The « Ecole maternelle »: Preschool + Kindergarten
The Ecole maternelle takes in children who have not yet reached the age for compulsory education, which starts at six years of age. There is no direct translation or equivalent of école maternelle as it is particular to the French Education system. It is composed of three levels, Pre-K1, Pre-K2 and Kindergarten, which form the first learning/teaching cycle.
Students in elementary school are between 6 and 11 years of age. In the public system, elementary school is free and coeducational. There are five grades in elementary school: grades 1 through 5, which make up the 2nd and 3rd learning cycles.
Middle school comes after elementary school and lasts four years: the sixth grade, which is considered the last year of the 3rd learning cycle, followed by grades 7, 8 and 9, which make up the 4th learning cycle.
Right after middle school, students may continue their education either in a general and technological high school or in a vocational high school. This is a three-year program: grades 10, 11 and 12. Each high school must develop its own school-specific plan, which enables it to tailor its educational policy to its student population.
Students who graduate high school may continue on into higher education.
French curriculum schools outside of France enable students living abroad to receive an education similar to that received by children living in France. They study the same curricula and must pass the same examinations to be awarded their diplomas (brevet, baccalauréat). Students whose parents move to various countries over the years can therefore follow a coherent course of education, from Pre-K through 12th grade.
French curriculum schools abroad also contribute to reinforcing cooperation relations between the French education system and its foreign counterparts for the students’ benefit.