IF your child is just about to spend Easter sweating over their brevet - in other words they are in their last year of college right now - it's time to start thinking about where they will go on to lycée, writes Miranda Ingram.
This can be a tad confusing especially when the system talks at you in initials and acronyms: L, ES, STGS, CAP, BTS etc.
Don't worry - even French parents get confused since much of it has changed since their day.
There are two types of lycée. Roughly speaking, the lycée générale et téchnologique is for students who intend going on into higher education and who will study for a bac général.
The lycée professionelle, known as lycée pro, is more vocational and for those who intend getting a job straight after school. They will study for a bac pro or un certificat d’aptitude professionnelle (CAP) which includes hands on experience in business and industry.
Alongside lycée, there are other professional options such as apprenticeships.
Your child's conseil de classe will recommend which type of lycée they believe is best suited to your child. You should hear from them in about a month's time.
If you do not agree with their advice, you can discuss this with the school or, as a last result, appeal against it.
Lycée générale et téchnologique
At the lycée générale et téchnologique pupils choose, at the end of their first year, between the general and technological streams.
Those choosing to do a bac général then choose between a bac S (science), bac L (literary) or bac ES (social sciences).
Whichever choice they make, they will continue to study a range of subjects throughout their three years at lycée but different subjects carry different weight in their bac depending on what specialist subjects they choose.
In the Technological stream, pupils specialise in Health and Social Care (STS2), Industrial Science and Technology (STI), Laboratory Sciences (STL) or Information Technology and Business Admin (STG).
The bac, taken at the end of terminale (though some papers are taken in seconde), is the students' passport to higher education - anyone with a bac général has the right to go on to university or study for a Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS) or a Diplôme de Métiers d’art (DMA).
Those who don't pass their bac may get a Certificat de fin d’études secondaires (CFES), basically a school leaving certificate but which does not grant automatic admission to university.
Those attending a lycée pro study for two years during which they spend 12-16 weeks doing work experience outside school.
Students can also opt for an apprenticeship centre rather than a lycée pro and whereby they spend a large part of their time in industry and are paid a minimum wage. Their school studies are continued either at school or during apprenticeship placements.
So which lycée?
Generally, students attend their local lycée générale or pro, as long it offers the course they want.
In some cases, however, where a child wants to specialise in art, music or sport, for example, they may need to go further afield to find the course they wish to pursue. If this means travelling some distance, they may prefer, or need, to weekly board.
This is not uncommon at lycée level so don't worry about casting your search beyond your local town.
Not all lycées offer boarding facilities but it is also possible to board at one lycée and attend another in the same town.
Find out more about boarding and other education options on Miranda's website kidsinfrance.com.