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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.2Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 17 June 2022

Teachers belong to the body of the public servants. Their professional status is subject to the legislation concerning the public service.

The preamble to the 1946 Constitution, still in force under the 1958 Constitution provides that "the organization of free, secular public education at all levels is a duty of the State". The State retains responsibility for the public service of education "as such, he is responsible for recruiting, training and managing staff. It is in charge of their remuneration as well as educational expenditures.  It decides educational policies and curricula". The service of education in schools is headed by the Department of National Education, Higher Education and Research.

Service and working time bonds are fixed. For primary school teachers, these obligations are defined in decree no. 2008-775 of July 30th, 2008: this text requires teachers teaching 24 hours weekly to all students plus 108 annual hours allocated to of other activities (personalized help in small group work in teaching teams, animation and teacher training and school councils).

Since the beginning of September 2015 the duration of compulsory school teacher by education is governed by decree no. 2014-240 of August 20th, 2014. It is set at 18 hours for certified teachers and 15 hours for agrégés teachers. For Sports and Physical Education teachers, regardless of the body to which they are attached, add two hours to these totals.

Planning Policy

For early childhood care, there is no national planning, either in collective structures or in home care.

For pre-elementary, elementary and secondary education, it is the Directorate for Evaluation, Prospective and Performance (DEPP) within the Ministry responsible for education that is responsible for drawing up pupil numbers projections. With regard to teachers, the number of posts open each year for the various competitive examinations is set each year by ministerial decree. However, these decisions of the executive branch are part of the budget of the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research discussed and voted each year by the Parliament.

Entry to the Profession

Access to the teaching profession is competitive, whose terms are set by the state.

  • Competitive examination for primary school teachers: order of April 19th, 2013 laying down the procedures for the organization of open competitive examination, the special open competitive examination, the second internal competitive examination, the second internal special competitive examination and third open competitive examination for school teachers;
  • CAPES competitive examination: order of April 19th, 2013 laying down the sections and of organizational modalities of the Aptitude Certificate for Professorship in the Second Degree of general education;
  • CAPET competitive examination: order of April 19th, 2013 laying down the sections and of organizational modalities of the Aptitude Certificate for Professorship for Technical Education;
  • CAPLP competitive examination: order of April 19th, 2013 laying down the sections and of organizational modalities of the Aptitude Certificate for Professorship of Secondary Vocational Education;
  • CAPEPS competitive examination: order of April 19th, 2013 laying down the sections and of organizational modalities of the Aptitude Certificate for Professorship of Sport and Physical Education;
  • Agrégation competitive examination: amended decree no. 72-580 of July 4th, 1972 regarding the special status of Agrégés teachers of Secondary Education.

Success in a national competition gives the right to access the corresponding teaching job. We distinguish:

The primary school teachers, who work in pre-primary and primary schools, provide a general education. 

The secondary school teachers who teach in colleges and in high schools, provide disciplinary teaching (discipline taught by a single teacher). Several competitions provide access to the teaching profession in the secondary education.

Students come to one of the recruitment competition of teachers of teaching. For primary education, it is the competitive examination for primary schools teachers; for secondary education, one of the following competitions:

  • The Aptitude Certificate for Professorship in the Second Degree of general education (CAPES);
  • The Aptitude Certificate for Professorship for Technical Education (CAPET);
  • The Aptitude Certificate for Professorship of Secondary Vocational Education (CAPLP); 
  • The Aptitude Certificate for Professorship of Sport and Physical Education (CAPEPS);
  • Agrégation.

For the 2017 session, accumulated external and internal competition, the CAPES and agrégation examinations represent 71% of the registered candidates for secondary public education, with 95,154 candidates of 133,254 registered in total. 

For private education, competitions follow the same programs and events for public education, only the titles of competition differ. Indeed, the private education competitions are given a "CAFEP" mention (Aptitude Certificate for Teaching functions in establishments of Private Education under contract – the equivalent of open competitive examinations) or "CAER" (Access to Pay Scale Competitive examination – the equivalent of internal competitions). In private secondary education, there are 23,796 registered for the 2017 session of the competitive examination, with again a very important part of candidates passing the Agrégation or CAPES: 16,458 with for these competitions only. They represent 69% of registered candidates.


As part of the reform of initial teacher training, a reception, support and training provision for student teachers of the first and second degrees was set up. Laureates of the competitive examination, appointed teachers trainees, have responsibility a class in the first degree or second degree several classes as part of their second year of master’s degree. During the second year of the Métiers de l’Enseignement, de l’Éducation et de la Formation (MEEF –Teaching, Education and Training Professions), students are 50% of the time in initial training and 50% of the time in front of students.

Ongoing training is offered to them, which takes the form of counseling and training activities mainly given in the university. The objectives and content of the training are set by the order of 1 July 2013 defining the skills to be acquired by teachers.

Professional Status

Early childhood practitioners are professionals who may belong to the territorial civil service (departmental level) when they work in public crèches, or are private law professionals (without civil servant status) when they work in private facilities.

Primary and secondary public teachers are civil servants. Consequently, they are concerned by the general texts governing the rights and obligations of civil servants (civil service statute). Teachers in private education under contract are not civil servants, but are contract civil servants.

Replacement Measures

The programming law no. 2005-380 of April 23rd, 2005 for the future of school added a new paragraph to the Code of Education, which deals with teacher replacements for absences of less than two weeks.

Primary-school teachers

In each department, a part of the body of classroom teachers is assigned to the replacement of absences, the size of  this quota is set by the school inspector, as necessary and on the advice of advisory bodies.

For primary education, we distinguish two types of replacements:

  • Substitutes working in "Intervention Localized Areas", who are assigned to short-term replacements (less than two weeks), within a radius not exceeding 20km; these mobile holders are left at the disposal of the local education authority in its constituency;
  • Intervening replacements in the framework of "Departmental Brigades", which are required to travel throughout the department for medium or long term replacements.

Secondary-school teachers

Personal secondary school teachers, education and guidance, holders and trainees, may be responsible, as part of the academy and in accordance with their qualifications, to ensure the replacement of temporarily absent teachers or to fulfil temporarily vacant positions. In secondary education, substitutes are called "substitution zone holders". For long-term absences replacements are maintaining a high efficiency rate.

Short-term absences (under 15 days) belong to a specific provision which plans to appeal to the teachers of the institution, paid overtime. Indeed, under the provisions of the programming law no. 2005-380 of April 23rd, 2005 for the future of school, the replacement of absent teachers up to two weeks is organized as provided by decree no. 2005-1035 of August 26th, 2005.

During the year, holders perform their service in one of three forms:

  • Assignment on the whole year because of vacant positions in teaching institutions;
  • Temporary replacements of absent teachers;
  • Mixed assignment, a whole year assignment on an incomplete service, which brings them to complete their service by making substitutions.

Between two substitutions, the holder must be present in their home institution in order to exercise educational activities in proportion to their regulatory obligation to service.

Supporting Measures

For the staff of collective early childhood structures, the national collective agreement defines the rights and duties of vocational training. According to the agreement, each employee must have his or her individual situation reviewed at least every two years during a professional training interview with his or her line manager. The purpose of this meeting is to enable both the employee and his or her line manager to exchange views in a balanced manner and to make proposals, in particular with regard to vocational training. This professional interview does not concern the evaluation of the employee's work. It is devoted to the employee's career development prospects, particularly in terms of qualifications.

The circular no. 2012-104 of July 3, 2012 calls for the establishment of an important support for new teachers through system that consists of mentoring and training periods throughout the year.

Mentors must be experienced teachers. Their mission extends throughout the year internship.

With regard to classroom teachers, it is the head teacher to bring those who have difficulty with the necessary support. This results in particular in support of the particularly difficult and / or disruptive students in specific structures.


In France, the statutory basic salary of teachers is fixed by the State in the same way for all teachers in the public service and private education under contract. Private education contract sets out itself teacher salaries.

The salaries of teachers in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools are based on a grid scale (matrix system). The main salary increases periodically as and when the teacher through the ranks within a grade. These level changes are more or less rapid according to merit as well as the teacher’s involvement in continuous training.

The average number of years a teacher has to perform holder to reach the maximum statutory salary is estimated at 25 years for teachers of primary education, and 29 years for certified teachers, which represent the largest share of secondary degree teachers.

In pre-primary and primary schools, the minimum and maximum salaries shown in the table are those of the statutory salary of a schoolteacher and include allowance Monitoring and Support for Students (ISAE), an annual allowance of 400 euros, instituted by decree no. 2013-790 of August 30th, 2013. In the secondary, the minimum and maximum salaries shown correspond to the statutory salary of a certified teacher and include the Allowance Tracking and Orientation of Students (ISOE), established by decree no. 93-55 of January 15th, 1993, with the amounts fixed by the order of January 15, 1993.

Teachers can also receive allowances depending on their situation (not included in the amounts given in the table). For example, teachers who are school heads in the first degree receive a specific allowance set by the order of July 22nd, 2014. Other allowances exist:

  • Head Teacher allowance;
  • Allowance for working in areas for priority education;
  • Allowance for teaching students with special education needs;
  • Annual overtime hours allowance.
Annual gross salaries of full time fully qualified teachers in public schools
 Basic statutory salary (euros)Average actual salary (euros)
Lower secondary26,80346,60338,311
Upper secondary27,30047,14942,192
Upper secondary (vocational instiutions)27,28447,132

Source: Eurydice, Teachers’ and school heads’ salaries and allowances in Europe – 2015/2016, 2016.

For further information on salaries evolutions in afore mentioned education levels, see:

Working Time and Holidays

Early childhood care

In the case of professions with private collective structures, working time and holiday periods are defined in a national collective agreement. For both public and private employees in collective care facilities, the standard working time is 35 hours a week (151.67 hours a month). The number of days of leave is assessed on the basis of a 5-day working week.

In the case of home childcare assistants, they are not subject to the statutory working time of 35 hours per week. Maximum daily, weekly and annual working hours are imposed. Public holidays worked and weekly rest periods are specified in the contract. The duration of reception indicated in the collective agreement is 45 hours per week. Daily reception is carried out according to the following rules:

  • the usual length of the reception day is 9 hours
  • daily care begins at the time stipulated in the contract and ends at the time the child leaves with one of the parents.
  • the childminder has a daily rest period of at least 11 hours in a row and cannot be employed for more than 6 days in a row

The employer may not require the childminder to work more than 48 hours a week without her written consent. This 48-hour period is calculated as an average over a period of 4 months. With the agreement of the childminder, it may be calculated over a period of 12 months, up to a limit of 2,250 hours per year.

Pre-primary and primary education teachers

The work of primary education teachers is set by the decree no. 2008-775 of July 30th, 2008 and is organized into 24 hours weekly teaching all students and 108 annual hours, provided under the responsibility of the Inspector in charge of the constituency to which the teachers concerned are posted.

The 108 annual service hours break down as follows:

  • 60 hours dedicated to personalised support or work in restricted groups, notably in pre-school, for pupils experiencing learning difficulties and to the corresponding organisation time; when these sixty hours cannot be fully devoted to personalised support or work in restricted groups, they must be devoted to reinforcing the continuing vocational education of the teachers when they are not with the pupils; the organisation time corresponding with personalised support makes it possible to identify the pupils experiencing difficulties and determine the support procedures for the beneficiaries; 
  • 24 hours dedicated to: 
    • work in pedagogical teams (activities within the school’s teacher councils and cycle teacher councils);
    • relationships with the parents;
    • development and monitoring of personalised projects for the integration of disabled pupils.
  • 18 hours dedicated to educational coordination and training; 
  • 6 hours dedicated to participation in compulsory school councils: the school council and the school teacher council which meet at least once per term. 

First-level teachers may work part time, either by teaching half of the required teaching hours per week, or by working two half-days compared with a full-time schedule. Since their primarily activity is teaching, teachers’ holidays coincide with school holiday periods (see section. Exceptions are made for participation in exam panels.

Teachers receive their base salary and additional forms of income (overtime pay, allowances) throughout the entire school year, even during holiday periods. However, during the period from the start of the summer holiday (currently starting the first week of July) to the end of the summer holiday, they receive only their base salary.

Secondary education teachers

Decree no. 2014-240 of August 20th, 2014 stipulates the maximum amount of weekly teaching hours of secondary education teaching staff without additional remuneration:

  • 15 hours for agrégés teachers;
  • 17 for Sports and Physical Education agrégés teachers;
  • 18 hours for certified teachers for general and vocational education and teaching assistants;
  • 20 hours for Sports and Physical Education certified teachers and Sports and Physical Education teaching assistants;
  • 21 hours for teaching staff working with students with special education needs. 

The maximum number of working hours can be modified in certain cases: it can be lowered when there are large numbers of students per class or when teaching certain classes; it can be raised, however, when there are few students per class.

Teachers may be required to teach an additional hour per week in the interest of educational service. In that case, they receive financial compensation for the extra hour. Second-level teachers also participate in various councils and meetings centred on student monitoring and evaluation. These meetings have not been quantified by law.

They may also place a request, which is renewed on an annual basis, to work half-time or part-time (more than half-time).

Promotion, Advancement

Like all civil servants, teachers belong to categories. There are now six different categories of teaching personnel: pre-primary and primary teachers, certified teachers, sport and physical education teachers, vocational secondary institutions teachers, agrégés.

Career advancement within a category consists of advancing in level and, when applicable, grade. Each level corresponds with a certain number of index points, the value of the index point being recalculated regularly for all civil servants.

Since January 1, 2017, progress is now based on a unique and linear rhythm. In order to reach the last level of the normal class, 26 years will now be necessary, like any other A category civil servant in France.

Now, three classes exist:

  • The normal class;
  • The hors classe;
  • The exceptional class

The hors classe becomes a normal career prospect. Before the end of the Normal Class, the teaching personnel will be able to access hors classe.

Each teacher will have four career meetings to have an improved feedback on its career. Faster career progress will allow the teaching personnel to have a better professional recognition. Normal class personnel have two meetings, so do hors classe personnel.

The Exceptional Class, which will be created in September 2017, will be available in priority (about 80% of the promotions) to the teaching personnel that, starting the 3rd level of the hors classe, worked at least 8 years in priority areas or that have had special missions or responsibilities. It will also be available (about 20% of the promotions) to other personnel, currently in the last level of the hors classe, to take into account outstanding careers. In the long run, the Exceptional Class is expected to represent 10% of the teaching personnel population. The prospect of accessing this new class is talked about in the last career meeting during hors classe.

Thus a pre-primary and primary school teacher may become: 

  • school director; 
  • master educator; 
  • school psychologist; 
  • specialized teacher;
  • National Education inspector;
  • secondary teacher after taking an internal competitive exam;
  • teacher abroad;
  • etc. 

Teaching personnel may also join two categories of inspectors through recruitment exams or by registering on the aptitude list: national education inspectors for pre-primary and primary teachers, pre-primary and primary teachers and certified teachers; regional educational inspectors for second-level agrégés teachers. They may also become the head of a teaching institution (or assistant director in a second-level institution) by taking the management personnel exam.

In addition, after teaching for three years, primary teachers can register on the aptitude list for the director’s position in pre-school, primary school,. School directors are not a specific category of civil servants. They actually belong to the category of pre-primary and primary teachers and are appointed to the position. They are in charge of the school’s organisation and operation and handle relations with the local authorities, parents, economic actors and cultural and athletic associations.

Teachers wishing to change careers can also request to work in other ministries or local administrations, or in research organisations under the ministry’s authority.

Finally, two decrees (no. 2005-959 and 2005-960 of August 9th, 2005), implementing article 77 of the law no. 2003-775 of August 21st, 2003 on pension reform, set up the procedure for second careers for teachers. According to the decrees, teachers with at least 15 years of service may ask to be assigned to State administrations, local administrations, and public administrative establishment. The duration of the assignment is set at one year, during which the assignee receives job adaptation training. Following this period, and if the person so desires, the host administration can decide on immediate integration, reintegration into the previous position, or renewal of the one-year assignment in the same position or a new position.

Mobility and transfers

Each year teachers wishing to change a posting may enrol in a national or regional activity in order to obtain a transfer.

Primary education teachers

Transfers between départements

The possibility to transfer from one département to another is available to pre-primary and primary teachers for personal reasons or to allow them to be closer to their spouse. It is also used to distribute first-level teachers throughout the country based on the capacity of each département and the needs in the candidate’s département of origin.

Transfers are decided by the local education authorities, on advisement of the département’s joint administrative committee. For transfers to other départements, local authorities of the new teacher’s location must make sure that the authority of the previous département authorised the transfer.

When teachers want to change départements, they must fill an on-line request during the last quarter of the year preceding the desired transfer and indicating the département to which they wish to transfer. The requests are processed through an automated system by the central administration.

At the national level, movements take place in two phases, through job exchanges and transfers, and the results are communicated simultaneously in March. Once the results of the national computerised distribution are received, an adjustment phase is organised by the local education inspectors in accordance with inbound-outbound procedure. 

Transfers within a département

The possibility to transfer to another area in the same département is available to pre-primary and primary teachers at their convenience, depending on the number of positions open or likely to come open. There are two steps in the process: permanent transfer and temporary transfer. Teachers who are not given a permanent position at the end of the permanent transfer period may give a temporary assignment in one of the positions left available.

Teachers who are required to participate in the distribution process within the département: teachers just completing their initial training, pre-primary and primary teachers are given a temporary assignment for the year in progress, teachers who wish to begin working again after a secondment period or being placed on "availability" (for example), and teachers from other départements who were authorised to transfer to the département in question.

In addition, pre-primary and primary teachers who would like to transfer to another area within the département can also participate in the distribution process.

These transfers are made based on a local scale set by the académie inspectors after consulting with the joint organisations. 

Secondary education teachers

Principles governing transfers

Personnel assignments and transfers carried out as part of the distribution process must guarantee the efficiency, continuity and equality of access to national education, for the benefit of all pupils and their families. The main objective is to ensure that the teaching institutions operate smoothly and meet the needs of the pupils for permanent teaching staff.

  • At the national level, this process leads to an even distribution of teaching personnel between the various académies, with respect to the needs previously estimated for each discipline and given its assigned budget.
  • At the local level, this process is aimed at covering teaching personnel needs as much as possible with permanent staff, including positions and institutions that are less attractive due to geographic isolation, conditions, etc.

Every year, there are a significant number of teachers who choose to work abroad. In most cases, they are given "secondment" status with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Agency for French education abroad, or a school (first or second-level, or tertiary), and are paid by that organisation. During this period, they remain eligible for advancement and continue benefiting from retirement rights, on the condition that they selected the French civil servant pension scheme.

They may also request to be assigned to a European school, at which point they are temporarily transferred to the school for a nine-year period.

Other possibilities within the Department of National Education, Higher Education and Research, or elsewhere, are offered to teachers who wish to work in a different setting or in an area other than teaching.

Procedures for transfers

At the second-level level, the national distribution process for teaching and guidance personnel is decentralised and performed on a yearly basis. 

The process involves:

  • A national phase: for personnel who are waiting for their first assignment, want to move to another académie, or wish to begin working again in the secondary school system in another académie. Local education authorities consult with the national joint organisations before making nominations. 
  • A local phase: for personnel recently assigned to an académie following the national phase and who wish to be assigned to another part of the académie. The recteur consults with the académie’s joint organisations before assigning personnel to positions in secondary schools or in replacement areas. 

Some positions must be processed at the national level due to the level of excellence or rarity of skills required: positions in Classes Préparatoires aux Grades Écoles (CPGE), Sections de Techniciens Supérieurs (STS) in certain specialisations, etc. Choices for these positions are made at the national level at the same time as the national distribution process.

In both phases, personnel must file their requests through a special on-line application located on the académie web sites. The requests are processed through an automated system (at the national or local levels), which ranks the transfer requests based on a scale. This takes the following factors into account: administrative status (years of service, seniority in the position, assignment), individual situation (trainee or permanent staff, medical issue, etc.) and family situation (desire to move closer to spouse, single custody of children, etc.).

Processing the requests by computer using this scale (which is used as an indication only) is a fair and efficient way to handle the 35,000 annual transfer requests during the national phase and 73,000 annual requests during the local phase, and to transmit the distribution plan to the competent joint organisations.


Early childhood care

In the case of professions with private collective structures, the grounds for dismissal and associated measures are defined in a national collective agreement. In the case of public structures, employees are civil servants in the territorial civil service and are governed by this status.

In the case of home childcare assistants, parents may decide to take the child away from the employed licensed childcare assistant and thus terminate her/his employment contract. This withdrawal of the child has the same effects as a dismissal but is subject to specific rules. The rules, compensation and notice periods depend on the type of employment contract. In the case of an open-ended contract, the notice period begins on the day of the first presentation of the registered letter notifying the termination of the employment contract. The minimum notice period depends on the length of service of the childcare assistant: 15 days for less than one year with the family, 1 month if more than one year. The decision to terminate the contract must be notified by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, without a mandatory prior interview. It is not obligatory to indicate the reasons for the child's withdrawal.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

The conditions for dismissal are the same for teachers at all levels of the education system. Permanent teachers are rarely dismissed from their position. A civil servant can be permanently dismissed for a number of reasons. The initiative can come from either the civil servant or the Administration. They can be taken in the interest of the service as a whole, as a career decision, or for disciplinary reasons.

Article 24 of Title I of the general statute describes four scenarios in which a teacher may cease working: retirement, resignation (accepted), redundancy and revocation. It also mentions the loss of French nationality, loss of civil rights, court ban from public employment, and non-reintegration after a period of "availability". Articles 51, 68 and 69 of Title II of the general statute make certain specifications about these cases, as does the decree no. 85-986 of September 16th, 1985.

Outside of these cases, the Administration has no legal grounds for dismissing civil servants. In the event the Administration illegally dismisses off civil servants, they can be reinstated to a position of the same grade, have their career re-established, and receive damages for loss of income and hardships incurred. Indemnities may be refused if the reinstatement is due to an irregular procedure. 

Law no. 84-16 of 11 January 1984 on statutory measures related to employment as a State civil servant:

  • Art. 69. "With the exception of those who willingly leave their position of employment, and the cases cited in Articles 51 and 70, civil servants can be dismissed only in compliance with legal measures aimed at eliminating excess positions, which provide for the affected parties to either be reassigned or financially compensated." 
  • Article 51 (on availability) "Civil servants placed on ‘availability’ are those who are assigned outside of their administration or division of origin, and no longer benefit from retirement or promotion rights."  Civil servants may be placed on ‘availability’ by request or automatically on the expiration of the leaves of absence detailed in parts 2, 3, and 4 of Article 34. Civil servants placed on ‘availability’ who refuse three successive reintegration proposals may be dismissed, on the decision of the joint administrative committee." 
  • Article 70 "Civil servants may be dismissed for professional reasons in application of the appropriate disciplinary procedure. Civil servants dismissed for professional reasons are not eligible to receive an indemnity under the conditions established by decree."

Retirement and Pensions

For early childhood professionals in private collective structures, the national collective agreement sets out the conditions for the opening of pension rights through legal and contractual provisions.

Teachers as well as local civil servants working in the early childhood sector benefit from the same pension system as all civil servants, s, which was modified by law no. 2003-775 of 21 August 2003 and its application decrees.

Teachers are eligible to receive a retirement pension starting at 60 years of age, which shall be raised progressively to 62 by applying measures stipulated in the retirement law of 2009. The rate of the pension depends on the number of years worked: the maximum is 75% of the salary at the last index level held by the teacher for at least six months. This maximum rate was obtained after 41.5 years, with each annuity accumulating an additional 1.92% of the rate used as the basis for calculating the amount of the pension (41.5 x 1.92%). Pre-primary and primary teachers, who are in Category B, have a different regime: retirement at 55, prolongation possible up to 60.

Teachers can if they wish to extend their activity to age of 65 (the age limit will be gradually raised to 67 years), especially those who reached 60 years have not yet 40 years of services necessary for obtaining the full rate. Furthermore, the law no. 2003-775 of 21 August 2003 on pensions allows individuals to extend its activity beyond the 65th birthday when the number of years of service is less than 41.5 years, up to 10 quarters.