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La Rentrée: what changes this school year

For over 12 million children and teenagers in France, the summer holidays are over: it’s time for La Rentrée. Throughout this week in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var, some 369 829 pupils will be returning to their classrooms.  

This year, around 12.42 million children and young people are in full time education: about 6,800,000 in an école (maternelle and élémentaire); 3,340,000 in a collège; and 2,300,00 in a lycée. France has 884,400 teachers across 62,600 schools.

The average class size is highest at a lycée: an average of 30 youngsters attend a class. In the école maternelle and in the collège, there are just over 25 children while in the école primaire, it’s 23. In the lycées professionnels, an average of 18 students make up the classroom body.

Through a controversial reform, the 4.5-week was introduced to French primary schools in 2013 and thus the ‘free Wednesday’ was lost. This year, the reform hasn’t been completely withdrawn, but the schools are given the opportunity to circumvent it if they wish.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer leaves France's primary schools the choice of three options:

  • The status quo: the 4.5-week week with the so-called activités périscolaires (activities to promote outside confidence and competence). This is the case, for example, in Paris.
  • Alternatively, return to the four-day week. This regulation applies to all schools in Nice as well as to many other schools in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var.
  • As a last option remains to maintain the 4.5-day week, but to remove the activités périscolaires from the timetable.

Lauriano Azinheirinha, deputy mayor of Nice, who is also responsible for education policy, spoke to local media about the change in legislation, saying she had rid the city of a reform she had never wanted.