With the number of applicants for teacher competitions falling, coupled with high attrition rates in the early years of their careers, National Education found itself facing a large number of unfilled positions, from nursery to high school, and had to organize the recruitment of contract employed workers to meet the needs beginning in the 2022 school year. How, beyond these emergency responses, can we correct the occupation shortage? Evaluating the conditions for a better attractiveness of the teaching profession is part of the search for the common interest, which is embodied in the values of equality and secularism carried by the school of the republic.
Read more: Demotion, lack of recognition… these teachers who want to change jobs
If remuneration conditions are not the only cause of the situation, they are a brake on engagement in these careers due to inadequacy of the level of training of applicants. Although teachers are in the middle of civil service salaries, their salaries remain lower than those of “officials in authority” or private sector managers with a comparable level of training. Because of this, some scientific disciplines suffer from competition from better-paying corporate careers.
Implicit Autonomy Contract
Since a decree of 1990, volunteer teachers can carry out additional educational activities outside the compulsory school hours, remunerated at the rate of 24.64 euros per hour. It is a matter of training, individualized tracking, but also the implementation of cultural, sports and artistic activities described in the school project…
At the beginning of the 2022 school year, this “educational overwork” was supported by the head of state, who proposed, in addition to the general salary increase, to pay teachers for additional monitoring and supervision missions to be rewarded. This recent announcement reflects the standards of dominant performance-based management. But do they fit the way teachers see their profession?
The monetary recognition of these activities goes hand in hand with a meticulous enumeration of all educational activities, which marks an inconsistency with the professional compromise prevailing until now. In doing so, in exchange for independent work time that cannot be strictly controlled (often at home), the teacher tacitly provides “free work” by hosting students or parents, participating in training courses or meetings, taking on additional or elective professional responsibilities (boards). This autonomy at work, common to all levels of education from kindergarten to university, recognized as necessary for professional commitment, is at the heart of the true appeal of the teaching profession.[Plus de 80 000 lecteurs font confiance à la newsletter de The Conversation pour mieux comprendre les grands enjeux du monde. Abonnez-vous aujourd’hui]
But the logic of the project and the contract of goals, the growth of heteronomy, the desire to turn the heads of educational institutions into organizers of the work of teachers according to the project of the educational institution, that of individualizing salaries and tasks cause a change in the profession, which dissolves the connection gift/ a counter-gift prevalent in a past that was, of course, somewhat fanciful. This is the republican school consensus of militant teachers of the educational cause, committed and committed to the cause of school democratization. Challenging this implicit contract greatly affects job satisfaction.
Although “redundant work” (promotion, career growth, overtime) should be recognized at its fair value, there is a risk that the adverse effects are ambiguous. What we voluntarily did kindly in exchange for protected status, we must henceforth earn money in exchange for giving it up. This situation would give rise to competition between teachers, which could encourage them to give up “free” activities, since others, neighboring ones, are entitled to remuneration. In the end, the militant public service spirit will be stifled by a mercantile logic that will in no way improve the quality of the services provided.
Consider the working conditions
Although salary levels do not directly affect teacher performance, the evaluation of their profession affects teacher recruitment, stability, and morale. If extracurricular activities, and today extra missions, contribute to academic success, stimulate a collective dynamic in institutions, “being recognized by your peers, relatives, parents or the local community is often more rewarding and more sustainable.” Promotion and careers should better account for personal commitment based on the “initial contract”, not just based on paid overtime.
Read more: Teacher salaries: an invisible job to consider
Rewarding additional activities would be counterproductive. Rather, it would be a matter of promoting the teaching profession from the beginning and throughout the career by providing better working conditions, but also recognizing the level of their training, while maintaining the importance of competitive recruitment exams. Remember that the so-called master’s degree reform prepares for the competition and requires the possession of a master’s degree to exercise the teaching profession. From the beginning of their careers, it seems extremely important that teachers’ salaries are brought in line with the level required by their competitions.
So many reasons to think further about ways to reverse these depressing trends by giving teachers reasons to feel useful, heard and respected. To move to a more attractive status, four priority measures can be proposed: improving the image of teachers, integrating teaching improvement into the educational and salary continuum, promoting professional retraining and improving remuneration conditions. They could serve as a guide to measure the effectiveness of the management of the education system within the various national education advisory bodies.