Teachers College
Columbia University

France: Primary School Cycle System

France’s Primary School Cycle system, part of the Educational Guidance Act, is a national curriculum for children entering the school system at age 3 that continues until children leave primary school.  All public schools in France are expected to implement this curriculum.  The national curriculum model divides primary education into three cycles:

  • Cycle 1: up to age 5 (focuses on early learning skills)
  • Cycle 2: from age 5, the last year of preschool to the second year of elementary education (focuses on basic learning skills)
  • Cycle 3: including the third, fourth, and fifth years of elementary education (focuses on the further development of these skills)

With a coherently designed curriculum, delivered in all state preschools (école maternelle) and elementary schools, educational expectations and teaching strategies across the early years are aligned.  Cycle 2 bridges the two school settings, providing a tangible mechanism to facilitate transitions between preschool and elementary school.  The Primary School Cycle also promotes pedagogical alignment through a unified teacher preparation system based on the curriculum that is provided by University of Teacher Training Institutes.

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