Paris (AFP)

No more holidays: more than 12 million students return to school Monday, for a return marked in particular by the continuation of the duplication of classes and reform of high school, in a climate a priori appeased between the minister and the teaching world.

- Back to school in figures -

Some 12.4 million students will enter the gates of schools (6.7 million), colleges (3.4 million) and high schools (2.3 million) on Monday, to which will be added 207,500 apprentices and 273,000 students in institutions that depend on the Ministries of Agriculture and Health. They will attend classes taught by 871,000 teachers in 61,900 schools and public and private schools.

Among them, Laetitia, teacher in kindergarten in a school in a deprived district (REP) of Paris: "Even if it is my 18th return, there is always a small apprehension". As every year, she has prepared her class (equipment, displays, books ...) for several days already so that "everything is ready for the reception of children on the day".

- Priority to primary -

This year again, the government insists on the importance of the first years of school. This priority is reflected in this return by the introduction of the reduction to three years of the age of compulsory education, against six today.

In addition, the reduction in the number of CP and CE1 classes in disadvantaged neighborhoods (Rep and Rep +) is coming to an end. Some 300,000 students are concerned this year, and they are expected to be 450,000 by the end of the five-year period, with President Emmanuel Macron having announced in the spring that it will be progressively extended to the higher education classes in priority education.

- A reform of the tank always risky -

Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has embarked on this reform on which many of his predecessors have broken their teeth. The new baccalaureate, tightened around four written tests and a large oral, will not see the day until June 2021. But it prepares upstream and changes occur this year for the students of Première, who will be the first to pass the exam in its new form. The S, ES and L series are deleted and replaced by specialty courses.

For Nour, the return to first, in the Lot-et-Garonne, will take place only Tuesday morning. "We will be the first to test the reform of high school, it's a bit unknown," she worries. "I can not wait to see my friends again and see what's going to happen, but we're all a little stressed."

Challenged by a number of teachers, the reform provoked in June an unprecedented strike by the examiners of the baccalaureate.

- A plan against violence at school -

Decided after the robbery last year of a teacher with a dummy weapon in a high school in Créteil (Val-de-Marne), this plan was presented by Jean-Michel Blanquer this week, after many postponements. In particular, the establishment of a protocol for the empowerment of parents of violent children, the creation of a school violence reference in each department and the strengthening of disciplinary procedures were announced.

- Eco delegates -

Some 250,000 eco-delegates, one per class in middle and high school, will be appointed to implement ecological actions on a daily basis. "We want to make National Education the spearhead?" of the environment, says the minister.

- Teachers worried about their salaries and pensions -

Teaching unions have almost all noted this week a "change of tone" of the minister to them, after a particularly tense end of the year.

However, they now hope to be heard, and quickly get pay increases, after freezing the index point for several years.

Another concern is pension reform, which the government admits is likely to penalize teachers, whose premiums are low compared to other civil servants. "This is the hot issue of the season," summarized this week Stéphane Crochet, Union SE-Unsa.

© 2019 AFP