French educational system
School education is compulsory for children aged between six and sixteen; this obligation covers both elementary education (elementary school) and the first four years (collège) of secondary education.
Children are enrolled in kindergarten by their parents, whereas they are automatically enrolled in elementary school.
Enrolment takes place during the first half of the calendar year at the town hall near the place of residence.
A special rule applies in day nurseries: children who reach the age of three between September and 31 December of that year may attend nursery school from September on. Children who turn three between 1 January and 1 March may go to nursery school, subject to availability of places, from 1 January until the end of the February holidays at the latest. Children who turn three after 1 March may go to day nursery until the start of the new school year.
If a child has never been to school in France, enrolment in elementary school takes place at the school or at the town hall near the parents’ place of residence.
In Paris, a child aged six and over who does not speak French is sent by the local town hall to a school where French-language courses for beginners are available. Children under six attend regular classes in school.
To enrol your child(ren) in a collège or lycée, please contact the establishment of your choice directly or the Inspection académique, Service de la division des élèves (education authority). Your child(ren) will have to take a French-language test.
Higher education includes several systems:
To begin higher studies in France, foreign students must have a French baccalaureate or foreign equivalent and be able to prove that their command of French is good enough for them to take the course of their choice.
Entrance procedures vary depending on the educational institution and the chosen training course. For the Classes préparatoires for entrance to the Grandes écoles, IUTs (polytechnics) and Instituts universitaires professionalisés - IUP (professional university institutes) students are to enrol directly with the institution concerned. For Premier cycle enrolment at a university, students are required to file an entrance application before the start of the academic year.
Students are required to take a written examination and an oral to test their command of French.
It is possible to continue with one’s higher education in France and to apply for a place on a course at university. The chosen institution alone will be authorized to validate a student’s previous education.
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