State elementary (primary) education

Primary schools provide elementary-level education for children aged 6 to 11. Classes are spread out over five school years and are divided into two "cycles".
A welcome brochure in several languages designed for families who have recently arrived in France is available on the Eduscol website.

Which school should I contact?

Your local town hall ("mairie") will inform you of the school for the sector where you live.

How can I apply for a "dérogation" (special dispensation) if I don't live in the commune of the school I want my child to attend?

Write to the school board ("Commission Scolaire") at the town hall of the commune in which the school is located.
Each application is examined on its merits.

Where should I go to complete the enrolment formalities?

If your child has already been attending nursery school in the same commune, he will automatically be enrolled for primary school.

If your child has just arrived in the commune, you will need to go to the town hall in the commune where you live in order to register. Once you have done this, contact the school itself to arrange for your child to be enrolled.
The school or the town hall will be able to tell you the enrolment dates and times.

Which documents do I need to provide?

  • Your special residence permit ("titre de séjour spécial") issued through CERN,
  • The registration certificate issued by the town hall (in the case of children who have not been attending school in the same sector),
  • The livret de famille (family record book) or an equivalent document (birth certificate),
  • A document certifying that the child has had the requisite vaccinations for his age,
  • A personal liability insurance certificate ("assurance responsabilité civile"),
  • Proof of your place of residence.

Which vaccinations are compulsory (except where there are medically certified contraindications)?

Td-Polio (tetanus, diphtheria, polio).
Other vaccinations are strongly recommended: measles, mumps, rubella (MMR).

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

Yes, he will be admitted to a class corresponding to his age group and level of education.
He will be required to sit a test in his mother tongue (reading and mathematics) as well as a French test so that his teacher can form a picture of his education to date and his level of French. They then decide on any special arrangements that need to be made so that the child can be integrated into the education system at the appropriate level.

In the Pays de Gex, the tests are conducted by the teacher responsible for remedial lessons for children who have recently arrived in France (Eana):
Mrs Florence Favre, Ecole primaire Les Gentianes Thoiry, Tel. 04 50 41 26 60, e-mail:
This teacher organises 30 or 45 minute French remedial classes in small groups at the Ecole primaire du Lion in Saint-Genis-Pouilly and the Ecole primaire Les Gentianes in Thoiry.
For other schools, contact the teacher directly to find out how these remedial lessons can be integrated into your child's school curriculum.

Presentation of the national integrated elementary courses in the Pays de Gex:

Finally, children experiencing difficulties are entitled to special assistance free of charge outside compulsory schooling hours: two hours of personal assistance a week and remedial courses during the school holidays for children in classes CM1 and CM2.

What are the school hours?

The school week is 24 hours divided into 9 half-days: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays mornings only, Thursdays and Fridays. 
Contact the school concerned to find out the weekly timetable or consult the French Ministry of National Education and Youth web page.

What school curriculum will my child follow?

You can consult the curriculum your child will follow here (French only).

Are school meals available and will my child be supervised outside teaching time?

Most primary schools provide a canteen service and after-school child-minding facilities in the mornings before school begins and in the evenings after school.
Information is available from the town hall.