Secondary education in France


In France, secondary education is in two
stages: collèges cater for the first four years
of secondary education from the ages of 11 to 15
lycées provide a three-year course of further secondary education for children
between the ages of 15 and 18. Pupils are prepared for the baccalauréat. The
baccalauréat can lead to higher education studies or directly to
professional life. Organization of the school year
The school year starts in early September and ends in early-July. French
school holidays are scheduled by the Ministry of Education, by dividing the
country into three zones to prevent the overcrowding by family holidaymakers of
tourist destinations such as the Mediterranean coast and the ski resorts.
Lyon, for example, is in zone A, while Marseille is in zone B, and Paris and
Bordeaux are in zone C. In contrast to the practice in most
other education systems, the various school years in France are numbered on a
decreasing scale. Thus, pupils begin their secondary education in the
sixième, and transfer to a lycée in the seconde, while the final year is the
terminale. In French, the word for student) is
usually reserved for university-level students, while collège and lycée
students are referred to as élèves. The curriculum is standardized for all
French public institutions. Changes to the programme are made every year by the
French Ministry of Education and are published in the Ministry’s Bulletin
Officiel de l’Éducation Nationale, the official reference bulletin for
educators. Collège
The collège is the first level of secondary education in the French
educational system. A pupil attending collège is called collégien or
collégienne. Men and women teachers at the collège- and lycée-level are called
professeur. The City of Paris refers to a collège in English as a “high school.”
Entry in sixième occurs directly after the last year of primary school, called
cours moyen deuxième année. There is no entrance examination into collège, but
administrators have established a comprehensive academic examination of
students starting in sixième. The purpose of the examination is evaluating
pupils’ level on being graduated from primary school.
=Curriculum=The table at the right details the
French curriculum. Along with three-to-four weekly hours of physical
education, a typical school week consists of some twenty-six hours of
schooling. French language and literature occupy the most time, 4–5
hours per week, followed by mathematics, 4 hours per week; other subjects occupy
some 1.0-3.5 hours per week. The curriculum is devised by the French
Ministry of National Education and applies to all collèges in France and
also for AEFE-dependent institutions. Académies and individual schools have
little margin for curriculum customisation. Teachers compose syllabi
per precise government educational regulations, and choose textbooks
accordingly; every major French publishing house has a textbook branch.
=Process and purpose=Each subject is usually taught by a
different “professeur” or teacher; most teachers teach several different age
groups. Collège pupils stay in the same class throughout the school year, and in
every subject, so each grade is divided into as many classes as necessary. The
strong belief in teaching in mixed-ability classes means that
streaming is rare. Class size varies from school to school,
but usually ranges from 20 to 35 pupils. Each class has a professeur principal
who is the link between the teaching staff, administration, and pupils.
Ultimately, the role of the collège is to prepare students for the advanced
subjects of the lycée. At the end of the troisième class, students sit for le
diplôme national du Brevet, an end-of-collège examination; The brevet
is not required for entrance to the lycée, nor does passing it guarantee
that a pupil will progress to the higher-level school.
During the last conseil de classe of the year, held in June, teachers and
administrators decide whether or not a pupil can progress to the next grade. In
deciding, they evaluate the student’s skills, participation, and behaviour.
Three outcomes are possible: the student progresses to the next
grade; his or her redoublement can be required;
he or she can, in specific cases, be offered to skip a grade and be promoted
two grades. A student asked to repeat a grade can
appeal said decision. The decision of the appeals council is final.
Carte scolaire French parents are not free to choose
the state school that their children will attend; unless the children have
special learning needs, they will attend the school allocated to them by the
carte scolaire. Reasons for attending a state school which is not their nearest
include studying an option unavailable in the school to which they were
originally assigned. For many reasons, many parents consider
the allocated school inadequate, particularly if they do not like the
idea of their children mixing with some of the other pupils at the school. This
is especially the case in poor neighbourhoods with large foreign
immigrant populations. In any city, there are “better” lycées and collèges,
which parents would prefer their children attend. The two main methods
used in such circumstances to get children into a school other than their
assigned school are: paying for partly subsidised private
schooling; having the child choose an unusual
option available only in the preferred school.
A similar trick is used in cases where some classes in a school are seen as
“better” than others. For organisational reasons, students taking certain options
are grouped into special classes, which may be academically attractive. These
typically include classes taking German as a first foreign language, or Latin or
Ancient Greek as options. Lycée
The lycée is the second, and last, stage of secondary education in the French
educational system. The City of Paris refers to a lycée in English as a “sixth
form college”. A pupil attending a lycée is a lycéen or a lycéenne.
Until 1959, the term lycée designated a secondary school with a full curriculum
directly under the supervision of the State, then from 1959 to 1963 any
secondary school with a full curriculum. Older lycées still include a collège
section, so a pupil attending a lycée may actually be a collégien.
At the end of the final year of schooling, most students take the
baccalauréat diploma. Lycées are divided into the lycée
général, leading to two or more years of post–baccalauréat studies, the lycée
technologique, leading to short-term studies, and the lycée professionnel, a
vocational qualification leading directly to a particular career. General
and technological education courses are provided in “standard” lycées, while
vocational courses are provided in separate professional lycées.
In practice, competent pupils at a vocational lycée professionnel can also
apply to take short-term, post–baccalauréat studies leading to the
Brevet de technicien supérieur, a vocational qualification. This option is
also available to pupils at a lycée général.
=Lycée général and lycée technologique In France, the lycée général is the
usual stepping stone to university degrees. During their year in Seconde
students make their final choice of série for the final two years. During
the seconde, students mostly take the same courses, despite having different
academic skills and interests, so it is usually thought to be an easier year
than either the première or the terminale.
General streams After the seconde, most French students
choose a general course. In all courses, some subjects occupy more hours in the
student’s timetable. The baccalauréat examination is different for all three
séries, and subjects are weighted according to the course taken.
According to the official statistics, for the 2003–2004 school year, 33 per
cent of students chose série S; 19 per cent chose série ES; and 11 per cent
chose série L. All students take philosophy courses in
terminale, while French language classes end in the première, excepting the série
L, where they become French literature classes, where pupils are to study two
books during the year, from French writers, or foreign books translated
into French. There also is a required option for
further specialisation in all séries, although it is restricted to the chosen
course. For example, a student in série S can choose to specialise in
mathematics, physics, “SVT” or “engineering sciences”, but not in
philosophy. A student in série L can choose to
specialise in one of his foreign languages, a third foreign language or a
dead language such as Latin, one of these arts music, theatre, circus,
“plastiques” Specialisation adds a separate, weekly two-hour class in the
chosen discipline; also, it increases the weight of the chosen subject at the
baccalauréat. The syllabus in the specialisation class is unrelated to the
material learned in the common class. Specialisation plays no role in the
choice of a post–secondary career or subject at university, except for a few
courses aimed for students from a given série that can also accept students from
other séries if they have taken a given specialisation.
Technical streams The lycée includes eight other streams,
called séries technologiques: sciences et technologies de la gestion
for the June 2007 Bac Exam) sciences et technologies de l’industrie
et du développement durable sciences et technologies de laboratoire
sciences médico-sociales ,: The name was changed in 2007 and became: Sciences et
technologies de la santé et du social, sciences et technologies du produit
agroalimentaire sciences et technologies de l’agronomie
et de l’environnement techniques de la musique et de la danse
hôtellerie The STPA and STAE stream are only
available in lycées agricoles, speciality schools for agricultural
sciences.=Lycée professionnel=
The lycée professionnel leads to several different vocational diplomas. The
courses are designed for students who do not plan to continue into higher
education. The vocational training is for craftspeople and involves
internships in commercial enterprises. The courses are suitable for students
who are more interested in a hands-on educational approach than in academic
schooling. French secondary education outside
France See also
Baccalauréat Grandes écoles
Education in France Agency for French Education Abroad
References External links
French Ministry of Education Bulletin Officiel
Centre national de documentation pédagogique website
The school system and education in France

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