Requirements for appointment
Pre-elementary and elementary education
Law No. 2021-1716 of 21 December 2021 establishes that the school headmaster is appointed from among persons registered on a list of suitable candidates established under conditions set by decree in the Council of State. Only primary and secondary school teachers who have three years of teaching experience or at least one year of experience as a head teacher and who have undergone training to become a head teacher can be included on this list of suitable candidates.
In the event of a vacancy in the post of school director, primary school teachers and school teachers not on the list of suitable candidates may be appointed at their request, under conditions defined by decree. They receive training for the function of school director as soon as possible.
The position of school headmaster involves the exercise of responsibilities that require specific knowledge and skills, as specified by the circular n°2014-163 of 1er December 2014, relating to the job description of school headmasters. Specific training is mandatory before taking up the post.
Initial training for head teachers takes place partly before they take up their duties, partly during their first year in office. The responsibilities of the head teacher are threefold: pedagogical management, the smooth running of the school, and relations with parents and school partners. The circular of 1er December 2014 lists the elements necessary for the exercise of these competences, which must be the subject of the two sessions of the initial training. Newly appointed school headmasters benefit from a tutorial, provided by an experienced school headmaster, and paid for this function. Initial training will include the study of municipal and inter-municipal administration, which will take the form of days, consecutive or otherwise, in the services of a municipality or inter-municipality. For those directors who, having exercised municipal responsibilities, have sufficient experience in this field, the course will take place, under the same conditions, with an association partnering the school or with a company. Lastly, an in-service training programme for school head updates and deepens this initial training.
In secondary schools, the management staff (head, deputy head, principal and vice-principal) are recruited through a competitive examination, by list of aptitude.
Internal competitive examination
The competitive examination is open to:
- Permanent category A officials belonging to a teaching or education body or job category or to the body of psychologists of the French Ministry of Education and having completed four years of actual service in a corresponding function,
- Other category A officials belonging to a corps or framework of employment with a terminal index of at least hors échelle A and having completed four years of actual service in their corps or framework of employment or in a corps or framework of employment of equivalent level,
- Nationals of an EU or EEA country with four years' effective service in an administration, body or establishment whose tasks are comparable to those of the public administrations and establishments in which the category A officials referred to in the two preceding paragraphs perform their duties.
Third way competitive examination
From the 2022 session, a third-way competitive examination will be open, without a diploma requirement, to candidates with at least 8 years of :
- a member of an elected assembly of a local authority, or a member of a regional or local authority (subject to conditions being met);
- professional activities (excluding civil servants, magistrates, military, public officials);
- the responsibility of an association.
Senior staff are recruited by means of a list of suitable candidates up to a limit of one-fifteenth of the appointments made in the previous year in the body. The following may appear on this list:
- Permanent civil servants belonging to a category A body of teaching staff, education staff, psychologists of the National Education or the administrative field under the Ministry of National Education who can prove 7 years of service as a permanent civil servant in one or more of the above-mentioned bodies and who have exercised full-time management functions in an educational or training establishment for at least 20 months (continuous or discontinuous) during the last 5 school years;
- Civil servants who have worked full-time as deputy director of a Segpa, director of a specialised school or director of a school of 1er degree and who have 4 years of service in these functions as a permanent civil servant.
To become a school head, each candidate takes two tests:
- the admissibility test: in the case of the internal competitive examination, the admissibility test consists of a 4-hour written test on the study of a specific case concerning the secondary education system at local, regional and national level, leading to the drafting of proposals for action. In the case of the third track competitive examination, the candidate must take two written tests of 4 hours each: a questionnaire which aims to verify the candidate's knowledge of administrative culture, law and human resources management as well as the organisation and functioning of the education system, and a summary note supported by the study of a file of documents related to current events in the education system.
- the admission test: in the case of the internal competitive examination, the test begins with a 15-minute presentation by the candidate on his/her professional activity, with emphasis on his/her skills, and is followed by a 45-minute interview with the selection board. In the case of the third channel competitive examination, the test consists of a 10-minute presentation by the candidate and an interview with the selection board based on a presentation file drawn up by the candidate in which he or she highlights elements of his or her professional career, followed by a 50-minute interview with the selection board which includes role-playing exercises to assess the candidate's ability to react to concrete professional situations and his or her aptitude for team management.
After the competitive examination, managers are appointed as trainees and assigned to an academy. The statutory training prior to tenure is organised over a period of one year. This training, which is designed to enable them to take on immediate responsibility, alternates between :
- the effective exercise of the functions of a managerial staff through the completion of a period of responsibility in the institution of assignment during the probationary period. The head of the host institution is in charge of the training during this period;
- training sessions of at least 154 hours, supplemented by additional training modules;
- an introductory internship in a company or an entity outside the Ministry of Education or participation in an international mobility programme lasting at least 30 hours, which can be split up.
The training of management staff is organised by the Institut des Hautes Études de l'Éducation et de la Formation (IH2EF). This institute is a service attached to the ministries in charge of national education and higher education, whose mission is to raise awareness and provide training on education and higher education issues. The IH2EF mainly trains school heads and inspectors of national education, managers in higher education, administrative managers, school doctors and senior managers.
Conditions of service
Pre-elementary and elementary education
According to Article L411-1 of the Education Code, a school director ensures the smooth running of each nursery, elementary or primary school; he/she ensures the necessary coordination between teachers. The school director chairs the school council which brings together the representatives of the educational community, ratifies the decisions taken there and implements them. He/she organises debates on issues relating to school life. He/she is delegated by the academic authority for the proper functioning of the school he/she directs. He/she has functional authority within the framework of the missions entrusted to him/her. He/she may be entrusted with training or coordination missions. All these tasks are defined following a dialogue with the academic inspectorate.
In terms of conditions of service, headmasters retain the same as those of school teachers, whose conditions of service are detailed in Section 9.2. However, there are two main additions to these conditions.
Decree No. 89-122 of 24 February 1989 on school headmasters stipulates that "the teacher or school professor appointed to the post of school headmaster may be totally or partially relieved of teaching under the conditions set by the Ministry of National Education", in order to have the time necessary to exercise the responsibilities of the post of school headmaster in terms of pedagogical guidance, school operations and relations with parents and school partners.
The modalities of this discharge are defined by the circular of 2 April 2021, which explains all the situations according to the type of school, the number of classes in the school and the number of half days worked.
The bonuses and allowances linked to the function which are added to their salary (detailed in the eurydice publication), which are the following
- an allowance for special hardship (ISS) for kindergarten and primary schools headmasters, the amount of which varies according to the number of classes in the school and is defined by the order of 18 February 2021.
- A responsibility allowance of €450 gross per year allocated at the start of the 2020 school year (decree no. 2020-1252 of 14 October 2020), which was made permanent from 1er January and introduced to the ISS of the same amount.
In the performance of his or her wide-ranging duties, the school head of a secondary school, with the help of his or her deputy :
- Is responsible for representing the State, under the authority of the decentralised services of national education, and for guaranteeing the coherence of an academic policy, which is the expression of national policy, as well as of the educational action carried out by the school project;
- Is responsible for the school's pedagogical and educational policy, and in this capacity leads the development of the school project, chairs the various councils, ensures the organisation of teaching (constitution of classes and timetables, distribution of resources and services, monitoring of support and individualised assistance), regulates the evaluation of student learning (collaboration with the inspectorate, organisation of examinations) and implements an educational and guidance policy by promoting the conditions of reception and the means of expression of students, by monitoring integration, by organising the operation of the medico-social sector;
- Is responsible for human resources management, and defines the principles for organising the services of all staff, ensures forward-looking management of staff, assists new staff, participates in drawing up the training plan, promotes initiatives and successes, organises internal communication and leads the dialogue with staff representatives;
- Administers the school, and therefore determines the objectives of its staff and analyses the functioning of the school in order to report on it, leads the preparation of the budget and internal regulations, ensures the order and safety of pupils, staff and property, organises elections and chairs the various councils, plans the evolution of staff numbers and prepares the annual report;
- Ensures links with the environment and develops partnerships, and thus participates in school networks to examine pupil orientation, changes in the training map, the pooling of innovations, continuing adult education, organises relations with the local authority to ensure the running of the school as well as the maintenance, modernisation and safety of the premises and leads the dialogue with the parents, economic, social, cultural and sporting partners, and the other State administrations
The school heads are responsible for the organisation of their work within this framework. In this respect, the head teacher organises the service for himself and his deputy, namely
- the annual working time is counted in days;
- the service of management staff may not exceed 10 half-days per week;
- the maximum daily working time is set at 11 hours;
- School heads are entitled to 45 days of rest, including 25 days of annual leave and 20 days of reduced working hours, plus two days of fractional leave.
The salaries of managerial staff are available in the eurydice publication.