Education: "I have the impression that Gabriel Attal confirms a lot of the recommendations of the Republican Right," Judge Max Brisson - Public Senate

Education: “I have the impression that Gabriel Attal confirms a lot of the recommendations of the Republican Right,” Judge Max Brisson – Public Senate

“I have no taboos (…) I can say that if we want to raise the general level, we have to review our organization. » From November 22, the Minister of set the tone before the convention of the Assembly of Mayors of France. To “raise the level of requirements”, Gabriel Attal plans to create three level groups at the college, from the beginning of the 2024 school year for the sixth and fifth grades. The system must be implemented in 2025 for fourth and third grades. The minister also wants to issue a decree in 2024 that would make it easier to repeat a year, but this can be avoided by taking part in internships during school holidays or returning early. The 2014 return, accepted by the then minister Najat Vallaud Belkacem, made repeating the year exceptional but possible if it is in the interest of the student. Among other measures that the minister defends, we find the end of the academic harmonization of marks for the National Brevet Diploma and Baccalaureate or the labeling of school textbooks. Obtaining the certificate will also be a condition for entering secondary school.

If Gabriel Attal has been distilling his work since the beginning of the school year, the timing of the announcement fits the publication of the Pisa rankings, in which France records a historic decline in the mathematics level of 15-year-old students. This rankingpublished by the Organization for Economic Co-ordination and Development every three years, it is a reference document for education policies.

“I am delighted that he has set about dismantling the rigid structure of the college”

According to the Pisa 2022 rankings, 10% of French 15-year-old students repeated a grade during their schooling, compared to in 2012 it was 28%. “I am delighted with the grade repetition measure,” declares Max Brisson, senator and LR education leader. The opinion was shared by Laure Darcos, a senator from Les Indépendants de l’Essonne, who believes that the minister is “correctly relying on the consultation with teachers, who in the overwhelming majority wanted to return to repeating the year”. At the beginning of October, Gabriel Attal started a consultation on several points, including the repetition of grades. 70% of the 230,000 participants say they are in favor of returning to repeating the year, says the minister in an interview with Obs. Pierre Ouzoulias, a communist senator from Hauts-de-Seine, regrets the “reform to please the LR” and believes that inIt is based on findings from a 2015 OECD reportthat “repetition was limited because it had no educational benefit and there is also the question of what we will do with the students who did not get the certificate and will not be able to access secondary school”

As for the establishment of level groups in universities, the measure is well received on the right side of the chamber. “I am delighted that he has set about dismantling the rigid structure of the college; just a few weeks ago it was taboo to talk about the end of a single university,” emphasizes Max Brisson. The senator, who has been advocating for the end of the unified secondary school for a long time, nevertheless regrets the absence of measures on “the development of pre-apprenticeship education and the possibility to move from the fourth year to professional sectors”. The division into level groups according to disciplines was also pronounced for 80% of the consulted teachers. “Unlike his predecessors, he confronts the question of mathematics and adds 1:30 of mathematics,” rejoices Laure Darcos, who emphasizes that “a whole generation of young people does not have a sufficient level of mathematics because they are moving away from the common core of Jean-Michel Blanquer” .

Restoring the authority of teachers

Generally speaking, Gabriel Attal tries to establish the authority of the professors judging several senators. “The teacher’s final word is one of the elements we asked for to restore the authority of teachers in the context of grade repetition,” says Max Brisson. Senator LR advocates the “return of the sovereign class council” in the context of repetition, stressing the importance of not giving this final say to the wider teaching team. A reductive prism, “symptomatic of a certain French educational culture, a bit authoritarian”, notes Pierre Ouzoulias, who would like the minister “to go further on the subject of the freedom of teacher training, which was particularly threatened by Jean-Michel Blank.”

Laure Darcos claims to be more reserved on the issue of freedom of education and especially the labeling of school textbooks. “I doubt the labeling of school textbooks, publishers have always respected the programs and there is a sacred editorial freedom! If one extreme came to power, it could be very dangerous,” the senator emphasizes. For Max Brisson, on the other hand, labeling prevents certain abuses, such as bootstrapping inclusive writing in textbooks. “However, be careful, we must restore the authority of teachers with actions, not just words,” warns Max Brisson.

“Gabriel Attal is a very good politician, a good communicator, but he does not solve structural problems”

The measures, announced on the day of the publication of the ranking in Pisa, arouse some resentment among the left, who see it as an effective way to divert attention. “Gabriel Attal is a very good politician, a good communicator, but he does not solve structural problems such as the attractiveness of the profession and social diversity in school, his entire political strategy is aimed at using the results of the investigation to support his reforms. but without drawing any conclusions,” analyzes Pierre Ouzoulias. “It is very rare for the OECD to point out structural weaknesses in education and in particular the weight of socio-economic inequalities on academic achievement. Gabriel Attal is much more political than Pap Ndiaye and therefore refuses to address the central problem of social diversity, it is a reform to please the LR,” criticizes the senator from Hauts-de-Seine. While Pap Ndiaye was heavily criticized by the senatorial right, Max Brisson warned Gabriel Attal that it was important to accept some of the Senate’s proposals. “I have the impression that Gabriel Attal confirms a lot of the recommendations of the republican right, I will not complain if he slips to the right,” rejoices Max Brisson.

Finally, the reduction in the number of students within the level groups raises several questions, especially because of the elimination of 2,190 teaching positions in primary and secondary schools in the 2024 finance bill. allocation,” asks Laure Darcos, who is nevertheless convinced that “the government had a real desire to continue raising teachers’ salaries over a five-year period . The Minister of National Education, who was interviewed on the subject at a press conference, confirmed that this would mean the creation of several thousand posts, without going into details. If the state budget for education has increased by 12 billion since 2017 and the Senate 6.5% increase in loans in the financial account for 2024Pierre Ouzoulias doubts that this financial effort will be maintained. “There has been a revaluation this year, but I doubt it will continue after that, a ten-year plan will be needed. The whole problem of the minister is that he is proposing a reform with a constant budget,” jokes Pierre Ouzoulias.

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