Primary and secondary education in France - statistics & facts
In France, education is free and mandatory from age three to age 16. The education system is divided into three main successive stages: primary education (kindergarten and elementary school), secondary education (middle school, high school, and some specific training), and higher education (universities, grandes écoles, etc.). After elementary school, middle school marks the entry of students into secondary education. It is organized into four levels from the sixth to the third grade and is structured into educational cycles. At the end of the third grade, students take the national diploma of the brevet and can then move on to a second grade class in a general or technological high school, a second grade vocational class, or a first year of preparation for the Certificate of Vocational Aptitude (CAP).
Public and private schools
While in France the republican and secular state has a certain monopoly on education, private education has managed to find a place in the school system over the past two centuries despite regular criticism. Today, private institutions represent 12 percent of elementary schools and about 27 percent of secondary schools.
According to the Ministry's figures, out of the 27,332 teaching positions opened in 2022, only 19,838 had been filled in the public sector, and 3,482 in the private sector. Moreover, while resignations represent only a small portion, their gradual increase over the past several years send a negative signal. In the 2012-2013 school year, 491 teachers chose to leave the French education system permanently. In 2020-2021, there were 2,978; over six times more.
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