Is it serious to enroll children in the private sector?

Since she was appointed to the Ministry of National Education, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra has been the subject of various controversies, arising from this admission: she educated her children in an elitist private institution in the center of Paris. In an attempt to put out the fire, Emmanuel Macron himself took the lead: “I am a child of both schools, as great writers say.” I went to a secular and private contract school, I saw dedicated teachers to whom I owe a lot. So I don't think there is any conflict between the two schools,” he tried to qualify at a press conference on January 16.

In fact – and this is a paradox – despite the heated debates and the names that everyone throws at each other's heads, in the reality of family life there are frequent misunderstandings between the two schools. Also in Paris, one out of two students attends a private school for at least one year on average. “Zap” parents, summarizes former chief inspector Jean-Louis Auduc, far from ideological positions.

What are they looking for in the private sector? “It all depends,” says Gilles Demarquet, president of the Association of Parents of Free Education (Apel), which represents parents of private school students. “Private education is very diverse, between a Catholic school in western France that is sometimes the only one in a village, and an agricultural high school, including institutions in the city center. I can testify that the parents I meet are very different. They are managers, but also bicycle repairers or community employees. » Some are primarily looking for “good office space”. Because on paper the results of the private sector are better. More college certificates, more matriculation grades… Successes, which, however, mainly reflect the choice of students and the socio-economic profile of the family, put the OECD in perspective. Adjusted for family variation, the results of the two schools are relatively similar, according to the latest Pisa report.

Here children don't say “yes”, but “yes”

Others are looking for a framework, discipline, even an “old-fashioned school,” like Aziz Barki, president of the parents' association of the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul school group, in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris. Catholic school is not the first choice for this Muslim. “We started in the public sector, but our eldest son started speaking badly, so we enrolled him in the private sector in CP. We were looking for a school with good behavior and respect for teachers, away from the tension in the neighborhood. This is what we found. “Here, children don't say 'yes', but 'yes',” he sums up.

For the most part, families “stay behind our educational project”, continues Gilles Demarquet. According to a recent survey, parents of private schools prefer a school where they can find their place and get involved, but also “what we call integral education: a Catholic school educates the child as a whole, heart, body, mind. He is not seen as a brain and a bag. » Because of this, Serge, a civil servant, “who has a heart on the left” ended up enrolling his youngest in the private sector in the fifth grade, after a “super difficult” sixth year in which she was bullied”, without being sustainable enough, he thinks. He also admits that he has difficulty with the “moral lessons” of some of his friends, “who cannot help but remind me that the public has no future with people like me.”

School choice is a “political issue”

When asked why she is so attached to public schools, Sylvaine Baehrel, chosen from the FCPE in Paris, immediately evokes a value that, according to her, surpasses everything: “Being a society. » This mother of three sees the choice of school for her children first and foremost as a “political issue”. Also, ten years ago she founded the collective Learning Together to promote public schools in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, where she lives, threatened, as she says, by competition from the private sector. “Parents are fleeing the sector college because it is classified as REP+ (Priority Education Network Plus, editor's note). They tell themselves that private is necessarily better, but that is not true. My children spent many wonderful years there. » With its classes limited to 12 students, hypermotivated professors… this college “offers much better teaching conditions than in the private sector where classes have 30 students”.

He is trying to convey a message to elementary school parents during a college presentation. With mixed results, she admits. All the more so since there are strategies in the public eye to circumvent the school card: requests for exemptions – “up to 33% when my children were in kindergarten!” “, she pays tribute – convenience addresses, a rare choice of languages… “Some people enroll their children in a CE2 conservatoire, in the hope that they will then join an art class with flexible hours at college. However, there is no photo, only CSP+ families are capable of such a strategy,” she laments. Proof that all parents, publicly or privately, are looking for “the best for their child”, even if that means sometimes giving the term opposite meanings.

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