“hasty measure” for unions

On Wednesday, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced the return of math to the general core of high school students at the Premier and Terminal from the start of next academic year. After the 2019 undergraduate reform, mathematics was no longer taught to all high school students. Students who chose a mathematical specialty took a four-hour weekly course. The rest were allotted two hours a week only for “scientific education”, combining physics, science and the life of the earth and mathematics.

“We have done everything to organize the system for the next academic year so that 3.5 hours of science and mathematics in the general core for those who do not receive a specialized science education,” Jean-Michel Blanquer told RTL on Wednesday. In recent months, there have been increasing calls to reintroduce mathematics into the general curriculum.

Emmanuel Macron even made it an election pledge for his re-election. In mid-March, a report submitted to the government requested that from the following September 1:30 to 2 hours of mathematics be added to the schedule of non-specialized high school students. Understandably, this announcement, made through the press, caused the teachers’ unions to cringe three months before the start of the school year.

“disrespect for students”

“We can only be satisfied with the fact that mathematics is included in the curriculum for all students, but over time this happens in a hurry,” said Judge Sebastien Planchenot, president of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Public Education (APMEP). We would like it to be more thoughtful, more reasoned. “We believe this is a hasty measure that contributes to the derailment of an unsuccessful reform,” boasts Alexis Torsche, national secretary of the General Union for National Education Sgen-CFDT.

Second-year students, who will be the first to be affected by this reform, are already making their wishes for their specialty. “We support students, families, we have been working on this choice since the beginning of the year, so it is difficult to change the rule along the way. This is disrespectful to students, families and the teaching community,” said Olivier Beaufrère, national secretary of Snpden-Unsa, the management staff union.

The ministry did not provide any details on how math would count towards a bachelor’s degree, nor the impact this return to a common core would have on higher education choices. “We already have parents who are wondering, since mathematics is at the core, whether their child should choose a mathematical specialty. This creates difficulties in terms of orientation, and it is difficult for the managers of the establishments to react,” says Alexis Torsche.

Unbalanced common core

However, they all point to the need to reconsider the place of mathematics and natural sciences in the programs of high school students. “The overall core is very unbalanced between scientific content and literary and humanitarian content,” Alexis Torsche analyzes. We believe that it is necessary to review the entire content of the common core.” The unions want a serious review with the implementation at the beginning of the 2023 school year in a rush for which there is no reason,” says Oliver Beaufrer.

Moreover, the goals of this mathematical education are not clear. “At 1:30, we must allow students to come to terms with the teaching of mathematics, allow them to have sufficient preparation to understand the world, and this teaching must also be sufficient so that they can follow the optional Final Year Mathematics option, which is based on the four-hour first year program. It is insolvent,” notes Sebastien Planchenot.

Shortage of math teachers

Especially when another problem arises. Schools suffer from a severe shortage of mathematics teachers. According to the latest Capes teacher competition, 816 candidates are eligible for 1,035 math jobs. “There is a lot of concern. In the current scenario, it is already difficult to recruit. We risk being left without teachers who meet expectations, otherwise we will have to take hours away from other lessons,” analyzes Oliver Beaufrer.

“We need a real policy on the recruitment of teachers to meet the needs: salary increases, scholarships to support students who have passed the competition, increase the image of the profession itself,” says Sebastien Planchenot. But since there is no long-term solution, in the short term this will mean working overtime for math teachers and hiring contractors at the risk of no teaching. High quality”. Before the press, Edouard Geffrey, director general of school education, wanted to assure: “the next beginning of the school year, there will be a teacher in front of the students.”

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