I made my own little contribution to the education of the nation's mini-frenchies today doing some recorings for JP (our responsable) to go on the web. Was luckily not songs (which I thought it was going to be) but just things like "Exercise number seven. I live in a house in the country" for French teachers to listen to to get my wonderful English pronounciation.
Anyway, after that I wandered into the library and set myself down and read through some of the Le Monde Education magazine editions they had there. The latest one got me thinking...
The article began with a graph which actually surprised me; turns out more money per person is put into education in France than in England. Based on the evidence of still having blackboards, every child supplying ALL of his own equipment and the serious lack of supply teachers I was baffled. However on closer inspection it seems this money all goes right into secondary education (colleges and lycees) with primary education not really being seen as that important (it's only in very recent years that Primary school teachers have had to have a degree). However Sarko and Darcos (dream-team) have announced that this is going to change, their new focus being primary education. (Although it is not entirely easy to believe that when, in the same breath, they are announcing serious jobcuts; as I said staff seem to be already very stretched and every year 1000s of wanabee teachers don't even get a place on the highly competitive training course).
Furthermore, Sarkozy is, for the first time really, talking about introducing a sort of performance related pay similiar to that which was brought into England in 2000. The idea of teachers/schools being evaluated according to the progress/results of their pupils is completly alien here where national inspections (of the Ofsted-style) don't exist at all and children's success (or otherwise) is generally seen to be their own responsibility or that of their parents, which kind of explains the "tant pis"/laissez-faire attitude of several of the teachers I've been in touch with who seem to have "given up" on children as young as seven or eight. For example yesterday we were writing penfriend letters and even though I explained exactly what had to be done very very clearly some of the nine/ten year olds in my CM1 class really struggled, in fact did worse than almost every one of my bright (but oh-so-chatty) CE2 class of eight/nine year olds; the teacher's response? "Oh don't go taking it personally or anything Lucy some of these children can't even write one sentence in French. When I started teaching I thought all children have an equal chance of succes, but they don't the pre-school teachers can see who's going to succeed". But, does that mean we should just give up on them? I'm not sure. Like, surely there has to be some exception to the rule, some kid who's life really can be changed by a teacher?
So, although I believe many teachers do an amazingly good job and are under far too much stress already, part of me is entirely behind performance related pay if it makes us really think about how we can help each and every child in the class do the best he possibly can (of course it needs to work on the idea of "improvement"/"progression" not the number of children getting 100% or something!).
The other thing is that teachers would be paid more according to their contrinution to the "vie scolaire" (school-life) another Anglo-saxon idea it seems to me and one which I guess is also taking the emphasis slightly off of parents (to give their children a good-life/provide extra-curricular activities etc) and onto teachers. On that one I'm not so sure...good thing/bad thing? Swings and roundabouts I think.
Hmm. Ok. Musing over.