Taking stock of Macron’s five-year tenure: Reforms in the national education system have damaged the teaching profession

Rue de Grenelle, a very eventful five-year term comes to an end. Appointed Minister of National Education on May 17, 2017, Jean-Michel Blanquer will be as surprised by his activity as by his longevity. Immediately after he took office, many educational projects were launched, especially for the youngest (divided into CP and CE1 classes, compulsory school from the age of three) and high school. There are many among teachers who felt mistreated and unsupported by these reforms.

If he always thought of giving priority to the elementary school, the former director general of school education (2009-2012) also tackled the high school and the orientation, up to the reform of the immutable. Beginning in September 2018, a year and a half after Emmanuel Macron came to power, sophomores joined a new high school. Two and a half years later, in July 2021, the same class was the first to complete the new Matura, which marked the arrival of continuous monitoring and the implementation of personalized courses through the choice of specialties.

Beforehand, in January 2018 the first edition of the Parcoursup was opened. This platform, designed with the Department of Higher Education, replaced the APB, which was derided for its practice of drawing lots. The main difference between the two procedures: the establishment of a selection form at the university, in the most recent case, especially for areas of tension.

These far-reaching reforms were carried out at a brisk pace and then abused by the health crisis of 2020, 2021 and 2022. So much for thatAfter five intense and tumultuous years, relations between the Minister of Education and the vast majority of the teaching community have rarely been so bad, according to her representatives.

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This observation, regularly underlined by trade unions and disciplinary bodies, does not surprise Annick Billon, UDI Senator from Vendée. The co-author of the Senate report, noting the results of the Quinquennium’s educational efforts, provides immediate evidence the lack of support from teachers at this time of the movement. “The cornerstone of this new system is guidance,” she summarizes, “but it has remained a poor cousin of budgets: 85% of main teachers and 65% of school leaders have not received any specific training to fulfill their guidance mission.

The cornerstone of this new system is orientation. However, it has remained a poor relative in the budgets. (A. Billon, UDI Senator)

The report presented on February 23 underlines a reform’s broken promise: the establishment of 54 hours of annual orientation in high school. “For lack of sufficient overall time allocation, many students are not benefiting from their 54 hours of annual orientation as part of college reform, which devotes many hours to specialty instruction and choices,” the Culture and Communications Committee authors write.

The main consequence of this lack of training and staff is poor student support. “As soon as we offer choices that are difficult and do not reverse the orientation of high school students, it is necessary for the teachers to be trained,” Annick Billon develops. In their opinion, these effects were nevertheless foreseeable.

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Beyond these remarks, the senator also regrets thatmissing impact study on the reform of grammar schoolswhat might have been useful before taking mathematics out of the common core of general higher education – to whom the presidential candidate has promised to return in the event of re-election.

“It was a big mistake [de supprimer les maths], because this government has shown the will to fight against gender inequalities since the beginning of the five-year term. gold they have not measured the consequences that this oppression might have on girls’ orientation. Today we experience a stereotypical orientation if one wanted to fight against it.

The government has not measured the impact of removing mathematics from the common core on girls’ orientation. (A Billon)

In addition to the implementation of an unpopular reform and this lack of training in new support missions “Teachers have been tense during the health crisis, also observed Annick Billon. Things got done at the last moment, they got roughed up and they felt like they were in trouble.”

Which increases the animosity between the ministry and the staff. When Annick Billon wants to “welcome the government’s will to reform”, she states: “The minister wanted a more inclusive school, the school of trust, only the trust isn’t there.”

Bildungsgrenelle: 700 million additional euros promised for teachers

However, relations could have improved from the start of the 2020 school year and the launch of the Grenelle de l’Education, which aims to enhance the teaching profession, starting with salaries. “The salary level of teachers in France is low compared to other civil servants with the same qualifications in other countries,” recalls Géraldine Farges, sociologist and lecturer in education at the University of Burgundy.

A l’issue des Discussions, Rue de Grenelle has promised 400 million euros revaluation for 2021, then 700 million for 2022. Far from expectations. “During the five-year period, we can note the attractiveness bonus for teachers in REP and REP+,” explains Géraldine Farges. We can’t necessarily show much more.” According to the sociologist, “salary increases were expected and did not occur”.

But the question of salary is not necessarily the most central. “The profession suffers from a lack of pay and recognition, it doesn’t come from this quinquennium“, Annick Billon shares an opinion that Géraldine Farges shares: “Overall, it is clear that the conditions have not improved.”

By “conditions” we must understand in particular “autonomy”. “These professions used to be very autonomous, now they are very framed by the official texts, especially on the teaching methods. However, Géraldine Farges recalls that “the teachers are all graduates of at least bac+5 and have a strong need for recognition of their expertise, their ability to reflect, their skills as educational experts and the pedagogical relationship”. She therefore combines the teachers’ current “dissatisfaction” with the fact that, despite their shared expertise, they “are not associated with the reforms”.

The sociologist also fears that these worsening working conditions will deter future teachers. “It makes students very reluctant to get a license,” she warns. They expect bad conditions and this real image is reinforced by their internships.”

Lack of political will or lack of method? For Annick Billon, the copy is definitely to be reviewed: “The government wanted to restore the attractiveness of the professions, but that didn’t work.”

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