Maternelle / Pre-Foundation years

Maternelle / Pre-Foundation years


A unique aspect of the French school system is that all children have access to maternelle education before the age of six, when compulsory schooling begins. Pre-foundation and foundation years, or maternelle, is often divided into three levels: petite, moyenne and grande, according to age. Although it is optional, nine out of ten children attend maternelle from the age of three.

  • La petite section de maternelle, or PS (3 years old)
  • La moyenne section de maternelle, or MS (4 years old)
  • La grande section de maternelle, or GS (5 years old). 

The role of the Maternelle

Maternelle differs from other forms of day care because it has a structured educational purpose and an official curriculum. Maternelle is an essential step to ensure future academic success. Its main aim is to inspire children to go to school to learn, grow and assert their personality. As such, it is an essential step to ensure future academic success.

In maternelle children study while learning to live together. The emphasis is on the absorption and development of language and the discovery of the world of writing and numbers. They learn through games, by thinking and resolving problems and by practising, memorising and remembering.

Apart from the purely educational aspect, maternelle is where children, wherever they come from, can start to become young citizens and develop social skills. They learn to respect other people, the environment and rules and boundaries. This approach is supported by the fact that 40 per cent of the maternelle children at the Lycée Condorcet Sydney are not French.

Teaching is mainly in French at the Lycée Condorcet Sydney, but we are a multicultural school with a bilingual curriculum starting from petite maternelle.

  • In petite section and moyenne section 50% of activities are in English
  • In grande section French becomes more important as we prepare the students for Year 1 when they need to master the language; however, 25% of activities are taught in English. There are also special English and French support classes where necessary.

Every class in maternelle has a teacher and an assistant for a maximum of 25 children.

The maternelle education curriculum is divided into five:

  • Language-learning and preparing to read and write
  • Becoming a pupil
  • Body movement and expression
  • Discovering the world
  • Seeing, feeling, imagining, creating.