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The French “School climate policy”: wellbeing as a collective outcome


Background: In 2000, the Lisbon Treaty set a common goal to all EU members: “become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010”. Education policy is the primary means to enhance that “human capital.” New research on wellbeing aims at developing the “politics of happiness” and the quality of public education as an important cog in that process. However, well-being at school does not yet operate under a coherent and consistent framework. Local differing interpretations or translations remain. Aims: Analysing the French understanding of students’ wellbeing and the rationale for supporting and promoting it in France, taking into account the specificity of national policy. Method: a systematic literature review, a conceptual analysis of educational policy, and current experiments. Results: Public education in France relies on a strong Republican framework created in 1882. “School climate” policy is consistent with this framework. An essential tension that exists today is the tension between instruction and education. Well-being is not seen as the object and aim of instruction (seen as a mark of alternative and private schools), but as a collective outcome. Therefore, most experiments focus on learning environments. Learning skills remains the main goal of these experiments, even if there is a notable trend to confuse “school climate” with a convivial atmosphere and person-centered education. Keywords: France, Social transition, school climate policy, happiness studies
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halshs-01913774 , version 1 (09-03-2023)


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Samuel Lézé. The French “School climate policy”: wellbeing as a collective outcome. Hal O’Neill. CIDREE YEARBOOK 2017- Wellbeing in the Curriculum - Consortium of Institutions for Development and Research in Education in Europe, , pp.62-74, 2017, CIDREE YEARBOOK, 978-1-5272-1578-8. ⟨halshs-01913774⟩
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