8. French Lower Secondary School - Collège
8.3. School Curriculum at Collège
There are total of 26 hours of lessons each week for each year, with no more than 6 hours lessons a day.
Out of the 26 hours of compulsory education, there should be several hours each week (3 hours in the first year and 4 hours per week in later years) of ‘complementary education’, which takes the form of either interdisciplinary practical education and/or personalised support.
In addition, there are 10 hours of ’vie de la classe’ each year, normally for an hour each month. It is devoted to the pupil’s expression on the life of the class. It is a gathering that seeks to regulate tensions, to find ways of living together in a harmonious manner.
Schools are also able to provide supplementary classes to support those with particular difficulties.
The following tables set out the subjects taught in each year of collège, together with the minimum number of teaching hours for each subject. The programme is broadly the same for the first three years, but with some variation in the final year.
Some (but not much!) local variation is allowed on these programmes.
In particular, there are some schools that specialise in say music, sport or foreign languages, where there are additional hours in addition to basic curriculum.
There are also optional subjects generally available to pupils in their final year, taken in addition to the basic curriculum.
Sixième (Age 11-12)
Cinquième (Age 12-13)
Quatrième (Age 13-14)
Troisième (Age 14-15)
At the end of the 4th year (troisième), pupils can opt to benefit from a specific vocational teaching programme called the prépa-métiers class, which aims to introduce them to a range of professional environments and support them in developing a career towards a vocational activity/apprenticeship.
This initiative, introduced for September 2019 follows on from previous similiar initiatives that have not met with huge success.
Depending on their project and the assessment of the teaching team, each student must complete 1 to 4 weeks of internships and immersion periods during the school year (in a lycée professionnel or apprenticeship training centre), in addition to the compulsory professional education.
In practice, many of the classes for this vocational stream take place in a lycée professionnel.
The programme for the prépa-métiers class, is therefore slightly different, with a total of 30 hours as follows:
The interdisciplinary studies - enseignements pratiques interdisciplinaires (EPI) – that are undertaken cover many different themes incorporating at least two disciplines in each case - health and welfare, culture and artistic creation, environmental studies, ancient or regional languages and cultures, and modern working life. The emphasis is on project-based work, which may be taken on an individual or, more often, on a collective basis. Pupils will make a presentation of their project, with marks that go towards the Brevet. One of the key aims is to make school more interesting for pupils. The indications are that many schools are not satisfactorily prepared to deliver it.
There is a specific requirement for students to obtain a certificate in information technology by taking the brevet informatique et internet as part of the final certification process at collège.
Students are required to be taught an understanding of common risks they may encounter in life, accident prevention and emergency treatment in the event of an accident. The pupil may be awarded a certificate in emergency first aid - l'attestation de formation aux premiers secours (AFPS). The topic is taught within the main curriculum.
There is also the ASSR (road safety certificate) and this is obligatory if a child wants to drive a moped at 14 or thereafter take a driving test.
In relation to foreign language teaching two languages are taken from Cinquième onwards, which normally includes English.
Although the curriculum is very prescribed, schools are also required to increasingly adapt classes to the individual needs of the children, by offering specialist subjects such as music or languages, and catering for those with particular difficulties.
The main initiatives are called Programmes personnalisés de réussite éducative (PPRE) or plan d'accompagnement personnalisé (PAP) for those with a disability, under which those in difficulty should be given more personalized and intensive education.
Both these initiatives are in addition to other more general support that may be given.
It is an ambitious goal and cash strapped schools are having difficulty in realising it.
These proposals included the requirement for schools to make specific provision for assistance to pupils whose first language is not French.
The proposals also require that schools should make specific provision for those showing exceptional ability.
These proposals are part of a strong government drive to try and give greater individual attention to pupils, although it is unclear how this will be achieved with continuing pressure on the curriculum and only limited new resources being made available.
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