This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments since 2021.
The introduction of the chapter describes the overall education strategy and the key objectives across the whole education system. It also looks at how the education reform process is organised and who are the main actors in the decision-making process.
The section on ongoing reforms and policy developments groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels:
- Early childhood education and care
- School education
- VET and Adult learning
- Higher education
- Transversal skills and Employability.
Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.
Overall national education strategy and key objectives
The objectives of the public service of education in France are defined in Articles L121-1 to L121-8 of the Education Code. Among other things, it states that in France, "schools, collèges, lycées and higher education institutions are responsible for transmitting and acquiring knowledge and working methods. They contribute to promoting gender diversity and equality between men and women, particularly in terms of guidance. They contribute to education in civic responsibility, including in the use of the Internet and online public communication services, and participate in the prevention of delinquency. They provide training in knowledge of and respect for human rights, as well as in understanding concrete situations that infringe them. They provide training adapted in its content and methods to the economic, social and cultural developments of the country and its European and international environment.
According to Article L121-4, "the purpose of school and university education is to provide basic knowledge and the elements of a general culture including scientific and technical data, to prepare for a qualification and to contribute to its improvement and adaptation in the course of professional life". Moreover, according to Article L121-2, the fight against illiteracy and innumeracy is a national priority.
Overview of the education reform process and drivers
France’s education policies are the responsibilities of the ministries in charge of National Education and Higher Education, and Research.
Reform initiatives come from the Minister as part of sole “fundamental principles” defined by Parliament (article 34 of the Constitution), which only applies when the budget is discussed. With the exception of these two points, the process of reforming the education system thus comes solely under the executive.
The ministries rely on the departments of the central administration, which are responsible for preparing and giving form to regulatory provisions that contain the reforms that the Minister wishes to implement, as well as the framework for assessing those reforms. The ministries are assisted by the General Inspection, which monitors the education system, its organisation, and its operation. However, the ministries can also draw inspiration from the work of a certain number of consultative councils tasked, in particular, with producing studies and analyses in their fields of competence and making suggestions or offering opinions concerning possible reform plans that may flow from those studies / analyses. One instance of those consultative councils is the Conseil Supérieur des Programmes (High Council for Educational Programmes).
Once reform plans have been drafted, they must be submitted for an opinion to the Conseil Supérieur de l’Éducation (High Council for Education), or, in the case of higher education, the Conseil National de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche (National Council for Higher Education and Research).