Lower secondary ("first cycle") education

Children aged 11 to 15 having completed their primary education attend a collège for the first four years of secondary education, known as the "first cycle". This lower secondary cycle consists of Years 6, 5, 4 and 3 (known as the sixième, cinquième, quatrième and troisième).
Year 6 consists of a year of adjustment to secondary education, Years 5 and 4 constitute the intermediate level and Year 3 is known as the orientation cycle.
At the end of the orientation cycle, children sit an exam for the national brevet diploma.
A welcome brochure in several languages designed for families who have recently arrived in France is available on the website of the schools inspectorate of the Department of Ain (l’Inspection Académique de l’Ain). 

Which collège should I contact?

Contact the collège in the sector where you live.
If your child has not been attending a primary school in the region before entering a collège, the head teacher will provide you with an enrolment file to fill in and will tell you about any formalities that may need to be completed with the schools inspectorate.

Which documents do I need to provide?

  • Your CERN employment certificate ("attestation d’emploi").
  • Your special residence permit ("titre de séjour spécial") issued through CERN 
  • The livret de famille (family record book) or an equivalent document (family record of civil status),
  • Birth certificate
  • Photocopy of identity card
  • Proof of address (energy bill or landline)
  • A personal liability insurance certificate ("assurance responsabilité civile").
  • Vaccination certificates (for the file kept in the infirmary),
  • The school reports from previous years,
  • In Ferney-Voltaire: proof of child custody in the event of separation or divorce,

Where can I apply for a "dérogation" (special dispensation)?

If you wish to send your child to the collège in Ferney-Voltaire to follow one of the non-French national curricula but it is not the school for this catchment, special dispensation will be granted automatically on presentation of proof that you are working at CERN.
In all other cases, an application for a "dérogation" (special dispensation) must be sent to the schools inspectorate of the Department of Ain. In accordance with recent measures to relax the "carte scolaire" for secondary education (a "school map" determining that children must attend a school within a certain distance of their home), exceptions are granted subject to the availability of places in the school concerned.
For more information, please consult the following web page: "Assouplissement de la carte scolaire".

Can my child be admitted if he does not speak French?

Only the collège in Ferney-Voltaire provides lessons in French as a foreign language and special mathematics lessons. This is done on a flexible basis, for the time it takes each child to integrate into the normal school system. Non French-speaking children can enrol in one of the international sections of the collège in Ferney-Voltaire.

Is there an entrance exam?

Yes, if the child is transferring from a different national education system or has been following a school curriculum not recognised by the French national education authorities (a private school in France or a French school abroad).
He will be required to sit an entrance exam in French and mathematics

What are the school hours?

The school week varies between 25 and 28 hours: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday mornings, Thursdays and Fridays.
Classes start at 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. and finish at 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. There is usually a lunch break from 12:00 midday to 1:30 p.m.
Children are given a timetable at the beginning of the school year.

What school curriculum will my child follow?

Please consult the following web pages: "nouveaux programmes et enseignements au collège".

What are the costs?

State education is free, with the exception of stationery. A financial contribution is required for the international sections of the collège in Ferney-Voltaire. The cost varies according to the international section concerned.

What kind of services do the collèges provide?

A library, canteen (for children opting for school lunches), school transport, various extra-curricular sporting and cultural activities, course and careers advice.
For more information, contact the head teacher.

Which schools in the Pays de Gex offer lower ("first cycle") secondary education?

There are collèges in Saint-Genis-PouillyFerney-VoltaireGexPrévessin-MoënsDivonne and Péron.