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Sanctions, grades… Parents increasingly challenge school authority



A famous press cartoon by Chaunu humorously summarizes the evolution of relations between parents and schools. To the right of the image, a scene supposed to take place in 1969. Parents show the report card to their child, all sheepish, asking him with a stern look: “What are these notes?” ». On the left, the same scene, in 2009. But there, the parents speak directly to the teacher, in front of a child with a provocative smile.

The drawing is intended to be caricatural, but it would illustrate increasingly frequent situations, if we judge by the conclusions of the 2021 activity report of the mediator of national education and higher education, presented Monday 25 July.

Of the 18,000 referrals processed by this body responsible for conflict regulation, 78% were presented by “national education users” (pupils, students, families), 12% of which concerned grading and evaluation. Five times more than five years ago.

In addition to grades, families also contest sanctions for questions of discipline or behavior (20% of referrals) and generally question school decisions more often: 46% of referrals related to school life concern parent-school conflict.

“The place of grades exacerbates the sensitivity of parents”

“As principal, I regularly deal with situations of tension between teachers and parents,especially since the end of the confinements, testifies Bruno Bobkiewicz, secretary general of the National Union of National Education Management Staff (SNPDEN-UNSA). This period generated a historic closeness between the school and the parents, but once it ended, some felt they could continue to interfere in the class and give an opinion on the contents. »

The headmaster of the Berlioz housing estate in Vincennes also points the finger at the question of continuous supervision. “The place of notes from the first and in Parcoursupexacerbates parental sensitivity about assessments. I see more and more people asking for a grade review. »

The weight of the diploma is such that families expect a lot from the school, analysis for his part Pierre Périer, sociologist of education. “They want their child to succeed in school but also in orientation. And those who are familiar with the tricks of the institution know what to do to force their advantage. They invest all the more, he adds, that political discourse emphasizes the success of all students. »

If all children can succeed, so can mine, say many parents, caught between ” expectations ” vis-à-vis the school they would like “to control” and an “dependent relationship” since they cannot change its functioning, underlines the sociologist. ” Gold, it is this feeling of powerlessness that breeds conflict,” he said.

A deterioration of the school climate

And the health crisis has only aggravated these frustrations. The rapprochement between school and families has not been only oneparenthesisrecalls Pierre Périer. Today, we have returned to the previous state of relations between parents and the school institution which, historically, has always been quite closed, and this is generating new tensions. » Since the Covid pandemic, there are also an even stronger awareness of inequalities and a demand for normal schooling”, explains the sociologist, author of Invisible parents. The school faced with family precariousness (Puff, 2019).

On the side of the Federation of Parents’ Councils (FCPE), we also note the post-confinement effects. Not only were the links forged during this unprecedented period not always maintained, but “Parents are less and less involved in the functioning of the bodies”, assures Éric Labastie, Secretary General of the Federation. The representative deplores a “deterioration of the school climate”with “a lack of staff and in particular of non-replaced teachers” which can exasperate parents in a context where “ establishments do not always answer their questions. »

Anger is expressed all the more easily as families have become accustomed to communicating by email, or even by SMS, with teachers and establishments during confinement. “With multimedia, some allow themselves things that they would not dare to say face-to-face, observes Bruno Bobkiewicz. We is much braver and more violent in terms behind a screen. »

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