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Primary and Secondary Schools in France

Lycée Léonce Vieljeux

La Rochelle, France
our Centre has 1200 students from 15 to 20 years. Education is scientific, technological and economic. We have a class of european section Spanish. we are looking for a center of any region of Spain to start an Exchange with students from 15 years of our Institute in the European section. Thanks for responding as soon as possible.

Primary and Secondary Schools in France by City:

La RochelleLochesMelle

About Primary and Secondary Schools in France

France is renowned for its excellent education system, and like many developed countries around the world, education in France is not only a wonderful opportunity for students, it’s absolutely required.  When living in France, it is compulsory that children age 6 to age 16 attend school, and for some students, that schooling will begin as early as 2 years of age and continue until the student is age 18 or more.  Below we will take a closer look at both the primary and secondary schools in France.

Primary Schools in France

While some French parents may opt to send their children to a private school for a fee, the state-run primary school (and secondary school) is free to all students.  Parents must choose the school nearest their home, unless otherwise directed by City Hall.

The primary schools in France are called “École élémentaire.”  Here students are organized into 5 different grade levels, beginning with the first level called “Cours préparatoire” for 6-year olds and culminating with “Cours moyen deuxième année,” the final primary grade level in which most students will begin as 10 year olds and finish at age 11.  

As with many primary schools around the world, children at each grade level are instructed by one teacher. The first year of primary school is dedicated to teaching writing and advancing reading skills, and from there, students will be taught a diverse curriculum, involving subjects such as French, mathematics, science, social studies, art and humanities.  Each grade level has its own set curriculum, and students are evaluated at the end of each grade level for competency.

All public schools in France are secular.  In fact, not only is religion not taught at French public schools, religious symbols of any kind are completely banned.  This type of separation between church and state is seen in many other countries as well.

Secondary Schools in France

There are two types of secondary schools in France:  collèges and lycées.  Collèges are schools that teach the first four years of French secondary education, housing students ages 11 to 14, while lycées cater to 15 to 18 year-old students for the final three years of their education.


In France, the collège is the first level of secondary education.  Like primary schools, colleges are broken down into grade levels, in this case four of them, based on the age of the students. But instead of having a single teacher for all subjects, in collège, students move from classroom to classroom for their various classes—classes that are taught by expert instructors in that particular field of study.  The subjects studied in collège will depend on the student’s grade level, with the more advanced classes typically offered to older students.  There are rigid academic requirements in France, subjects in which all students must participate. These include:

Humanities and Language.  Beginning in the first year of collège, all students are instructed in French language and literature, history, geography, music, art, civics and one foreign language.  Students in their third year of collège, typically at age 13-14, will need to take a second foreign language as well.

Natural and Applied Sciences.  Natural and applied sciences make up a great deal of the instruction in French secondary schools.  From day one here students as young as 11 years old are taught mathematics, geology, biology and technology, as well as physics and chemistry beginning in their third year of collège.

Optional courses.  There are many optional courses available primarily for older collège students in France, including Latin, Ancient Greek and advanced technology courses, usually taught in smaller group settings.


The lycée is the final portion of a student’s secondary education in France.  It is here that most students will take advanced courses in mathematics, science, technology and humanities, all in preparation for the baccalauréat—a type of diploma that is necessary for entry into French and other international universities.

Students not wishing to pursue higher education, but rather a particular career, can opt out of the general lycée, and enroll instead at a “lycée professionnel.”  These secondary schools are centered solely on vocational instruction and can lead to vocational qualification for a number of careers.