Reforms introduced in 1989/90 divided nursery and primary schooling into cycles (cycles pedagogique). There are three cycles, each of three years duration, designed to provide the ability for pupils to improve at their own speed and reduce the number of repeat years. The current programmes are:

Cycles des Apprentissages Premier.
This relates to the first three years at Nursery School (Maternelle) , age three to six

Cycles des Apprentissages Fondamentaux. This relates to the final year at Nursery School and the first 2 years of Primary. The courses are known as CP (Cours Preparatoire) and CE1 (Cours Elementaire1)

Cycles des Approfondissements.
This cycle includes the balance of time spent at Primary School and includes the course CE2 (Cours Elementaire2), CM1 (Cours Moyen1) and CM2 (Cours Moyen2)

Flexibility has deliberately been built into the courses so that a child can move on to the next cycle even before the typical three year period has elapsed or take longer if need be.

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