Ecole maternelle in France

School trips are an important part of the learning process in maternelle

At the start of the 2019 school year, education becomes compulsory for children from the age of three. But what will they learn? Jane Hanks finds out

From September 2019, it will be obligatory for all three year olds to be educated. For the majority this will mean going to an école maternelle, although home schooling will be permitted.

This is not the huge change it first appears as 97% of children already attend école maternelle but President Emmanuel Macron said making it obligatory was important to allow everyone the same chance to have a good start in education. 

This will mean children in France start school earlier than those in any other European country. Many others provide optional pre-school education, but for most, compulsory education starts at five or six, or four in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Cyprus.

Teachers’ unions and parents’ associations accept the move, but are worried the government will not provide the necessary resources to improve schooling for the very young.

But what do children do all day in maternelle? Connexion spoke to Ghislaine Merly who has been teaching young children in a rural school at Marcillac-Saint-Quentin, Dordogne, for the past 15 years.

She, like ...

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