French children are heading back to school and La Rentrée has begun, but how exactly does the French school system work? If you’re wondering what exactly it is like to go to school in France, this toolkit has some interesting facts for you to discover as well as tips on how to come across like a true native amongst your friends. 

The French Educational System

French children have the option to attend preschool, which in France is called the école maternelle. After that, education becomes compulsory and is divided into three stages: 

  • primary school (école)
  • middle school (collège)
  • high school (lycée)

That means that students usually attend school from ages 6-18. 

La laicité – Did you know French schools are secular? 

Public schools in France prohibit wearing religious symbols, which is mandated by law.

When do French children learn to read? 

Most French children learn to read at the age of six, which is quite late compared to some other countries!

How to get around the ‘slang’

There are many French slang words related to school life. If you start using them with your new French friends, they will think you have been in France for years! 

bûcher / potasser – to study hard, to cram

se faire étendre / coller à un examen – to flunk a test

sécher un cours – to skip class

chouchou (m) – teacher’s pet

être collé – to have detention
With this toolkit, you’re ready to head into la fac or mingle with students like a pro!

To discover other Toolkits, click here.

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