The ESL situation in France

Thursday 23 July 2015, by Maša Vidmar

The ESL rate in France has been below the Europe 2020 target of 10% since 2013, yet regional and subgroup differences remain. Since November 2014 France has had a comprehensive strategy to tackle ESL that provides for the establishment of multi-professional ESL-prevention groups in all secondary schools. The involvement of teachers in these groups is underway.

Countries : France 

According to the latest Eurostat data, the early school leaving (ESL) rate in France was 9.3% in 2015, namely below both the Europe 2020 target of 10% and the national target of 9.5%. The trends show a steady decline over the years. However, large discrepancies between regions and subgroups remain (the ESL rate is higher for males than females and for foreign-born compared to native-born). Beside Eurostat’s definition of ESLer, France also collects data in accordance with its national definition. The issue of ESL has received much political attention in the last decade. In recent years, numerous measures have been put in place, but lacking national/systemic coordination. An attempt to overcome this resulted in the national strategy to tackle ESL (Tous mobilisés contre le décrochage – Together against early school leaving) approved in November 2014 that put a greater focus on prevention (traditionally compensation measures have been stronger) and called for the collaboration of all actors (inside and outside of school). The strategy allowed/aimed for proliferation of multi-professional ESL-prevention groups (group de prévention du décrochage scholaire – GPDS) in all secondary schools. This group brings together the head of an institution, school management, the teaching staff, the conseiller principal d’éducation (CPE), the guidance counsellor along with social and health workers. It aims to find adequate support for the young. ESL-prevention groups across different schools vary greatly in their practices and modes of organisation; particularly in the level of teacher involvement and external actors (outside of school). ESL-prevention groups are closely linked to the establishment of educational alliances; in fact, such groups may be seen as an internal educational alliance. It seems that in the following years the challenge regarding multi-professional collaboration will be to put into practice what has been envisioned in the national strategy and supporting documents.


Embedded in the European context of the Europe 2020 strategy reducing early school leaving (ESL) is one of the major issues of French society and, as such, a national priority (MEN, 2014a). The volume of different policy and operational documents on the topic of ESL in France is impressive, indicating this topic has indeed received significant political, professional and public attention in recent years. The process is ongoing, resulting in new policy and/or operational documents being published regularly (e.g. the ESL action plan for 2015/ 16, MEN, 2015a).

The aim of this article is to give an overview of the complex state of affairs as well as recent trends regarding ESL in France. In the introduction, some characteristics of the French education system relevant to ESL are presented (i.e. transitions, length of compulsory education, grade retention; for a literature review about relevant system characteristics, also see EC/EACEA/Eurydice/Cedefop, 2014; Nesse, 2010; PPMI, 2014), including some relevant recent reforms. This is followed by statistics on ESL and an insight into the French ESL situation with a focus on multi-professional collaboration related to ESL. The purpose of the article is to elucidate the context in which experiments within the TITA project are taking place, thus guiding the interpretation and generalisations of the findings.


The article draws information from European documents (European Commission – EC, Eurydice), Eurostat, ministerial documents on ESL and other documents and reports available online (prepared by French local governments or institutions). A search for scientific articles was conducted using the key words ‘early school leaving’, ‘drop-out’ and ‘France’ in the ASU Libraries search engine, resulting in very few hits (only one was relevant to this article). This supports Berthet and Simon’s (2012) claim that up until very recently only a few academic works had examined this topic in France (academic articles in English are even rarer; for an exception, see the review by Thibert, 2013). A search was also conducted using the backward procedure.

Some relevant characteristics of the French education system

Education in France is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16 (Eurydice, 2014). This period is marked by two transitions: from primary school (école élémentaire, ages 6–11 years) to lower secondary education (collège, ages 11–15 years) and then to upper secondary education (lycée, ages 15–18 years). Streaming begins after the end of collège with the transition to lycée at age 15; the first year of lycée is part of the compulsory education. Lycée can be general/technical, professional or can serve as an apprenticeship. Grade retention is possible, but under a new law (Guidance and Programming Law, 2013-595) this became an ‘exceptional’ practice (Eurydice, n.d.). Moreover, early childhood education is strong in France; children over 3 years are legally entitled to a free place in écolle maternelle; over 99% of children attend (EC/EACEA/Eurydice/Eurostat, 2014). Schools are obliged to provide education and career guidance services; these are provided by school staff and guidance counsellors outsourced from the Information and Orientation Centres (EC/EACEA/Eurydice/Cedefop, 2014).

Another special feature of the French education system is the educational non-teaching educational staff conseiller principal d’éducation (CPE – chief education advisor). The CPE is senior staff responsible for ensuring that school life runs smoothly and supports pupils’ learning (Eurydice, n.d.). These responsibilities mainly cover running of the school (organisation of day-to-day life within school), collaboration with teaching staff, and educational facilitation (ibid.).

Several reforms in school and vocational education have taken place in France since 2013 that hold implications for preventing ESL, but do not directly address it: e.g. reforms of early childhood education, school timetable, initial and continuous teacher education, priority education (related to schools in disadvantaged areas), assessment (see Eurydice, n.d. for details). On the other hand, some reforms have been directly related to ESL (see below for details).

In relation to governance, the French education system is by tradition centralised, although the process of decentralisation over the last three decades has led to the increasingly significant role of local authorities (i.e. 26 regions, about 100 departments and over 36,000 municipalities). In partnership with académie (i.e. administrative district in national education systems, generally corresponding with regions), they implement state policy as the most appropriate to local context (Eurydice, n.d.). This implies that also in relation to tackling ESL local authorities and academies are in charge of the local implementation and adaptation of central-level measures, leading to tensions between governance levels (Berthet & Simon, 2012).

ESL statistics in France

Two national definitions of ESL are in use alongside the Eurostat one: ’non-graduate leaver’ (students who leave education without having obtained an upper secondary qualification) and ’drop-out’ (students who leave education before completing a programme they are attending below upper secondary education) (EC/EACEA/Eurydice/Cedefop, 2014). In addition to collecting data for Eurostat, France also collects data in accordance with the national definition. There has been some debate as to whether the ministry collects data on ESL in an unbiased way (for details, see Thibert, 2013).

Figure 1 shows Eurostat’s ESL rate in France in the last two decades. A steady decline can be observed, even though comparability over time before 2005 (at EU level) and even after 2013 (France-specific methodological changes, EC, 2014b) is limited. The ESL rate in France has traditionally been below the EU average.

The ESL rate in France dropped below the Europe 2020 target of 10% for the first time in 2013 and below the national target of 9.5% in 2014. In 2015, the ESL rate was 9.3% (Eurostat, 2016b). Despite the relatively low overall rate of ESL, there are large discrepancies linked to socio-economic and cultural factors and between regions (i.e. from 5.8% in Midi-Pyrénées to 14.8% in Picardie in 2014; Eurostat, n.d.). The share of early leavers was higher for foreign-born versus native-born (17.8% versus 9.1%) and for males versus females (10.7% versus 8.7%) in 2014 (EC, 2014a). The same was true in 2015 (14% and 8.1% for foreign-born and native-born; 9.5% and 7.4% for males and females, respectively; EC, 2015). This is relevant to tackling inequality in France.

JPEG - 264.8 kb
Figure 1. France: time trend of share of the population aged 18–24 with at most a lower secondary education and not in further education or training (Eurostat, 2016a)
Note. Lower secondary education refers to ISCED (International Standard Classification of Education) 2011 level 0-2 for data from 2014 onwards and to ISCED 1997 level 0-3C short for data up to 2013. In 2012, France changed methodology.

Insight into tackling the ESL issue in France

Up until the early 2000s ESL was not high on the political agenda in France, but this has changed in the last decade. ESL has become a public problem and was even directly addressed in the presidential campaign in 2012 (Berthet & Simon, 2012; MEN, 2014a, b). It is important to note that some French academics have challenged this view, more specifically they have highlighted the steadily decreasing number of ESLers (also see Figure 1) and at the same time there is ever more talk about ESL as a problem; moreover, they have challenged the idea that increasing people’s qualifications will solve the problem (e.g. Bernard, 2013; Bernard & Venart, 2013; Berthet, 2013; Berthet & Simon, 2012; Dubet, 2015; Huart, 2013).

As a result of the attention to the issue of ESL, many measures/actions/bodies/institutions/networks/tools have been reinforced in the field of prevention, intervention and compensation (see Table 1 in the appendix), advancing France’s strong compensation tradition (Thibert, 2013). The overview of measures shows there were many opportunities for cross-sectorial multi-professional and/or multi-agency cooperation at the school/local level in relation to ESL that also included external partners to offer more personalised and transversal responses.

The main policies and measures involved: (1) fighting against absenteeism; (2) supporting the integration of migrants (test of scholarly and linguistic competencies and provision of support for instruction language); (3) preventing school drop-out for socially disadvantaged youth (priority early childhood education and care enrolment, additional teacher in schools in disadvantaged areas, individualised pedagogical support); (4) ensuring adequate orientation of students, especially in vocational education; (5) specific structures (MLDS – Missions de lutte contre le décrochage scolaire) that identify youngsters who dropped out of school and offer them different options; and (6) local associations (Missions locales pourl’insertion des jeunes) that provide professional and social integration support to ESL youngsters (EC/EACEA/Eurydice/Cedefop, 2014). Since 2011, a detection system (SIEI, an interdepartmental system of information exchange) has made it possible to identify young school leavers. Data are used by local platforms to identify ESLers and support them in finding a solution (a personalised return path) for further education and training (EC, 2013). It should be noted that SIEI is not used to collect statistical data on ESL (EC/EACEA/Eurydice/Cedefop, 2014).

Moreover, in the reforms taking place in 2013 (see Guidance and Programming Law, 2013-595; also see Eurydice, n.d.) a significant measure was Formation Qualification Emploi (FoQualE), a network that coordinates stakeholders working at the local level with ESLers (different organisations offering education and training programmes outside the regular mainstream education system); it aims to offer a personalised return path to education and training. Another measure was the introduction of ‘ESL officers’ (décrochage scolaire) who are appointed in secondary schools with high truancy and ESL rates. They coordinate the prevention action taken by the education staff, including the CPE and social and health staff, within ESL-prevention groups. The third measure was related to truancy as an early sign of potential school leaving. Some other important measures were (for a detailed description, see Eurydice, n.d.): families are given the final decision regarding the type of lycée a student will attend (to avoid unwanted streaming to vocational programmes linked to ESL; Bavoux & Pugin, 2012), a website where ESLers can find information regarding training was set up (, an advisory phone number for (potential) ESLers or parents about training solutions was made available, versatility in training and flexibility for tracks was increased, external partners were included in educational alliances to offer more personalised and transversal responses, a plan to educate education staff on ESL was developed etc.

Altogether, over 30 policies were implemented with numerous local projects or initiatives (also see Guigue, 2013) and the coexistence of different type of actors (government departments, local governments and local structures/networks). Numerous measures and instruments were loosely coordinated, quickly outdated, decommissioned and scarcely financed at the national/systemic level (Berthet & Simon, 2012). The collision of national and local agenda has impacted and sometimes destroyed local experimentations (ibid.). The authors also find that the voice of the students in these projects was not heard (pupils had no information about the projects, projects bore no value to them, they were forced to participate), sometimes also due to constraints in the education system (not enough places at the chosen school).

In 2014, the Ministry of Education prepared an evaluation of the partnership policy against ESL and proposed a systemic action plan (MEN, 2014, a, b). A coordinated and coherent action public policy to prevent ESL was launched in November 2014 in the form of a national strategy to tackle ESL (Tous mobilisés contre le décrochage – Together against ESL; MEN, 2015b). The strategy brought different ESL policies and measures together, and systemised them along three key areas. According to the strategy (MEN, 2015b) the three key areas are:

  1. all mobilised against ESL (accountability/empowerment of all actors – schools, teachers, educational non-teaching staff, parents, youth, external actors; ’staying in school is everyone’s business, and every young person needs daily encouragement’);
  2. more emphasis on prevention (ESL modules in initial and in-service staff training, educational alliances between schools and external partners to provide adequate support, new teaching practices and learning methods); and
  3. a »new chance« to become qualified; i.e. return to education or training (greater modularity and flexibility of the education path).
    The strategy further defines specific measures within each key area, conditions (levers) needed for the success of the strategy and timeline. In the following section, we present the two measures/actions most related to the multi-professional collaboration in the focus of the TITA project – the ESL-prevention groups and the ESL officer.

ESL-Prevention Group – an example of multi-professional collaboration

The GPDS (Group de Prévention du Décrochage scholaire – ESL-Prevention Group) is the prototype of multi-professional collaboration which is in the focus of the TITA project. It is a collegial internal (within-institution) multi-category body (MEN, 2015c). The GPDS is a measure/action aimed at students showing signs of ESL (at collège and lycée), previously known as GAIN (Groupe d’Aide à l’Insertion – Integration Support Group; MEN, 2014a).

In the national strategy against ESL (MEN, 2015b) the GPDSs are embedded in the key area of prevention, in the measure of strengthening collaboration between teaching and educational staff to provide better support for young people in an ESL situation; thus the GPDS is focused on within-school collaboration.

The national strategy against ESL allows/aims for the proliferation of ESL-prevention groups in all secondary schools (MEN, 2015b). It is a group around the head of an institution bringing participants of the educational community together: school management, teaching staff, the CPE, the guidance counsellor, the social and health worker. They are brought together in order to analyse the situation of a youngster and find suitable support (MEN, 2014a). The GPDS coordinates the identification of the potential ESL and monitors the implementation of prevention activities (MEN, 2015c). The ESL-prevention groups should be managed and steered by the head of the institution/school directors or the ESL coordinator (national education inspector); however, this role needs to be consolidated in the coming years (MEN, 2014b). The ministry (ibid.) has identified the following three priority domains to be systematically addressed by the ESL-prevention group:

  1. the existence of cognitive (learning) difficulties;
  2. diagnostic of possible disorders, pathology or disease (e.g. school phobia); and
  3. attention to harassment (maltreatment or abuse in all forms, inside and outside of school).
    Diagnostic tools for identifying ESLers remain to be generalised (MEN, 2015b); guidelines for sharing information and confidentiality have been issued (see MEN, 2015c).

The ESL-prevention groups are closely linked to the establishment of educational alliances, which has been put forward in the national strategy (MEN, 2015b), followed by an implementation guide for educational alliances (MEN, 2015c). The ESL-prevention groups can be seen as an internal educational alliance (micro-level and meso-level) since alliance can be internal to the school (institution) or can include a variety of external partners (macro level; associations, communities, companies from social, medical, health, legal services/institutions to entrepreneurships) (MEN, 2015c; Thibert, 2013). The alliance (thus also the ESL-prevention group) can vary in its configuration according to each student’s needs in both its composition and scope (ibid.).

A case study of an ESL-prevention group at Lycée Arago

To provide a concrete example of how ESL-prevention groups may function, a case study of an ESL-prevention group at Lycée Arago is presented below. Its functions or main goals are to:

  • encourage/ensure that the student is present at school and to limit ESL;
  • promote the social integration of all students at Lycée Arago;
  • empower and encourage the initiative and innovation of all actors; and
  • personalise the orientation paths (Lycée Arago, 2015).

Besides these goals, the ESL-prevention group also sets specific goals each year (in line with specific problems of this school and its area). In a Lycée Arago document, the ESL-prevention group’s actions are divided into four categories: prevention actions aimed at all students, actions to tackle absenteeism, actions aimed at parents, and actions aimed at teachers. The ESL-prevention group is also a body that receives a student as a final resort before outsourcing to local institutions working with school leavers and alerting the academic inspector. However, there is no information about the extent of these different categories or the evaluations of the actions; in this respect, the TITA project will contribute to the examination and evaluation of the actions taken by ESL-prevention groups in different schools.

Lycée Arago’s phases of working with or managing (a potential) ESLer are: when everyday alerting signals appear (e.g. continuing absences, frequent delays, exclusion from classes, fatigue/irritation, violence, aggression, avoidance strategies, poor school results) this alerts the CPE, class teacher and ESL officer. This leads to opening an ESL-prevention file, diagnosing the situation, taking care of the student in terms of his/her situation, proposing solutions and monitoring the student (weekly reports). If measures are ineffective, the ESL-prevention group examines the file, analyses the motives of failure, prescribes other solutions, monitors the student (weekly reports). If these measures are ineffective, the institution resorts to outsourcing (it refers the student to external institutions working with early leavers) (Lycée Arago, 2015). This protocol may make these actions appear easier than in everyday school life (some real situations can be observed on the TITA website in the framework of Training Tools).

Teachers in the ESL-prevention group

According to the ministry, the GPDSs include few teachers, while their participation would allow the link between learning (‘school life’) and pedagogy to be enhanced (MEN, 2014a). Further, since there is a lack of national guidance and harmonisation the GPDSs’ profiles and practices remain diverse (ibid.). In a very recent evaluation of ESL-prevention groups, the authors interviewed over 120 schools’ management teams from three regional education authorities (academies) and confirmed this – collaborative work within ESL-prevention groups takes a variety of forms at the individual school level (differences in practices and modes of organisation); however, a large share of schools does include teachers in ESL-prevention groups (Maillard, Merlin, Rouaud, & Olaria, 2016). More specifically, the authors found four types of collaborative work within ESL-prevention groups in French secondary schools. These four approaches mostly differ by how well teachers are mobilised within the group, how broad the conception of prevention is and to what extent actors outside of school are involved. The authors conclude that the involvement of teachers is a key element of multi-professional collaboration because this will lead to a shared vision of what an individual school wants and is able to do. In our opinion, it is important to note that while including teachers in ESL-prevention groups is certainly a necessary step, this in itself does not ensure effective multi-professional collaborationissues like time and budgetary constraints as well as group composition and training must be considered.

ESL officer

ESL officers (référent décrochage) were appointed in autumn 2013 at secondary schools with high levels of truancy and ESL (Bulletin officiel, 2013). They have been generalised since August 2014 when a decree was issued that allowed for the appointment of an ESL officer within each secondary school (MEN, 2014b).

The work of ESL officers is situated in the centre of the ESL-prevention measure. From the first signs of ESL onwards, they mobilise and coordinate the prevention action conducted by the ESL-prevention group. The ESL officer takes action under the head of institution alongside other members of the ESL-prevention group. The ESL officer is active in four work areas: prevention axis (e.g. identifies the youngsters concerned from the first signs of ESL onwards, collects all useful information), compensation axis (e.g. involved in research of solutions for a return to initial education and ensures a youngster is monitored (care, support, etc.)), communication (conveys and ensures the circulation of information between actors – management team, CPE) and evaluation (e.g. writing the annual report of proposed actions) (Académie Poitiers, n.d./a). In the prevention axis, their work includes help in setting up the ESL-prevention group; the ESL officer is also its joint-coordinator (ibid.). ESL officers have various profiles – generally they are CPEs, but not always – they can also be e.g. heads of institutions, education assistants, guidance counsellors (Académie Poitiers, n.d./b; MEN 2014b). The ministry aims to assure the promotion of teaching staff in the ESL officer role, formalisation of a dedicated job description for an ESL officer, an increase in their competencies focused on ESL-prevention, enhancement of their role as the link among the actors involved (inside and outside of school, horizontally and vertically with local authorities).


This overview of European and French national and local policy and/or operational documents on ESL demonstrates the considerable attention this issue has received in France in recent years. The declining ESL rates show that the efforts have been efficient to some extent; however, tackling the disparities among regions and subgroups remains a challenge.

With regard to multi-professional collaboration in tackling ESL it can be concluded that ESL-prevention groups are a promising measure. In the future, raising the awareness of all actors involved and empowering teachers to be partners on an equal footing in these groups is warranted. Moreover, issues like time and budgetary constraints as well as group composition and training need to be considered. Although the official documents imply that ESL-prevention groups are essentially internal alliances composed of school staff, practice shows that in some schools the functioning and linking of the ESL-prevention group has been extended to include external partners, institutions (Maillard et al., 2016). This indicates that in some schools the ESL-prevention group is already taking the form of a macro-level educational alliance.

It seems that in the following years the challenge with multi-professional collaboration will be to put into practice what has been envisioned in the national strategy and supporting documents. As already mentioned, an important step towards that goal is to evaluate their functioning in practice, as is being conducted within the framework of the TITA project.


Table 1: Principal measures/institutions/networks/tools of the policy against ESL - PREVENTION (translated from MEN, 2014a)

Table 1: Principal measures/institutions/networks/tools of the policy against ESL - PREVENTION (translated from MEN, 2014a)
Title (French-original // English translationType of policyTarget publicSynthetic descriptionPolicy carrier
Accompagnement éducatif // Educational support measure/action volunteer students of Priority Education [1] receive the students after school to propose help with their homework and lessons, to strengthen their practice of modern languages, cultural and artistic activities or sports activity Ministry of Education (MoE)
Aide personnalisée // Personalised help (replaced by additional pedagogical activities) measure/action primary school students (6-11 years old) 60 hours per school year that the teacher dedicates to accompany smaller groups of students MoE
Conseil École-Collège // School [2]-collège board measure/action students of 5th and 6th classes a body uniting boards and school/collège teachers of the sector and preparing an action programme with the aim to improve the pedagogical and educational continuity between the primary school and collège MoE
Dispositif d’initation aux métiers en alternance (DIMA) // Measure of initiation in work-linked professions measure/action students over 15 who want to enter a training discovering one or several professions as part of work-linked education, while also acquiring a common base of knowledge MoE
École Ouverte // Open School institution young people who cannot go on holiday opening of voluntary institutions of deprived areas or rural zones during school holidays as well as on Wednesdays and Saturdays in order to offer youngsters a programme with many activities organised by qualified teachers MoE and city authorities
Mallette des Parents en 6e // Parents’ kit/aid in 6th class measure/action parents of 6th class students meeting debates between parents and collège staff concerning support they can offer to children, relationship with the collège and comprehension of its functioning MoE
Mallette des Parents en 3e // Parents’ kit/aid in 3rd class measure/action parents of 3rd class students who are academically the most vulnerable information and exchange reunions between the principal and the parents concerning the student’s orientation MoE
Programme de Réussite Educative (PRE) // Programme of Academic Success measure/action children between 2 and 16 that show signs of vulnerability and that live primarily in the areas under the city policy creating personalised path of social and academic assistance based on multidisciplinary teams ACSé [3]
Programme ACSé Soutien à la parentalité // ACSé Programme of Support to Parenting measure/action Families with difficulties that live in the priority areas of CUCSs [4] information, listening and assistance actions, creating parent-professional links, organisation of joint parent-child activities ACSé

Table 2. Principal measures/institutions/networks/tools of the policy against ESL - INTERVENTION (translated from MEN, 2014a)

Table 2. Principal measures/institutions/networks/tools of the policy against ESL - INTERVENTION (translated from MEN, 2014a)
Title (French-original // English translationType of policyTarget publicSynthetic descriptionPolicy carrier
ACTE [5] measure/action students excluded from collège for a short period (<5 days) Taking care of excluded students in order to encourage academic continuity and prevent the exclusion to turn into ESL. The excluded students are received out of collège for an academic and socio-educational assistance essentially provided by specialised teachers: a special attention is given to the comprehension of the sanction and the return to collège CG 93 [6] and MoE
CNED [7] - D’Col [8] measure/action students with school difficulties online school support measure (French, Maths, English) that combines personal assistance, digital educational means and an online tutoring by a CNED teacher MoE – CNED
Dispositifs relais (Bride facility/bridging programme) institution youngsters with school and behaviour problems, often in a process of school institution rejection a reinforced educational, school and pre-school supervision aiming at a reinvestment of learning, an appropriation of social and school rules in order to return to mainstream education MoE
ERS [9] institution students that were excluded multiple times, but who don’t receive a special or adapted education nor are placed in the penal system adapted education for at least a month, often the student lives in a residency in the annexed premises which permits an ongoing care of the student MoE
GPDS (Groupe de Prévention du Déchochage scholaire // ESL-prevention Group) measure/action students showing signs of ESL (essentially collège and secondary school) a group around the head of institution joining all the participants of the academic community (the teacher, the CPE [10], the COP [11], the social worker…) in order to analyse the situation of a youngster and find suitable support MoE
LATI [12] institution students showing signs of ESL reception and pedagogical/educational/ psychological care taking place at the institution MoE
MAAF – Réseau insertion/égalité des chances // Ministry of Agriculture – Integration/Equal Opportunities Sector network students showing signs of ESL assistance of institutions in setting up actions against ESL at the local and regional level Ministry of Agriculture
MLDS (Mission de Lutte conte le Décrochage Scolaire) network students showing signs of ESL (essentially collège and secondary school) a body with an educational advice, expertise and engineering role within institutions and CIO (Centre d’Information and Orientation) intended for setting up identification, prevention, remobilisation and repreparation for the exams MoE
Programme personnalisé de Réussite Educative (PPRE) // Personalised Programme of Academic Achievement measure/action students with school difficulties, from elementary school to collège coordinated action plan developed by a pedagogic team, discussed with the parents and presented to the student MoE
Réseau d’Aide Spécialisé aux Elèves (RASED) // Specialised Support Network for Students network students with school or school adaptation difficulties in primary school a specialised support in and out of class, provided by specialised teachers intended for a predominantly pedagogical aid: the »E teachers« (learning difficulties), specialised teachers intended for a predominantly reeducation aid: the G teachers (school adaptation difficulties) and school psychologists MoE
Stages de remise à niveau // Update training sessions measure/action students with school difficulties in primary school The sessions are taking place in smaller groups during school holidays and targeting learning of French and Maths. They are proposed to families and hosted by voluntary teachers that are paid by extra hours MoE

Table 3. Principal measures/institutions/networks/tools of the policy against ESL - COMPENSATION (translated from MEN, 2014a)

Table 3. Principal measures/institutions/networks/tools of the policy against ESL - COMPENSATION (translated from MEN, 2014a)
Title (French-original // English translationType of policyTarget publicSynthetic descriptionPolicy carrier
Atelier pédagogique de Nanterre (Pedagogic Workshop of Nanterre) measure/action youngsters between 10 and 18 a flexible, out-of-institution education modality bringing together teachers, educators and an infant-child psychiatric ward T. Roussel Hospital Centre, MoE and associations
CIVIS [13] measure/action youngsters from 16 to 25 without a diploma or job seekers A one-year measure aimed to encourage professional integration on a youngster thanks to a personalised assistance that can be doubled by an allowance. A reinforced measure (weekly meetings the first three months) is intended for youngsters of VI, Vbis and V without a diploma (11 to 17 year olds). Emploi (a set of public policies regarding work and vocational training)
Clauses sociales // Social provisions measure/action youngsters that dropped out Experimental measure involving integration of provisions in public markets of National Education in order to enable young ESLers to do an integration career within a company completed by a monitoring by MLDS in order to create a professional project/career plan. MoE
Ecoles de la 2e Chance // Schools of 2nd Chance institution voluntary youngsters that often have a difficult relationship with school, i.e. behaviour problems a training programme aimed to create a professional project/career plan for every youngster by offering individualised paths/careers, numerous contacts with the companies and a required level of essentials Network of Ecoles de la 2e Chance
Centres EPIDE [14] institution youngsters from 18 to 25 that lag behind or experience school difficulties and frequently have financial and health problems and problems with the law A teaching method from 8 to 24 months, exclusively provided under the scheme of residency during the week. The programme combines working in depth on the know-how, a general course encompassing a required school level and creating a professional project/career plan leading to employment EPIDE
Etablissements Scolaires Publics Innovants (ESPI) (Innovative Public School Institutions) institution variable an institution offering innovative modes of operation putting an accent on academic achievement, removing artificial barriers in teaching/education, developing a collective and offering individual assistance to the students ESPI federation (FESPI)
FOQUALE network youngsters that dropped out of National Education a network uniting the participants of National Education present in a particular area in order to coordinate and develop the offer of solutions available to young ESLers MoE
Ma Seconde Chance // My Second Chance tool students in the process of dropping out or that already dropped out an internet site and a mobile application providing the youngsters that dropped out the initial education the nearest reception and education place that is adapted to their wishes thanks to the information, geolocalisation and dialogue (chat) services MoE - ONISEP [15]
Micro-lycées // Micro-students institution youngsters that dropped out voluntarily, often with complex paths and without education solution An innovative and experimental programme offering preparation for baccalaureate (secondary school diploma). Its objective is that the youngsters return to learning, rules, socialisation and to adopt self-confidence. MoE
Missions Locales // Local Missions network youngsters from 16 to 25 having problems with social and professional integration Spaces of intervention in the service of youngsters. Their functions are identification, information, orientation and assistance. Emploi (a set of public policies regarding work and vocational training)
Plateformes de Soutien et d’Appui au Décrocheurs (PSAD) // ESL Support Platforms network youngsters that dropped out a coordination measure bringing together local education, orientation and integration participants/players aimed at providing a personalised and quick answer to every youngster without a diploma and without solution Partnership (MoE and the Emploi work policies)
Service civique // Civic Service measure/action youngsters from 16 to 25 a voluntary commitment in order to perform a common good task doubled by a personalised monitoring of the young ESLer by a National Education tutor Agency of Civil Service and MoE
Système Interministriel d’Echange d’Informations (SIEI) // Interministrial system of exchange of information tool youngsters over 16 that dropped out different systems of initial education (currently tracking: National Education, Agriculture, private schools, Apprentice Training Centre) an information system providing an insight into student files and thus identifying twice a year the youngsters that dropped out from different initial education systems MoE and Ministry of Agriculture


[1Priority Education Zones are areas of school institutions (primary schools or collèges) in France with greater autonomy or resources in order to fight against difficulties of the school or social order. Since 2006 they no longer exist under this name although it has become a well-known expression in France. Priority Education is a government policy targeting schools with learning and social difficulties.

[2Meaning primary school

[3Agence nationale pour la Cohésion Sociale et l’Égalité des chances // National Agency for Social Cohesion and Equal Opportunities

[4Contrat Urban de Cohésion Sociale // Urban Contract of Social Cohesion: a measure of French city policy between 2007 and 2014 in order to help areas with difficulties; when it expired in 2014, it was replaced in 2015 by 1300 Quartiers prioritaires (QP) // 1,300 Priority Areas in accordance with an election promise made by President Hollande

[5Accompagnement des Collégiens Temporairement Exclus // Assistance to Temporarily Excluded Students

[6Conseil Général de Seine-Saint-Denis // General Board of Seine-Saint-Denis department

[7Centre National d’Enseignement à Distance // National Centre for Distance Learning

[8Interactive assistance and support system of CNED

[9Établissement de Réinsertion Scolaire // Academic Reintegration Institution: an institution introduced in 2010 for disruptive students aged between 13 and 16

[10Conseiller Principal d’Education // Principal Education Advisor: a special feature of the French education system

[11Conseiller d’Orientation-Psychologue // Guidance Counsellor-Psychologist

[12Lieu d’Accueil Temporaire Individualisé // Individualised Temporary Reception Place

[13Contrat d’Insertion dans la VIe Sociale // Social Life Integration Contract

[14Etablissement Pubic d’Insertion de la Defense // Public Institution of (Social) Defence Integration

[15Office National d’Information Sur les Enseignants et les Professions // National Information Office for Teachers and Professions

(n.d.,a). Les missions principales du référent décrochag. Retrieved from

(n.d.,b). Mise en œuvre de la politique de lutte contre le décrochage scolaire dans l’académie. Retrieved from

, & (2012). Étude exploratoire sur les jeunes décrocheurs. Lyon: AFEV.

, & (2013). Décrochages, raccrochages: des concepts à l’action. Administration & Éducation, 137, 7-8.

(2013). Le décrochage scolaire: l’émergence et la construction d’un problème scolaire. Administration & Éducation, 137, 9-16.

(2013). La gouvernance chaotique des politiques de lutte contre le décrochage: retour sur deux expériences régionales. Administration & Éducation, 137, 51-58.

(2013). Réseaux Formation Qualification Emploi (FOQUALE) Mise en place circulaire n°2013-035 du 29-3-2013 (NOR MENE1306159C). Retrieved from

(2015). Why has early school leaving become an issue? Overview of socio-economic insights. Keynote speech at Luxembourg EU Presidency Symposium Staying on track Tackling early school leaving and promoting success in school. Luxembourg, 9 and 10 July 2015. Retrieved from

(2013). Education and Training Monitor 2013. France. Retrieved from

(2014a). Education and training monitor 2014. Retrieved from

(2014b). Education and training monitor 2014. France. Retrieved from

(2015). Education and training monitor. 2015. France. Retrieved from

(2014). Tackling Early Leaving from Education and Training in Europe: Strategies, Policies, and Measures. Eurydice and Cedefop Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

(2014). Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe. 2014 Edition. Eurydice and Eurostat Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

(2016a). Early leavers from education and training by sex. France. Graph. Retrieved from:

(2016b). Early leavers from education and training by sex. France. Table. Retrieved from:

(n.d.) Retrieved from edat_lfse_14, edat_lfse_16

(2014). The Structure of the European Education Systems 2014/15: Schematic Diagrams. Retrieved from:

(n.d.). Countries – description of national education systems. Retrieved from:

(LOI n° 2013-595 du 8 juillet 2013 d’orientation et de programmation pour la refondation de l’école de la République). Retrieved from

(2013). La question du décrochage, entre mutations institutionnelles et initiatives locales. Retour sur des expériences innovantes en collège. Administration & Éducation, 137, 93-99.

(2013). La lutte contre le décrochage scolaire. Administration & Éducation, 137, 17-22.

(2015). Groupe de prévention du décrochage scolaire. Retrieved from

, , & (2016). How do education professionals cooperate to tackle early school leaving. Training & Employment, 122, 1-4.

(2014a). Évaluation partenariale de la politique de lutte contre le décrochage scolaire. Rapport de diagnostic, Mars 2014. Retrieved from

(2014b). Évaluation partenariale de la politique de lutte contre le décrochage scolaire. Rapport final, November 2014. Retrieved from

(2015a). La lutte contre le décrochage scolaire. Retrieved from:

(2015b). Tous mobilisés pour vaincre le décrochage scolaire. Retrieved from

(2015c). Guide de mise en œuvre des alliances éducatives. Retrieved from

(2010). Early school leaving: lessons from research for policy makers. An independent expert report submitted to the European Commission. Retrieved from

(2014). Study on the effective use of early childhood education and care in preventing early school leaving. Annex 1. Literature review. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

(2013). Early School Leaving: Different ways to deal with it. Dossier d’actualité Veille et Analyses IFÉ, 84. Lyon: ENS de Lyon. Retrieved from