Compulsory school at age 3: end of homeschooling, what does the law say?

On February 16, the deputies adopted the bill 'consolidating respect for the principles of the Republic', at first reading. This text, which will be examined in the Senate from March 30, provides for a transition period until the 2024-2025 school year before the end of home schooling.

  Compulsory school at age 3: end of l'instruction à domicile, que prévoit la loi ?

The bill on separatism adopted by the deputies

[Updated February 17 at 9:58 a.m.]. On February 16, the deputies voted at first reading by 347 votes for and 151 votes against (65 abstentions), the bill 'consolidating the respect to the princes of the Republic' . The text will be examined in the Senate on March 30, 2021 and should be adopted before the summer. Comprising 70 articles, this bill was adopted by the National Assembly after 80 hours of debate in session and the adoption of 144 amendments. Spearhead of Emmanuel Macron to fight against separatism, this text contains measures on the neutrality of the public service, the fight against online hatred, the reinforced control of associations, the transparency of worship and their financing, but also the fight against virginity certificates, polygamy and forced marriages. Another much-discussed measure, the reinforced supervision of instruction at home .

A more restrictive regime for homeschooling

The purpose of this bill is to make home education (IEF) the exception, the rule being instruction in public or private establishments or schools. It also provides a transition period until the 2024-2025 school year, subject to controls, 'for families who already practice family education and for which this mode of instruction is not used for separatist practices'. The bill establishes a more restrictive regime for home education which will be subject to prior authorization from the State, instead of the current simple declaration. Checks will be carried out during the year 2021-2022 in families already practicing home education, to verify that ' this mode of instruction is not used for separatist practices and authorize its continuation for the next two years.

Compulsory school from 3 years old: from when?

This bill also introduces compulsory schooling for all children from the age of three. ' At the start of the 2021 school year, education at school will be made compulsory for everyone from the age of 3 . Home instruction will be strictly limited, in particular to health requirements ' announced Emmanuel Macron. Is this for all that the end of homeschooling ? On December 4, during an interview with the online media Brut , Emmanuel Macron wanted to reassure supporters of home school recalling that the text provided for exceptions. 'What needs to be done is provide the right exceptions , which correspond to a legitimate freedom, which can continue to be made' , explained the Head of State. The text also strengthens the framework for non-contract schools by introducing the concept of ' Administrative Fermeture Regime 'in case of' drifts '. He also plans to award ' to each child of school age a national identifier enabling academic authorities to ensure that no child is deprived of their right to education '.

When will homeschooling be permitted?

Over the past 10 years, home schooling has tripled. At the start of the 2020 school year, there were 62,000 children in this situation (0.5% of the total number of students enrolled), 45,000 of whom are by choice of parents and not by necessity. At a press conference on December 9, the Minister of National Education said that 'Homeschooling must be quite exceptional (...) In a number of cases, this camouflages clandestine Salafist structures 'Recently, schools of this type have been dismantled. 50% of the children who were educated there were officially educated in the family.' This is why we will put in place a regime of home schooling permit , and no longer a simple declaration 'said Jean-Michel Blanquer. He notably returned to these exceptions which 'must be in accordance with the rights of the child' . Parents will then be able to request an exemption for:

  • the child's state of health, disability
  • the practice of intensive sports or artistic activity
  • homelessness of the family in France,
  • geographical distance

Parents will also have to provide justification: that of being able to do home schooling according to the age of the child. Then, a posteriori checks can be carried out to ensure the quality of the child's education.

let's remember that the age of compulsory education had already been lowered to three years from six years in 2019, but home school was entirely possible. 'Two years ago, we had compulsory education, nursery and basic school for all, but there was still a possibility home instruction. From now on, there is a legal obligation, with sanctions provided for when you do not send your child to school' said Jean-Michel Blanquer on France 2 on October 6.

Non-contract schools: soon an INE number for all students?

For the past three years, private establishments called 'out of contract' have been more closely monitored by the state. , with a view to respecting the principles of the Republic. They represent a large part of the schooling of French students: 85,000 children are educated there. They are not all religious, we note that they are divided into three roughly equal thirds: establishments with alternative pedagogy (Montessori type), establishments which declare themselves secular and establishments claiming a denominational affiliation. Several adjustments have been put in place within the framework of the 'School of Trust' law (2019) and the Gatel law (2018) so that all French children are educated fairly.

Apart from the obligation to respect a certain number of pedagogical rules, these non-contract establishments are forced to declare all their employees each year. so that no member is hired while under legal incapacity . The financial resources as well as the entire balance sheet of these private establishments are also subject to State scrutiny throughout their existence. In addition to these points which have already made it possible to harmonize French education (whether public or private), the bill seeks to clarify the 'minimum knowledge base' required for these places of learning .

Another point distinguished until now the pupils of the public and deprived under contract and those of schools except contract. The latter did not benefit from their 'student identifier' also called INE number . The objective is to assign one to all French pupils, regardless of their mode of schooling. But insofar as this modification requires significant technical adjustments, its application could be postponed.

Will the Arabic language be taught more in school?

Emmanuel Macron also indicated that he wanted young people seeking to learn Arabic to be able to do so within the framework of the school. ' When you know Arabic or your family speaks Arabic, it's a chance for France ', I explained to him chef de l'Etat. ' We have a lot of young people who, in families, sometimes speak it with both parents whose cultures are in Arabic (...) They will continue to learn or improve their language, which is their mother tongue (...) outside, because the Republic offers them few languages ​​and the possibility of teaching in Arabic' , added the President of the Republic, who indicated that ' things were looking up' . On October 6, Emmanuel Macron had also considered to create a scientific institute of islamology ' as well as ' additional positions in higher education '. For the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, strengthening the learning of this language at school is 'a republican and courageous proposal', he had declared to the Journal du Dimanche. ' We need young French people who speak Arabic [...] Teaching it at school is also a way to reduce the power of the religious “, he added.

Compulsory school from the age of 3, 'it is also respect for the rights of the child'

For Jean-Michel Blanquer and MP Anne-Christine Lang, the limitation of home schooling is also a matter of ' respect for the rights of the child '.' What we are going to do is both the protection of the Republic and that of the rights of the child “said the Minister of Education to the National Assembly on October 6. For Jean-Michel Blanquer, home schooling is ' a form of exception envisaged, but which is accompanied by measures to protect the rights of the child. Today, we are no longer able to protect them because too many children are led towards obscurantism, racism, anti-Semitism or even misery who can watch them '. Make school compulsory from the age of 3 thus aims to 'fight against all groups that try to recruit children “, he added. This law will notably make it possible to administratively close clandestine structures.

Let us recall that the Compulsory primary education (from 6 to 13 years old) was established by the Ferry law on March 28, 1882 . Since then, the age of education has been modified twice, being extended to 14 years (law of August 9, 1936 initiated by Jean Zay), then on January 6, 1959 by Charles de Gaulle, who once again extended the schooling until the age of 16.