As it is unlikely that Pap Ndiaye and Anne Coffinier consulted each other, we have to conclude that it was a coincidence. But the Minister of Education, whose desire to “Relaunching the fight against gender stereotypes” (sic) leaked to the media on the day of the Create your school press conferenceoffered a very nice backdrop to the association: is this really what parents expect from a national education system that looks like a field of ruins?
Independent schools known as “outside the contract” are not a Franco-French subject. They are booming all over the world (openings multiplied by ten in ten years). The motivations, explained by Anne Coffinier, president of Create your school, are numerous: the confinements, which led parents to take an interest in the content, the desire for bilingualism, different pedagogies – experienced abroad or more in bond with nature – and above all, in France, “the deterioration experienced as irremediable, in the short or medium term, of National Education, the saturation or trivialization of private schools under contract”.
But the French specificity, according to Create your school, is also the government’s great hostility to alternative forms of instruction to National Education (including, moreover, the private under contract, whose growth it strives to contain). By emptying it of its own substance).
This year, 121 independent schools are opening – many kindergartens and rural schools, linked to the restriction of instruction at home -, which are added to the 1,700 other pre-existing ones.
We know that parents are ready to move mountains for their children. And it is indeed a Himalaya of red tape that those who undertake to try the adventure have to face. Especially when they are Catholic, explains Anne Coffinier. Because in addition to clashing with the rectorate, they also have to reckon with the animosity of the diocese and Catholic schools under contract who see it as competition, without any of these brave institutions taking the trouble to question themselves… Is Is it simply out of masochism, out of a desire to have the rectorate screw up that parents bother and ruin themselves? Or do they sacrifice themselves for the best interests of their children, so that they can rediscover, in peace, the spirit of “Jules Ferry’s school, with its daily dictations, its grammar exercises and its lessons to be learned by heart”in short, this “classical pedagogy”, imperfect, no doubt, but which has proven itself – which still makes them hollow, since its abandonment results in a bitter failure: it would have been enough to amend it to improve it. This is what the independent schools tend to do spontaneously, which infuse their methods – because they are fortunately, also, of their time – benevolence and psychology, but taking care not to mislead them against the authority and rigor. It will be noted (pirouette of history) that the model “black hussars of the republic” found refuge in the schools… Catholics.
Why should this review of independent schools draw our attention? Because their situation is fragile, even perilous. These parents ask for nothing, even agree to pay without flinching a second time a school that they already finance through their taxes. By putting their children “elsewhere”, they even contribute to relieving classes and, consequently, are part of the solution to the shortage of teachers. But the spokes in the wheels are multiplying. The Blanquer reform of the baccalaureate tends to asphyxiate independent high schools. It forces these students to pass more than a dozen additional tests. Last June, these candidates received no reception, some even found the gates closed at the examination center where they had been summoned, and it was through a hole in the fence of a neighboring Ibis hotel that they managed to enter… reports, ironically and bitterly, Anne Coffinier.
Moreover, if there is a political consensus on the finding of a school in disrepair, the threat of “separatism” is convenient to agitate to stifle any initiative to do “differently”. The Islamist rag has a good back. Anne Coffinier recalls that the establishments under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood which have been talked about so far – like Averroesin Lille – were… under contract.
Whatever. An article from Parisianin September 2020reported that “for fear of being accused of stigmatizing a religion, Emmanuel Macron [voulait] to broaden [le séparatisme] to other areas »that at the Élysée, we preferred to put the word in the plural, to speak “separatism” and that in this matter, ” we [citait] the excesses of these Catholic schools which deny the republican pact”. From there to say that “independent” and “separate” are synonymous, there is not far.
However, it is important that these schools continue. Because they are proof that another school model, in 2022, is possible. And in this gloomy back-to-school period, parents and children need hope.