Children at school in FranceMoving to France with your children and unsure which class your child should attend? Welcome to our guide to French school classes and grades.

Trying to determine which school grade your child should attend in their new school system is often one of the most challenging aspects of moving into a foreign school system. France, the UK and the US all have their own school grade structures.

Here is a list of school grade equivalents in France vs. the UK and vs. the US for your reference. Please keep in mind though that each child has its own ability and capacity, and a mere school grade equivalent is not always the best deciding factor in where a child will best be suited.

Age France UK USA
3 Maternelle Petite Nursery Nursery
4 Maternelle Moyenne Reception Pre-K
5 Maternelle Grande Year 1 Kindergarten
6 C.P. Year 2 1st Grade
7 C.E. 1 Year 3 2nd Grade
8 C.E. 2 Year 4 3rd Grade
9 C.M. 1 Year 5 4th Grade
10 C.M. 2 Year 6 5th Grade
11 6ème Year 7 6th Grade
12 5ème Year 8 7th Grade
13 4ème Year 9 8th Grade
14 3ème Year 10 9th Grade
15 2ème Year 11 10th Grade
16 1ère Year 12 11th Grade
17 Terminale Year 13 12th Grade


See also: an introduction to the French state education system

3 Responses to “Education in France: French school grade equivalents”

  1. Avatar



    Switching from one school system to another can be rather problematic, but will very much depend at what age.
    eg. I switched at the age of 16 with 8 “O” levels and 1 ” A” level back to France ( and I was fluent French ). I ” lost ” 2 years, which was quite justified ( in the 1950ties ). Of course later several languagues worked in my favor.

    Is it much different today?
    So looking for ” equivalents ” is certainly a little theoretical.



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  2. Avatar


    I can actually speak from experience, having switched from the US system to the UK system myself. I don’t recommend switching systems to anyone over 7th or 8th grade (US). Anyone who have children below that, it should be fine because there is time to get used to the grading methods, style of teaching and the content of the syllabus.
    I switched over to British A-levels when I was 16(11th grade) and it was pretty challenging. For example, the way answers are structured for exams are different in both systems as well as the structure of essays. It took a while for me to learn them and it definitely put me at a disadvantage. In the end , I passed but not with flying colors like I used to in the US system. And also it made it a bit harder applying online (I live in Kenya) to universities where they ask for British O levels which I didn’t have. So be prepared to have both sets of transcripts when applying.

    Hope this helped,

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    Please be aware, and I am only speaking from an English person as I do not know the USA system but this is only a guide and not accurate. The English system operates school years by the 31 August deadline, the French do not. the French work on the year the Child was born. So a Child born in say November would actually be in the Year group above in France. Obviously this applies if a French Child moved to the UK and was a November child they would officially be in the year group below this stated in the above table. Worth bearing in mind but to be honest if your from England and move to France your child would probable re double a year.

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