A Grenelle for education in the face of damaged teachers’ confidence

Carried by Jean-Michel Blanquer, the Grenelle of education opened on Thursday, the day after the national tribute to Professor Samuel Paty. A major consultation aimed at modernizing the French national education system, from which teachers and unions especially expect measures adapted to the reality on the ground.

“The hour is serious. It forces us to react, to design a future for our children”. It is with these words that Jean-Michel Blanquer, French Minister of National Education, launched, Thursday, October 22, the Grenelle of education, the day after the national tribute to Professor Samuel Paty, assassinated a few days earlier .

This major consultation on the future of education, which is to be held over three months, raises many expectations from teachers and unions, particularly in the areas of remuneration, working conditions and protection against insecurity.

The revaluation of salaries, requested by teachers for several years, represents one of their main demands. “We want a real and significant increase in wages,” claims Fatna Seghrouchni, co-secretary of the Sud education union, joined by France 24. The union is therefore asking “for an increase in the minimum wage to 1,700 euros net” and “the indexation of wages over inflation “. “What is proposed [par le ministère de l’Éducation] is just crumbs, “protests the trade unionist.

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This increase in remuneration must go through the payment of bonuses. They represent the major part of the 400 million euros additional budget for the year 2021. The State promises an activity bonus, in the amount of 100 euros net monthly, paid to staff at the beginning and in the middle of their career. . The IT equipment premium is set at 150 euros net annually for each teacher.

These promises are struggling to convince some teachers who, over the years, have lost confidence in the Ministry of Education. “I have been teaching for twenty years. Since the start of my career, each time my missions have been redefined, I have never been paid more”, assures Amélie Hart Hutasse, professor of history and geography at college of Semur-en-Auxois, in Côte d’Or, contacted by France 24.

“We’re going to have to work even more, with fewer teachers”

If Jean-Michel Blanquer ensures that salary increases will not be conditional on an increase in working time or other compensation, Amélie Hart Hutasse fears a heavier workload. “The State explains to us that it wants to change our work, this means that our missions will evolve and that we will have to work even more, with fewer teachers because, for years, positions have been removed”, point- she, claiming to want “to be paid for these overtime hours”.

For the moment, this wage increase is the subject of discussions between the unions and the Ministry of Education. “The objective is to have a multi-year vision of the subject,” warned Jean-Michel Blanquer, who aims to “catch up the remuneration” of teachers over the next few years.

In France, teachers’ salaries are on average 7% lower at the start of their careers compared to the average for other countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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Still in shock after the murder of Samuel Paty, some teachers and unions are also calling for more financial resources to fight against insecurity. “In recent years, there have been more and more students in schools and classes. This creates tensions between the students and maintains violence within the schools,” says Fatna Seghrouchni, who asks “for more educational assistants, CPE [conseillers principaux d’éducation] and the construction of new schools “.

“If an incident, such as a rather lively discussion, occurs in a class of 35 students, it is more difficult to manage than in a class of 20 students”, illustrates Amélie Hart Hutasse, who awaits “concrete decisions” at the outcome of the Grenelle Education Forum. “The first protection is to ensure that there are not fewer and fewer adults supervising the students,” she said.

Questioned by France 24, Alexis Torchet, national secretary of the Sgen-CFDT union, considers that the State services must collaborate better. “The relations between the police services and the education services have strengthened in recent years. We must continue on this path, by improving the identification of worrying signals, especially on social networks,” he suggests. in reference to the “smear campaign organized against Samuel Paty by radical Islamist activists”.

The uncertainties of the start of the school year

The teachers are also wondering about the organization of the start of the All Saints holidays, Monday, November 2. Each school must, that day, allow a minute of silence, in tribute to Samuel Paty.

On Thursday, the unions, however, asked the minister to “leave an unmarked time for the teams on the morning of November 2 to share the emotion and also ask questions about the way in which the institution supported colleagues, on the teaching of secularism”.

“We need to see how we will let the students express themselves as well,” Frédérique Rolet, general secretary of Snes-FSU, the first secondary school union, told the press. “If this minute of silence appears to us adults to be of obvious solemnity, this is not necessarily the case for the students. They are adolescents above all,” recalls Amélie Hart Hutasse.

This hackneyed expression was born in 1968. While France was paralyzed by major strikes, Prime Minister Georges Pompidou organized negotiations with unions and employers at the Ministry of Labor… rue de Grenelle in Paris.

Used in the 1980s but commonplace in 2007 with the Grenelle de l’Environnement, it now designates major consultations between the government, unions, associations and other representatives of civil society. Since the 2000s, many Grenelles have emerged, on very high speed in 2008, on the sea in 2009 or more recently, on domestic violence in 2019.

The aim is to come up with strong measures taking into account the demands of different actors in a sector. The Grenelle Environment Forum, for example, resulted in the Grenelle laws and the Energy Transition Law.

The Grenelle education round will last three months. During workshops, it will bring together stakeholders from the educational world – staff, parents of students, unions, personalities from civil society or elected to “reflect on the modernizations of National Education”, detailed the Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer.

At the end of January, proposals will be submitted to Jean-Michel Blanquer who will announce measures in February.

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