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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.1Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 29 March 2024

In France, initial teacher education is provided by universities, in "Instituts nationaux supérieurs du professorat et de l’éducation" (INSPE - National Higher Institutes for Teaching and Education). All teachers of pre-primary, primary and secondary schools are trained in these institutions, although there are different competitive examinations depending on the level and type of educational institution the candidate aims (primary / secondary, public / private, general / vocational). 

Teachers wishing to work with specific public must go through an additional degree course: the "Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle aux pratiques de l’école inclusive" (CAPPEI - Certificate of Professional Aptitude for an Inclusive School) for both primary education and secondary school.

Institutions, levels and models of training

The initial teacher training is consecutive and provided by INSPE. Since the latest reform of teacher training, phased in between 2020 and 2022, the following ISCED levels and examinations are required to teach in primary and secondary state schools:

  • In pre-primary education (ISCED 02) and primary education (ISCED 1): Master's Degree (ISCED 7) + a competitive examination ("concours de recrutement de professeur des écoles" - CRPE). 
  • In lower and upper secondary general education (ISCED 24 + 34), there are 2 possibilities: 
  • To become "enseignants certifiés" (minimum and most common qualification): Master's Degree (ISCED 7) + a competitive examination ("concours du certificat d'aptitude au professorat de l'enseignement du second degré" - CAPES). 
  • To become "enseignants agrégés" (maximum qualification): Master's Degree (ISCED 7) + a competitive examination ("concours national d’agrégation"). 

All those who passed a competitive examination have to complete a one-year paid traineeship as a trainee civil servant, at the end of which a jury will determine whether or not they can be officially granted the status of fully-qualified teachers and become civil servants.

As part of the autonomy accorded to universities by law no. 2007-1199 of 10 August 2007 on the freedom and responsibilities of universities, they organize the Master’s programs and the preparation for competitive examinations to access the teaching profession for the primary and secondary education :

  • In pre-primary education (ISCED 02) and primary education (ISCED 1): teachers are generalist and teach all subjects. After the "baccalauréat", students intending to become school teachers follow a bachelor's degree, with various options, including the ‘Preparatory Course for the Teaching Profession’ (consisting in teaching provided gradually over three years, in equal parts by the university and the "lycée"). After a bachelor's degree, they take a master's program specialized in teaching, education and training (Master’s degree in "Métiers de l’Enseignement, de l’Éducation et de la Formation" - MEEF). This course includes a preparation for the competitive entrance examination (CRPE), as part of its practical training. The competitive examination is held at the end of the second year of the Master's program.
  • In lower and upper secondary general education (ISCED 24 + 34): teachers teach a specific discipline. After the "baccalauréat", students intending to become school teachers follow a bachelor's degree in their discipline and then they take a master's program specialized in teaching, education and training (MEEF). MEEF course includes a preparation for the competitive entrance examination CAPES. 
  • There are also alternative routes to the MEEF Master's degree and the training adapts to the diversity of profiles (alternating MEEF Master's students; non-alternating MEEF Master's students; subject-based Master's students, etc.). It is also possible to enter the competitive examination without making the Master’s program MEEF if the candidate already completed a Master’s degree.

The MEEF master's degree brings together three specialisations training for careers in national education:

  • 1st degree option to become a school teacher;
  • 2nd level for teaching in "collège" and "lycée" (excluding "agrégation");
  • educational supervision, to become a principal educational adviser.

The aim of the MEEF curriculum is not only to provide high-level theoretical grounding, but also to support future teachers as they enter the professional world through :

  • courses related to the future teacher's subject(s) ;
  • courses geared towards the practice of the profession, familiarising students with life in the classroom;
  • a large number of placements from the first year of the Master's programme, through to a real work-linked course in the second year, with a part-time placement in a school or educational institution;
  • courses shared with all other future education professionals;
  • gradual specialisation, depending on the student's orientation.

The MEEF curriculum also focuses on :

  • learning through and with digital technology ;
  • the use of innovative methods and tools
  • international exposure
  • research;
  • writing a dissertation based on the work-study placement and other teaching within the programme. This work enables students to build skills that will be useful throughout their careers.


Admission Requirements

To sit in the tests of teacher recruitment exam for the first or second degree, students must provide proof of an enrolment in the second year of a Master’s course or of a Master’s degree. The competitions are organised at an academic level for primary education and at a national level for secondary education.

To access to the public service, each contest shares these prerequisites: 

  • having French nationality or of another EU Member State ;
  • enjoying his civil rights, not having suffered any condemnation incompatible with the teaching duties; 
  • having the national service obligations fulfilled; 
  • finally to be physically fit for the profession.

Recruitment as a teacher, which means the entry into the State Public Service, involves both success in the competitive examination, including the validation of one year’s training, and holdging a Master’s degree.


Curriculum and Learning Outcomes

Early childhood care

The content of training for all early childhood practitioners is defined by the state, regardless of the qualification. The state diplomas for nursery nurses, early childhood educators, nurses or psychomotor therapists are higher education diplomas. The ministry responsible for higher education and the ministry responsible for health and social affairs approve their content and qualification.

In the case of the diploma of childcare assistant or for the diploma of early childhood education assistant, the content is defined by the ministry in charge of education.

In the case of training for the qualification of childcare assistant (home childcare), the content is defined by decree no. 2018-903 of the ministry in charge of health.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

The nature and contents of the competitive recruitment examinations are defined each year by a decree from the Minister of National Education. 

The common-core study programs aim at creating a culture shared by all, so it applies to all students doing the MEEF master’s degree. In particular, common-core courses cover the following areas: how pupils learn, taking account of the diversity of audiences, especially disabled pupils, methods of educational differentiation and support for pupils in difficulty, knowledge of the common knowledge base and a skills-based approach, how to guide pupils, methods of assessing pupils, teaching the values of the Republic, the fight against all forms of discrimination and the culture of equality between women and men, how to lead a class and prevent violence in schools, etc. Acquiring a scientific and technical culture as well as knowledge and skills relating to artistic and cultural education is also part of courses that can be followed in INSPE.


Teacher Trainers 

Teacher trainers are themselves university teachers and, for primary school, master trainers having received specific one-year training leading to a "certificat d'aptitude" (CAFIPEMF, a certificate of professional competence).

There are two forms of the CAFIPEMF: 

  • a general form that enables an individual to be assigned as a "generalist' for an inspector of National Education or as a master trainer for a university; 
  • a form with specialisation (EPS, music teaching, the plastic arts, languages and regional cultures, educational technologies and resources) required for being named to specialist positions. 

There is a single annual session. Candidates wishing to sit examinations with specializations must choose their option and specify it upon their registration. To sit the exams, candidates must prove they have completed at least five years of full-time teaching duties. This includes an eligibility exam and two admissions exams. 

Concerning training leaders for secondary education, the diverse nature of INSPE teams as well as the quality and currency of their expertise enable high-level scientific training to be given that is in step with working in the profession in real life.


Qualifications, Evaluation and Certificates

Early childhood care

For early childhood practitioners, despite the variety of qualifications available, two broad categories of degree can be distinguished:

  • The first concerns higher education qualifications: State diplomas for childcare worker, early childhood educator, nurse or psychomotor therapist are qualifications at a level in the national register of qualifications, i.e. at ISCED level 6.
  • The second concerns qualifications at an upper secondary education level : In the case of the diploma of childcare assistant or for the diploma of early childhood educator, these are Certificates of Vocational Aptitude (CAP). These are therefore qualifications at level 5 in the national register, i.e. ISCED level 3.

Finally, the qualification of childcare assistant is not a qualification and is therefore not recognised in the ISCED classification.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

Following the obtention of a Master’s degree and of the competitive examination, trainee civil servants have a one-year initial statutory training. The training can be adapted to take account the diversity of the backgrounds of successful candidates.The training offered will differ depending on whether the teacher has passed the internal competition with teaching experience, a winner of the same competition with teaching experience but changing level or subject, a winner of the third competition, a winner of the external competition with no professional experience, a winner of the external competition who has completed a work-linked course in a school or another education institution, etc.

A decree of July 1st, 2013 establishes the list of the professional skills requirements in teaching and education professions. These skills bring into play the knowledge, capacity to implement and professional attitudes.


Alternative Training Pathways 

To meet the need for vacant posts, some education authorities recruit outside the competitive examinations mentionned above.

In this way, students can be recruited as contract teachers in primary or secondary education, for part-time or full-time replacement or year-round.

The qualification requirements for recruitment are set at "licence" ("baccalauréat" and a three-year diploma in a higher education institution) for general education subjects, or "baccalauréat" and two years in higher education plus professional experience for vocational education subjects.