Relocating France? Learn More About French Schooling Options

Posted on July 1, 2022

Here at ClickMoves Towers we get a lot of questions from folks planning a move to France about what schooling is on offer for their kids in France, so we thought we’d take a little time out on this wet Friday afternoon to put together some thoughts. So if you are relocating to France, and you want to know about French schooling options – read on

What schooling is on offer in France? 

École primaire, is the equivalent to the English Primary School system and available for children aged 3 to 11 years. And similarly again to the English system France offers  Maternellefor the littl’un),  and École Élémentaire for the slightly older ones. After Primaire the 11 and overs move upto Collège where they spend four years, before finally transferring to Lycée for the final three years of school from the ages of 15 to 18. In some of the bigger town/cities that have a large Expat community, you may find a Bi-Lingual public school (non-fee paying), like the fantastic College Mignet  in Aix en Provence. 

Beautiful Aix en Provence

What other options are there for expats moving to France?

The first option would be to send your kids to a French school – and do you know what, for the under 8’s we recommend this – they tend to pick up the language really quickly, and frankly the language of drawing , kicking a football, or pulling funny faces is universal. Generally government funded schools are great, secure, fun, but somewhat more academically focussed than UK schools. That said, the Teachers Unions are powerful, and French teachers are known to strike on a regular basis.

For the bigger kids, studies and looming exams, the situation gets a little more complicated, so you might want to consider private education if you have the funds. As is the case in most European countries, many of these schools  offer a religious element to the curriculum. Early application (up to a year in advance) is advisable as it can be very difficult to get a place. Some private schools offer excellent bi-lingual programs which can make it a lot easier for bigger kids to integrate.

The third option is to enrol your children into a fee-paying international school. France’s big cities, including Paris, Lyon and Nice to name a few, have an excellent selection of bilingual or foreign-language schools. Those offering a purely British curriculum (such as the British School of Paris in Croissy-sur-Seine) are fully fee paying. These can be very expensive, but may be the best option if your children are older and don’t speak French or if your stay in France is temporary.

If you children are half way through GCSE’s or A ‘Levels this could be tricky, because transitioning to the IB (international baccalaureate) might be to big a step. You’re going to have dissuss these options with a schools consultant, or the schools themselves.

International schools in Paris

What are the main differences between schools in France and the UK?

  • Our experience is that French schools place much more emphasis on the students  academic growth, rather than English schools which look at a more rounded approach to education, including the arts, sport etc 
  • Kids in French state schools don’t wear uniform. Even in the international schools and private schools , uniform is a rarity.
  • There is much less ’after school” activities and classes, and a knock on effect of this is that we often hear that parents don’t have the opportunity to interact and form friendships with other parents.
  • French schools are heavily unionised, and we do see students loosing quite a lot of school days due to Union action and strikes.
  • A key part of the French constitution is that all state institutions, including schools, are secular. The church and the state are wholly separated, meaning that there is no expression of religion in the state education system in France.
teaching abroad
Teachers in France

At the end of the day – what’s the worst that can happen?

Don’t stress too much over your kids schooling, they are surprising resilient and actually more adaptable than most adults, they make friends easier, and tend to pick up the language quicker than most adults. At the end of the day, if you are worried and stressing, they will too!

ClickMoves is an International moving with representation WorldWide. We offer high quality, but cost effective door to door removal services, and we specialise in moves from the UK to France. So if you’re thinking about moving to France, then get in touch