6.2 Administration and governance
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The ministries in charge of Education and Youth as well as Higher education and Research conceive, draft, oversee and coordinate education policies resulting from work in partnership involving the ministries’ various departments and directorates, along with general inspectorates and related and advisory bodies. The Ministry of Education also cooperates with other ministries, including the Ministries of Agriculture, the ministry of social affairs and health, and the ministry responsible for defence, all of which contribute to public education.
In addition, since the 1980s, the education system has been partially decentralised, with local authorities assuming responsibility for the operation of educational institutions: Municipalities are responsible for primary schools, Départements for collèges and Regions for lycées and specialised institutions (agricultural schools, etc.). However, the State (Ministry) continues to be responsible for pedagogy (i.e. teaching methodology) and for definition of national curricula and programmes, teaching organisation and content, and delivery of national qualifications. In the same way, assignment of university grades and titles and management of staff recruitment are the prerogatives of the Ministry of Higher Education and its departments.
For further information and details see Eurydice 2 Organisation and Governance, 2.6 Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level .
The role of local authorities in education and training
The municipality is responsible for the public schools (nursery and elementary) established on its territory. It owns the premises and undertakes their construction, reconstruction, extension, and major repairs. It manages the budget for the equipping, operation and maintenance of the schools. It can organise complementary educational, sports and cultural activities within the school.
The department is responsible for lower secondary schools. As such, it undertakes their construction, reconstruction, extension, major repairs, equipping, and operation.
The region is responsible for upper secondary schools, special education institutions and maritime vocational schools. As such, it undertakes their construction, reconstruction, extension, major repairs, equipping and operation. It can organise educational, sports and cultural activities.
Moreover, the region defines and implements the regional policy on apprenticeship and vocational training for young people and adults seeking employment or a new career direction.
In order to implement the different strategies, in particular for school success, and the education policies and programmes, the Ministry of National Education works together with many institutional and community-based stakeholders, as well as other educational institutions, particularly foreign ones, and local authorities (see Governance / governances of the ministries, public institutions, companies and associations).
These partners intervene according to their spheres of action, some of which correspond to those of the school programmes such as sport, professional integration, memory and citizenship, culture or ecological transition.
Various mechanisms in the field of extracurricular and out-of-school time education specifically based on cross-sectoral cooperation exist, such as the Territorial Education Projects (Projets éducatifs territoriaux, PEDT), the “Plan Mercredi” (Wednesday plan) or the “colonies apprenantes” (learning summer camps).
Territorial Education Project (PEDT)
Since 2013, the Territorial Education Project (Projet éducatif territorial, PEDT) has been set up as part of the evolution of school time. The PEDT is a local cooperation tool that can bring together all the stakeholders involved in the field of education: the decentralised services of ministries, including the ministry in charge of education and youth, family allowances funds (see Glossary), associations, sports clubs, etc.
The territorial education projects are referred to in article D.521-12 of the Education Code enable local authorities to voluntarily offer "each child a coherent, high-quality educational pathway before, during and after school, thus organising [...] the complementarity of educational time". The aim of the PEDT is to mobilise all the resources in a given area, and to work in partnership to organise extracurricular activities and promote educational continuity and quality.
- The Wednesday Plan
Introduced at the start of the 2018/2019 school year, the Wednesday Plan is a scheme by which local authorities organise extracurricular recreational activities on Wednesdays for children from nursery school up to the last year of primary school age. Like the Territorial Educational Project (PEDT – Projet éducatif territorial) of which it is part both legally and administratively, the Wednesday Plan is based on partnerial work between local authorities, State departments (the Ministry of National Education in particular), Family Allowance Funds (CAFs – Caisses d’allocations familiales), youth associations and the sports and cultural sectors. The Wednesday Plan seeks to develop the quality of the extracurricular offer, consolidate the educational character of Wednesday activities, and reduce social and territorial divides.
A “Wednesday Plan Quality” (Qualité Plan Mercredi) Charter organises Wednesday activities around four principles:
- “extracurricular activities should complement time with family and time at school”
- “recreational activities should be accessible to all children wishing to participate, particularly children with disabilities”;
- “extracurricular activities should be coherent with the region and with its stakeholders”;
- “rich and varied cultural, sports and nature activities should have the aim of a final project (artwork, show, exhibition, tournament, etc.)”.
Local authorities who volunteer can organize “Plans mercredi 100% education artistique et culturelle” (Wedsneday plans based on arts and cultural education). In this case, local authorities have to ensure, for example, two hours of artistic practice per week to pupils during extracurricular time linked with the school programme.
The “Plan mercredi” (wedsneday plan) is part of the mesures funded by the 53 million euros France spends in the context of the Plan for a Renewed Approach to Youth Work in collective childcare centres (Plan pour le renouveau de l’animation en accueil collectif de mineurs). This funding is meant to reinforce the access of young people to these activities.
The learning summer camps
Holidays called “Colos apprenantes” (learning summer camps) are offered by the organisers of summer camps: non-formal education associations, local authorities, private structures, as well as works councils. They benefit from a certification granted by the State and offer programmes combining learning enhancement and leisure activities around culture, sports and sustainable development. They enable children and young people to “enhance their knowledge and skills in a fun environment and to prepare for the upcoming school year in good conditions.
State aid that can reach 100 % of the cost of the stay (subject to a ceiling of €500 per minor and per week in 2023) is offered to the co-partner communities of the scheme (20% of the funding). This aid can reach 100% when the stays are organised directly by associations. These certified stays are also open to all families, which can benefit from community rights aids (Family Allowances Fund vouchers, community aids, holiday vouchers).
Between 2020 and 2022, 225,000 young people went to « colos apprenantes » (learning camps).
Outside the context of PEDTs and Wednesday Plan, the Ministry of National Education also forms partnerships with a variety of operators:
- Partners in the field of sport
In order to encourage physical and sporting activities among schoolchildren, the Ministry has developed partnerships with various stakeholders in the world of sport, including school sports associations and federations and sports federations and clubs approved by the Ministry responsible for sport. School sports federations are:
- the Primary Education Sports Union (USEP – Union sportive de l’ enseignement du premier degré ) for elementary schools
- the National School Sports Union (UNSS – Union nationale du sport scolaire) for lower and upper secondary schools
- the General Sports Union of Private Schools (UGSEL – Union générale sportive de l'enseignement libre), a sports federation for the private education sector.
In September 2013, the Ministry of National Education signed a framework agreement with the French National Olympics and Sports Committee (CNOSF - Comité national olympique et sportif français) and the Ministry responsible for sport. The signatories undertook to promote the educational values of sport and Olympism and collaborate to foster access to community sports programmes. 19 (non-scholastic) French sports federations also signed a framework agreement with the Ministry. The agreements were co-signed by the two main school sports federations, USEP and UNSS.
- Partners in the professional world
The Ministry of National Education has formed ties with companies and professional organisations in all sectors. Such links are expressed by a wide range of actions targeting pupils, families and the educational community alike: talks to schools given by economic operators, entrepreneurs in particular, visits to companies, job shadowing, and organisation of fairs and events such as “Industry Week” and “Company Week”.
In the context of vocational education (see Eurydice 6 Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education), representatives of vocational sectors are participating in the creation and renewal of vocational qualifications (CAP, professional baccalaureate, BTS, etc.).
- Partners in the field of artistic and cultural education
The Ministry of Education has joined forces with the Ministry of Culture and Communication in order to develop artistic and cultural practice as well as access to cultural structures, facilitate encounters with artists and artworks, and improve teacher training. This leads them to lend support to associations and bodies specialising in culture and which develop actions designed for schoolchildren , such as the “Springtime of Poets” (Printemps des poètes), the Avignon Festival and the Jeunesses musicales de France (musical youth of France) association, which promotes music among the young.
Such cooperation aims to develop activities complementing artistic and cultural education and takes a variety of forms: classes involved in artistic and cultural projects (PACs - projets artistiques et culturels), film projects, art workshops, artists’ residencies and scientific and technical workshops.
- Partners in the field of scientific culture
As regards scientific culture, the Ministry works in close collaboration with such scientific culture institutions as the Académie des Sciences, the Académie des Technologies and the Cité des Sciences et de l’ Industrie.
- Partners in the field of citizenship education
In the context of citizenship education, the Ministry of Education carries out a range of educational actions in collaboration with remembrance foundations and associations as well as other institutions and/or ministries, such as the Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery (CPMHE - Comité pour la mémoire et l'histoire de l'esclavage) and the Ministry of Defence, which implements educational actions focusing on the memory of contemporary wars and conflicts and funds educational projects on the memory of war (First World War).
- European partnerships
Besides such cross-sectoral cooperation, the Ministry of National Education has also developed international partnerships, above all with other European countries, as is shown by schools’ participation in the Erasmus + “Education” and “Youth and Sport” programmes and by mobility among schoolchildren (school trips, etc.) (For further information, see Eurydice 13.5 Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education).
In addition, a number of “partner” European associations take an active part in raising pupils’ and teachers’ awareness of their European identity through a range of actions. They include
- the Erasmus student network (ESN – Association d'anciens étudiants Erasmus), funded by the ministry in charge of Youth
- ESHA - European School Heads Association
- ÉVEIL (association)
- GE21 – Generation Europe 21
- Maisons de l'Europe
- International partnerships
The Ministry of National Education has a longstanding partnership with UNESCO, expressed in concrete form by the network of schools associated with UNESCO and such schools’ network of UNESCO Clubs
The network was set up in 1953 in order to promote UNESCO’s ideals; it is present in over 180 countries, comprising almost 11,000 schools from nursery to post-baccalaureate level.
In 2018, the French network comprises 135 schools across Metropolitan and Overseas France.
UNESCO-associated schools are institutions that have defined a three-year interdisciplinary educational project with wide international openness and focus on UNESCO’s priorities (sustainable development; heritage advocacy; global citizenship; intercultural dialogue; promotion of peace and human rights; international solidarity, etc.).
- Network of UNESCO Clubs funded by the Ministry responsible for youth
UNESCO Associations, Centres and Clubs are groups of volunteers of varied ages and socioprofessional status, voluntary activists at the service of UNESCO’s ideals.
Established with the authorisation of UNESCO National Commissions, Clubs are grouped into national and international networks, their goal being to engage in fieldwork in UNESCO’s areas of competence. More than 65 years after the creation of the first UNESCO Association in Japan in 1947, the movement numbered some 4000 UNESCO Centres, Associations and Clubs in over 100 countries across the world.
The UNESCO Clubs network which is financed in part by the Ministry in charge of youth affairs. In France, Clubs have the status of association (law of 1901). They are characterised by the nature and purpose of their activities but are all closely linked to the civil society in its diversity. Each Club can implement local or international projects thanks to partnerships in France and with the Clubs of other countries, organise visits, excursions, study trips, exchanges, set up conferences and debates, participate in symposiums, international Days, Weeks, Years, and Decades proclaimed by the United Nations and UNESCO (culture of peace, education for all, heritage conservation, sustainable development...).
In 2021, the French network has around a hundred clubs.
Moreover, schools and higher education institutions can also build partnerships with European and international schools as part of the implementation of mobility policies and educational cooperation projects. These partnerships can take different forms: they are intended to form part of “existing European and bilateral programmes [and] thereby contribute to the overall coherence of the international cooperation policy of France and the academy”. (See 6.5)