Third of French primary schools to return to a four-day week

The French school timetable is about to change for the third time in nine years, or at least it is for a third of the country's schools, which will return to a four day week.

Third of French primary schools to return to a four-day week
Photo: AFP
A third of French primary schools will be returning to the four day week from the new school year beginning in September. 
The ministry of education confirmed on Tuesday that a third of French primary schools, or 31.8 percent to be exact, teaching 28.7 percent of the country's young children, will return to the four-day week based on a decision made by their local authorities. 
France's new president Emmanuel Macron announced his intentions to change the primary school timetable early on in his presidency, saying that he would give authorities the option of returning to the four-day week in place of the four and a half-day week put in place by the previous government. 
France looks set for another change to the school timetable
Photo: AFP
For the schools changing their timetables in September – in a move which the ministry of education dubbed a “new freedom” – this represents the third change in nine years. 
In 2008, then president Nicolas Sarkozy introduced the four-day week and in 2013/2014 his successor Socialist President Francois Hollande instituted one half day during the school week, with most schools choosing to open on Wednesday mornings. 
The change has been made possible by a decree published at the end of June, which allows for teaching hours to be divided up differently while maintaining the number of total hours taught over the entire year. 
Some of the places in France set to adopt the new timetable this year include all of the large towns and cities of the Var and the Alpes-Maritimes on the French Riviera, including Antibes, Cannes, Nice, Toulon and Hyères, as well as the northern cities of Tourcoing and Calais, governed by the regional educational authority of Lille. 
On top of that, 53 percent of schools under the southern city of Montpellier's education authority will be returning to four-day weeks, as will 83 percent of schools in the Pyrénées-Orientales near the Spanish border and 85 percent in the southern department of Lozère.
But this won't be the case quite yet for children in Paris and Marseille, where the authorities have chosen to keep the four and a half-day week until September 2018.
And the move is not without controversy, with specialists recommending in 2013 the four and a half-day week as the better option for young children, and the Medical Academy saying that the best interests of children should be prioritised over those of adults.    


REVEALED: France’s new holiday dates for the 2022/23 school year

School in France is far from out for summer but the dates have been released for the 2022/23 school year complete with holidays and "bridges". Take a look so you can plan your holidays.

REVEALED: France's new holiday dates for the 2022/23 school year

It’s the time of year children dislike most – as is traditional, rentrée in France is on September 1st this year, a Thursday, a day after teachers return to the classroom to prepare for the new term.

The 2022-23 school year then ends – 36 school weeks later – after classes on Friday, July 7th, 2023, later than in recent years and just a week before the fête nationale on July 14th.

 “My class will be almost empty the last week, families will have gone on vacation, especially if the tourist prices are considered out of vacation, therefore less expensive,” a  teacher in Paris told Le Parisien.

Another was concerned about the weather at that time of year. “The longer we get into the year, the hotter it gets. They already forecast 35C on May 18th, so on July 8th, I can’t imagine the heat in class,” she said.

School holidays in France have long been divided into three zones. Summer, autumn and Christmas holidays are taken at the same time across the whole of the country, but the winter and spring breaks are staggered according to which zone a school is in.

The educational zones in France are here 


The Ministry of Education has published a calendar planner for the 2022/23 school holidays on its website, showing the holiday periods for all three zones in France.

Image: ministère de l’éducation nationale et de la jeunesse et des sports

The calendar is available to download as a pdf, here

Notably, pupils in Zone A schools – those in Besançon, Dijon, Grenoble, Lyon, Clermont-Ferrand, Limoges, Poitiers and Bordeaux – face a longer-than-usual summer term, a two-and-a-half month stretch from April 24th to July 8th. This is a longer term than is usually recommended by education experts – longer even than the 10-and-a-half weeks at the same time last year for two zones, which was described as “a marathon” by both families and teachers.

There will be some breaks in that long run of school weeks, however. May Day and VE Day are both on Mondays next year, Ascension is on Thursday, May 18th, with schools traditionally ‘bridging’ the Friday, and Pentecôte holiday is on Monday, May 28th.

On the flipside, pupils in the same zone also get the shortest term on record in the next school year. They return after the Christmas holiday on January 3rd, and break-up for the winter holidays on February 4th.