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Performance management finally coming to the French education system?

A number of fairly mild reforms are being proposed in France with regard to the assessment of professional performance in French schools. Better late than never, I guess. British teachers have become accustomed to annual performance management interviews and target setting. It would be an exaggeration to say that we are working in a "payment by results" system, but there is certainly a powerful element of this when it comes to crossing salary thresholds. This was, of course, part of the Blairite deal whereby teachers made gains by accepting "modernisation".

The government was able to get malleable British teachers to swallow this by offering some salary increases and beneficial changes in work practices e.g. not having to do so many administration tasks and doing less cover for absent colleagues. Our performance management system takes a little time, but the time and paperwork is not that onerous for the benefits one sees from performance management (the chance to do targeted personal development, the chance for one's practice to be observed and appreciated, the chance to share good practice and the rest.)

In reality we probably see it as a chore, but a necessary one in the name of accountability.

To get French teachers to swallow it will be a much harder job. The unions will surely object, but one would hope that individual teachers will recognise that accountability is important and that the current system of inspections is totally inadequate. Realpolitik will probably require that the French government offers something in return for a much needed modernisation of teacher accountability. As a start, some sort of hierarchy within secondary departments would help so that a "head of department" could act as line manger to his or her colleagues.  It would also help with team-working which would seem to be far less developed in the French school system. Some sort of salarial incentive may be the clincher.

I like the way Mr Watrelot expresses it:

"Les enseignants sont très attachés à la "liberté pédagogique" qui est (re)définie très clairement dans l'article 16 de la loi d'orientation de 2005. Mais ça ne veut pas dire pour autant qu’on peut s'exonérer de tout contrôle. L’enseignant est un fonctionnaire, il travaille dans un service public et se conforme à un certain nombre de directives et de règles définies démocratiquement. Il y a des comptes à rendre... La question de l’évaluation est donc une vraie question qui se pose d’ailleurs pour toute action humaine. La question est donc bien de savoir comment être capable d'évaluer son action et pour en faire quoi. Est-ce une évaluation individuelle ? Collective ? par des inspecteurs ? par des pairs ? Evaluer pour quoi faire ? éliminer ? récompenser ? réorienter l'action? se former ? ...
Pas sûr que toutes ces questions aient des réponses avec ce système qui se met en place et qui pourra apparaître aux yeux de beaucoup d’enseignants, à tort ou à raison, comme un moyen de “flicage” plus que de réelle évaluation."


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