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Would paying overtime make the job more attractive?

With a decline in the number of candidates for teacher selection procedures, coupled with a high rate of resignation in the early years of the career, the National Education Agency found itself facing a large number of vacancies, from kindergartens to secondary schools, and had to organize the recruitment of contract staff to meet the needs of the beginning of the school year 2022. Apart from these emergency measures, how can we fix the shortage of occupations? Assessing the conditions for a better attractiveness of the teaching profession is part of the search for the general interest, which is materialized in the values ​​of equality and secularism that the school of the Republic carries.

Read more: Downgrading, lack of recognition… these teachers who want to change jobs

If the pay conditions are not the only cause of the situation, they are a barrier to engagement in these careers because they do not match the level of study of the applicants. Although teachers are in the middle of civil service salaries, their salaries remain lower than those of “authorized officers” or private sector executives with comparable levels of education. Some scientific fields thus suffer from competition from better-paid corporate careers.

Implicit contract on autonomy

Since the decree of 1990, volunteer teachers can carry out extracurricular activities outside of compulsory teaching for a fee of €24.64 per hour. It is about tutoring, individualized follow-up, but also the implementation of cultural, sports and artistic activities described in the school project…

At the beginning of the 2022 school year, this “educational refinement” was supported by the head of state, who, in addition to a general salary increase, proposed paying teachers additional monitoring and control missions, which would be remunerated. This recent announcement reflects the performance-seeking standards of dominant management. But are they in line with how teachers see their profession?

The monetary recognition of these activities goes hand in hand with the precise listing of all educational activities, which is contrary to the previous professional compromise. In return for independent work time that cannot be strictly controlled (often at home), the teacher tacitly provides “free work” by recruiting students or parents, attending training courses or meetings, accepting additional or optional professional responsibilities (boards). This work autonomy, common to all levels of education from kindergarten to university, recognized as essential for professional commitment, is the basis of the real appeal of the teaching profession.

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However, the logic of the project and the agreement on goals, the increase of heteronomy, the desire to transform the heads of institutions into organizers of the work of teachers according to the project of the establishment, the individualization of salaries and tasks cause a change in the profession. , which dissolves the gift/counter-gift relationship that prevailed in the past, admittedly somewhat fantasized. This is the republican school consensus of militant teachers of the educational cause, dedicated and dedicated to the cause of democratization of schools. Challenging this implicit contract greatly affects job satisfaction.

While “excess work” (promotion, career progression, overtime) should be reported at fair value, the risk of reversal will be ambiguous. What we willingly and graciously did in exchange for protective status, we should henceforth earn money in exchange for giving it up. This situation would create competition among teachers, which could encourage them to give up “free” activities because others, the neighbors, are entitled to the benefits. The militant spirit of public service would eventually find itself suffocated by a mercantile logic that would in no way improve the quality of services provided.

Think about working conditions

Although salary levels do not directly affect teacher performance, the appreciation of their profession affects teacher recruitment, stability, and morale. If peri-pedagogical activities and today also other missions contribute to academic success, stimulate collective dynamics in institutions, “being recognized by your peers, relatives, parents or the local community is often more beneficial and sustainable”. Promotion and careers need to take better account of personal engagement based on the “original contract” and not just based on paid overtime.

Read more: Teacher salaries: the invisible job to be reckoned with

Paying for additional activity would be counterproductive. Rather, it would be about promoting the teaching profession from the beginning and throughout the career by providing better working conditions, but also about recognizing the level of their studies while maintaining the importance of recruitment through competitive examinations. Remember that the so-called reform of the master’s degree prepares for competition and requires the possession of a master’s degree to practice the teaching profession. From the beginning of the career, it seems crucial to align teachers’ salaries with the level required by their selection procedures.

So much for further thinking about ways to reverse these depressive tendencies by giving teachers reasons to feel useful, heard and respected. For the shift to a more attractive status, four priority measures can be suggested: improving the image of teachers, incorporating the improvement of teaching into the educational and salary continuum, supporting professional retraining and improving remuneration conditions. These could serve as a guide for measuring the effectiveness of the management of the education system within the various national advisory bodies for education.

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