Five years of reforms and a few hiccups… The results of Jean-Michel Blanquer at the Ministry of National Education

Jean-Michel Blanquer is one of the few ministers to remain in office during Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term. He marked the world of education through his many reforms, but also through an increasing dislike of many of the teachers.

It’s a kind of paradox: Jean-Michel Blanquer broke the record for longevity in the post of Minister of National Education, alienating a large proportion of teachers at a level rarely matched by his predecessors. The school environment will remember its passage and its numerous reforms. Too much moreover, the unions lament.

The school, construction site number 1

One of the priorities of this ministry was primary school, with in particular the doubling of the CP and CE1 classes, in priority education, launched in 2017, and then large parts of kindergarten from 2019. For the last level should be completed by the beginning of the 2023 school year at the earliest, the ministry says. But the results have been mixed, according to a Senate report published in February 2022: This sharp reduction in student numbers has failed to genuinely reverse the academic difficulties these students faced.

>> Jean-Michel Blanquer, macronie’s darling turned government idiot

The first primary union also points to the lack of staff needed to implement this significant reduction in the number of students per class. If 3,800 positions in the first degree have been created, that is not enough, de SNUipp laments: the positions useful for duplication are taken elsewhere, he denounces, with the famous phenomenon of “rob Peter to pay PaulJean-Michel Blanquer has also set up national evaluations in CP, CE1, sixth and second, which are opposed by the unions. The status of the school principal has finally been strengthened, giving him more authority, which some did not like from the teachers , committed to strict equality between teachers.

High school is upside down

We also remember the transformation of the general secondary school, with the disappearance of the sectors S, ES and L, in favor of the specialties, which each student must choose (three in the first, two in the final), with the risk timetables are all about the headache, say some patrons. A reform that is already…will be reformed since Emmanuel Macron committed to add mathematics to the common core from the start of the 2022 school year, in the first grade. The discipline is no longer part of it since 2019 and the number of hours of this material has melted by 18%. Four in ten final-year students do nothing at all, according to figures from the statistical service of the Ministry of Education.

The bac has also evolved a lot: with fewer final tests to pass, more permanent evaluation, which now accounts for 40% of the final grade. Finally, the professional route has been reformed. For example, second-year students do not immediately specialize in a subject, but in a family of professions. Also the “masterpiece”, a multidisciplinary achievement, is set up.

A deteriorated work climate

What Jean-Michel Blanquer could not change was the resentment of some teachers. They regret that their profession and the school in general are regularly featured. According to a survey by the SNUipp in March 2022 of 25,000 primary school teachers, almost three quarters (73%) of the teachers surveyed say they are not satisfied with their current professional situation.

They also express a very strong dissatisfaction with the Ministry of National Education (95%, of which 72% are not satisfied at all). Some say they feel despised, pushed around, not listened to enough. If Jean-Michel Blanquer has started raising teachers’ salaries through the Grenelle de l’éducation, starting with those at the beginning of their careers, there is still a long way to go, the trade unions, who consider this subject as the priorities for this new five-year term. The Snes-FSU recalls that a teacher starts off earning just over 10% above minimum wage, for hiring at bac +5.

A health crisis and the murder of Samuel Paty

Impossible to take stock of Jean-Michel Blanquer forgetting the period of Covid and incarceration, with the exceptional closure of schools, in the spring of 2020, for seven weeks for all, five extra depending on the levels. Teachers and parents of students will also remember the health protocols with multiple versions, adaptations, reversals for a long time to come.

These changes, sometimes at the last minute, have also weighed heavily on resentment towards the minister, whom some have blamed for breaking the field.

And then the other event independent of the reforms is the murder of Samuel Paty, this history and geography teacher who was beheaded in October 2020. The tragedy traumatized the world of education and led to increased scrutiny of respect for the principles of secularism in schools.

From Grenelle… to Ibiza

But what we also remember about Jean-Michel Blanquer is his sometimes risky communication, summarized by his opponents in one destination: Ibiza, a Spanish seaside resort from which the minister conducted an interview on Parisian to explain yet another Covid protocol, on Sunday, January 2, 2022 in the evening, the day before the start of the school year. What had swear, again, the teachers. The unions also lamented a new media communication directed to the official channels of National Education.

But the discovery of the place where the interview was held fueled the fire, some saw a discrepancy between the minister’s life and the difficulties on the ground, in schools. In fact, it is the entire period of the Covid that has gradually tarnished the image of Jean-Michel Blanquer. Loyal at first to the president, strongman of the government, he gradually became the bad student, seemed outside the circles of decision-making and chained estimated, even false announcements, reformulated by the Elysée or Matignon. Perhaps the most obvious example is this statement, on franceinfo, on March 12, 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic: “We have never considered total closure of schools because it seems counterproductive to us.

A few hours later, Emmanuel Macron effectively announced the closure of schools. Followed a few weeks later the hiccups on the presentation, too quickly, of what were then only traces of reopening of the schools… the number of infected persons in relation to the number of tests carried out) and the incidence (which makes it possible to spread of Covid-19 in relation to the entire population).

In general, some scientists have criticized Jean-Michel Blanquer for minimizing the Covid epidemic in schools. The teachers regularly criticize him for reserving his press releases to those first involved, as well as too many, too quick and announced changes to protocol at the last minute.

The return to school in January 2022 is certainly difficult for the minister, with three protocol changes in one week. In the autumn: the strike of January 13, followed closely by the teachers. From there, Jean Castex takes control of the health record. In February, a government official called him a “weight for the government, which has made mistakes“Since the winter, Minister Blanquer has been more discreet and is now devoting himself to his candidacy for the parliamentary elections in Loiret, in the 4th arrondissement, in Montargis.

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