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4 october 2017
A reform still to implement
Our school system requires an extensive overhaul if all students are to succeed. In its
May 2013 report, the Cour des comptes showed that changing how we manage
teachers, who are key to a functioning education system, is a major known catalyst for
improved performance. However, the central government has not used the substantial
and growing fiscal effort directed in recent years at the national education system to
make structural reforms. The personnel measures taken in 2012 and the remuneration
measures taken in 2016 were not coupled with concessions on the conditions under
which teachers practice their profession, on work organisation or on working hours.
Reforming the practice of the teaching profession
Improving the performance of the education system requires a change in the practice of the
teaching profession. However, the adjustments made in recent years have not been sufficient
to reduce inflexibility and meet the educational requirements that the schools have set for
themselves. As international comparisons show, the quality of teacher training, the organisation
of teachers’ work in the schools, the adequacy of teacher evaluations, teachers’ ability to ensure
continuity between primary school and secondary school, and their collective practices under
the direction of principals and head teachers all play a major role.
While the reinstatement of initial teacher training is a welcome development, additional efforts
are needed to raise professional standards. Redefining the regulatory service obligations in
secondary schools has had few tangible effects as their weekly framework has been maintained,
without annualisation, and the definition of their missions remains incomplete (substitution, for
example). Teacher evaluations do not consider student outcomes. The rigid segmentation
between primary school teachers and secondary school teachers limits the actual scope of the
“common core” concept. The uncertain positioning of principals
and head teachers vis-à-vis
teachers limits their ability to adapt the educational structure to students’ needs, even though
they are best placed to do so.
Better meeting students’
needs through teacher assignments
To improve the performance and fairness of the school system, local environments and student
profiles need to be more fully taken into account. However, teaching assignments are based on
a scale that is applied automatically, does not account for the qualitative needs of the national
education system, and barely considers each teacher’s specific skills. There is therefore no
guarantee that their profile will be matched to their position, profile-based positions are
underutilised, and head teachers are not sufficiently involved in their implementation. The
assignment of large numbers of new teachers and of contract substitutes to the most challenging
positions remains a major obstacle. The limited appeal of certain positions is considered, but
not to the extent needed to be effective: new measures with no connection to traditional
management frameworks need to be implemented.
The ongoing challenge of covering short-term replacements points to a management framework
that is too inflexible to adapt to the daily reality of the needs of the education system, due to the
absence of local management, head teachers’ lack of autonomy and the impossibility of
adjusting teacher service.
Building a comprehensive strategy for employment, remuneration and
working hours
The creation of 60,000 positions encountered greater recruitment difficulties in certain school
districts and for certain disciplines. In particular, no concessions in terms of increasing the
flexibility of the teacher management framework have been sought. Generally speaking, there
is no comprehensive strategy guiding the management of personnel, remuneration and teacher
service. These different levers are subject to disparate measures. The situation is therefore
doubly disadvantageous: first, the cost of the education system is increasing but performance
has not improved and, second, there is no support for the necessary reforms due to the limited
fiscal leeway.
Three actions are therefore required: adopt a comprehensive, multiyear approach that breaks
with the purely quantitative policy; create a stronger differentiation in resource allocation to focus
efforts on the main challenges facing the school system; and take a concession-based approach
to implement the necessary structural reforms. These actions are particularly important as the
national education payroll will continue to increase significantly due to decisions that have
already been made. It is therefore both urgent and possible to negotiate concessions.
The Cour des comptes has made 13 recommendations that affect the teaching profession,
teaching assignments and teachers’ working conditions. They aim in particular to:
substitution and continuing education into teachers’ service obligations;
annualise teachers’ service obligations;
develop versatility, notably by including it in the initial training;
give principals and head teachers more responsibility;
have head
teachers account more fully for students’ needs when
making teacher
make certain positions more attractive through compensation- and career-based measures;
tie the compensation- and career-based measures to savings by managing personnel more
efficiently and streamlining the training programme.
Read the report
Ted Marx
Head of communication
+33 (0)1 42 98 55 62
Denis Gettliffe
Head of Press Relations
+33 (0)1 42 98 55 77