With the decline in the number of candidates for teaching competitions, to which is added a high resignation rate in the first years of their career, National Education found itself faced with a large number of unfilled posts , kindergarten to high school, and had to organize the recruitment of contract workers to meet the needs of the start of the 2022 school year. How, beyond these emergency responses, can we remedy the shortage of vocations? Assessing the conditions for a better attractiveness of the teaching profession is part of the search for the general interest, which is embodied in the values of equality and secularism carried by the school of the Republic.
If the conditions of remuneration are not the only cause of the situation, they are a brake on the commitment in these careers because inadequacy with the level of studies of the candidates. Although teachers are in the middle of civil service salaries, their salaries remain lower than those of “officials with authority” or those of executives in the private sector with a comparable level of training. Some scientific disciplines are thus suffering from competition from better paid corporate careers.
An implicit autonomy contract
Since a 1990 decree , volunteer teachers can carry out extra-educational activities outside of compulsory teaching time, remunerated at the rate of €24.64 per hour. It is about school support, individualized follow-up but also the carrying out of cultural, sporting and artistic activities described in the school project…
At the start of the 2022 school year, this “educational overwork” was supported by the Head of State who proposed, beyond a general salary increase, to pay teachers for additional monitoring and supervision missions which would be remunerated. This recent announcement echoes the standards of the dominant management , based on the search for performance. But are these in line with the way teachers see their profession?
The pecuniary recognition of these activities goes hand in hand with a meticulous enumeration of all educational activities, which marks a discrepancy with the professional compromise prevailing until now. In this, in return for a non-strictly controllable autonomous work time (often at home), the teacher tacitly provides “free work”, by receiving pupils or parents, by participating in training courses or meetings , by taking on additional or elective professional responsibilities (boards of directors). This autonomy in work, common to all levels of education from kindergarten to university, recognized as necessary for professional commitment, is the basis of a real attractiveness of the teaching profession.
However, the logic of project and contract of objectives, the rise of heteronomy, the desire to transform the heads of establishments into organizers of the work of teachers according to the establishment project, that of individualizing salaries and the tasks cause a change in the profession, which dissolves the gift/counter-gift relationship that prevailed in a past that was admittedly a little fantasized. It is a question here of the republican school consensus of militant teachers of the educational cause, committed and devoted to the cause of school democratization. Challenging this implicit contract greatly affects job satisfaction.
While “excess work” (promotion, career advancement, overtime) should be recognized at its fair value, the perverse effects risk being ambiguous. What we willingly did graciously in return for a protective status, we should henceforth make money in return for the renunciation of it. This situation would generate competition between teachers, which could encourage them to give up “free” activities since others, neighboring ones, are eligible for emoluments. In the end, the spirit of public service, militant, would be suffocated by a mercantile logic which would in no way improve the quality of the services rendered.
Think about working conditions
Although salary levels do not directly influence the performance of teachers, the valuation of their profession influences the recruitment, stability and morale of teachers. If the peri-educational activities, and today the additional missions, contribute to academic success, stimulate a collective dynamic in the establishments , ” to be recognized by one’s peers, relatives, parents or the local community is often more rewarding and more sustainable “. Promotion and career must better take into account the personal commitment on the basis of “the initial contract”, but not based only on paid surplus work.
Remuneration for additional activities would be counterproductive. It would rather be a question of promoting the teaching profession from the start and throughout the career by providing better working conditions, but also to recognize the level of their study while maintaining the importance of competitive recruitment. Remember that the so-called reform of the master’s degree prepares for the competition and requires the possession of the master’s degree to exercise the profession of teacher. From the start of their career, it seems crucial to bring teachers’ salaries into line with the level required by their competitions.
So many reasons to think further about ways to reverse these depressive tendencies by giving teachers reasons to feel useful, listened to and respected. To move towards a more attractive status, four priority measures can be proposed: the enhancement of the image of teachers, the integration of the improvement of teaching in an educational and salary continuum, the promotion of professional retraining and the improvement of remuneration conditions. These could serve as a guide to gauge the effectiveness of the governance of the education system within the various National Education advisory bodies .
Author Bio: Angelique Chassy is Doctor in Economics – EM-Normandie – Business School – Teacher-Researcher at EM Normandie