the world. In France, there are nine accredited institutions, including the Bordeaux International School, the International School of Lyon and the Marymount International School in Paris. The locations of CIS-accredited institutions in France can be viewed on our interactive map.

Click here for further information on the Council of International Schools.


New England association of schools and colleges (NEASC)

New England Association of Schools and Colleges is an independent, voluntary, non-profit organization. Independent state educational institutions, schools and colleges join voluntarily. NEASC assesses and promotes the quality of education, and its accreditation attests to a school’s high quality and integrity.

The organization provides a process for meaningful, ongoing whole school improvement while respecting the specific culture of each school, with accreditation granted by the members themselves.

Each institution self-reports and is subject to a peer-review process for accreditation.

Some 2,000 state and independent schools, technical and vocational institutions, colleges and universities in New England and international schools in more than 65 countries are accredited by NEASC. In France, there are three NEASC-accredited institutions: the École Jeannine Manuel in Paris, the International School of Paris and the International School of Toulouse. Click here to view our interactive map to locate NEASC-accredited institutions in France.

Click here for further information about NEASC.