Abstract : Having examined values in education since earliest times on the one hand and the formal structuring of curricula throughout the XIXth century on the other hand, we will show how Jules Ferry's programmes are at the junction of two different approaches to moral education. Therefore, we will consider the main changes which structured the way it was taught throughout the XXth century. In France, the setting up of a base for common knowledge and common skills sheds a new light on social and civic skills, autonomy and initiative. These 6th and 7th pillars will compare favourably with other educational programmes, moral and religious, particularly in French-speaking Belgium as well as in Quebec. Comparing the prescribed curricula with the way they are enforced, we will present a survey of the attitudes of 300 pupils drawn from 3 middle schools. A study of the internal coherence of the items of the survey indicates a dichotomy between social skills and autonomy. The average pupils show more respect than solidarity. They seem more concerned with social relationships than with autonomy. Getting these skills or not depends on sex, social type and background. Altogether, girls prove to be more able than boys. Disadvantaged pupils are socially more efficient whereas autonomy seems better acquired by the most privileged pupils. These conclusions are coupled with a parallel trend at the level of the school : the pupils’ success in these two fields may better result of different material organisations and of different educational politics. We will thus reflect on several ways of developing the performance of middle schools in fields of education to these values.