A setting worthy of a Pagnol novel can also be the scene of a “cultural revolution”, in the words of Emmanuel Macron. This Thursday, June 2, the one that targets the public school was staged in the shade of the plane trees placed in the courtyard of the Menpenti freestone school in Marseille. A silent revolution. Progressive. And, for the time being, voluntary, pending the now promised “generalization”.

It was necessary to hear, that day, the words spoken by the speakers of the round table composed, around Emmanuel Macron and the new Minister of Education, Pap Ndiaye, by parents of students, teachers and the hierarchy. local national education.

The experimentation of a “maths lab” for kindergarten students started at the beginning of the year in one of the fifty-nine test establishments of the “school of the future”, a project backed by an investment of 2, 5 million euros, gave rise to a concert of praise. “Training effect”, “emulation”, “freedom”, “meaning”, “rediscovered smile”, undermining of “determinisms”, learning of “errors” and even “runoff” of knowledge…

Over the minutes, then hours, the testimonies reinforced the Head of State in the idea that his intuition to give carte blanche to the teaching staff to review their working methods was right. So fitting that the taboo word that the president himself no longer dared to mention was uttered by the very mouth of the director of the elementary school, Sabine Bach Puglisi: that of autonomy, to be able to recruit her teams more freely.

“Trust” the field

An idea hated by most teachers’ unions, who see it as the symbol of a liberal logic applied to the public service. “This method of recruitment has real added value,” assumed a speaker, before the director of the nursery school, Marie-Laure Mercun, nuanced. “No, it’s not the principals who recruit the teachers for their schools, but the principal and a teacher have an opinion to give,” she assured.

So here is the outline of this “new method” announced many times by Emmanuel Macron: to have others say the content of the reforms to be carried out. And thus break the locks of a system deemed starched. A “cultural revolution” is taking place, therefore welcomed the head of state, speaking alongside a discreet Pap Ndiaye. “We are inverting the pyramid”, summarized, enthusiastically, the Head of State referring to this strategy aimed at “trusting” the field.

“You have heard these words from teachers and principals. They talked about training, time, resources. They talked about more freedom and more simplicity. Our teachers want what? Do their job well. A job where they find the meaning for which they are committed, “he continued, before trying to clear up the thorny issue of recruitment. “We never said that school principals would somehow make their own transfer window. There must be national rules. On the other hand, telling yourself that you want to rebuild the educational project at the level of a school and give the possibility of ensuring that the teacher recruited shares this project, and you have a director who said it very well, that’s what we facilitated and opened up,” he explained, recalling the objective of “giving more flexibility in the system.”

At a time when national education is sorely lacking in staff and is facing a vocations crisis, this ideological shift would be, according to Emmanuel Macron, necessary to “rekindle the desire” to be a teacher. Launched on September 2, 2021, from the Palais du Pharo, this experiment was carried out as part of a major infrastructure and transport renovation project, “Marseille on a grand scale”, making the Marseille city a “laboratory of Republic “. At the time, recalled the Head of State, there were “a lot of negative words that came from national union forces, because we were changing the usual lines”. Today, the president is savoring the beginnings of a victory. “‘Marseille in a big way’ shows the continuation in the ideas that we have,” he says.

Salary increase

Within the Menpenti school, the results of the CP and CE1 assessments, which measure, among other things, the level in mathematics, showed year after year a growing number of so-called “special needs” students. The “math lab” brought children into discipline through play and manipulation, and “gave confidence” to those who were afraid of making mistakes, the teachers explained.

The initiative, like those carried out in the sixty other Marseille establishments, is intended to be deployed throughout France, from the autumn, by adjusting to local specificities. “We will learn from our mistakes and move forward because the response is not monolithic,” warned Emmanuel Macron.

The latter recalled his campaign promise, that of forging a new “pact” between teachers and the state by modifying the missions of teachers. An increase in the salaries of all teachers, whether or not they participate in these experiments, must finally begin “as of the next few months”, he promised. The Head of State also assured that, at the start of the next school year, the mathematics which had disappeared from the common core of 1st general in high school would be reinstated in the form of optional education, without being counted as an option.

However, one question remains. Is the Marseille experiment, which dates back only a few months, long enough to be convincing? “We are at the very beginning, and most schools will only put their projects in place at the start of the next school year”, recalls Sébastien Fournier, departmental manager of the SNUipp-FSU of Bouches-du-Rhône and school teacher, in Marseille, considering that “the president therefore wants to generalize an experiment that has not yet begun”.

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