He wants to make Marseille “a laboratory” educative. Emmanuel Macron announced, Thursday, September 2, that some schools in Marseille were going to experiment with a“school of the future” granting more freedom to directors, “from the start of the 2022-2023 school year”. “These school directors must be able to choose the teaching team”, he notably sketched, quantifying at 50 the number of popular establishments which will be gradually included in the device. Here is what we know, at this stage, about this initiative.
What did the president announce?
To improve the educational offer in the neighborhoods “difficult”, the Head of State intends to rely on volunteer teachers and “fully motivated”. “We must allow teachers to choose these neighborhoods and the educational projects that go with them”, what “is not enough the case today”, estimated Emmanuel Macron. The directors would thus have new prerogatives “framing” to compose their team, with “more freedom” and “much more means” at stake.
“The idea is simple: give more freedom to get more results.”Emmanuel Macron
during the presentation of the plan “Marseille en grand”
The president wishes to give birth “a radically new method” and calls for “rethinking learning projects, school rhythms, recess, duration of lessons, ways of teaching”. Extra-curricular actors, coming from associations, sports and culture, will be “associates” to the project. If the experiment is successful, the idea is to “generalize” in “several other neighborhoods” of France.
Where did this idea come from?
From his presidential campaign in 2017, Emmanuel Macron campaigned for “give back autonomy to establishments” in “making it possible to recruit on the basis of educational projects”. An experiment specific to priority education schools was even envisaged to attract teachers, reported The echoes. Newly appointed Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer then boasted, in The Obs, the “central concept” of “freedom” and defended “a role to play in recruitment” for school leaders. He did not specifically mention primary school, where the principal has no hierarchical authority over other teachers. Since then, the issue of school principals has regularly come back to the table. In August 2020, Jean-Michel Blanquer notably promised them a “better autonomy”. A LREM bill aiming at a better recognition of the function of director is under discussion in Parliament. However, the question of the choice of teachers by principals has never been posed head-on.
A mechanism to attract specially chosen teachers already exists within the National Education, in the form of “profile positions” linked to particular skills. In a report from July 2019 (PDF), the Court of Auditors recommended expanding these rare recruitments based on profile, in order to“attract and stabilize the teaching force in schools and colleges of priority education”. At the start of the year, such an extension was also recommended during the Grenelle education, for’“involve the school principal in recruitment” for some “positions with a profile in line with specific school projects”. The Institut Montaigne, a liberal think-tank, was also in favor, in a note (PDF) published in August. Emmanuel Macron referred to this device on Thursday, while stressing that his project would concern “much more than profile positions”.
In his speech, the President of the Republic also quoted “the Finnish model”. In this country with an education system sometimes held up as an example, the recruitment of teachers is the responsibility of schools, according to a senatorial report of 2010 on the subject. Finally, in terms of openness to extra-curricular actors, the Head of State alluded to the “educational cities” launched in 2019 by the government. By this new project, he intends “to multiply” these efforts.
How is this announcement received?
Teacher unions quickly expressed their skepticism. “There has never been any feedback, whether in Marseille or elsewhere, that we are faced with schools where teachers are unsuitable for school projects”, was surprised the SE-Unsa to AFP. “We don’t want to become laboratory rats”, warned the SnuiPP of Bouches-du-Rhône, recalling that Marseille schools are already rat infested. The national leadership of the union denounced a “broken” of the civil service statute.
For the FSU of Bouches-du-Rhône, interviewed by franceinfo, this project is “ideological” and “does not meet the needs at all” ground. “Asking school principals to recruit their teachers is completely out of step with their missions, the means and the time they have. “ The union says to itself “shocked” as the president “uses the dramatic situation of schools in Marseille to (…) play sorcerer’s apprentice”.
“This experimentation, we will refuse it and we will fight it.”Caroline Chevet, departmental secretary of the FSU of Bouches-du-Rhône
LREM deputy Cécile Rilhac, author of the bill under consideration in Parliament, acknowledged on France Inter that such a project was “requested neither by directors nor by primary school teachers”. Senior staff may not have full control over the makeup of their team, she says: “It will certainly, depending on the school project, offer a type of post, and then it is the National Education which will manage the recruitment.”
“Strictly against this proposal”, the rebellious deputy Alexis Corbière denounced “a break-up of the national civil service statute” and a logic of “entrepreneur”. When announcing this measure on Thursday, Emmanuel Macron knew he would not be unanimous: “I say a lot of bad words to a lot of people, I’m aware of it”, he had been careful to point out. He promised to return to Marseille in October for a first stage point.