School system

French and English School Systems Comparison:



In France, children generally start school at the age of 3. The year of birth is generally taken into account in order to start school. All the pupils of the same calendar year are put in a particular year group with the exception of some special cases or if the children are retaking a year. For example, in September 2010 children born in 2006 will be admitted to the 2nd year of the nursery.


The different stages of the French education system 

The primary school is composed of the nursery and the juniors. Then kids go to lower secondary school and upper secondary school.

Nursery/Infants (maternelle)

  • Petite Section de maternelle : 3-year-old
  • Moyenne Section (MS) de maternelle
  • Grande Section (GS) de maternelle

Infants/Juniors (élémentaire)

  • CP (from 6 years old) - Reading is taught from this age (one year later than in the english education system)
  • CE1
  • CE2
  • CM1
  • CM2

Lower secondary school (collège)

  • 6ème - from 11 years old
  • 5ème
  • 4ème
  • 3ème - Brevet national exams at end of year

Upper secondary school (lycée)

  • 2nde - Pupils choose between Litterature, Economics or Sciences for the Baccalauréat at the end of year
  • 1ère 1st part of Baccalauréat exams at the end of the year
  • Terminale ‐ Baccalauréat exams at the end of the year



In the English education system the age of the pupil is generally taken into account from 1st September to 31st August (not as in France). As a result there may be differences between the starting ages when children move from the French system to the English or from the English to the French. This especially concerns children born between September 1st and December 31st. The Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle accepts children from the British system according to the number of places available. To be eligible the applicant may need to take an entrance test in order for the school to ascertain their level.

  French System UK System
Children born between 1/1/2004 and 31/8/2004 CE2 Year 4
Children born between 1/9/2004 and 31/12/2004 CE2 Year 3

The different stages of the English education system

Primary School

Key Stage 1: Year 1 and year 2
Key Stage 2: from Year 3 to Year 6

  • Nursery – from 3 years old – between 2 ½ and 3 hours per day (a.m. or p.m.)
  • Reception – from 4 years old – whole days from 9 a.m. to 3.30 (timings vary)
  • Year 1 – from 5 years old – the pupil learns to read and write (a year earlier than in France)
  • Year 2 – from 6 years old
  • Year 3 – from 7 years old
  • Year 4 – from 8 years old
  • Year 5 – from 9 years old
  • Year 6 – from 10 years old (SATS – end of year national tests taken)

Secondary School

Key Stage 3: Year 7 to Year 9

  • Year 7 ‐ from 11 years old
  • Year 8 ‐ from 12 years old
  • Year 9 ‐ from 13 years old
  • Year 10 ‐ from 14 years old (British Section starts here with 3ème GCSE) – 1st year of preparation for GCSE national examinations
  • Year 11 ‐ from 15 years old (2nde GCSE in the British Section) – GCSE national examinations in up to 11 subjects taken from May
  • Year 12 ‐ from 16 years old (PAL in the British Section) – AS national examinations taken from May in up to 5 subjects
  • Year 13 ‐ from 17 years old (TAL in the British Section) – A level national examinations taken in up to 4 subjects from May

Students educated at the Lycée may request to study in the British Section from Year 10. A place is offered based on students’ results, the advice of form tutors and English teachers at a special Admissions Committee meeting in June.

After GCSE, students choose the subjects in which they wish to specialise and they take AS (Advanced Subsidiary) levels and then A (Advanced) levels which are the equivalent of the French baccalauréat. In the British Section, French is compulsory in all years.

External students who wish to apply to the British Section are very welcome. The offer of a place depends on availability. An entrance test is taken for those students who do not have GCSE or A levels. All applicants are also interviewed in English and French by the Head of the British Section, Simon McNaught. For places in PAL (Year 12) students need to have a minimum of 5 B grades at GCSE and 1 C grade plus B grades in the subjects chosen for A level. For more information about the British Section please contact Mrs Ricci : 020 7584 6314 or email