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How does 144 days work a year sound to you?

We all know that leadership and training are at the heart of all successful continuous improvement initiatives. But wouldn’t it be easier if we managed to get it right during our schooling?

A 2006 report indicated that the efficiency of the education system in France was below the average of developed nations (OCDE). If you want good schooling, live in Finland or… Korea. Now, a national investigation has revealed that :

- one in five children suffers serious reading diffculties during his school curriculum (and it’s a lot worse in maths),

- one in six leaves the schooling system without any qualifications.

This is despite the fact that 3,9% of GNP (average for the OCDE countries) is dedicated to education, but the number of pupils is far less than in Finland or Japan, who also come out really well.

Conclusions of the government task force : “it is a problem with organisation and management“. Well, I wonder how much they got paid to come up with that one!! Some of the observations made are that :

- very little review of the education policies against actual pupil requirements (who said ‘customer value’?),

- redundancy of the different systems of extra hours in place to help students with difficulties (’overproduction’),

- a too high centralisation of recruitment decisions with the local heads having very little say (’misuse of workforce potential’).

The measurement system comes in for criticism. For example, France is ‘world champion’ in having students redo a year’s curriculum due to insufficient results (it happens to 40% of them before they reach 15), with no evidence that doing improves results in the long term. However, schools obtain resources based on the number of pupils per level – where is the incentive to whisk them through the system?

The school year is made up of 144 days work, one of the shortest in the world (and I know for the fact that my son spends many of those idling his time away in self-study periods). Nearly half of lessons attract small groups given the diversity of subjects that are on offer. And who comes out of this the worst off? Those from the lower social levels, of which only 18% obtain the ‘baccalaureat’ against 78% for the better off.

What is the most frustrating in all of this is that there doesn’t seem to be a plan in place to make things any different!!

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