A National Structure
Since 1990, the skills expected of students have been set by level (cycle). Teachers are provided with assessment tools. They have access to national references allowing them to measure the skills the children have acquired and better identify the students who are experiencing difficulties. The current national guidelines provide annual targets in French and mathematics.
In addition, students with learning difficulties can benefit from personalized support.
The specificity of the French school system is that students have access to Pre-elementary education before the age of six, when mandatory schooling begins. Pre-elementary school is often divided in three levels, petite (pre-kindergarten), moyenne (Jr. kindergarten) and grande (kindergarten), according to the age of the students. For most children, Pre-elementary school is the first place where they receive an education outside of their family.
Although Pre-elementary school is optional, nine out of ten children attend its classes and it is now part of regular schooling.
The curriculum of Pre-elementary education is divided in five areas:
- Strengthening language skills and discovering the writing process;
- Becoming a student;
- Learning how to move and express oneself through body movement;
- Discovering the world;
- Understanding, feeling, imagining, creating.
Priority is given to the development of language skills, introduction of the writing process and of numbers and the ability to ‘’live together’’ with other classmates.
The main purpose of Pre-elementary education is to allow students to reach their full potential and to make sure their first school experience is a success.
During the ‘’basic skills cycle’’ (CP/1st grade and CE1/2nd grade: years 1 and 2), the main purpose of elementary education is to learn the French language as well as mathematics. In addition to these key subjects the students will learn English, be introduced to the world around them, and take art classes (visual arts and musical education) as well as study art history and physical education.
During the following stages (CE2/3rd grade, CM1/4th grade and CM2/5th grade) students strengthen and develop their skills in literature, history, geography, experimental science and technology.
Information and communication technologies are useful tools the teachers can rely on for a wide range of activities. When a student is proficient in these fields he/she reaches the first level of the Information technology and internet brevet qualification (B2i).
Schools take into account the different strengths of each student. The children get to develop their reasoning and thinking skills, awareness, motor skills and creative imagination.
Department of Student Services.
The Department of Student Services helps support the student’s academic and emotional growth. They ensure that each student is being challenged to achieve their highest potential.
The specialists provide individualized support and/or support in the classroom. They work closely with the teachers and the administration to best support each student.