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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teachers and education staff


9.Teachers and education staff

Last update: 27 November 2023

Early childhood care

In the case of practitioners supervising children under the age of 3, the situation is different in collective structures or in the practitioner's own home.

In the case of collective structures, Article R2324-42 of the Public Health Code sets out the qualifications required of staff responsible for supervising children:

  • at least 40% of the staff must be State-qualified nursery nurses, State-qualified educators of young children, State-qualified childcare assistants, State-qualified nurses or State-qualified psychomotricians. These levels of qualification range from ISCED level 3 to ISCED level 6;
  • no more than 60% of the workforce may be made up of holders of a qualification defined by order of the minister responsible for the family, who must provide proof of experience or benefit from support defined by the same order.

In the case of reception in the practitioner's home, the childminders must apply for approval from the department in which they are domiciled. This approval is valid for 5 years. A training course is compulsory to obtain a childminder's licence. This training is free and is organised and financed by the department.

Preprimary, primary and secondary education

Public sector teachers at all levels of education (from pre-primary to higher education) belong to the state civil service: they are called "civil servant" or "tenured" teachers. Pre-elementary and elementary school teachers are statutorily the same (status of "professeur des écoles"). Education staff carry out their duties in schools (collèges and lycées).

To be recruited, primary and secondary school teachers, like education staff, must currently sit and pass a competitive examination at the end of the first year of the MEEF master's degree. There are 32 Instituts nationaux supérieurs du professorat et de l'éducation (Inspé – National higher education institutions for teaching and education), which are schools where students learn the teaching profession progressively and through work experience. They offer students a four-semester course leading to a national master's degree: the master's degree in teaching, education and training (MEEF). Students who win one of the teaching competitions become 'student civil servants on probation' and, during their second year of the master's degree, divide their time between 50% in class and 50% in front of pupils. From 2022 onwards, the competitive examination will be held at the end of the second year of the Master's programme in order to avoid splitting the Master's programme into two years and to allow students to spread out the objectives of obtaining a degree (in M1 and then in M2), the competitive examination and tenure. They then become "trainee civil servants". In addition, from the start of the 2021 academic year, it will be possible to train earlier and to engage in pre-professionalization, thanks to the implementation of an experimental licence. This training, called the 'Preparatory course for the professorship of schools' (PPPE), will cover the three years of the degree and will allow students to prepare for the teaching profession. It combines generalist teaching, specialised teaching and periods of observation and accompanied practice in a primary school for the first degree or in an establishment for the second degree, from the first year.

Each competitive examination corresponds to a different level of teaching and/or service conditions. Successful completion of the competition guarantees access to the corresponding teaching post. In 2019-2020, there were 688 254 permanent teachers working in the public school system (ISCED 0 to 3).

A minority of teachers (0.9% at pre-primary and primary level; 8.7% at secondary level) do not hold a competitive examination; they are known as 'contractual' teachers. They are recruited for specific assignments, such as short-term replacements for permanent teachers. In 2019-2020, the number of contract teachers in the public service was 36 927.

Teachers working in the government–dependent private education, which accounts for 96% of pupils in private education in France in 2019-2020, do not belong to the state civil service. They do, however, perform a "public service mission", which implies that, to enter the profession, they have to pass a national competitive examination defined by the State, as do public school teachers. In the government-dependent private sector, success in the competitive examination does not guarantee access to the teaching post, but the right to apply for a post open to recruitment by a contracted private institution - which is responsible for the recruitment of its teachers. On the other hand, the state is responsible for their remuneration, as is the case for public school teachers.

Obligations of service and working time are fixed. For primary school teachers, these obligations are defined in the decree n°2008-775 of 30 July 2008: this text imposes on teachers 24 hours of weekly teaching to all pupils, plus 108 hours per year allocated to other activities (personalised help and complementary educational activities in small groups, work in teaching teams, animation and pedagogical training and school councils). Since the beginning of the school year in September 2015, the compulsory teaching time per secondary school teacher is governed by decree n°2014-240 of 20 August 2014. This is set at 18 hours for certified teachers and 15 hours for agrégés. For Physical and Sports Education teachers, regardless of the body to which they are attached, 2 hours must be added to these totals.

With regard to continuing education, the law for a school of trust, adopted on 4 July 2019, affirms its compulsory nature for all teachers. For primary schools, a minimum time for professional development for all teachers is set by the regulations and amounts to 9 hours per year. There is no professional development time for secondary schools.  

Since 2019, there has been a master plan for the continuing education of national education staff, which is aimed at all teachers, supervisory staff, administrative, social and health staff, heads of department of the rectorates, as well as youth and sports staff (since January 2021), so that all share a common professional culture of the public education service. The master plan corresponds to a set of specifications for national, academic and school training plans. It sets out the principles, guidelines and procedures applicable to the continuing education of staff for three years. At national level, the Ministry of Education draws up a 'National Training Plan' (PNF) which, since 2019, has been part of the training master plan, so that this national plan is based on principles common to all continuing training activities. The INSPE are also operators of in-service training for education staff. At the level of the académies, each year a "Plan académique de formation" (PAF) is drawn up in collaboration with operators and partners (canopé, INSPE, etc.). The PAF contains a list of continuing education activities in which teachers and all interested staff in the academy can register. In their proposals, the academies must take into account the training priorities set at national level by the PNF.

Higher education

At higher education level, the conditions of access to teaching positions vary according to the different categories of staff. Lecturers are recruited through a national or institution-based competitive examination; they must have a doctorate or its equivalent, and have been 'qualified' by the National Council of Universities, i.e. authorised at national level to apply for a position open to recruitment. In 2018, 92 300 teachers are employed in public higher education institutions under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education: 60% of them (i.e. 55 507 teachers) belong to the corps of tenured professors, 26% are non-tenured teachers and 14% are secondary school teachers.