[ARCHIVE] Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes with twelve pupils : 300 000 children involved

For the 2019 academic year, primary school Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes have been divided into Rep and Rep+ (educational priority networks). This will also apply to priority education classes in the final year of preschool from the 2020 academic year.

The essentials

To attack learning difficulties at the roots, an ambitious programme of splitting Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes into Rep and Rep+ was undertaken at the start of the 2017 school year.

At the start of the 2019 school year, all Grade 1 and 2 classes have been split in Rep and Rep+. 300,000 pupils (20 % of an age group) enjoy excellent learning conditions.

To broaden the committed policy for raising overall levels, social justice and regional equality, the President of the Republic wished to go even further. The splits will be extended to the pre-primary classes in priority education at the start of the 2020 school year. All the other final pre-primary year, Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes will gradually see their numbers reduced to 24 pupils.

Raise in overall levels and social justice

Proficiency in fundamental skills is one of the main levers for reducing social inequalities. It is also essential to provide improved supervision when pupils start to learn so that they can become proficient in the fundamental skills.

This equal opportunities policy was initiated at the start of the 2017 school year, the split involves 300,000 pupils in the start of the school year :

  • in September 2017: 2,200 Grade 1 classes were split into Rep+
  • in September 2018: 3,200 additional Grade 1 classes were split into Rep and 1,500 Grade 2 classes into Rep+
  • in September 2019: the new splits involve 700 Grade 2 classes into Rep+ and 3,200 Grade 2 classes into Rep.

In total, this measure has resulted in the creation of 10,800 Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes in Rep+ and Rep since 2017.

Measure with positive initial results

Splitting the priority education Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes has been assessed scientifically by Depp and a group of recognised researchers.

The assessment covered 15,000 Grade 1 pupils split in 2017-2018 between 408 schools.

It showed that :

  • pupils in split classes had better French and maths results at the end of Grade 1 than pupils in classes with similar characteristics but which had not been split: 8 % standard discrepancy in French and 13 % in maths, in favour of Rep+ pupils compared with the control group
  • the effect of the measure checks out especially for pupils with severe learning difficulties : out of the 24,000 pupils with severe learning difficulties when entering Grade 1, this corresponds to about 2,000 pupils in less difficulty in French and 3,000 less in maths at the end of the first year of implementation of the measure
  • the teachers describe the classes as more willing to learn : pupils are more attentive, more focused, more effective in their work and more motivated. 96.5 % of teachers involved report better understanding of pupils' patterns of reasoning, 98.5 % better identification of pupils' needs and 82 % better class dynamics
  • teachers of split classes opt more frequently for one-to-one activities and systematically teach the alphabet.

Greater educational ambition for primary school

To benefit from the full potential, splitting classes must go hand-in-hand with teaching practices with proven effectiveness and therefore with constant support for the teachers who are teaching.

This is reflected by :

  • the publication of a reference guide in April 2018 on teaching reading and writing and four teaching recommendations for teaching French and maths
  • the publication of three teaching recommendations for pre-primary school in May 2019 on teaching the language, discovering numbers and their use and teaching living languages
  • reflection on teaching practices in classes (including physical arrangement of classes and organising timetables)
  • training seminars that involved all national education inspectors and educational advisors in charge of the support for French and maths (2017-2020).

These efforts towards fundamental learning will be continued in 2019-2020 with new resources :

  • a handbook for national education inspectors
  • a reference guide on teaching reading and writing in Grade 2 and another guide on teaching maths in Grade 1.

Three national training seminars will be attended by 1,400 national education inspectors in September 2019. All educational advisors will also be trained in supporting teachers in the class efficiently.

Roll-out of split classes in priority education

More key policies

Together for a School of Trust 
Pre-primary school at three years old for all
Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes with twelve pupils : 300,000 children involved
Grade 1 and Grade 2 assessments to anticipate learning difficulties
Annual benchmarks in primary and lower secondary school to guide pupil progress better
Consolidate primary school in all regions
Support the most vulnerable families
Provide better facilities for disabled pupils
Homework done : work towards success of all pupils
Culture and arts at the heart of the school system
Mobilisation for Paris 2024 : boost sport at School
Guide pupils better and lead them to success
Stronger vocational pathway
Upper secondary general or technological school : new Grade 10 and Grade 11 classes
New dynamics for living languages through all school levels
Digital learning aids
A School at the forefront of ecological transition
The principle of secularism at the heart of School and the society of trust
The School of respect for others
Develop the culture of engagement : the UN system and the civic service
Boost initial teacher training
Support personnel throughout their career
Improve labour conditions for staff
Involve families better in School life
Wednesday plan and education cities : enhance out-of-school times
An ambitious boarding school policy serving pupils and territories
100 % success in primary school : strengthening French and mathematics instruction
Opening French schools to Europe and the world
Banning the use of cellphones in primary and lower secondary schools
Supporting books and reading
Enriching the lower secondary school curriculum
Promoting a culture of innovation

Mise à jour : septembre 2022