Why the teacher recruitment crisis is getting worse

“What do you want to do then?”. “I want to be a teacher”. A dialogue we would like to hear more often, but, alas, has become unique in recent years in our country. Proof of this is, again, with the final results of the outside teacher competitions published at the end of last week, which for some show historically low success rates. In the first degree, some academies are not filled with new teachers from schools. Like Versailles, with 424 claimed for 1,430 positions offered, Créteil (419 out of 1,079) and Paris (157 out of 219). Elsewhere in France, positions remain vacant: 14 in Nancy-Metz, 11 in Grenoble, 7 in Amiens, 6 in Dijon, 4 in Besançon and 3 in Nice.

The situation is worse in the second degree, especially in some disciplines. In mathematics, there are 557 admitted by Capes for 1,035 positions, in German 60 for 215, in classics 55 for 134, in physics-chemistry 209 for 425, in SES 102 for 212, in modern letters 598 at 755 position, in music education 37 out of 127 position, English 675 at 781. “The three disciplines that are structurally complex are mathematics, German and classics. But we see that some disciplines that were not affected by the event, such as SES, have already begun, ”described Jean-Remi Girard, president of the National Union of High Schools and Colleges (Snalc). This deficit is even more damaging because the permanent voluntary resignation, of public teachers who are in the post of National Education, has risen sharply: from 1,554 in 2019-2020 to 2,286 in 2020-2021. “We are really in a dramatic situation”, pointed out Sophie Vénétitay, general secretary of Snes-FSU, the first secondary union.

“There is a teacher in front of each class at the beginning of the school year,” Pap Ndiaye said.

The reasons for this decline in vocations are many. First of all, the competitions have been renewed for the last five years and are now taken by candidates in the second year of the master’s degree, and no longer at the end of the license. “It’s about mechanically reducing the pool of candidates for this session,” Jean-Remi Girard explained. In addition, a lack of salary attractiveness has emerged. Elementary and secondary teachers earn 7% less than the average in OECD countries, and 20% less after ten or fifteen years of service, according to the annual report. Educational perspectives published in September 2021. “Lowering wages is a fact”, insisted Sophie Vénétitay. The fact that the academies of Ile-de-France are short of new teachers from the schools is not a coincidence. “There is a cost of living effect that comes on top of the fact that wages are less attractive”, emphasizes Jean-Remi Girard. Finally, “some disciplines, such as economics-management or mathematics, compete in the private labor market with more paid jobs,” added Hélène Buisson-Fenet, CNRS research director in the sociology of education.

The new Minister of Education, however, wants to be optimistic for the next school year. “There is a teacher in front of every class at the start of the school year,” Pap Ndiaye said on June 14. Without convincing all the actors. “There are holes in the racket,” predicted in May the national secretary of the National Union of National Education Management Staff (SNPDEN-Unsa), Bruno Bobkiewicz. In the first degree, two more competitions, organized by the academies of Versailles and Créteil (the results of which will be known in early July), should make it possible to recruit more teachers. In addition, rectorates are already planning to bet on more lists in other competitions (internal and third way *).

Additional contract workers at the start of the school year

A number of academies are also launching operations to recruit contractual workers. According to figures from Rue de Grenelle, they represent 1% of the teaching staff in the first degree and 8% in the second. But Hélène Buisson-Fenet says their numbers have grown significantly in recent years: “During 2008-2020, the number of contract workers grew by 4%. These same contractors only benefit from a few days of training, which is often not enough to know how to conduct a class. “It’s a structured training that gets stronger every year”, but Pap Ndiaye defended.

Jean-Remi Girard has already predicted that they will increase in some establishments at the start of the school year: “Especially in education priorities and in rural areas. And at the academies of Versailles and Créteil. On August 22, cells will be set up by the academies to handle staff problems that arise. It also remains to be seen whether hired contract workers will remain in office: “Some will quit after a month”, the unionist lined up. The difficulty is also to ensure that teachers are replaced on sick leave and maternity leave during the year.

Salary increase, emergency

A big consultation as it starts in September about the salary and working conditions of the teachers. “Salary increases can have effects on first-time entrants, especially in the first degree, where allowances and bonuses are virtually nonexistent,” said Hélène Buisson-Fenet. “We have to operate with a total catch-up in wages and not be content with upgrading at the start of careers, if we really want to restore the beauty of the profession”, concluded Jean-Remi Girard.

* In an administrative competition, an additional list is composed of candidates who have passed the oral examination, whose marks are sufficient to pass the competition, but for whom there is not enough space to be accepted.

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