Villefontaine paedophile scandal
Police outside the elementary school in France, where the head teacher was recently found to have sexually abused pupils.Getty

France's education minister promised a thorough investigation into "systematic failures" in the education system that resulted in numerous convicted paedophiles being employed to work as teachers in schools.

In March 2015 the head teacher at a school in Villefontaine, south east France, was accused of raping two pupils, after manipulating them to perform oral sex acts. It subsequently emerged that he had been convicted of possessing child porn before taking up the position at the school.

The 45-year-old subsequently admitted to raping other children, and was dismissed by France's education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. The minister has since admitted that as many as 16 teachers were dismissed in 2014 after it was discovered that they had previous convictions for paedophilia.

"We have ordered an investigation to shed light on the shortcomings of our system and to correct its dysfunctions," Vallaud-Belkacem told French media after a cabinet meeting, reports The Local.

"We will tackle the issue head on," the minister told BFM TV. "It is intolerable."

Recently, a sports teacher in Rennes, western France, was suspended after it emerged he had previous convictions for child pornography. "The case of the head teacher has prompted others to speak up," said Vallaud-Belkacem.

The probe will investigate why Ministry of Justice information on relevant convictions was not routinely shared with the educational authorities.

Under the terms of the previous conviction, the head teacher from Villefontaine was not banned from working with children, which school authorities said meant that they could not access information on his past.