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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: 27 November 2023

In France, initial teacher education is provided by universities, in schools of the Teaching and Higher Education. All teachers of pre-primary, primary and secondary schools are trained in these institutions, although there are different competitive examination depending on the level and type of educational institution the candidate aims (primary / secondary, public / private, general / vocational).

If teachers in specific disciplines (visual arts, music, etc.) do not have any specific training, teachers wishing to work with specific public must go through an additional degree course: the Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle pour les Aides spécialisées, les enseignements adaptés et la scolarisation des élèves en Situation de Handicap (CAPA-SH - Certificate of Professional Aptitude for specialized aids, adapted teaching and Disabled student schooling) for primary education, and the Certificat Complémentaire pour l'Adaptation scolaire et la Scolarisation des élèves Handicapés (2CA – SH - Complementary certificate for Special Education and education of Disabled students).

Institutions, level and models of training

The initial teacher training is provided by universities. As part of the autonomy accorded to them by law no. 2007-1199 of 10 August 2007 on the freedom and responsibilities of universities, they organize the Master programs and the preparation for competitive examinations to access the teaching profession of the primary and secondary education.

In France, initial teacher training is consecutive. Since the 2010 reform, it is necessary to have a Master to teach. But following the reform of initial teacher training (2013), a specific is obtained in a École Supérieure du Professorat et de l’Éducation (ESPE - Higher Schools for Professorship and Education) in two years, separated by the competitive examination at the end of the first year. ESPEs are attached to universities. Only a Bachelor’s degree is required to enroll in the first year of the Master, regardless of specialty. However, it is possible to enter the competitive examination without making the first year of the Master Métiers de l’Enseignement, de l’Éducation et de la Formation (MEEF – Teaching, Education and Training Professions): a student who already has a completed a first year of a Master’s degree or higher may therefore only go through the second year of the Master if he succeeds in the competitive examination.

In the first year of master MEEF, internships are to give students a first professional experience in the teaching profession. These are just observation internships and accompanied practice. The students have a total of four to six weeks of placement. This allows students to look into the exercise of the profession, to reflect on the modalities of knowledge mobilization in favor of a pedagogical act, to analyze the use of teaching materials and to apprehend pupils’ productions. These periods of work are part of the preparation of the candidates for the competitive examinations as well as part of the reflection of students on the outline of the master's thesis during second year.

In second year of Master, students admitted to the competitions include the curriculum "alternance-Éducation Nationale". They have the status of teacher trainees. They perform an internship in liability halftime teaching service and are paid up to a full-time basis. Furthermore, the new "specifications for teacher training" set by the ordnance of June 15th, 2012 indicates that the training provided by the master to prepare for the education professions aims the acquisition of knowledge "enlightened the contributions of university research". The text states that training provides each student with an introduction to research.

Admission Requirements

To sit in the tests of teacher recruitment exam the first or second degree, students must provide proof of obtaining credits for the first year of the master’s degree (M1), 60 ECTS credits in excess of the license. One can however go directly to the ESPE’s second-year of Master if one obtains the competitive examination even without going through the M1 Métiers de l’Enseignement, de l’Éducation et de la Formation (MEEF – Teaching, Education and Training Professions).

Each contest is organized by the Department of National Education, Higher Education and Research, for the public and private sectors. 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 and finally to be physically fit for the profession.

Recruitment as a teacher, which means the entry into the State Public Service - with, in the second year of the Master, an official-probationary status - involves both success in the competition and getting a master.

Curriculum, Level of Specialisation and Learning Outcomes

Early childhood care

The content of training for all early childhood practitioners is defined by the state, regardless of 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 in charge of National Education. 

The common-core study programs aim at creating a culture shared by all, so it applies to all students doing the master’s degree of Métiers de l’Enseignement, de l’Éducation et de la Formation (MEEF – Teaching, Education and Training Professions). 

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 Écoles Supérieures du Professorat et de l'Éducation (ESPE - Higher school for teaching and education).


Number of hours

Master 1
Semester 1

The Philosophy of the School, the Values of the School and of the Republic, secularisation, the fight against all forms of discriminations

12 hours

Learning process, child psychology

12 hours

Civil service law

6 hours

Master 1
Semester 2

Leading educational movements, approaches to teaching, learning, assessment

12 hours

The sociology of audiences, managing diversity, guidance

6 hours

Difficulty at school, early school-leaving

6 hours

The inclusive school: special needs and education for disabled pupils

6 hours

Master 2
Semester 3

Organising the school system and institutional context

6 hours

Learning process, relationship with knowledge, memory and learning, cognitive styles, multiple forms of intelligence

12 hours

The stance of teacher and pupil, professional communication (voice, body language, etc.)

12 hours

Master 2
Semester 4

Managing conflicts and violence

12 hours

Fighting against women / men stereotypes, and mixed-education schooling

12 hours

Ethics, professional stance, joint working

6 hours


12 ECTS credits

120 hours

Teacher Educators

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

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 educator 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. The C.A. includes an eligibility exam and two admissions exams. 

Concerning training leaders for secondary education, the diverse nature of Écoles Supérieures du Professorat et de l'Éducation (ESPE - Higher school for teaching and education) 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 first year of the Master Métiers de l’Enseignement, de l’Éducation et de la Formation (MEEF – Teaching, Education and Training Professions) and obtaining the competitive examination, students in 2nd year Master spend 50% of their time in front of students and 50% in initial training. At the end of the second year, students submit a thesis and, if they validate their academic year, they receive a National Master’s degree.

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

In order to fill empty posts and to ensure that permanent teachers are replaced, teachers under contract can be recruited by the Chief Education Officer for an academic year or for a shorter period. Staffs under contract are workers who are not covered by public law. Depending on the subjects taught, training booklets can be distributed to those members of staff as preparatory training.