Rentrée 2018: School changes expected from CP to lycée

This year’s Rentrée is set to include several changes to the school day, from primary years up to lycée, including a ban on mobile phones and the learning of La Marseillaise for younger pupils.

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Firstly, schools will aim to reduce class sizes further across primary levels, especially in deprived areas.

Reducing class sizes was one of President Emmanuel Macron’s key promises during his election campaign, and this measure is expected to apply as much as possible to CE1 (Year 1) classes from 2019 (having been rolled out in CP (Reception) classes since 2017).

The goal is to have no more than a dozen pupils per class.

French and maths classes for primary pupils will also see changes - as recommended by curriculum council Le Conseil Supérieur des Programmes (CSP) and education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer.

This will include the introduction of a daily dictation, in a bid to improve spelling; and in mathematics, the learning of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division as early as the CP years.

“Moral and civic teaching” is set to be tweaked too; this year will see students in CE2 (Year 2) learning national anthem La Marseillaise - and beginning to learn the main symbols of the Republic.

Previously, lessons about the French Revolution and the learning of La Marseillaise only began in CM1 (Year 3).

Also at primary level, a growing number of schools are choosing to give pupils Wednesdays “off”, leaving them free to pursue leisure and sport activities.

The education minister has encouraged schools to do this, alongside a State-supported “Wednesday plan” aimed at helping communes to “develop quality leisure facilities” for education purposes.

For older students, another Macron-backed promise will come into force this year: the banning of all mobile phones and portable devices in schools and collèges (middle school), except for educational or health reasons.

At lycée (high school) level, students entering their last years of education in 2019 are expected to be the first to take the new “tough Jean-Michel Blanquer” Baccalaureate exam in 2021. As such, these new students will have access to at least two hours of personal tutoring in writing and speaking.

More effort will also be dedicated to helping students decide which subjects to focus on - including staying on a more general track or choosing to focus on more technical subjects instead.

The core lycée curriculum is expected to see some tweaks, with students required to take extra mandatory subjects, including digital science and lessons in changing technology.

Another new measure will see all students at lycée tested on their levels of French and maths before October.

The results will remain “anonymous and personal”, and will allow students and teachers to identify “existing knowledge and areas that need more work”, the minister for the interior has said.

The focus of certain classes at business and professional lycées will also change in a bid to widen their attractiveness to more students - including less-specialised classes in first year (Seconde) and workshops on entering professional life or beginning further study in the final year (Terminale).

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