Living in the Languedoc: Education:
French Secondary Schools
Secondary schooling is divided into two successive stages, known as cycles, collège and the lycée.
From 11 to 15 years, almost all children now attend a collège, taking them from form 6 (sixième) to form 3 (troisième).
Since 1975 there has been a single mixed-ability collège for all pupils regardless of their level of achievement.
Form 3, the final year at collège, is the first point at which children have a choice regarding some of the subjects they do and the direction they would like their studies to take [although they can have to choose a foreign language in form 6 and another in form 4.
All the children in a locality attend the same collège, before going their separate ways in lycées.
Collèges are therefore faced with the task of providing the same standard of education for all their pupils, while of necessity adapting it to children who may be at very different standards.
The traditional practice of teachers standing up in front of mixed-ability classes giving standard lessons is accepted as no longer being tenable.
Collèges now have the requisite extra resources to allocate at least two hours a week in form 6 to bringing children up to the required level or to provide children lagging behind with extra supervised tuition in forms 6 and 5.
Teaching methods capable of arousing the pupils' interest and making their studies more meaningful are being used in the new more diversified and "cross curricula" lessons to address the difficulties some children have in coping with the compartmentalised teaching system.
After form 3, children move onto a general, technical or vocational lycée.
These prepare pupils for the corresponding baccalauréat examinations ("le bac"), which they normally take at the age of 18. A general series baccalauréat involves literature (arts-based), or economics and social sciences, or science. A technological baccalauréat involves science and tertiary or industrial or laboratory technologies, or medical and social sciences.
Two hours a week of individual tuition in French and mathematics can be given to pupils who are struggling.
The modular courses and personal supervised work (TPE - travaux personnels encadrés) introduced in autumn 2000 in form 1 (penultimate year of lycée) for pupils studying for a "general series" baccalauréat (6) are designed to develop independent learning.
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