School Years in France - Understanding the French education system

Updated: Jul 17

As an expat parenting coach, I often support families in adapting to the French education system. One of the first questions I'm asked is how to figure out which class my child will go into.

And the answer is, it's not easy to figure it out! Because in France, you are placed in a school year depending on your year of birth. So the cut off date is 1 January, instead of 1 September.

We'll come back to that confusing bit of information later, but first, here's a table to make it easy for you to compare systems.


Comparison Table of French, UK and US School Years

Age of child

France

UK

US

3-4

PS (Petite Section)

Nursery

4-5

MS (Moyenne Section)

Reception

Pre-K

5-6

GS (Grande Section)

Year 1

Kindergarten

6-7

CP (Cours Préparatoire)

Year 2

1st Grade

7-8

CE1 (cours élémentaire 1re année)

Year 3

2nd Grade

8-9

CE2 (cours élémentaire 2e année)

Year 4

3rd Grade

9-10

CM1 (cours moyen 1re année)

Year 5

4th Grade

10-11

CM2 (cours moyen 2e année)

Year 6

5th Grade

11-12

Sixième (6e)

Year 7

6th Grade

12-13

Cinquième (5e)

Year 8

7th Grade

13-14

Quatrième (4e)

Year 9

8th Grade

14-15

Troisième (3e)

Year 10

9th Grade

15-16

Seconde (2e)

Year 11

10th Grade

16-17

Première (1ère)

Year 12

11th Grade

17-18

Terminale

Year 13

12th Grade

Back to that cut off date. Maybe it's easier to give you an example.


For the school year 2022/23


  • A child born on 1 January 2010 would be in 5eme in France, 7th Grade in the US, and Year 8 in the UK.

  • However, if the same child was born on 1 September 2010, they would still be in 5e in France, but in 6th Grade in the US, and Year 7 in the UK.


If you'd like to work out the grades for your own child, this calculator might be helpful - double checking this took me some time!!



8 views0 comments