How does private education and home education work in France?

By | April 23, 2021
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Standards in private schools in France have been called into question after the news, in February, of the arrest of principals of an Orthodox Jewish school on suspicion of mistreatment of pupils.

This school mainly serves Israeli and American families in Seine-et-Marne.

READ MORE: Pupils at a Jewish school in France are under care after alleged abuse

The government has already introduced stricter rules for setting up the private sector (out of serviceSchools in anti-separatist lawwhich came into effect last August, with the aim of preventing extremism among students.

The new rules mean that before opening a file out of service The school must file a declaration with the local education authority, which in turn passes it on to the governor and attorney general.

The school can open after three months, unless there is an objection to grounds of public order or youth protection, or: the person opening the school is not French or from the European Union or the European Economic Area; been convicted of an offense or of an offense against public morals; forbidden to teach; Does not have the necessary skills to teach, or has less than five years of teaching experience.

The governor can close any school that opens without a permit, and the founder of the school faces a year in prison and a fine of up to 15,000 euros.

Once the school is opened, it is examined in the first year, and in the future it will be controlled on administrative and educational grounds.

Different types of schools

The education system in France is divided into public and private schools under contract Schools (which follow the national curriculum and pay their teachers salaries from the Ministry of Education), and private schools out of service Schools, which must study basic education requirements but can choose their own teaching methods and have no state funding.

There are 60,000 public schools, 7,500 under contract Schools, mostly Catholic, just under 2500 out of service schools.

Read more: Why are private school fees in France usually cheaper than in the UK?

There are many types of files out of service School. The largest percentage, 29%, follow traditional teaching methods. An example is the private international schools located in most major cities, such as the American School of Paris.

About 16% teach vocational skills, 21% Montessori, 13.3% follow other teaching methods. Overall, 21% are religious, mostly Catholic.

Hervé Rowland, president of Fondation pour l’école, a body recognized by the Ministry of Education for promoting diversity in education by supporting private schools, welcomes the stricter rules.

Of course, schools such as the Orthodox Jewish School should be reviewed and closed if the allegations against them are proven.

“Situations like this can give charter schools a bad name, and it’s right that they are tightly controlled, as there can always be violations.”

say hard to set up out of service Schools because they need a sound financial plan, but he insists that there is a great demand for it.

“In September 2021, 122 new stores opened, and we are working with another 200 that we hope will open in September. A school in Tours, which opened this year with 66 pupils, already has orders for 80 new places.

Read more: ‘Our son is thriving after moving from a public school to a private French school’

New rules for home schooling

Roland says he has nothing against public schools when they do well, but stresses that parents are increasingly fed up with existing schools and want to see a different approach.

In charter schools, he says, “their child is treated as an individual.”

An increasing number of parents are also turning to home schooling. Ten years ago, there were about 5,000 families doing this; In 2020/21, there were 62,000.

However, the anti-separatist law He also introduced stricter rules for homeschooling, which will take effect in September.

Parents will need permission to teach at home and this will only be granted for specific reasons: the child’s health, or a registered disability; Intensive technical or athletic training; Mobile families or living too far from school.

Ordinances providing more detailed regulations are expected to be published soon, but their content has already been leaked, sparking outrage among some of the home-schooled families.

Parents unhappy with stricter law

Jean Baptiste and Marie Millard have been homeschooling their three children for the past 10 years.

They have also written a book on home schooling and, after researching the situation in other countries, have concluded that France already has the most restrictive set of controls, they say, with China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Cuba.

“Expected ordinances make the rules even stricter,” Maillard says.

“Parents must have Baccalaureate or equivalent and prove that they are available to teach. Applications can only be submitted between March 1 and May 31 and children will not be able to switch to homeschooling until the new school year. This means that there is no escape route for any child who is severely bullied during the year and could benefit from home schooling for a period of time.”

They are challenging the new laws before the nation’s highest court, the State Council, and many MPs are making their case.

“We know that many families choose to go to home school because their children have dyslexia or other similar conditions, which they do not feel are dealt with appropriately in regular schools,” Maillard says.

“[Under the new laws] This would not be an acceptable reason, unless the child is registered as disabled, which is a very long process.

Parents should be the first to raise their children

We believe, from a report I’ve seen, that the government wants to cut the number of children home-schooled by two-thirds. We say that their argument that children can be radicalized at home is unfounded. There is no evidence that any child has turned to terrorism because they did not go to school.

“We believe that parents should have a choice and they should remain the first educators for their children.”

Homeschooling families won’t actually have to comply with the new rules until September 2024, but it will be more difficult for new families to get started.

Roland says this could mean an increased demand for places in out of service schools.

The government says its philosophy in education is to work for comprehensive schoolwhile providing quality education for all children from 3 to 18 years of age, taking into account their differences and individual educational needs.

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