Can you resist repeating your child?

Prohibited in kindergarten, discouraged, and subject to parental approval in primary school, one-year repetition in secondary school is steadily declining. In college and high school, it is national education that settles questions in the last resort. The family, however, has a voice in this regard.

June, thunderstorms, cherries and class advice. In six corners of France, students are waiting, sometimes in agony, to be called upon by their teachers to decide on their adaptation to the verdict. With, for most of them the difficulty, the possibility of repeating a year.

A result that is not suitable for all families. But can anyone object to the repetition of their own child? The answer actually varies by degree, as BFMTV.com saw this Friday.

“Impossible” in kindergarten, easy offer to elementary

Things are easier for the little ones. As the official National Education website points out here, repetition in kindergarten is simply “impossible”.

On the other hand, we can drop a student from elementary school, but this kind of option must remain “exceptional”, it has been specified. In addition, if the teachers’ council – an organization involved with the director, school teachers working in the institution, as well as members of a special support network that can intervene at the scene – could consider it, he would not be able to enforce it.

In fact, it will only be a “proposal” intended for parents, who will be responsible for giving their opinion within fifteen days. We note that in the absence of any response from home, the teacher council proposal is valid.

Down to the medium

It is only in secondary education that the question of repetition takes on another dimension. And again: the latest statistical report on national education in this regard dated 2021 mentions – “recurrence has declined very rapidly since the early 2000s, but it has stabilized since 2016”. It must be said, as Jean-Rémi Girard, of the National Union of High Schools, Colleges, Schools and Higher Education (SNALC), admitted to BFMTV.com this Friday that it would be “difficult to go down”.

Statistics confirm this: in 2020, only 0.7% of repeaters were counted in 6th grade, 0.5% in 5th grade, 0.4% in 4th grade and 2% in 3rd grade.

The decrease in the number of repetitions has been noticeable in middle school for almost twenty years.
The decrease in the number of repetitions has been noticeable in middle school for almost twenty years. © National Education Landmark and Statistical References, 2021 edition

In high school, we recorded, still for 2020, 2.9% of 2nd year and 2.1% of 1st year students were blocked.

This fall continues in high school as well.
This fall continues in high school as well. National Education Standards and Statistics, 2021 edition

Remedies available

Repetition is not carved in stone. Because parents have a recourse to those who want to challenge it, although the decision ultimately depends on the organization – and not with the organization. Jean-Rémi Girard, who noted that in recent years we have witnessed a “text back and forth” on the subject until a final circular is published in 2018, explains the process step by step.

“The arrangement is that the institution may consider repeating one year after consulting the class council. Then the discussion with the family begins. The head of the institution makes the decision, but if the family does not agree, he can go to the appellate board.”

It consists of “Dasen” (including the academic director), the head of the institution, the teachers, the parents of the students, and the teaching and guidance staff. It is up to the commission to decide whether to listen to the parents and their child.

An “exceptional” device but without an alternative

Again, the ministry recalls that “repetition must be exceptional”. But at this point he doesn’t want to give it up. “There’s no alternative,” lamented Jean-Remy Girard, who remarked that “it doesn’t cost as much to repeat as it does to support students in difficulty.”

The president of the teachers’ union, however, has some lead. “We have to take academic difficulties as soon as possible, and be surprised about the size of the class,” he suggested in the proposal before offering advice: “Some countries have specific teachers for academic difficulties, we don’t have them in France.”

Robin Werner

Robin Werner BFMTV journalist

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