The diagnosis formulated by the Court of Auditors in a report devoted to teacher absences and their replacement, published this Thursday, December 2, deserves careful reading. The magistrates of rue Cambon examined the absences of teachers between 2018 and 2019, the last period of normal operation before the arrival of the Covid-19 and distance courses.
The report has the merit of quickly evacuating the accusations of strong absenteeism frequently thrown at professors. “The teachers are not more absent than the other agents of the State civil service, and are less absent than the agents of the territorial and hospital public services”, notes the report.
The Court of Auditors attributes the situation to a “Institutional failure”. You still have to know what we put behind the term “Absence” ? Teachers will argue, rightly, that in secondary school two thirds of absences are attributable to hierarchical requests, or service obligations: training, examination board or even outings and other school trips. The remaining third is for personal or medical reasons.
Corn “The assessment of teacher absences is a delicate question, because the statistical measurement and the perception of it by pupils and their families do not exactly coincide”. The Court notes, moreover, that the “Situation is less and less tolerated by the parents of pupils, even the pupils”.
The financial magistrates judge her ” more complex “ in secondary education than in primary schools, where 80% of absences are replaced from the first day. Long-term absences, ie more than fifteen days, are replaced in 96% of cases.
However, the situation is deteriorating from year to year, in part due to the recruitment difficulties pointed out by the Court of Auditors. And the pandemic is unlikely to improve matters.
Thus, nearly 10.7% of course hours were lost during the 2018-2019 school year in general and technological high schools, 9.8% in vocational high schools and 8.3% in secondary schools, i.e. 24% increase over the previous year.
This can cause a break in equality between students, again recalls the Court. And can also lead parents to seize the administrative judge.
For short-term absences, of less than fifteen days, the National Education is really struggling: a solution is only found in 20% of cases. These absences “Alone represent nearly 2.5 million hours, of which only a little more than 500,000 replaced”. And nearly two thirds of these absences are linked to a poor organization of national education, denounces the institution.
If the pool of replacements cannot compensate for these absences, it is because, “From the start of the school year, a large number of replacement incumbents are assigned to positions that are ultimately vacant, which correspondingly reduces the“ pool ”of replacements for absences during the year”.
However, the Court does not recommend recruiting to expand this pool. In his eyes, this is a false trail: it would be impossible to find candidates, given the low attractiveness of the teaching profession.
Rather, it invites the National Education to better organize training, to schedule them for example on days when teachers do not have lessons. Same for exams and competitions. Thus Jean-Michel Blanquer has already launched courses of a few days during school holidays.
The Court nonetheless asks that teachers on school trips or outings be systematically replaced. And invites, to do this, the National Education to better declare these absences upstream in the software so that the rectorates can anticipate.
All of this comes at a cost, which the Court considers to be very high. She calculated that these institutional absences cost more than a billion euros. In total, the cost of replacement and the cost of non-replacement is estimated at four billion euros, all degrees combined.
Where the National Education figures them at 2.7 billion, taking into account only the additional cost generated by the only replacements, the Court adds the hours paid in vain.
The Court’s recommendations are diverse and risk offending the teaching staff. In particular because the question, also structural, of additional resources is not addressed.
The report explains that the ministry should conduct a “Structured prevention policy »Concerning staff health to limit sick leave. And this even if prevention physicians are only 87 for 900,000 teachers!
The Court also recommends that the professors organize themselves more to carry out replacements between colleagues of the same establishment. They would be paid overtime. It has been around for five years already. The magistrates cite the example of the school of the Romans of Strasbourg, located in REP, where the teachers of the split CP classes have programmed the distribution of pupils in the event of a teacher’s absence.
She also recalls having already recommended in 2017 to include the replacement in the missions of teachers. The court would also like the National Education to strengthen the prerogatives of school heads in the management of replacements.
The authors of this report also encourage teachers to go digital and to record their lessons on video, broadcast to students in case of absence, under the supervision of an education assistant. A solution mentioned by the Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, in his response to the court.
This idea leaves Sophie Vénétitay, professor of SES, and general secretary of SNES-FSU (first secondary school union) doubtful, as she explained to France Info. “It leaves me very doubtful to register and then leave our students in front of a video. I have doubts about the ability of the students to stand an hour in front of the video of a teacher’s monologue. “
The magistrates are also resuscitating one of their old antiphons, the annualization of the service time of secondary school teachers. “Maintaining a method of organizing working time based on a weekly logic limits the possibility of introducing flexible replacement methods for short-term absences. ” A red line for all unions, who consider that the weeks are not compensable between them and that teachers should not have to make up hours from one week to the next for free. If Jean-Michel Blanquer is in favor, he has not yet dared to take the plunge.