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Private Schools for Expats in France

Submitted: October 2013

Private schools in France may be fully funded privately or partially funded by the state. Schools that receive funding from the government are said to be under contract or “sous contrat” while those that do not receive funding are considered outside contract or “hors contrat”. It must be noted that regardless of whether a school receives government funding, it is still subject to inspection by state officials.

As religious education is not taught in state schools in France, many private schools have a religious base (mainly Catholic or Muslim). If the private school is under contract, the national curriculum is taught, as with state schools. Despite their religious base, these private schools however are prohibited from discriminating against students on the basis of religion, and in fact cannot compel students to participate in any religious activities. Classes at these types of private schools are mainly taught in French.

Private schools are available at both the primary and secondary school stage. There are also private schools which encompass both the primary and secondary levels which results in a smoother transition for the student. Private schools which are subsidised by the state are considerably less expensive than those which are not under contract as teachers are paid by the state. Fees for these subsidised private schools range from €400 to €4,000 annually.

One advantage of selecting a private school is that students are not subject to the carte scolaire system, which zones students into state schools depending on their place of residence. You therefore have the freedom to choose your child’s school. Other advantages include smaller class sizes which result in more individualised instruction.

Another version of the private school that is found in France is what is referred to as “bilingual schools”. These bilingual private schools which are subsidised by the state are less expensive than the International schools yet have the similar benefits for students who are not fluent in French.

Another factor to consider when selecting a private school is its academic performance.  It may be wise examine the results of the Baccalauréat (please refer to the following link https://www.education.gouv.fr/cid4914/les-resultats-du-baccalaureat.html ) in order to select a private school which has a high level of academic success as it must be noted that private schools are not necessarily better academically than state schools. In the 2012 Baccalauréat examinations, two of the five top performing lycées were private while the remainder were state schools.

Private schools which are “hors contrat” are obviously more expensive with annual fees ranging from €8,000 to €20,000. These schools however have the freedom to set their own curriculum. The admission procedure in these schools is quite thorough. For the admissions process of one of the top performing “hors contrat” lycées please refer to the following link: https://www.eabjm.com/en/procedure. Please note that the admission process may vary depending on the proposed school level.

Private schools often have a limited number of places. As such, enquiries into the most suitable private school for your child should begin well before your move to France in order to secure a place.

Applications must be submitted to the schools directly. In terms of admissions criteria for bilingual private schools, one factor that is assessed is the child’s ability to cope with the academic challenges of a bilingual curriculum.

It must also be noted that many private schools have an option for boarding, including those which are “sous contrat”. This option should be carefully considered especially if you may have to travel outside of France regularly for business.

You may find various websites such as www.fabert.com  useful in order to search for private schools located in your particular region or elsewhere, depending on your particular requirements.

A comprehensive list of private schools in France can be found in the publication “The AAWE Guide to Education in France”. The Good Schools Guide also provides a helpful resource for locating private schools in France, please refer to its website at the following link. www.gsgi.co.uk.



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