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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Support measures for learners in early childhood and school education


12.Educational support and guidance

12.3Support measures for learners in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

The French education system implements various mechanisms to ensure the success of students from disadvantaged socio-economic and / or linguistic-cultural backgrounds.

Definition of the target groups

Among the measures implemented to ensure greater equality of opportunity between young people, we can distinguish those who are particularly targeted:

  • Students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. This policy of positive discrimination aims to reduce the effects of social and economic inequalities on educational success; it also aims to improve the quality of life of pupils from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, through the policy of priority education. This policy of positive discrimination aims to reduce the effects of social and economic inequalities on educational success;
  • Students recently arrived in France and children from non-sedentary families, for whom the insufficient mastery of the French language or school learning does not make it possible to benefit from the lessons of the classes of the normal curricula. They account for a small share of total enrollments and benefit from specific measures.

Students in priority education networks

In 1981 France embarked on a policy aimed at reinforcing educational action in geographical areas where disadvantaged populations are concentrated: the "priority education policy". This involved allocating additional resources, in terms of personnel and financial credits, to schools located in these areas. As part of this policy, these institutions organize themselves into networks and federate their educational activities around an educational project which is formalized in a contract with the academic authorities. They also benefit from special support measures.

Since circular letter no.2014-077 of June 4th, 2014, there are two types of networks: priority education networks (REP) and reinforced priority education networks (REP +). These replace all previous mechanisms. The circular letter no.2017-090 of May 3rd, 2017 completes and specifies what is expected at the different levels of management of these new networks (national, academic and local levels).

The list of institutions registered in priority education networks is decided by the Minister in charge of National Education. It is revised every four years.

At the start of the 2021 school year, the priority education networks (REP) include 4 175 public schools and 729 public collèges. These schools account for 12.3% of schoolchildren in the public sector (691 200 pupils) and 14.2% of secondary school pupils (377 800 pupils). The reinforced priority education networks (REP+) include 2,458 state schools and 362 state secondary schools. These schools and establishments enrol 8.1% of public sector schoolchildren (i.e. 452,800 pupils) and 7.3% of secondary school pupils (i.e. 193,000).

Students recently arrived in France and children from non-sedentary families

  • Recently arrived students in France: This term refers to a pupil who has not attended school in France in the previous school year and who does not have sufficient mastery of the curricula to enter an ordinary course immediately. These students are, like all other children aged 6 to 16, subject to compulsory schooling.
  • Children from non-sedentary families: The non-sedentary population present in France includes travelers and other families, also traveling for professional reasons (boatmen, fairground and circus people for example). Children of non-sedentary families are, like all other children between the ages of 6 and 16, subject to compulsory education between six and sixteen years of age. The fact that the family is temporarily housed in the territory of a municipality does not affect the right to schooling. Indeed, it is the residence in the territory of a municipality that determines the host school (article L.131-6 of the Education Code). Schooling is therefore carried out in schools or establishments in the recruitment sector of the parking area.

Specific support measures

Priority education

The schools concerned by the priority education policy are structured in networks. These are institutions belonging to priority education networks (REP) and reinforced priority education networks (REP+). REPs include collèges and primary schools with more significant social difficulties than collèges and schools outside of priority education. REP+ concern isolated neighborhoods or areas with the highest concentrations of difficulties in the territory.

This network organization promotes the continuity of learning paths from pre-primary education to lower secondary education, with a particular focus on the transition from pre-primary to primary, and then from primary to lower secondary education. The actions implemented within classes, schools or collèges, help to guarantee school learning and mastery of the common core by all students.

The coherence of the actions undertaken, both in school time and out of school time, is first in the success and development of all students. Students of priority education may benefit of school support if they wish, including the courses for success in elementary school and the program homework done in collège.

Schools and collèges of priority education benefit from an increased staffing (additional teachers and teaching assistants) offering greater flexibility in the organization of class hours. These staffs constitute support to stimulate a dynamic within the network. They facilitate the management of students with learning difficulties, within the classroom or in support and support systems such as personalized educational success programs (PPRE).

National Education Inspectors (IEN) are mobilized to support educational teams and monitor networks. They bring their expertise to the management of networks, meetings of educational teams or management teams and especially in the framework of school-collège boards organized under their responsibility.

There are several key measures in place in the priority education networks:

  • Halving the number of children in Grande section, CP and CE1 classes in REP and REP+: The aim is to reduce the educational difficulties of pupils in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and urban areas by acting at the root, i.e. from the first years of learning basic skills.
  • Revaluation of salaries for teachers in REP+: In order to increase the attractiveness of posts and stabilise teams in reinforced priority education networks (REP+), the REP+ allowance is set by the decree of 8 December 2022 ;
  • Revaluation of secondary school grants: The desire to offer all pupils the same opportunities for success leads to increased aid for families in economically precarious situations.

Boarding schools of excellence

The boarding schools of excellence enable motivated secondary school students to flourish by offering them optimal working conditions and a reinforced educational project.

The educational and pedagogical project of the boarding school is built in accordance with the school project and/or the contract of objectives. It aims to decompartmentalise the boarding school from the rest of the pupils' activities by favouring educational continuity and coherence between the actions proposed during school time and educational time. For example, teachers can be involved in helping boarders with their homework. Thus, boarders benefit from personalised educational support in parallel with their week of classes: academic remediation, support for personal work. Pupils can also take part in sports and cultural activities as a group.

The "Internat d'excellence" label is awarded to boarding schools that are committed to a project approach, in compliance with the 6 criteria defined in the label's specifications:

  •     a strong territorial anchorage ;
  •     a pedagogical and educational project that aims for excellence;
  •     clearly defined procedures for recruiting and receiving boarding students;
  •     Efficient management and teams trained in the boarding profession;
  •     Attractive and safe conditions for the reception and accommodation of interns;
  •     Formalized steering of the project that mobilizes the entire educational community.

At the start of the 2022 school year, there are a total of 307 boarding schools of excellence, which can accommodate around 30 000 pupils. Financial aid is available to help families pay the cost of boarding. The fixed boarding allowance is paid in three instalments, each term, automatically deducted from the boarding fees invoice. Families therefore do not have to prepare a file. Depending on the school's local authority, additional aid may be granted to families.

Mechanisms for students who recently arrived in France and students from non-sedentary families

In accordance with articles L.111-1, L. 122-1, L. 131-1 of the French Code of  Education, all children of both sexes, aged between 6 and 16, present on the national territory are subject to the respect of the obligation to study and attend school regardless of their nationality. Moreover, the law no.2013-595 of July 8th, 2013 affirms the principle of the inclusive education of all the children, without any distinction.

Circular no.2002-063 of March 20th, 2002 specifies the methods of inscription and schooling of the pupils newly arrived in France. Circular letters no.2012-141, no.2012-142 and no.2012-143 published on 2 October 2012 define, respectively, the organization of the education of newly arrived allophone pupils, the schooling and schooling of children from non-sedentary families and the missions of the academic centers for the education of newly arrived allophone children and children from non-sedentary families (Casnav).

These circulars set out principles intended to promote:

  • The fight against discrimination;
  • The harmonization of reception procedures;
  • The guarantee of the acquisition of the common core of knowledge, skills and culture;
  • Taking into account the multilingual wealth of these audiences.

Students who recently arrived in France

As stipulated in the circular letter no.2012-141 of October 2nd, 2012, any pupil newly arrived in France benefits from an evaluation. Its purpose is to highlight:

  • the knowledge of the student in French, to determine if he is a complete beginner or if he mastered elements of spoken or written French;
  • his/her verbal and non-verbal skills in other living languages taught in the French educational system, particularly in English;
  • his/her degree of familiarization with the written word, whatever the writing system;
  • his/her academic skills built in his language of previous schooling, in mathematics, for example.

For primary education students, this assessment is conducted by the person appointed by the national education inspector, with the assistance of the trainers of Casnav.

In secondary education, the family and the student meet a psychologist guidance counselor who analyzes the school path of the student who organizes the educational evaluation.

At the kindergarten and elementary school level, newly arrived students are enrolled in regular classes. They are also grouped together, starting from the entry to the elementary school, in educational units for arriving allophone students (UPE2A) in which they receive a teaching of French as a second language, daily and for a variable time (and revisable over time) according to their needs. The objective is that they can as soon as possible follow the entirety of the lessons in a class of the ordinary course. To further their integration in the school, these students are integrated, as soon as they arrive and as far as possible, into ordinary classes in classes where the mastery of written French is not fundamental (P.E., music, visual arts...).

At the level of secondary education, there are in addition to conventional UPE2A specific units for allophone students who have not previously attended school: UPE2A-NSA. The assignment of the student in one of the two devices is decided on the basis of the assessment made upon arrival at the school.

The UPE2A-NSA allow students with little or no schooling prior to their arrival in France and who are old enough to attend collège to learn French and acquire basic knowledge corresponding to Cycle 3 of the curricula. UPE2A-NSA provides tailored instruction at the student level based on student intake assessments. These pupils are enrolled in regular classes corresponding to their educational level, without exceeding an age difference of more than two years with the reference age corresponding to these classes; they must benefit from the outset of a large part of the education offered in ordinary classes, a fortiori in the disciplines where their skills are proven (modern language, mathematics...). An individual schedule is defined, so that they can follow, as often as possible, the teaching offered in regular classes. In total, the school timetable must be identical to that of other students enrolled in the same levels.

The maximum number of reception classes is 15 students in charge at a time. Cooperation between colleges and high schools or vocational schools is encouraged to allow continuity in the reception of these young people.

Students from non-sedentary families

Circular letter no.2012-142 of October 2nd, 2012 sets the guidelines and general conditions for schooling and schooling for children from non-sedentary families.

Inclusion in ordinary classes is the main form of schooling. It is the goal to achieve, even when it temporarily requires special arrangements and mechanisms. These should only be considered as transitional and only as gateways to mainstream schooling. These mechanisms can be: specific pedagogical units possibly inter-degrees conceived as accompaniment devices to schooling, mobile school antennas, distance education, etc. In addition, students from non-sedentary families should be able to benefit under the same conditions as the others, actions in favor of pupils in difficulty.

The implementation of educational monitoring tools, inserted into the school record book, is an essential condition for the effectiveness of the school path of students from non-sedentary families. These pedagogical monitoring tools must give information on the work program, on the didactic material used if necessary, and include significant productions of the pupil at the same time as an assessment of his / her prior learning. The objective is to enable teachers from different schools to immediately realize the level reached, to ensure continuity in learning.