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Pay rises and substitutes: How France plans to combat teacher shortages

The Local France
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Pay rises and substitutes: How France plans to combat teacher shortages
A teacher distributes copies ahead of the start of the philosophy test.. (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP)

The French government has laid out plans for a minimum starting salary of €2,000 per month for newly qualified teachers as the new school year begins with thousands of unfilled teaching roles.

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Faced with a shortage of over 4,000 teachers just days before the start of the school year, France has announced both short-term and long-term plans to attempt to recruit and maintain staff.

The new Education Minister Pap Ndiaye held a press conference on Friday to lay out plans, including a 10 percent payrise for newly qualified teachers to create a minimum starting salary of €2,000 per month (after tax) starting from September 2023.

The Ministry of Education also plans to recruit more enseignants contractuels, or substitutes who are not fully qualified teachers, to help make up for the shortages and ensure that "there will be a teacher in front of every class," as promised by the Education Minister. 

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Teachers unions have expressed concerns about the reliance on contractual teachers, due to insufficient training. However, Ndiaye specified that the "vast majority of contractual teachers taught last year or the year before, about 80 to 90 percent of the total contractual teachers in schools." 

The Ministry of Education has had to gradually increase the use of these non-qualified teachers due to shortages, almost doubling their number in the past twelve years. In 2008, there were approximately 20,000 contractual teachers in French schools, with more than 38,000 (more than five percent of total teachers) in 2020. 

As for new contractual workers for the 2022-2023 school year, these teachers will fill about 3,000 posts, representing about 0.3 percent of total teachers - of which there are about 850,000 in France. 

For new non-tenured teachers, training is often just four days, with two days specifically focused on how to prepare 'fundamental' (mathematics and French) courses for primary school. They work on a short-term contracts under the supervision of school directors and the academic inspectorate. They will also be required to fulfill 20 days of training per year.

They are also required to have a Bac +3 (equivalent to a University degree) and are required to pass a job interview prior to beginning work.

The director of the Paris school district told Franceinfo that contractual teachers without prior experience are more likely to work as substitutes rather than being assigned their own class, though some may find themselves in this position if the need is great enough. 

Minister Ndiaye also announced that existing contractual teachers will have the opportunity to officially pass teaching examinations during the Spring of 2023, as an effort to allow them to access permanent roles.

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