France brings in new measures to crack down on violence in schools

France brings in new measures to crack down on violence in schools
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announces the new measures. Photo; AFP
France's Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer presented on Tuesday his long-awaited plan to put an end to increasing violence in French schools.

Anti-violence measures have been demanded by teachers for several months now. In October 2018, a teacher from Créteil, a suburban town near Paris, was threatened by one of her students.

Pointing what turned out to be a dummy gun at her, the high-schooler wanted her to mark him as present so he could leave school for the day without being worried of sanctions.

The video triggered strong reactions among French teachers, who took on social media and the streets to denounce the violence they experience every day. 

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But to avoid yet another hurried and superficial plan – there has been twelve in the span of 10 years – France's Ministry of National Education conducted an assessment mission, launched in the weeks following the Créteil incident.

Under the aegis of four ministries – Education, Interior, Health, Justice – the new measures rely on five principles: ''secure school environments and outskirts'', ''reinforce disciplinary actions in middle and high schools'', ''answer serious violence more effectively'', ''take charge of disruptive and poly-excluded students'', ''include and make families aware of their responsibilities''.

Here are the four key measures announced by the Ministry of Education for the school year 2019-2020.

Disciplinary actions will be simplified.

Disciplinary hearings will take place quicker than they used to.

Fourteen members of a teaching body were previously needed to hold an hearing, this number will go down to a minimum of six. Sanctions will therefore be more immediate.

Families will play a bigger role in improving students' behaviour.

Upon a second exclusion in the same school year, an educational support protocol will be signed between parents and l'inspection d'académie – the school inspectors.

This document will mention parents' commitments to improve their child's behaviour as well as school-led support measures. A point of contact will be appointed in every department.


Jean-Michel Blanquer previously burned his fingers on the issue.

The minister's plan initially intended to suspend les allocations familiales – child benefit – for parents of the 1,500 highly disruptive and violent students. The minister designated parents as ''accomplices''. 

Students who have been excluded will automatically be placed in a special school

Parents used to have a say on whether their child was sent to a classe-relais – the specialist units for children who had been excluded.

This will be no more. If a student is permanently excluded from two schools, the president of the regional education authority can choose to sign up the student to a classe-relais for six months, regardless of the parents' opinion.

Police will be patrolling around schools located in sensitive areas.

There was a time where the French Minister of Interior Christophe Castaner wished to station a policeman in every school of France. This idea was scrapped and instead patrols will be reinforced on the outskirts of 'sensitive' schools where there have been previous issues. 

The new measures will come into effect when the school year starts on Monday, September 2nd.

 


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