Since its creation in 1808 by Napoleon I, the French Baccalauréat has gained acceptance as a gold standard qualification, recognised and appreciated by the most prestigious universities throughout the world. Unsurprisingly, given its age, it is also no stranger to reform: from the introduction of the first written examination in 1830 to the admission of women in 1927 and the creation of our own Option Internationale du Baccalauréat (OIB) in 1981, successive French governments have sought to ensure that the Baccalauréat responds to changes in society and prepares its citizens for the needs of the time and the challenges of the future. And this continues to be the case today with the introduction of the most recent reform, Pour Une Ecole de la Confiance, led by the Ministre de l’Education Nationale, Jean-Michel Blanquer.
Influenced by research into the highest performing educational jurisdictions, and following consultation with key stakeholders on their experience of the current system, the main aim of the reform is to improve students’ chances of success in higher education and beyond. In practice, this means enabling students to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the subjects that most interest them during the final two years of schooling by creating Special Subjects (Spécialités) to which more curricular time will be devoted. In order to maintain the broad humanistic education that is so admired by foreign universities and employers alike, and which contributes to students becoming such well-rounded and engaging individuals, the new Baccalauréat will also allow all students to continue to study a core curriculum that includes French Literature, Science, two foreign languages, History-Geography and Philosophy, regardless of which subjects they choose to specialise in. This is made possible by the introduction of ‘continuous assessment’ (contrôle continu) in core subjects whereby a combination of results from three end-of-unit tests in each subject and marks registered by teachers in the termly bulletins will replace final examinations.
The subjects taught by the British Section maintain their central place in the new-look baccalauréat. Indeed, English Language and Literature and History-Geography will continue to be taught and examined alongside the Special Subjects enabling British and anglophone universities to continue to recognise our students’ particularly strong aptitude to study there.
A summary of the main changes can be found here.