While 92% of French schools have gone back to a 4-day week, in Tarn-et-Garonne it is the 4.5-day rhythm that remains widely acclaimed. But for how long?
Is the Tarn-et-Garonne the last area of irreducible Gauls who refuse to change the academic rhythm of their schools? If, on a national scale, 91.9% of schools have returned to a week concentrated on 4 school days, it is the exact opposite in the department. As of September 1, 2021, only 38 out of 210 schools have decided not to work on Wednesday mornings in Tarn-et-Garonne. “85.13% of the students in the department have a school rhythm spread over 4.5 days. The last communes to be extended to 4 days are Molières, Grisolles and Lauzerte, list Pierre Roques, Academic Director of the National Education Services. Two other municipalities have submitted a dossier to do the same. If there is unanimity between the school councils and the municipality, I am not against this change in school rhythm. “For the coming school year, Caussade (four schools) and Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave (two schools) will close their classes on Wednesday mornings.
Since 2013, in primary education, the week has in principle been organized over nine half-days from Monday to Friday. But from 2017, adjustments have been made possible. In Tarn-et-Garonne, it was Larrazet who paved the way thanks to a deviation obtained in 1999 with a school operating for 18 years at a rate of four days by experimenting with overtaking during school days during the holidays. “There was clearly a consensus between the parents of the students, the teachers and the town hall for this rhythm that was set over 4 days, recalls the previous mayor Ghislain Dangas. When arguing for our choice, we pointed out that our school children were not dependent on a public transport organization and that families had no problem with childcare on Wednesday mornings. We have never regretted this choice for a moment. †
Status quo on the Grand Montauban
In the agglomeration community of Grand-Montauban, we continue to work in primary schools on Wednesday mornings and fully adopt this choice: “When this reform was imposed on us in 2013 to go from 4 to 4.5 teaching days a week, it was quite complicated to to set up extracurricular activities. We had to review the organization of schools, find stakeholders in sport or culture, recalls Brigitte Barèges, mayor of Montauban. Now that everything is working very well, everything is in its place, we are not going to have fun “A decree that applies to all municipalities of the urban community that fall under the organization of the school bus service.
The central government will continue to pay municipalities that keep the week on 4.5 days a fixed amount of 50 euros per student per year. But the return from a week to 4 days seems inevitable in the coming years, especially the teachers.
The 32 municipalities passed over to 4 days
In 2017: Beaumont-de-Lomagne, Garganvillar and Larrazet.
In 2018: Cazes-Mondenard, Escazeaux, La-Ville-Dieu-du-Temple, Lavit-de-Lomagne, Marsac, Monteils, Montpezat-de-Quercy, Pompignan, Intermunicipal Educational Groups (RPI) Faudoas-Le Causé, RPI Gensac -Esparsac, RPI Roquecor-Saint Amans du Pech-Valeilles, Saint-Porquier, Sérignac.
In 2019: Castelferrus, Caylus, Laguépie, Lizac, Varen, Valence-d’Agen.
In 2020: Parisot, RPI Castelsagrat-Montjoi.
In 2021: Molières, Grisolles, Lauzerte.
“Respect the best interests of the child”
Departmental and regional president of the Federation of Parents’ Councils, Béatriz Malleville, remains opposed to the move to a four-day work week.
Why do you value maintaining this school schedule of 4.5 days a week?
Just for a matter of childhood chronobiology. Many studies show that learning is better in the morning. Without going Wednesday morning to compact the other four days of the week, not respecting the best interests of the child.
Doesn’t working on Wednesday morning let the kids rest?
No, it’s a mistake. Not all families have the opportunity to care for their children on Wednesday mornings. Some stay alone and spend the morning in front of the television, others get up just as early to go to the recreation center. With this break in the rhythm in the middle of the week, they often come back to class on Thursday mornings more tired.
How do you explain that the 4.5-day working week has largely been preserved in Tarn-et-Garonne?
I think the national education inspectors had the will to properly guide the school councils and explain the benefits to the child. I also think that the school transport network in our department is quite complex and it is easier not to touch it.
Following the national trend, all schools in the department will soon have to go back to 4 days…
I don’t wish it. Originally, it was Jules-Ferry who instituted Wednesday mornings for religious teachings. That is no longer justified today. There are 144 school days in France annually, while the average for the OECD countries is 187 days. We must stop compressing class hours in 4 days, a harmful action for our students and learning.