Updated: 2 June 2023
Homeschooling used to be a freedom that was readily available to all children in France, provided they showed sufficient progress in an annual inspection. In 2022, contrary to common sense, the French government decided to restrict home education options to prevent "radical Islamism". This included the following major changes:
- Introducing a narrow list of reasons for why parents can homeschool their children.
- Making it obligatory to register in advance.
- Insisting that distance learning courses are delivered predominantly in French.
The information on this page includes a translation of the new law, plus additional information.
The French government updates their web page on Homeschooling in France on a regular basis to reflect the latest changes to the law.
While we have lived in France for many years and homeschooled our children for the entirety of this time, they are now in their twenties. Unfortunately we therefore can't offer more advice than is on this page on the current legal situation. If, after reading the information below, you need more advice, I recommend contacting Les Enfants d'Abord, a home education charity, or searching for "instruction en famille" or "IEF" (the most commonly used French translation of "homeschooling" and finding a local group who can help you.
2021-2022 School Year
While education was compulsory for all children, the Jules Ferry law (article L131-2 of the education code) guaranteed freedom of instruction by giving parents the choice of how their children are educated. In 2020, it was estimated that around 50,000 children were educated at home, or 0.6% of children aged 6 to 16. This was an increase from 41,000 in 2019 and 30 to 35,000 en 2017. It was also expected that in 2021 far more children were homeschooled at least temporarily due to Covid.
2022-2023 School Year
The rules seemed to change every other week as the new law was introduced. Different families also had very different experiences depending on the department they lived in and their local inspection academique. It's therefore not a simple task to summarise the situation over this year.
2023-2024 School Year
Comments in italics are our notes, not part of the law.
Instruction in the family (Homeschooling)
Verified 09 June 2022 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)
Education is compulsory for all children from the age of 3 to the age of 16. It is given in a school (public or private). Your child may also, under conditions, receive this instruction in the family. This mode of instruction is sometimes called home school. You must request permission from DASEN (The Academic Director of National Education Services) to educate your child at home. The reasons for obtaining this authorisation are limited. DASEN carries out an academic inspection every year to verify the instruction provided.
Which children does this apply to?
Age of child
If your child is of school age and subject to the obligation to conduct an inquiry, i.e. if they are between 3 and 16 years old, they can receive education in the family.
Place of residence of the child
Children residing in France can homeschool, regardless of their nationality.
On the other hand, a French child living abroad is not affected by this law.
Education in the family can be done in a place other than the child's home.
The instruction in the family must contain only children from one family.
Note, The above law exists to stop schools from opening illegally, which is a serious crime in France. Obviously, your child can still socialise with other homeschooled children, or school children for that matter.
What are your reasons for educating your child at home?
The alerts in Italics are translations from the Les Enfants d'Abord website.
You may be allowed to educate your child at home for one of the following reasons:
- Child's health status
- Disability of the child
ALERT: For both the above options, the medical certificate will be studied by the National Education doctor. It is possible you will be offered assistance for the schooling of the young person rather than the acceptance of your homeschooling (IEF) authorization application file.
- Intensive sports or artistic activities for children
ALERT: We do not know, at present, what hourly volume will be "accepted" by the various academies. It is possible you will be offered schooling with hours arranged for artistic or sports practice.
- Family homelessness in France / Travelling
ALERT: You may be asked to send your child to school in schools in the different towns along your route.
- Geographical distance from any public school
ALERT: We do not know what distance / travel time will be accepted for this reason. It should be noted that for children of college / high school age, it is systematically requested that they be educated in a boarding school.
- Existence of a situation specific to the child motivating the educational project
ALERT: You must provide the following for this option to be accepted:
- A written presentation of the educational project. This presentation must include the essential elements of teaching and pedagogy adapted to the capacities and pace of learning of the child. You must therefore describe the approach and teaching methods implemented. You must also indicate the resources and educational materials used. The organization of the child's time (rhythm and duration of activities) must also be specified. If a distance learning organization participates in the child's learning, you must also describe the content of its contribution
- Any useful document justifying the availability of the person(s) responsible for instructing the child
- A copy of the baccalaureate diploma or its equivalent (level 4 diploma, foreign title or diploma comparable to a level 4 diploma of the national framework of professional certifications) of the person in charge of instructing the child.
- A sworn statement from the person(s) in charge of instructing the child to ensure this instruction mainly in French.
- Physical or moral integrity of the child at risk in his or her school
ALERT: You must first inform the principal of your child's school that you want to educate him in the family, at any time of the year. The director informs you of the solutions that can be brought to your child's situation. If, after this consultation, you decide to make a request for instruction in the family, the director gives you a written opinion on your project.
You must attach to your application:
- An opinion of the director of the establishment on the project of instruction in the family
- Any document proving that the physical or moral integrity of the child is threatened.
For all the above, you must forward to DASEN the following:
- Your credential
- Proof of your child's identity
- Proof of identity of the person(s) instructing the child (if you do not do this yourself).
- Proof of domicile
- Other documents, depending on the reason provided for homeschooling
If your French is not perfect, we recommend getting any documents translated by a professional translator to increase the likelihood of acceptance.
What steps must be taken?
You must request permission from DASEN to educate your child in the family.
The procedure differs depending on your situation.
To see links for a drop-down list with different steps, depending on your situation, visit https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F23429 then scroll down to Quelle sont les Démarches à faire? Answer the relevant questions and enter your postcode.
What is the mayor's check?
The mayor (mairie) conducts an investigation into the educated child in his or her family in the 1st year.
This survey is renewed every 2 years, until the child is 16 years old.
The purpose of the investigation is to check the reasons why you requested this method of instruction.
The survey must also determine whether home schooling is compatible with the family's health and living conditions.
At the time of the check-up, you must provide a medical follow-up certificate for your child.
What is the academic inspection (inspection academique)?
DASEN verify that the child is properly educated and learning.
They also ensure the progress of the child. The aim is to check that the child is in control of all the Common Pillar Requirements when they reach 16.
An academy inspector carries out the individual check of the child at least once a year. The inspector may be assisted by a school psychologist. This check will be carried out from the third month following the issue of the authorization for homeschooling.
The check can take place without you being informed in advance.
The inspector checks the knowledge and skills acquired by the child during an interview with you. You must specify the pedagogical approach and methods you are implementing.
The child then carries out exercises (written or oral) adapted to their age and health. This allows the inspector to determine whether their knowledge and skills are sufficient, particularly at the end of each teaching cycle.
The results are communicated to you within 3 months.
If the inspector considers that the results of the check are insufficient, a second check will be carried out within sufficient time (at least 1 month after the first results have been sent).
These delays should allow you to improve the situation.
The date and place of the inspection must be communicated to you.
If the results of the second check are considered insufficient, DASEN requires you to enrol the child in a school (public or private) within 15 days of notification.
You must provide the Mayor with the contact information for this institution.
Note, the link earlier on this page also includes a postcode search to find your local mayor.
What should I do if I move?
You must report the change of residence to DASEN. You must do so within 8 days of your move.
What are the sanctions?
Instruction in the family without permission
If you instruct your child in the family without permission, you may be fined €1,500.
Opposition of the family to control
You can't object to an academic inspection. If you do, DASEN reports it to the public prosecutor.
Failure to comply with formal notice of enrolment
If you object twice to the academic inspection, or if the results of the second check are deemed insufficient, DASEN may require you to enrol your child in a school.
If you refuse to do so, you risk six months in prison and €7,500 of fine.
Enrolment in a private school opened illegally
If you enrol your child in an illegally open private school, while you are allowed to instruct him or her in the family, you risk 1 year in prison and €15,000 fine.
Can the family get financial support?
You must send the authorization for instruction in the family to the Family Allowance Fund (CAF) to benefit from the family allowances.
Your rights differ depending on whether your child is registered in CNED regulated classes or not.
Statute and miscellaneous references
The following links are the French government's links on homeschooling law from the page we've translated, not our own recommendations:
- Education Code: Articles R131-11 to D131-11-13
Arrangements for issuing authorization for family education
- Penal Code: Articles 227-15 to 227-28-3
Penal sanctions for failure to comply with the formal notice to register the child at the end of the second check (Article 227-17-1)
- Education Code: Articles L131-1 to L131-13
- Education Code: Articles R426-2 and R426-2-1
- Education Code: Articles L131-5
Criminal sanctions for enrolling in a private school that is opened illegally
- Education Code: Articles R131-1 to R131-4
- Education Code: Articles R131-12 to R131-16-4
Control of the content of the knowledge required of educated children in the family or in private non-contract educational institutions
- Education Code: Articles R131-18 to R131-19
- Education Code: Article D131-11-10
Online services and forms
- Application for authorization of homeschooling - School year 2022-2023
- Application for authorization in full right of homeschooling - School years 2022/2023 and 2023/2024
- Can you take a National Education exam as a free candidate?
- What is the common foundation of knowledge, skills and culture?
- Cned: Registered Class
National Center for Distance Learning (Cned)