4. General Operation of French Schools

  1. Services for Overseas Arrivals
  2. School Term Dates
  3. School Transport
  4. Boarding Your Child
  5. Discipline & Attendance
  6. Costs & Insurance
  7. School Lunches

4.6. French School Costs and Insurance

Although state education is ostensibly free of charge, you will need to meet a range of ancillary costs.

These costs include stationery, school lunches, insurance for sports and extra curricular activities and school trips.

Whilst coursebooks are provided free of charge at primary and lower secondary school, parents are expected to meet the costs of some textbooks at lycée.

In practice, second hand books are generally available through the parent associations and related bodies and some region councils also meet the cost of books at their lycées.

The school should normally write to you in good time before the start of the school term advising you of the items you will need to purchase. If they do not, then best ask.

Many schools now also organise the purchase of school materials themselves, for which hhey seek payment from the parents. It can often work out cheaper (and certainly easier) than working your way around the supermarket for the materials.

There are means-tested grants to help with these costs.

There is no school uniform to purchase and there is generally no school dress code, although the wearing of any religious signs or clothing is specifically outlawed.

One of the more unusual but most important items of expenditure is that of school insurance.

The law prescribes that parents are directly responsible for the actions of their children. To in the extent that your child causes accidental damage or injury to another person or object, then the victim can bring a civil action for damages against the parents.

Whilst it is not necessary to take out insurance for normal school curriculum activities you are obliged to take out insurance cover for your children so they can participate in school visits, trips and sports outside of the school curriculum.

You will be asked by the school to produce a copy of the insurance certificate before your child can participate in any of these activities.

Insurance cover for school transport is provided by the transport operator.

School insurance will cover damage or personal injury caused to your child or that caused by your child to others.

Deliberate acts or those that are not legal are not covered by the insurance.

Sometimes school insurance cover is included with your house insurance, failing which you can get either ‘24/24’ insurance cover for the whole year and at all times, or cover merely for specific activities or trips.

Insurance ‘24/24’ is also often referred to as assurance scolaire-extra scolaire. It is not expensive and provides wide cover for your children at all times, and for most activities. Expect to pay around €25 a year for such cover, although there are policies at half or twice this rate.

You should make contact with a representative of the local parents association, or someone on the school council, who will be able to advise you of a suitable insurer. Alternatively, a couple of the largest school insurers are MAE and MMA.

If you are using your home insurance make sure you have understood the details of the guarantee because it may be third party cover only, or have other limitations.


Next: School Lunches

Back: Discipline & Attendance




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