A guide to how to find extra help with schoolwork in France
From primary school up to Lycée level and through lessons in school holidays to schoolwork associations, there are many avenues of help on offer
If your child is facing difficulties with schoolwork, there are ways to get extra help, either at school or outside. Here, we take a look at the options available.
Les activités pédagogiques complémentaires (APC) are extra lessons the teachers can put in place for children struggling with class work.
The teachers organise the lessons but must ask for parents’ agreement because they are on top of the obligatory 24 hours of school time.
They might be at the end of the day or during the lunch break, if it is long enough.
Stages de réussite
These are free lessons given in schools during the holidays.
Usually, the teacher proposes the idea to parents and it is up to the family to decide whether the child should attend or not. You can also ask if your child could participate.
Lessons are carried out by teachers who volunteer and the lessons are carried out in small groups. The aim is to help pupils make sure they have acquired the basic skills, and teachers say it helps children gain confidence, particularly as they appreciate the benefit of more individual attention.
The lessons are on offer four times a year, during the autumn and February holidays and twice during the summer in July and in August.
They are in blocks of 15 hours, with a maximum of three hours a day for five days. In 2020, 236,570 primary school pupils and 40,153 collège and lycée pupils participated.
Aide aux devoirs
Many mairies set up a free aide aux devoirs service in schools at the end of the day, where there are people on hand to help children with their homework.
They can either be run by an employee of the mairie or by an association. Ask at your school or mairie to find out details.
Devoirs faits: All collèges are expected to offer sessions for pupils to do their homework at school in a classroom with help on hand.
They are open to any pupil who wants to go along, whether they are facing particular difficulties or not, and they are free.
Each collège organises its own system of work.
The adults on hand can be teachers, education assistants or associations which specialise in helping children with schoolwork.
At Collège la Justice, Cergy, Vald’Oise, some sessions are run by teachers and some by an association, Zup de co, which is in constant contact with the school on the progress and the homework required of each pupil.
The teachers there say they try to help the children understand their lessons and show them how to organise their work so they can do their homework better on their own.
If they have not understood a lesson, this is an occasion to go over it with someone, who can explain again in a smaller, less pressured group.
The sessions can be at the beginning of the day, during the lunch break, during free periods, or after school.
Stages de réussite
On offer to collège pupils under the same conditions as primary school.
Stages de réussite are also on offer to lycée students. Some lycées also offer language-speaking courses during school holidays, with three hours a day over five days, which might be useful for Spanish or German.
If you put aide aux devoirs or soutien scolaire into a search engine, there are several pages of results so it can be difficult to know where to turn.
The first step is to find out what is on offer in your area: ask at the school, at your mairie, or talk to other parents.
There are several associations, particularly in bigger towns and cities, which organise help with schoolwork.
Entraide Scolaire Amicale, for example, has 95 branches and has been in action since 1969.
It helps parents who cannot help with homework, perhaps for language reasons, and who do not have the means to pay by allocating one volunteer to a child, who will go to their home once a week for the school year, for pupils from primary age through to lycée.
A similar association is AFEV, which calls on university students to give two hours a week to help a pupil who needs help with schoolwork.
These are two national associations working mostly in big cities, but smaller towns often have their own.
In Sarlat, Dordogne, the association Pari has been in action for more than 30 years, with sessions from 17:00 to 19:00 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, run by a team of volunteers who offer the pupils a snack before helping with their work and then organise games, sports and activities.
These can either be from a specialised business, such as Acadomia, one of the biggest, or an individual who has set themselves up as a micro-entrepreneur. Prices can vary widely.
On its website, Acadomia offers one-to-one lessons at home for a signing-up cost of €59, plus €12 a month, plus €36 an hour per lesson.
The cost of the lesson can be offset by a tax credit of 50%, for all private school lessons in the home.
It is estimated that private individuals charge around €40-55 an hour.
You can find out the reputation of people local to you by asking around. Word of mouth is often the best indicator to find someone who is competent and works well with children.
There are several options. Two of the biggest are Bordas and Kartable. Cned, the Education Ministry-backed distance learning organisation has a free app Jules, to help collège students with homework in French, maths, history-geography, and sciences. In 2020, 90,000 pupils and 12,500 teachers signed up to it.
The insurance group Maif (Mutuelle assurance des instituteurs de France), which started as an insurance provider for teachers, has a free online site with material for pupils from nursery up to lycée, with interactive tests and lesson sheets.
Most, but not all, subjects are included – created with educational books publisher Rue des écoles.
One of the biggest parent-teacher associations, PEEP, has a site, which costs €8.15 a month for one parent and a child, or €36.15 a year.
It includes lesson plans, exercises, quizzes and videos from primary school up to the end of lycée. There are teachers on hand to answer questions via audio or video chat from 17:00-20:00, Sunday to Friday.