If the dunce cap came back, who should I give it to? Repeating a year of school for a non-disabled student, in primary and middle school, is a crime against the individual, because all studies have shown that not only does it not bring any improvement in performance but that it generally destroys the student and any chance of a successful secondary education. It is also a budgetary heresy, estimated in 2014, before its reform (alas too late!) at around 1.6 billion francs for a budget of 65 billion, or around 2.5%. A straw !

France took decades to repress this toxic and costly measure that most developed countries ignore. Believe me, it wasn’t easy! So much did the country (parents and teachers) cling to a Malthusian, punitive and elitist vision of the school in which everyone had themselves been educated. Psychologists call this the reproduction phenomenon: there is nothing worse to prevent you from evolving!

With repetition rates which could exceed 30% in certain places (not necessarily the most disadvantaged), the French education system, international champion of repetition (still today), was well and truly weighed down by its own turpitudes. It took him ten years, from 2014, to reduce this aberrant figure and this stupid and expensive reflex – without eliminating it, as Gabriel Attal would have us believe.

Repeating a year as an educational means with its corollaries – level groups, passing exams and relegation classes – is therefore rearing its head again thanks to the illiteracy of a minister in matters of science and history of the education, his lack of imagination and his poor math skills – beyond simple political calculation.

Because the approximately two to three billion per year that Attal-style repetition will cost us again would be much better used to raise the level of schools with real solutions: completely review the initial training of teachers, expand recruitment to more talented students – including scientists – by offering them contractual scholarships, better salary, better working conditions, real continuing education, real career prospects, etc.

Educational underdevelopment

If Mr. Attal has a taste for dated solutions, let him look instead at the success in his time of the system of normal schools and, without resurrecting them, let him think about a system which, like the grandes écoles, would allow all social classes to access quality higher education to become a well-trained and well-paid school, college or high school teacher…

Singapore, which is so praised, owes the success of its students to its initial and continuing training of teachers: they are selected, trained and paid like the engineers that they, in fact, are. Indeed, teaching a class requires real engineering, as a team, with constantly evolving tools and missions. However, people capable of acquiring this level of complex skills want a salary and professional prospects that no longer offer them today an education system as sclerotic as the ministers placed there.

For a long time now, the latter, before quickly fleeing elsewhere, have had no other ideas than to have the programs rewritten and to bring up to date the errors of the past, especially those of the good old days before the single college. The one where the peasants, so difficult to educate and discipline, had the good taste to stop at the “certif” and in any case never went to high school (or very little). Ah, the blessed time of end-of-study classes, CAPs at thirteen and the sixth-grade entrance exam…

But who does Mr. Attal think he is fooling with his latest buzz? Who will believe that it is with uniforms, repeaters, level groups and yet another edition of the programs that we will return to the level of the OECD countries, of which we have long left the rear group to sink into educational underdevelopment? Person. Does he believe it himself?

We all know, on the other hand, that all these (ir) interchangeable political leaders must stop wasting the already insufficient education budget in France on counterproductive measures and devote it to restoring professional excellence among our teachers and their trainers, if not their ministers.

Monique Picaud, Bagneux (Hauts-de-Seine)