“We must have the audacity to change the method. It’s a cultural revolution”. Emmanuel Macron presented on August 25 in front of the rectors and the Dasen, what will be his educational policy during this five-year term. Few novelties in relation to its electoral program. If not the non-compulsory nature of the debates announced at the start of the school year and a reform of teacher training. They will be (in what proportion?) trained from the baccalaureate. The amount of the Educational Innovation Fund is reduced to 500 million. E Macron confirmed a revaluation of 10% for all teachers and 20% for those who will commit to the “new pact”. Because, with the reform of the professional path and the new pact, E Macron is undertaking a liberalization of the School while maintaining the educational course set by JM Blanquer. What will remain of National Education in 5 years?
“We have too many unhappy students, too many anxious parents, teachers who are disillusioned or who feel they are not recognized and too many companies that cannot find trained young people. Given the Nation’s investment, this means that something is not working. We must have the audacity to change the method. It cannot be solved by more means”. Emmanuel Macron drew up an alarming observation of the French education system. But while recalling that the measures of the first five-year term would certainly bear fruit in the national evaluations and paying a strong tribute to JM Blanquer.
The President of the Republic has renewed the promise of revaluation of teachers promised by his program: 10% increase for all teachers and 20% for those who will enter the new pact. He did not set a date for these objectives which probably cover the quinquennium. Such an increase would represent approximately 3 times the budget increase for this year.
Professors recruited at baccalaureate level
The second announcement concerns teacher training. “We must assume that people engage in this profession from the baccalaureate”, says E Macron. This is reminiscent of the preparatory course for teaching in schools. It begins with a reinforcement of the fundamentals in high school from the baccalaureate to end up with a general license. This project, which is reminiscent of normal schools, was initiated by JM Blanquer. You will find an analysis in this article. Apparently, for E Macron, this could concern the second as the first degree. One wonders how this is compatible with upgrading.
“The School of the future” not mandatory
The third announcement concerns the debates on the “School of the future” planned for the start of the school year in schools and establishments. E Macron makes it the heart of his reform. He expects confidence from it, which is reminiscent of the slogan of JM Blanquer. Only voluntary schools and establishments will enter into this process. They will write a school project in conjunction with local elected officials, local associations and parents to sign a contract with the State. For those who enter it, an “educational innovation fund” will be endowed with 500 million (and no longer 1 billion). E Macron strongly urged the national education executives (rectors, dasen) present before him to “be permanent facilitators”. But there will be a steering. It will be done by the rectorates with a small ministerial team which will be responsible for “generalising good practices”. This is one of the aspects of E Macron: he manages both to praise the liberation of the base and to announce practices imposed from above…
A liberal vision
What E Macron promotes through these new establishment projects is the increased autonomy of establishments. “We must give more autonomy to institutions in the recruitment of teachers,” he said, referring to the experiment in Marseille. The articulation between these projects and “the new pact”, ie the reform of the status of teachers, with new missions, is still unclear. According to E Macron, teachers outside of these new contracts will be able to participate in the new pact. This suggests that the new contracts will lead to adherence to the new pact.
This is how the School that E Macron wants to set up takes shape. We will have schools (and establishments) in the Macron project, equipped with more means, and the others with less means. These institutions will compete to attract teachers and students. An “invisible hand” will ensure the success of certain establishments, necessarily the best, at the expense of others.
This very liberal vision of education is also very utopian. It is situated in an ideal society and ignores the function of social sorting of the School. In the real world, this policy, widely publicized in England, Sweden and the Netherlands in Europe, has led to a worsening of inequalities and harmed the most disadvantaged students. This has also accentuated the teacher recruitment crisis as shown by this study.
The reform of the professional path
And then there is vocational education. After presenting the vocational school as “a collective mess” the president believes that “our companies need these talents that the school ignores”. The reform of the vocational path must imitate that of apprenticeship. “We trusted the trades…, we got out of the trench wars. We must adapt training to the needs of the labor market, recruit more associate professors from the professional world, re-attach the professional path to the world of work , review training maps, adapt diplomas to new skills”. Here too it is a liberal revolution that E Macron wants to achieve. Trade unions in the sector are already mobilized against this reform.
One wonders what would remain of a National Education with this general contracting of schools and establishments. The “cultural revolution” demanded by E Macron is simply a liberal revolution.
E Macron as Minister of Education
As if he did not have a minister of education, E Macron also went into detail on the back-to-school measures, already announced in the circular. “In primary school we will continue to emphasize the fundamentals and we will generalize the daily practice of sport,” he said, referring to the generalized 30 minutes, without means, at the start of the school year. For E Macron these minutes of sport make it possible to better teach “dissipated” students…
In kindergarten, he wants to strengthen attention to children and mobilizes neuroscience to justify this policy. In college, “we will make the 6th an effective link with primary school by leaving freedom on the ground”. In fact, the official instructions make it possible to reinforce the teaching of the fundamentals to the detriment of other disciplines. From the 5th, the president wants to “open the school to trades”. “To choose better, you have to inform earlier,” he says. He wants to “remove the taboo of the school being closed on itself” to open it up to companies. This alludes to the half-day orientation which should find place at the college. In high school he confirms the return of maths in the common core of the general high school.
There is continuity at E Macron. His project for the School has not changed since the Marseille speech of September 2, 2021. During the campaign he adjusted his statements to the critics. To return to the Marseilles “cultural revolution” early June and “the inevitable” privatization of the school. To get his E project through, Macron is obviously counting above all on himself. This August 25 he marked his will.