French school children ranked worst at reading in Europe

French school children aged 9 to 10 have been ranked the worst in Europe for their reading skills, marking a steady decline in levels since 2001, a new study has revealed.

French school children ranked worst at reading in Europe
Photo: AFP
It's not good news for French schools. 
The study by PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study), which has been carried out every five years since 2001, ranks the reading skills of school children aged 9 to 10 in 50 countries. 
Thousands of French school pupils took part in the study in the spring of 2016, answering a series of comprehension questions on literary and informative texts.
And the results weren't good news, with the country coming last in Europe and 34th overall on a list that saw Russia claim the top spot, followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, Ireland and Finland. 
France received a total of 511 points in the survey, which was led by the IEA, a Dutch consulting firm specializing in comparative studies of international school systems. 
This score puts French children 25 points below the average for children participating in other European Union countries (544 points). 
By comparison, Russia received 581 points and England, which was ranked tenth, received 559 points. 
Infograph: Le Parisien
And the low ranking marks a trend for France, which is one of just two countries to see their scores steadily decline since the study began in 2001, along with the Netherlands. 
In 2011, the country received 520 points and when the study began in 2001, it received 532 points.
When looking at the results closely, it appears that French schoolchildren were fairly successful when it came to answering simple questions about texts, for example the names of major characters.
However when the questions involved interpretation, for example, using information from an informative text to build reasoning, French children had trouble.
Third of French primary schools to return to a four-day week
Photo: AFP 
But why?
It doesn't seem to be a question of time dedicated to the subject, with French schools spending an average of 37 percent of their time teaching reading, compared to an average of 27 percent in other countries. 
But while French teachers are equally as experienced as their counterparts, they were also found by the study to be the least satisfied with their job and teaching conditions. 
France is also among the countries that gives the least amount of teacher training, with the study revealing that 38 percent of schoolchildren were taught by teachers who did not receive continuous training to teach reading in the two years preceding the survey.
This rate is well above the average of other countries studied which stood at 16 percent. 

Why schools are to blame for the French being so glumPhoto: AFP


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.