When should you register your child for school in France?

When should you register your child for school in France?
French President Emmanuel Macron wants to reduce social inequality by making children enter nursery school at the age of three. Photo: AFP
French schools have now opened their registration processes for the new school year in December - here's what you need to know about registering.

All French schools have now opened the registration process for enrolling children in maternelle (nursery school) for September 2020, so parents aiming for specific schools should hurry up before the slots fill up.

All three-year-olds in France must now attend maternelle, according to a government decree from August 2019 that was issued to decrease social inequalities between children in the country from the youngest age possible.

In practice the vast majority of French parents already sent their child to nursery as it offers free childcare, but it is now compulsory.

So all parents whose child turns three before September this year must therefore enroll their child in a school in their area. 

In which schools can I register my child?

Public schools in France have been designated their own geographic area and children 'belong' to the school in their sector.

In areas with more than one school, local authorities will inform parents of which school corresponds to their sector, according to the French government's website.

Anyone wishing to register their children in a different school to the one in their sector must ask for a derogation (exemption) from the mayor. How to do this exactly varies between areas so parents must ask their local mairie (city hall) on how to go ahead.

Parents who want to sign their child into school in a different area must also get permission from the local authorities in that city. However obtaining such a permission does not guarantee that the request is granted.

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Photo: AFP

How do I register my child?

While most of France opens their registrations in March, some opened already back in January.

Parents can ask their local mairie  for the list of documents required to do the registration, which could vary between cities.

In general, you need:

  • An ID for your child or a copy of their birth certificate
  • A health book stating that your child has had all the mandatory vaccinations
  • A recent proof of home address (for example your last tax notice, or an electricity or gas bill from the last three months)

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Mind you, this is only the first round of the registration process. After this you will need to proceed with the definitive registration process, which usually requires re-sending most of the documents above alongside a registration certificate issued by the mairie.

The registration process must be completed before the end of June 2020.


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