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Back to school: “We cannot increase teachers’ salaries without rethinking the profession”

In this new school year, it is more than ever a question of “shortage” of teachers. Will there be teachers in front of each class in your establishments?

Philippe Delorme : We do everything for. But it is likely that here and there, in the days following the start of the school year, we are still looking for substitutes to replace teachers on sick leave, on maternity leave or in training.

The problem arises with more and more acuteness, even in academies and rather attractive establishments. We are forced to draw from the same pool – not expandable – as the public. Which benefits from a competitive advantage, since it can continue to pay its contract employees 200 to 400 € net more per month.

Faced with this crisis of vocations, the government does not rule out lowering the level of recruitment of school teachers, today to bac + 5. What do you say?

DB : Since 1989, teachers have been recruited at the same level, whether they work in primary or secondary education. It would be a mistake to go back on this measure, by being satisfied, for example, with a license for school teachers. This would not fail to widen wage inequalities between first and second degrees. And, more broadly, would run counter to the rising level observed in developed countries.

The executive promises that in 2023, no more teachers will start with less than 2000 € net. How do you welcome this promise?

DB : This is obviously a good objective, likely to enhance the attractiveness of the profession. But it will be necessary to ensure that the entire salary scale is upgraded to provide career prospects and prevent teachers with fifteen years of seniority from ending up earning the same as junior colleagues.

The demography is rather favorable: the drop in the number of students (500,000 fewer by the end of the five-year term, editor’s note) could make it possible to pay more teachers who have also become fewer in number.

Should this upgrading be accompanied by an overhaul of the profession?

DB : This is what we have been supporting for a long time. We cannot massively increase the salaries of teachers without rethinking the profession. It is not a question of working more but of working differently. This can go through a reform of service obligations, which could include help with homework, personalized support, consultation times or even the holding of hotlines.

Similarly, working time could be annualized, as agricultural education establishments have done: lesson hours not taken when students are on internship, for example, could be used to replace absent colleagues.

Is inflation weighing on your listings?

PD: We have to wait a few more weeks to know our exact numbers. But it is likely that questions about purchasing power have not yet had an impact on our registrations. Because the amounts of family participation, for this school year, were set at the end of 2021, even before the start of the war in Ukraine, the economic consequences of which could not be foreseen. Inflation will not be passed on to our rates until next year.

On the other hand, I have a little concern for our establishments, in particular the most fragile of them. Because, in a few years, electricity and gas bills have doubled, even tripled. This forces us to continue our sobriety efforts. And to accelerate here and there mergers, moves, the establishment of multi-site management (the same management for several schools) or solidarity mechanisms between independent establishments.

Among the obstacles to enrolling in the private sector, there is often the cost of the canteen. How to limit the rise in school catering prices?

DB: The Egalim law (which imposes in particular 20% organic, editor’s note), the consequences of the war in Ukraine and more broadly inflation… All this weighs on school catering. At the start of the new school year, our service providers – who during the Covid crisis made efforts not to put our schools in difficulty – are being forced to practice price increases of between 5% and 10%.

Our establishments are trying to limit the increase in the price of meals billed to families to 5%, by compressing all costs as much as possible. But the question of the canteen remains unresolved and is the subject of a strong claim, already expressed to the new minister.

Which ?

DB: The law allows local authorities to subsidize, on a voluntary basis, school catering for private students, as they do for public students; in the future, they should be required by law to do so. Because today, most of the time, both parents work, and more than nine out of ten schoolchildren and college students have lunch in the canteen, which is fully part of educational time.

It is a question of justice and equality. It would also be a way to remove a brake on the reception of children from modest families, unable to pay 6 or 7 € per meal, and thus to promote social diversity in our establishments.


Back-to-school figures

Just over 12 million students are returning to school today (6.4 million in primary, 5.6 million in secondary).

France has 859,000 teachers.

The size of the classes varies according to the levels : 22.7 pupils on average in kindergarten, 21.7 in primary, 25.8 in middle school and 30.4 in general and technological high school. The vocational high school has a total of 18.2 students per class.

The average cost per student per year reached €6,980 in first degree, €8,730 in lower secondary, €11,140 in general and technological high school and €12,680 in professional high school.


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