Back to school for 12 million students ahead of the fall school consultation

Some 12 million French students returned to school on Thursday after two months of vacation: maskless but in a climate of concern about the lack of teachers, the next stage being that of the major consultation to “revalue the teaching profession” in the trap.

After two months of vacation, high school students (6.5 million), college students (3.4 million) and high school students (2.2 million) found their friends, got to know their teachers, and discovered their schedule.

In Lille, in the large courtyard of the Nina-Simone college, the children exchanged a few words or stayed close to their parents, listening to the speech of the director of this establishment of about 500 students.

At the call of their names, the new students quickly left the group to join the ranks two by two. Jules joined the sixth + Backlash blues+, and went upstairs with his head teacher. Here the classes have no numbers but are named after Nina Simone’s songs.

Unlike the two previous back-to-school periods, teachers and students did not wear a face mask this start of the school year due to the silence on the Covid-19 front.

– “difficulties here and there” –

In Lyon, in front of the Aristide-Briand primary school, Guillermo Feo, 38, father of a CP student, was also delighted: “For the children it is a relief not to wear a mask. Don’t wear one either and that will improve communication make it much easier”.

This year, the start of the school year took place under the seal of the teacher recruitment crisis.

A phenomenon that is not new, but has worsened this year, with more than 4,000 open vacancies in the country’s competitions, of the 27,300 vacancies in the public and private sectors (and a total of 850,000 teachers).

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne wanted to be reassuring. “Thanks to the work carried out by the Minister (of Education) and all his teams, I think we can say that today we have a back to school that is going well,” she said during a trip to a university in Airaines (Somme ).

On his side, Education Minister Pap Ndiaye added that “the feedback from the various rectorates (their) suggests that the start of the school year is going well”.

“It doesn’t mean that all problems are solved, there are difficulties here and there, in certain disciplines or in certain academies.

There are great concerns on the part of parents of students and unions.

The former fear “an explosive return”, according to Nageate Belahcen, co-chair of the FCPE, the first federation of parents of students, as the latter denounce “a clunky work” in light of the recruitment of indentured laborers during the summer . The Snes-FSU has launched the keyword #NotreVraieRentrée to collect testimonials within the establishments.

– “consultations on many topics” –

To address the shortage, National Education has recruited contract teachers — 3,000 according to Pap Ndiaye — who are trained in a few days before standing in front of a class.

In the longer term, in order to restore the attractiveness of the teaching profession, the government has set some milestones in the field of remuneration. Pap Ndiaye promised that “no teacher would start their career with less than 2,000 euros net per month from the start of the 2023 school year”, “a starting salary, excluding bonuses”.

A large-scale consultation around the school should start in October, involving the educational communities. “There will be consultations on many subjects, on the attractiveness of the teaching profession, on the revaluation of this profession, on giving the teacher teams more leeway,” said Elisabeth Borne.

“We are working on sustainable solutions to revitalize the teaching profession,” continued Pap Ndiaye.

At the end of the government seminar, Ms Borne spoke on Wednesday about the texts that will be discussed in parliament, including “the legal provisions resulting from the consultations on education, to initiate concrete transformations from the start of the 2023 school year”.

“The question of a law does not arise immediately, it is a question that will be analyzed through various political elements,” replied AFP, the education minister, who was questioned at the end of the day on Thursday during a trip to a school in Toulon.

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