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Why new legislation is making it harder to homeschool in France

What to expect under the école à la maison rules

Homeschooling must be compatible with the family’s health and living conditions Pic: Phovoir / Shutterstock

Although the number of children receiving homeschooling (instruction dans la famille/école à la maison) in France has been steadily rising in recent years, a new law that came into force in 2021 is making it harder for parents to start doing it. 

The loi contre le séparatisme was introduced to help prevent the radicalisation of pupils and means compulsory education in a public or private school can now only be waived in specific instances, such as on health grounds, for pupils who are gifted in a certain sport and need to fit lessons around their training, or if the child lives too far from the nearest school. 

Parents must apply for authorisation to the directeur académique des services de l’éducation nationale (Dasen) in their department and be prepared for inspections, from the first year, by the mayor. 

This inspection is repeated every two years until the child is 16 and will verify the reasons why you have requested this form of education. 

It will also determine whether homeschooling is compatible with the family’s health and living conditions. 

At the time of the inspection, you must provide a certificate of your child’s medical care. 

The Dasen will conduct separate checks that the child is receiving adequate instruction and acquiring knowledge. 

These are carried out at least once a year, sometimes with the assistance of an educational psychologist. They can take place with or without advance warning. 

The inspector will check the child’s knowledge and skills in an interview with parents, in which they should explain the approach and teaching methods being used. 

The child then completes exercises (written or oral) appropriate to his/her age and health. 

For families that fail, a second inspection will be scheduled at least one month after the first results are sent, by which time the situation must be improved. 

If not, the Dasen requires that the child is enrolled in a regular school within 15 days of the notification. 

Homeschooling without being authorised to do so risks a fine of €1,500.

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