The Institut Montaigne blog reports on an affirmative action experiment launched by the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers (ENSAM). It is a three-stage program. In stage one, promising students are identified in the last year of high school. They are selected for "interesting capabilities specific to the profile of engineering school and not well correlated with academic baggage." It would be interesting to have that opaque description unpacked, though one can guess at what it means. In any case, stage two subjects these students to intensive preparation for stage three, the regular entrance exam, which they must pass in order to be "fully recognized by students entering via so-called 'classic' channels." Another euphemism, but the intent is clear: no special quotas for the underprivileged, who must compete on the regular entrance examination with everyone else after receiving their boost in the prep phase.
It's an interesting approach and yet another indication that there is movement at the margin in the recruitment to higher education.