Is there no teacher accountability here in France?

Sheila suggested I re-post here rather than in general discussion

So here we are

I just feel the need to vent my frustration and get something off my chest. As a teacher myself I just can't understand how teacher accountability works here in french schools. I have twin daughters who are really diligent and take their studies very seriously ( too seriously in fact - probably my fault). They have been in the french education system since they were five and their level of french has always been good - keeping up with their peers. At college their level took a set back for two years when they had the same teacher who seemed to delight in knocking the confidence level of all the children in the class - often referring to the class as idiots and vegetables etc etc. My girls marks plummeted and in the end I had to hire a private teacher during the summer holidays of their second year to get their confidence back. We had one year of a new teacher which saw their level shoot up to an ave of 16 and then for their final critical year of 3° to my horror they got the previous teacher back again. Latest summary test saw the class ave as 10.5 and the girls back to 7 and 8. So scarey given that they need 10 ave for going on to lycee. I hasten to add that they both had a yearly average of 16+ across all subjects at the end of last year - so we are not talking about weak students by any means.

I know there are good and bad teachers everywhere - but in the UK if you have a class where everyone in the class is failing to get even half marks in assessments it would be spotted and addressed. Here it just seems to be accepted that the class are either weak or lazy with the teacher facing no accountability at all. Neither do they seem to look back at previous grades with other teachers which would point to the teaching being the issue rather than the pupils.

Sorry for the rant, but having had to deal with a 14 year old child distraught and in tears for most of last night, when she and I know how hard she is working - it just makes me want to scream.

Thanks for all your kind words. The girls survived collège - both ended up with très bien in their brêvet AND they now have a wonderful french teacher at Lycée who can't sign their praises enough and they regularly get top marks in class, even above the french students! Thank goodness the previous teacher did not kill their love for the subject completely and major thanks to Nathalie who coached them at the end of the year and helped them believe in themselves.

Hmm, sounds like my next door neighbor is the “prof”. Her reputation stretches far and wide. Parents took it for granted that a tutor would be needed for all kids in her classes.
The system did not permit an analysis of her behavior even though she habitually locked whole groups outside, missed many classes per week and worse in terms of insulting, verbal and physical abuse.
Eventually with retirement on horizon the principal just did not give her any work and she left the school. French scores on brevet have shot up with young properly trained teachers in place.
You could do the investigation yourself by contacting other parents.
Good luck and get a tutor a sap.


I can totally sympathise with you. I would do as others have said. Contact the parent association to see what kind of input they can provide and then the director of the school. The problem is the school directors in France have no authority over how the teachers conduct their classes, only over the administrative aspects. However, if there are enough parents who say something it could have an impact but like another poster said...they probably have a dossier "this" thick. Still, I think to show your children that you are looking out for them i would make an appt to express your concerns. You don't say where you a city, countryside, small town..not that it matters but sometimes it could with regard to attitude.

We hear from everyone about a teacher at a collège who sounds completely off their head, ranting at everyone, terrorising particular victims, giving the entire class a zero mark. Been there for years. Everyone complains, the directeur has a dossier "this" thick (about 50cm on average estimate). Mass petitions from all the parents. Children actually get doctors certificates to be excused. Complaint laid to the police (who suggested someone provokes the teacher sufficiently to get a child hit with a proper bruise!)

But the directeur can't get rid, even though it's a privée it's up to regional HQ and for whatever reason they won't. Partial explanation is I imagine that regional HQ is far enough away that their own children aren't affected, but if the teacher gets moved they might finish up in their town. (Mind you I remember reading that only about 20 teachers a year in UK are sacked)

The directeur has now arranged this teacher's timetable so they do earlies and lates with nothing inbetween, without luck so far.

Maybe some of the stories are ovedone, but I've heard them from my FLE teacher, from students past and present, people I trust. My plan, if god forbid we encounter this monster, is to fit child with a spycam and then youtube.

Forgive the strangled language, it's to avoid identifying anyone.

I do hope you can sort it out for the sake of your two girls. The more I hear about the French education system, and there are so many stories around about intolerant teachers, bullies, and a system that seems to want to produce more civil servants than independent thinkers, the more relieved I am that we moved here once our children had grown up and didn't have to put them through it.

Go to the parent teachers association. In most cases it is called FCPE or something. This is what I have done. I have raisied 6 kids in this system. If there are enough complaintes the school may do something. Or not.

Hiya Julie,

That sounds horrible! My children are all under 8 but i know how frustrating the French school system can be, there was even a recent Tv documentary on how French school children are the most stressed out in Europe. Have you tried talking directly to the director about this situation? from experience i can tell you this seems the only way to get things done by going straight to the top to voice your concerns and if you don't get satisfaction then go further up and do consider changing schools if that doesn't work because this is your children's well being at stake here not just exam marks because they can always be gained later but if they start to lose confidence in themselves at this tender age then It's a whole lot more than feeling a bit under the weather! My sister in law is having trouble with a teacher too, her child is only 8 and very recently became absolutely terrified of his teacher, something very dodgy is going on there and they are not going to let it go The director of the school is a neighbour so they are going to get to the bottom of it. Good luck to you , don't be afraid to rock the boat and go to top and demand to know why the class is getting low marks , you can threaten to take things higher and often that's the only way to get a result; Have you spoken to the adjoint Délégué à l'éducation et à la jeunesse at La Mairie? I found that this is an effective way of dealing with school directors they have to do what le adjoint says.