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French School Calendar to be Revised

Wednesday 05 October 2011

The government looks set to ring the changes on the primary school calendar by reducing the amount of teaching hours per day.

According to an advisory committee set up by the government, the length of the school day for primary school children is one of the longest in Europe, yet the school working week and year are also the shortest.

French primary school children attend lessons for 6 hours per day, 4 days a week, for 36 weeks a year, although there are some minor local variations.

The experts consider that such intensive schooling is too tiring for children, and that the long school summer holiday is harmful to those children with difficulties at school.

Under the new proposals the amount of teaching will be reduced to 5 hours per day, and school attendance on a Wednesday morning will be reintroduced, increasing the school week to 4 ½ days.

There may also be obligatory hours for pupils to undertake homework at school, to reduce the need to do school work at home.

In order that the number of school hours over the year remains the same, the length of the summer holiday will be reduced by 2 weeks.

The government are also carrying out trials of more sports activities in schools, and it is likely that sport and arts will feature more formally as part of the school working week in the future.

So, in the end, there may even be an increase in the number of hours children spend at school, albeit that the hours of tuition will remain the same.

French school children already attend school for more hours in the year than most other countries in the world.

On the basis of these proposals, it does now seem the government acted rather precipitously in 2008 when school attendance on a Saturday or Wednesday morning was abolished, reducing the number of school hours per week from 26 to 24.

The proposals seem to have met with a general degree of unanimity between the two main political parties, although it is unlikely that any major change will occur until after the presidential elections in 2013.

The consensus amongst the politicians is not quite shared by the teachers unions, who are opposed, in particular, to the reduction in the length of the school summer holiday.

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