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T
HEMATIC
P
UBLIC
R
EPORT
Paris, 22 May 2013
Managing teachers differently
The law has assigned schools the objective of ensuring the success of all pupils. In order to reach
this goal, the educational system must make use of a key resource: its teachers.
Given their number (837,000 in 2012, i.e. 44% of public-sector workers employed by the State) and
the weight of their salaries (
€49.9
bn in 2011, i.e. 17% of the overall Central Government budget), their
management is of utmost importance.
1)
Improving the management of teachers in order to restore pupil results
There are two worrisome aspects to the current situation:
The national education system is not meeting pupils' needs.
France is ranked 18
th
by the
OECD in terms of pupil performance; the French system is one in which the socio-economic
background of pupils has the strongest influence on academic results, and this situation is
worsening;
Nor does it meet the expectations of its teachers
. France is in the midst of a troubling crisis
in terms of the attractiveness of the teaching profession
:
in 2011 and 2012, over 20% of the
positions offered in the external CAPES competitive exam could not be filled in six disciplines,
including English and Mathematics.
And yet, on the whole France devotes comparable, if not more, resources to education than those
countries that best ensure the success of their pupils.
In the Court's view,
these unsatisfactory results cannot be attributed to a lack of budget
resources or teachers, but rather to poor use of existing resources
.
2)
A growing gap between management rules and the reality of the teaching
profession
The teaching profession has undergone considerable changes. Since 1989, the law has recognised
the comprehensive nature of this profession, which extends well behind class hours
. However,
the Ministry of Education has not drawn the necessary conclusions regarding the definition of the
teachers’ ta
sks.
In fact, under decrees dating mostly back to 1950, secondary school teachers are only required,
depending on their status, to teach between 15 and 18 hours per week during the 36 weeks of the
school year. Any work other than "teaching classes" (such as team work and tutoring) is not actually
included in their working hours.
Furthermore,
the definition of working hours does not take enough account of the variability
of pupils' needs during the school year
. Class hours are part of a fixed weekly framework, which
does not necessarily match pupils' needs; as a consequence, replacing missing teachers is more costly
and more complicated to ensure.
In addition, the targets requiring pupils to acquire a common base of knowledge and skills through
their mandatory schooling, on the one hand, and 80% success on the baccalaureate exam in a given
age class, on the other hand, are not incorporated in the management of France's teachers.
Management is fragmented among different bodies of civil servants, and between the primary school
level (where teachers are more versatile) and the secondary school level (where they are more
specialised in a given discipline).
Finally, the collective aspect of the teaching profession is not sufficiently recognised and
encouraged.
3)
Mass management on a uniform and unequal basis
Teacher
s’
management conditions, in particular rules of assignment and transfer, do not allow the
education system to adapt in order to meet the concrete
pupils’
needs in the classroom.
The Ministry of National Education is unable to accurately measure pupils' academic needs in a
representative way in order to draw conclusions on the resources that need to be allocated to every
school.
Teaching positions are distributed throughout the national territory according to criteria
that only partially and indirectly take into account the difficulties of learning the pupils are
confronted with.
Teachers in the public sector are therefore assigned to a school or institution, not based on the
needs of the pupils in question or on their individual skills, but rather they are chosen at random by
computer, through the application of an automatic scale that the Council of State has thrice deemed
illegal.
From a more general standpoint,
merit is very poorly considered in the remuneration of public-
sector teachers
. Promotion according to seniority remains predominant.
Under these conditions,
management rules generate negative effects on young teachers and
on the more sensitive teaching positions for pupils
. In secondary school, 45% of young teachers
are assigned to their first position in the regional education areas - called academies - facing the most
severe school failures, sparking massive turn over as a result. The system therefore works at the
disadvantage of both the schools enrolling the most vulnerable pupils, and the least experienced
teachers.
4)
Poorly valued human resources
Teachers are considered Central government civil servants in the A and A+ categories. As such,
their salaries may be seen as low in several respects
.
The net annual salary of public-sector teachers is 35% lower than that of the other civil servants,
due in large part to lower bonuses. In addition, French teachers earn 15% to 20% less than their
European Union and OECD counterparts, both at the start of their career and after 15 years' experience.
Even considering the different working hours, these data are significantly unfavourable to French
teachers, particularly in primary school.
Historically,
the priority has been focused on the number of teachers rather than their level of
pay
.
Over the course of their career, the large majority of teachers have no career prospects other than
changing locations. Because of a lack of career courses involving a gradual increase in responsibilities,
most teachers exercise the same duties over their entire professional life.
Moreover the
teachers’ working
environment is not conducive to sharing experiences and
solutions to the problems encountered on a daily basis
: there is not always a true sense of a
teaching team, relations with supervisors are more or less distant, there is no dedicated support person
for teachers at schools. Lifelong training is also unsatisfactory.
Conclusion
The education system is neither able to meet pupils' needs, as attested by the decline in France's
academic results, nor to fulfill the professional aspirations of its teachers. In this situation, the problem is
not the number of teachers or the lack of resources: the reduction in the number of teachers in the
course of the review process kno
wn as the “General review of public policies”
, or the scheduled
increase in the number of teachers over the five years to come, are pointless if the management rules of
the teaching profession remain unchanged. The real problem is the use of existing resources:
for many
years, teacher management has suffered from a severe malfunction
.
Over the course of its investigation, the Court determined that
a comprehensive reform of teacher
management conditions is necessary
.
It is important to overcome the assumption, stemming from the
massification of teaching and the pressures of apparent equality, that all teachers are interchangeable
and all pupils have the same needs. Both teachers and pupils alike have everything to gain.
Recommendations
The Court has therefore issued a series of recommendations to be considered as an indivisible
whole:
1.
Redefine the teaching profession with a particular focus on adapting regulatory tasks
;
2.
Improve the recognition of human resources at the individual and team levels
;
3.
Assign teachers according to actual position characteristics and school objectives
;
4.
Establish local management
.
Read the report on the website
Press contact:
Ted MARX - Head of Communication - Tel: +33 (0)1 42 98 55 62-
tmarx@ccomptes.fr
Denis GETTLIFFE - Head of Press Relations - Tel +33 (0)1 42 98 55 77 -
dgettliffe@ccomptes.fr
Follow the Court of Accounts at @Courdescomptes