Sadly, summer is over and it is time for our children to go back to school. Sooner or later every parent will have to face the same school related questions.
In the meanwhile, Monaco has been showing exceptional academic results for the past several years! Last year 100% of Monegasque students passed their “baccalauréat” exam. It can truly be called a historic event, since all 261 students of the Principality received their graduation certificate. It is hard to imagine a better result.
A “Bac” in French is a high school graduation diploma similar to a Russian certificate of secondary education delivered after the 11thgrade. Herein you will find a detailed analysis of the Monegasque educational system that will help give you a better understanding of French terms and specifics. We hope it will be useful.
Education in Monaco
The youngest children start their education with École Maternelle, equivalent to kindergarten for ages 3 to 5.
Next stage is Primary school “École Élémentaire” for ages 6 to 11.
“ Collège” is for 11 to 15 year olds.
High school or “Lycée” teaches older students aged 15 to 18 and is crowned by an exam and a certificate called a “baccalauréat” (not to be confused with a Bachelor’s degree corresponding to 4 years of higher education, prior to the Master’s degree). Monaco and France deliver the “Bac” to the students upon their graduation from High school (Lycée) prior to University studies (3 years of License and 2 years of Master’s).
You would think it is quite simple: the same grades apply from the 1st to the 11th . Except that they are counted the other way round. There are also quite a lot of other differences.
So what is special about the Monegasque and French educational systems? I did say “French”, because Monaco closely adheres to a French-approved curriculum.
To start with, secondary education in Monaco is compulsory for all students aged from 6 to 16 and is available to all, both citizens and residents of Monaco.
The school system comprises the following stages:
- Primary education / “enseignement primaire” comprising 3-4 years in a kindergarten / “école maternelle” and 5 years in a primary school / “école élémentaire”.
- secondary education / “enseignement secondaire” – 4 years in “college” and 3 years in High School / “ lycée”.
- higher education / “enseignement supérieur” available upon getting a certificate of secondary education / Baccalauréat.
Here we will only dwell on the school period (primary and secondary education).
Primary education in details
Primary education is divided into two stages: kindergarten and primary school.
Kindergarten/ École maternelle is not compulsory, but today almost 100% of children aged 3 to 5 are enrolled in it. Monaco kindergartens are open to children for whom one or both parents are Monegasque. Residents of Monaco may also be admitted subject to availability.
Kindergarten is divided into 3 and sometimes 4 groups:
the youngest/TSP – très petite section,
junior/PS – petite section,
middle group/MS – moyenne section
and the oldest/GS – grande section.
Here a child develops his/her language skills, gets ready to write and prepares for primary school.
Primary School/ Ecole Elementaire
Education in primary school starts with a preparatory course (CP Cours préparatoire) for 6 year-old children and comprises 5 years in all:
Grade 11 or CP (Cours préparatoire) 6 year-olds,
Grade 10 or CE1 (Cours élémentaire 1) 7 year-olds
Grade 9 or CE2 (Cours élémentaire 2) 8 year-olds
Grade 8 or CM1 (Cours moyen 1) 9 year-olds
Grade 7 – CM2 (Cours moyen 2) 10 year-olds.
Secondary education consists of two stages (collège and lycée) and is designed for 7 years.
“Collège” is a secondary education institution in France and in French speaking countries (Monaco, Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec, Canada). Children study in “collège” for 4 years, between ages 11 and 15. (They go descending from the “sixth” to the “fifth” grade). “Collège” thus starts with the the 6th grade, after primary school, without any specific entrance examinations. Schoolchildren attending collège are called collégien (for a boy) and collégienne (for a girl). All teachers are called “professeurs”. However, this is just a term, having nothing to do with their academic degree.
Education in “Collège” is mandatory and open to all citizens and all residents of Monaco.
The educational process is divided into three cycles:
Adaptation cycle – the 6th grade takes all primary school leavers without any examinations. The aim of this first year is to consolidate the knowledge acquired in the elementary school and prepare children for independent learning. This year they choose their first foreign language.
Main Cycle – 5th and 4th grades. Children are prepared to choose a professional direction later on in the “Lycée”. Chemistry and physics are taught in the 5th grade, Latin is optional and a second foreign language is added in the 4th grade.
The professional orientation cycle corresponds to the 3rd grade and offers students three options to choose from: general, technical or vocational training. At this point they can also take Greek as a foreign language and a 3-6 hour module “introduction to a professional life.” At the end of the 3rd grade a national exam is passed, recognised by a “diplôme national du brevet”. However, this does not affect the transition to the next grade.
Students now have an opportunity to enrol in the 2nd grade of either a general or technological “lycée” or go to a vocational school and train for a certificate of professional competence (fr. Certificat d’aptitude professionnelle).
A school week comprises approximately 26 academic hours and 3-4 hours of physical training. French language and literature get most of the hours (4-5 hours per week), math 4 hours, and the rest of the subjects from 1 to 3.5 hours.
There are typically 20 to 35 students and a “main teacher” (professeur principal) in a class.
“Collège” aims at preparing students to study at a “Lycée”.
In the last year they pass a national exam and get a “diplôme national du brevet”.
Everything is usually decided at the last “class council” in June where teachers let a student pass to the next grade on the basis of his or her performance. Three outcomes are thus possible:
- A student passes to the next grade;
- He or she repeats a year (redoublement);
- He or she may be allowed to skip the next grade and go straight to the one after (rarely happens).
A “Repeater” may dispute the decision with a special “Appeal Council” whose verdict will be final.
By the way, this year 97.5% of Monaco students successfully passed their brevet after “collège”: 72 with an excellent note “très bien”, 96 with a “bien”, and 139 with satisfactory “assez bien”.
Most schools, on top of the main curriculum, offer extra lessons in English, music and sport, and provide support for foreign students.
14-15 year old students go to a Lycée based on their residence or based upon competition.
Lycée is divided into three types: general, technological and professional. A “baccalauréat” is awarded to a student upon graduation from a general Lycée (3 years of High School), giving him or her access to a higher education.
A Lycée lets a student choose one of the following options: Economics and sociology, science and literature.
A “Bachelor of Technology” is awarded to a student upon graduation from a Technological Lycée, with a right to continue his studies at the university in one of these three areas: management, industry and environment, hotel business.
Vocational training lasts for 2 years and is recognised by a certificate of professional competence. However, it does not give access to higher education. Since 2005, you can get a professional bachelor only upon three years of studies at the Lycée.
Ecoles publiques / Public Schools Monaco
Just like in France, the state of Monaco gives its students a choice between “public” schools with free tuition and private institutions. All public and most of the private schools sign a contract with the Principality and are recognized both in France and abroad. School schedule, curriculum and diplomas correspond to the ones approved by the French Ministry of National Education. As to the exams, Monaco cooperates with the Academy of Nice. The courses are taught in French. Some schools offer “French as a foreign language” for children whose mother tongue is not French.
There are six “public” kindergartens and primary schools, one Collège Charles III, one Lycée Albert I (for general and technological studies) and another professional Lycée Technique et Hôtelier de Monte-Carlo.
Monaco Private Schools
Private education is contract-based. It is also supported by the state and is an alternative to public school. Private institutions offer the same schedule, programmes and diplomas. Monaco has one private elementary school Cours Saint Maur and Établissement François d’Assise Nicolas Barré comprising primary school, collège and lycée.
There is also a possibility of a non-contract based private education at the International School of Monaco www.ismonaco.org. It is more flexible in terms of programme selection and schedule. It also offers teaching both in English and in French.
The Princess Grace Academy of Dance is a ballet school where gifted children get a professional training in dance and music on top of a secondary education. Students get admitted to this school on a competition basis.
You will find a full list of Monaco schools here: http://service-public-particuliers.gouv.mc/content/view/full/10082
School schedule and holidays
A school year comprises 36 weeks from September to the beginning of July. A school day starts at 8.30-8.45 am depending on the school and ends at about 4.30 pm, including a break for lunch. If one or both parents work or own a company in Monaco, their child is fed lunch at public school. If not, they have to take him or her home for the lunch break.
Schools are closed on: The Day of All Saints (November 1), Christmas and New Year, and also for a break in February and in April. The month of May is a holiday month altogether. 1st of May is a Labour Day as in Russia, then there are two Catholic holidays and finally Formula 1. As a result, children are out of school for two weeks. In general, the schedule is as follows: 6 weeks of studies for 10-14 days of vacation. Wednesday is a short day. You may consult the school calendar for the current year below:
Particularities of Monaco education
Monaco is famous for its cultural mix. The majority of its residents are French, Italian, British, Belgian, Scandinavian and Russian speakers. That is why English is a commonly spoken language in the Principality. The young Monegasques thus start their first English lessons at the age of 3. Monegasque schools also include religious education in their schedule. However, parents have a right to remove their child from these lessons.
The history of the Principality is specifically taught in schools. Children who go to primary and secondary school also learn the Monegasque dialect which is a native language of Monaco nationals. There is no official record for the number of Monegasque speakers. It is known, however, that there are 7,634 Monegasques living in the Principality, which represents 21.6% of its total population.
Sport plays an important part in the school curriculum. Physical training starts as early as elementary school. Children thus learn to swim at the age of 5.
Enrolling in a school
The enrollment period for the kindergarten, primary school, collège and high school is from 12th January to 20th February and then from 30th March to 3rd April. The academic year 2016 is thus fully booked. But if you move to Monaco after the official school enrolment date, please contact the National Education Office for help. Most cases are decided in the parents’ favour.
Avenue de l’Annonciade
MC 98000 MONACO
(+377) 98 98 83 05
You can choose a kindergarten and a primary school according to your place of residence (Fontvieille, Monte-Carlo, Larvotto, Moneghetti, Condamine, Jardin Exotique, etc.).
If you want your child to study in a school located in another area, you need to present this request to the National Education Office before 15th June.
To enrol your child, please fill in the form/Demande d’inscription, which can be downloaded from this website:
You can then take all the paperwork to the above address, strictly during the enrolment period and upon appointment with a school secretary.
When enrolling in a collège or lycée, please choose a form relevant to your child’s previous education. These forms can be downloaded here:
If your child is not a French native speaker or if he or she was previously schooled without a contract, he or she needs to pass a French placement test before being admitted to collège or lycée.
Good luck in the new school year!