French-Swiss private school in Paris
French-Swiss private school in Paris
The rules governing private schools in France: status, control and duty to teach

The rules governing private schools in France: status, control and duty to teach

Private education in France occupies a significant place in the educational landscape, offering parents and pupils an alternative to the state system. However, these establishments are subject to a strict legal framework and rigorous state control to guarantee the quality of teaching and respect for pupils' rights. This article details the rules that private schools in France must comply with, focusing on their status, control, relationship with the state, and instructional obligations.

Status and control of private schools

Private educational establishments in France are guided by the Education Code and must comply with a number of regulations concerning their status, their relationship with the State and their funding. They are divided into two main categories: schools under contract and schools not under contract.

- Contract schools: These schools have signed a contract with the state, which means that they follow the national curriculum and are regularly inspected by education authorities. In return, they receive public subsidies for teachers' salaries and certain running costs.

- Non-contractual schools: These schools do not receive public subsidies and are not obliged to follow the national curriculum to the letter. However, they must comply with a minimum pedagogical and educational framework imposed by the state, which includes regular inspections to check the quality of teaching.

To set up a public school outside the contractual framework, a declaration must first be made to the education authorities. This declaration may be contested on various grounds, such as inadequate premises, non-compliance with safety standards, or reasons relating to public order and the health of pupils.

Compulsory education

In France, education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 3 and 16 living in the country. Public schools are a form of compulsory education. They must guarantee high-quality education that respects the fundamental values of the Republic, such as secularism, equality and freedom.

Declaration and control

Opening a public school requires a prior declaration, which must be filed with the mayor and the education authority. The purpose of this procedure is to check that the physical, health and safety conditions are met. The authorities may object to the opening for legitimate reasons, thus ensuring that only establishments capable of providing a healthy and safe environment are allowed to operate.

After five years of operation, a non-contracted public school may ask to be bound to the State by a contract. This contract obliges the establishment to comply with certain conditions, including accepting children regardless of their origin, beliefs or social situation. What's more, teachers in these contracted schools are paid by the State, which guarantees a degree of salary uniformity with their counterparts in state education.

Contracts with the State

Contracts between the State and public schools are designed to strengthen the public-private partnership in education. There are two main types of contract:

- Contrat d'association: This type of contract requires the establishment to follow the official national education curriculum in its entirety and to take part in national assessments. In return, the state pays the teachers' salaries and may subsidise other operating costs.

- Simple contract: This contract is less restrictive than the contrat d'association. It gives the school more freedom in terms of teaching, but with less financial support from the State. Schools with a simple contract must, however, comply with the minimum curriculum framework and ensure satisfactory educational results.

Schools wishing to become contract schools must prove their ability to provide quality teaching and meet the requirements of the Ministry of Education. They are also subject to rigorous controls before signing the contract and throughout its duration.

Inspections and controls

All private schools, whether under contract or not, are subject to regular administrative and educational inspections and controls. These inspections aim to verify several aspects:

- Curriculum compliance: Schools under contract must comply with the official curricula and take part in national assessments. Non-contracted establishments, while enjoying greater freedom, must nevertheless offer teaching that complies with the main objectives set by the French education system.

- Quality of teaching: Inspectors ensure that teachers have the necessary qualifications and that the teaching methods used are effective and adapted to the needs of the pupils.

- Respect for pupils' rights: Schools must provide an environment that respects children's rights, including protection against all forms of discrimination, respect for secularism and the promotion of equal opportunities.

- Health and safety: The premises must comply with current health and safety standards. Schools are regularly inspected to ensure that these standards are being applied and that the physical conditions are adequate to ensure the well-being of the pupils.

Sanctions and recourse

In the case of non-compliance with the established rules, the authorities may impose penalties ranging from formal notice to comply with the standards to the administrative closure of the establishment. Regular inspections make it possible to quickly detect and correct any shortcomings, thus guaranteeing a high level of quality and safety in private education.


French private institutions play an essential role in the education system by offering alternatives to the public model. However, their operation is governed by strict rules aimed at guaranteeing the quality of teaching and the respect of students' rights. These institutions must comply with educational obligations, undergo regular checks and, in some cases, may benefit from contracts with the State, which provide them with financial and educational support. Through this rigorous framework, parents can be assured that public schools provide their children with a safe and quality educational environment.

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