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France goes back to school as reforms get underway

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France goes back to school as reforms get underway
AFP
17:00 CEST+02:00
It was back to school for 12 million school students and 880,000 teachers in France on Monday. But what changes are they facing as they take up their stylos once more?
French President Emmanuel Macron's government and his minister for education Jean Michel Blanquer haven't wasted any time introducing their new vision for France's school system. 
 
As a result, school is going to look a little bit different for the 12 million students and 880,000 teachers returning on Monday.
 
Here's how:
 
1. Smaller class sizes for (some of) the youngest students
 
Blanquer has halved class sizes for children in the first year of primary school (CP) in schools in priority areas (or REPs). Schools falling under the REP umbrella have been identified as belonging to
areas where educational inequality is a problem that needs to be addressed.
 
Now, in these priority areas, there will be just 12 or 13 students per class in the 2,500 classes concerned.
 
While around 85 percent of pupils in REPs will be in lessons of 12, 15 percent of them will share a room with another class, due to a lack of space. However, where two classes have been grouped together, two teachers will be present.
 
In order to help the changes go through smoothly, 90 percent of the teachers working in the shared classrooms have at least three years experience, according to Blanquer.
 
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AFP
 
2. School timetable
 
Another big change for primary school students is the return to the four-day week, with 37 percent of French towns opting to reduce the timetable from 4.5 days.
 
This translates to a little over a third of French primary schools extending the school day from five to six hours.
 
AFP
 
3. Tests
 
Blanquer has indicated that students will be evaluated at national level during the first year of primary school (CP) as well as in the first year of secondary school, when they are 11 or 12 years old, in November.
 
4. Homework
 
A new measure to help students with their homework is due to launch from November 1st in secondary schools (11-15 year-olds).
 
Students will be able to stay behind at school and get help with their homework in an attempt to tackle the problem of some pupils not having much help at home from their parents or siblings.
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