“In France your qualifications and experience are worthless”
A French university head of department said this to me last year in an interview. This was in reference to CELTA, MA etc. And surprisingly they still offered me a job.
He then went on to explain that unless you have one of the French teaching test qualifications (CAPES, Agregee) then you are not entitled to teach in France. Later another teacher said that foreigners who do manage to “sneak in” are a “corruption of the system”. In essence, this is a very shrewd barrier to entry in that nothing is equivalent as these French tests don’t exist in other countries. Yet, some do say a PGCE is the same as the CAPES but from what I understand the PGCE is a postgrad course with teaching practice while the CAPES/AGREGEE just seems to be a test, in fact a ‘competitive civil servant on ‘ to be more precise. When I looked into this I was told that I would have to send my original certificates to some ministry to have them assessed to find their equivalents, if they existed. To most of us it would seem that a PGCE/MA is far higher than a teaching test which some say only tests your knowledge of the subject.
So, this seems why foreigners are relegated to PT work and will never get ‘in the system’ in France and get a proper job. Is this fair? No, not at all but I’m sure it exists in other countries too. In the UK a lot of professors just have MA’s while to teach in schools you need a PGCE/BA Ed. The former means you have knowledge above the students level while the latter means you learn how to teach what you learned at school.
If we really are in Europe and have liberalisation etc shouldn’t we English teachers (and all teachers) be allowed to move and work anywhere? In France I met one women who said she had to redo all her teaching qualifications in French which seems unfair in that perhaps when French teachers go to the UK they are allowed to teach with French ones.
Should we get revenge and refuse all French qualifications as ‘not valid’ based on the sole reason that they aren’t written in English?
So, worthless eh? Well, when the French uni system relies entirely on foreign part-timers who by law can only be employed for 100 hours at each school, often get No contract and don’t get paid for 6mths + I think they are looking at a lot less willing foreign teachers. Not to mention all the problems in getting a house, health insurance and the basics which if you have no ‘real job’ are VERY difficult.
The result may be that foreigners leave, as if you are lucky enough to find a FT contract after 5 years they cannot renew it (or so I’ve been told). So, you may eventually have no choice but to leave or as one interviewer said “after a year you will be free to seek employment elsewhere”. This was because the 1 year contract he offered was unrenewable UNLESS someone high up deemed you were worthy of being kept for another year which he said was “unusual”.
This really sends a message that foreigners perhaps are ‘not invited’ but lots of staff do want us and need us, quite desperately so the big wigs in Paris should be listening. Having recognition of English qualifications would also be nice and not being told, as one blogger was that “without the Agregee we cannot be sure that you have mastered your language”. Hmmmm. Another outlined the extremely low number of candidates who pass these tests but also that she managed to ‘crack’ the test and just gave them what they wanted in the essays. I don’t understand the content of this test/qualification but I would hope that it is not just based on essays or a presentation as I have been told. According to some sources one of them lets you go home and prepare with friends and family.
The future will see but I really do hope Europe sorts this stuff out. An internationally recognised teaching qualification may solve everything and in the future we may even have a European syllabus for every school and course. Wouldn’t that be great especially if it was all in English.
An old forum discussion on teacher problems in France regarding lack of recognition.
Note: From what I’ve read you need to send your qualifications to have them ‘equivalised’ as there seems to be no standard.