“In constant euros, French teachers have lost between 15 and 25% of remuneration over the past 20 years”. Wages falling by nearly 20% in 20 years, which have become significantly lower than private wages. A much longer teaching time than in neighboring countries for much lower salaries. Some of the most degraded working conditions of all OECD countries. All of this is known. But this final indictment does not come from a teachers’ union. It is taken from the Senate report on the national education budget. Budget despite everything adopted without modification by the Senate Finance Committee …

20% loss of purchasing power in 20 years

It is rare to see the Senate, predominantly on the right, going in a direction favorable to teachers. We remember the Longuet report (2016) who had calculated the most petty savings that could be made on the backs of teachers. But this new report by Gérard Longuet (LR) on the 2022 budget for National Education sheds a particularly clear light on what must be called the material but also moral devaluation of the teaching profession.

How to evaluate a trade? The report is made by the evolution of its remunerations in comparison with those of the private sector. It also does so by comparison with other countries. Finally, it introduces elements related to working time and conditions.

“In constant euros, French teachers have lost between 15 and 25% of remuneration over the past 20 years”, establishes the report based on a document from the Depp. The report gives specific examples. Thus after 15 years of service, in constant euros, the salary of a school teacher in 2020 is 22% lower than that he would have had in 2000. For a certified, the drop is 23%. The gap is greatest at the end of the career, which will weigh on retirement. In both cases there is a 25% loss.


Compared to private sector wages, dropping out is just as important. “The actual salaries of French teachers are therefore below the labor income of workers who have reached at least the license level. More precisely, the salaries of teachers are lower than that of workers in the private sector by 21% in pre-elementary, 23% in elementary and 12% in college “. Remember that teachers have a master’s degree, ie two more studies than a bachelor’s degree. The report stresses that “this is not the case in other European countries and in particular in Germany or Belgium for which the salaries of teachers are higher than that of all working people”.

More work for lower wages than elsewhere in Europe

Precisely let’s stay in the international comparison. “The average gross effective salary of teachers is lower in France than in Germany and in most of the countries of northern Europe, but also than in England and Portugal. is below those practiced in Germany and in most northern European countries (Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands) “, notes the report. Around a 15-year career, the gap between the salaries paid to French teachers and those of their European colleagues is around $ 10,000 per year. Finally, this gap continues to widen. While between 2014 and 2019 the salaries of early-career teachers increased by 2 to 3% for French teachers, the increase was 7% in Germany and 20% in the Nordic countries.


How about working conditions? “The statutory teaching time in elementary school is 900 hours per year in France, 738 hours on average in the EU and 691 hours in Germany. In middle school, it is 720 hours in France, 660 hours in the EU and 641 hours in Germany; in high school, the teaching time is 720 hours in France, 629 hours on average EU-23 and 610 hours in Germany “. Whatever the level, French teachers work more than their European colleagues for a lower salary. We hear that in many European countries teachers are required to stay in the school for a certain number of hours. In reality it depends on the country. This never exceeds 35 hours per week, even though surveys in France all arrive at 40 to 44 hours of work per week. In any case, if the professors were to be required to stay in the establishment in France, one wonders where they could go. The premises are absolutely not intended for this.

Degraded working conditions

There are other elements which affect the quality of the work to which the report was sensitive. Starting with the degree of teacher satisfaction. “Almost a quarter of teachers (24% of school teachers and 25% of middle school teachers) wonder if they should not have taken another professional path. About 40% of secondary teachers would like to work in another establishment than theirs “, notes the report. Only 7% of French teachers consider their profession valued by society against 17% in Europe. Only 8% think they can influence education policies compared to 19% on average in Europe.

If the teachers say they are satisfied with the relations with the pupils, class life is more difficult in France than elsewhere. “Argentina and Brazil are the only countries (of the OECD) where the disciplinary climate index is lower than the average observed in France. One in two French students declares that there is noise and disorder in most or all courses, compared to one in three on average in the OECD “.

It may have to do with the supervision rate. “In the first level, France has the highest rate within the European Union with more than 19 pupils per teacher in elementary school and more than 23 pupils per teacher in pre-elementary school”, notes the report. In the second level there are 14 students per teacher against 12 on average in Europe, 9 in Belgium, 11 in Italy, Sweden and Spain. Finally, the number of students per class has increased sharply in secondary education since the redundancies of N Sarkozy. And this continues except in vocational education.


Faced with this situation, the “revaluation” announced by JM Blanquer seems Lilliputian. 245 million, spread over half of the teachers, precisely not the one that experienced the biggest drop in purchasing power. A much lower revaluation than the PPCR agreements, stopped dead in their tracks by the new president. The PPCR agreements are evaluated by the same report at 1 billion euros, including 26 million in 2021 and 17 in 2022. The “unprecedented” revaluation of JM Blanquer cannot claim to make the teaching profession more attractive under these conditions.

Francois Jarraud

Senate report

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