Education International
Education International

France: Unions oppose government plan to test pupils from pre-school

published 17 October 2011 updated 24 October 2011

EI's French affiliates, SE-UNSA and SNUIPP, have condemned a government plan to ask teachers to test children as young as five on their behaviour and learning abilities.

The government is seeking to classify pupils into one of the three categories: nothing to report, risk, and high risk. Children’s evaluation would be based on four skills: behaviour at school, language, mobility, and phonology (awareness of individual sounds).

According to the Education Ministry, this evaluation will be an 'identification tool' for pre-school students who 'show signs that they pose a risk to learning.' It is supposed to 'identify each student’s needs in preparation for primary school.'

A spokesperson for SE-UNSA rejected the proposal, saying: “Not yet six-years-old, but already stigmatised as representing a risk, or even a high risk.”

The union went on to explain that “in their daily classroom activities, pre-school teachers know very well how to identify children needing special support. It is their job. They have no need for an inappropriate and pernicious plan.”

SE-UNSA has made a petition available online.

“Pre-school is not a competition or selection school,” noted the primary sector union SNUIPP-FSU, which has called on teachers to boycott “this plan to stigmatise students.”

SNUIPP-FSU General Secretary, Sébastien Sihr, denounced the government's failure to involve teacher unions before announcing the controversial plan.

He said: “This plan mixes diverse and unrelated issues together: some items deal with medical issues, for which school doctors are usually competent, others are pedagogical, or behavioural issues. We firmly reject this blurring of behavioural disorders and what could be called maturity differences.”

Sihr denounced the project as adding a new layer of bureaucracy for teachers at the cost of precious learning time for students: “Teachers have no need for heavy and useless formality to know how to scrutinise their students, identify their difficulties, or help them whenever needed."