Mathematics pays the price of high school reform

Posted on November 22, 2021 at 6:58 pmUpdated November 22, 2021 at 7:22 PM

Very popular disciplines and other fugitives; an average number of teachers per class that went from 18 to 28 on average between 2018 and 2020 … The reform of the institute and the choice of new specialties that replaced the old series have reconfigured the training offer of the establishments, according to a study of the statistical service of the Ministry of National Education that has just been published.

At the beginning of the 2019 academic year, first-year general students chose for the first time three specialty courses, with four hours of class per week and per specialty. At the beginning of the 2020 school year, they have kept two, each with six hours of class a week.

Three disciplines very affected

The first consequence of the reform concerns the number of hours per discipline. In two years, the number of hours taught by mathematics teachers has been reduced by more than 18% in the first and last general and technological course. The decline is partly the result of the disappearance of mathematics from the common core of education, but also of the choice of students, the study emphasizes.

Other disciplines have suffered, such as technology (-27% of the volume of hours in two years) or economics and social sciences (-14%).

For mathematics, “of course, the hourly volume is problematic,” admits Pierre Mathiot, a great inspirer for the reform of the institute. But he is confident that students will choose this discipline to pursue a science course in higher education, which was not the case for alumni in Sector S “of whom only half said they wanted to get involved.” In terms of economics and social sciences, the sector has attracted more students, but has lost hours, because the volume of hours of first and last year is lower than in the old ES (economic and social).

Less class hours

As a result, unsubstituted places and the number of hours taught to high school students are down nearly 3%, or 35,820 hours less, some observers point out. They cite the “managerial” and “economic” logic of the reform and estimate the number of vacancies that could not be replaced at 2,200. “When there is a net loss of so many hours, it is likely that the number of places offered in recruitment competitions will be reduced,” admits a connoisseur of the file, although other factors are taken into account, such as the number of retirements. .

“It’s a confirmation of what we were afraid of,” said Sophie Venetitay, secretary general of SNES-FSU, the main second-tier union. She is particularly concerned about the effects on technology and on certain “artistic disciplines that are gradually disappearing from the establishments.”

In contrast, history-geography is doing well, with teachers offering 14% more hours at first and final. Because “this teaching has remained at the core of the general path” and teachers “largely offer the specialty of history-geography, geopolitics and political science,” the study states. “Very satisfied” with this new specialty, Christine Guimonnet, secretary general of the Association of Teachers of History and Geography, is very critical of the organization of the great oral, the “non-optimal” positioning of a written test for the month of March “. the gaps to cover” after the pandemic and “the tasks that multiply”.

“Classes that are all 35 students”

“The decrease in the overall number of hours is not necessarily linked to the number of hours of students, but to a new organization, with classes that are 35 students, while before we could have a first S at 24, an L at 12, etc. “, explains Bruno Bobkiewicz, Secretary General of the SNPDEN. For the main principals’ union, which backed the reform, “the goal is not to preserve jobs but to make students successful,” which will have to be judged on their success in higher education. .

The other lesson in the study is about the working conditions of teachers. A high school teacher went from an average of 6.4 classes to 7.7 classes between 2018 and 2020. That means more work to assess and students to follow, with some teachers having to take extra classes to complete everything. their service. In 2020, for example, mathematics teachers taught 7.6 classes compared to 4.9 in 2018. But “this stacking of classes in certain disciplines” also means, “for the most vulnerable students, increase the difficulties because they have no references “, warns Sophie Vénétitay.

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