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We have just moved following the transfer of my husband. We find ourselves in a big city while our 8-year-old daughter has so far only known life in the countryside. I have to enroll him in CE1. The school in our neighborhood seems poorly attended to me, that worries me. How do I get him into a good school?

There is absolutely no good or bad school. There is undoubtedly a school that will be more like you than another, that will better meet your educational aspirations and ambitions.

What you call a “poorly attended” school is very subjective. The founding principle of public school is to be secular, free and compulsory. All social categories rub shoulders there. It establishes tolerance as a fundamental value. It is always enriching for a child to discover that others are different from him. The school is a tool to promote equality and social justice. What is called “equal opportunities”, for all children regardless of their social origins, requires that public schools allow everyone access to quality education.

A report by Jean Hebrard in 2002 highlights both its interest and its imperfection.

If there are exceptions to the school map, based on criteria considered admissible by the municipalities and academic bodies (specific education, proximity to the workplace, etc.), considering that the other students are not suitable for you will not be a reason derogation.

If you decide not to enroll your child in the establishment to which the school card assigns him, you have two options:

– make a request for exemption on the basis of admissible reasons (need for specific education, regrouping of siblings, establishment closer to your place of work, the home of the grandparents or the nanny, absence of a canteen in local school…)

– enroll your child in a private institution. Although the number of pupils per class, the qualifications of the teachers and the programs are the same, the pupils generally come from more privileged backgrounds, since this education is not free.

Attending public school or not therefore corresponds to an educational choice. Beyond preconceived ideas, the history of the school in France sheds important light. From Charlemagne, both noble and poor children attended the same school. In 1905, the separation of Church and State made school effective as Jules Ferry conceived it in 1882: free, compulsory and secular. It was not until 1941, under the Occupation, that religious congregations regained the right to teach and that private schools, notably denominational, were subsidized. These schools do not follow the principle of the school map and around 1 in 6 pupils is educated there. A distinction is made between private schools “under contract” which are subject to the same constraints and the same educational objectives as public schools;

Schools of the Catholic faith represent the majority of private schools in France, but other faiths are of course represented in private education. There are also secular establishments but implementing different pedagogies (Montessori, Freinet, etc.)

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