Up until now, it may seem like studying and passing the concours is the hardest part of joining the Education Nationale as a fully certified teacher. Although the concours is strenuous, and the pass rate seems nerve-wrackingly low (somewhere around 20-30% for the CAFEP), I’m sorry to tell you that it’s only after passing the concours that the hard work really begins !! 😅
In a previous post, I explained how students enrolled in the MEEF are placed in student teaching positions during their second year. In this post, I want to outline what happens after you pass the concours, whether you are a MEEF student or a candidat libre taking the concours on your own.
As usual, just a little disclaimer to say that the process has changed due to the 2021 reform, so while I do not have personal experience with this exact iteration of procedures, I will do my best to share what I know based on official documents, friends’ experiences, and my own. In addition, some of this information pertains only to those who passed the concours Externe, and the majority of the post concerns only the privé sous-contrat system for lauréats of the CAFEP.
- During the concours, or immediately after : A little paperwork
- Le stage
- Getting your first post
During the concours, or immediately after : A little paperwork
The préaccord / accord collégiale
If you have passed the CAFEP in order to teach in semi-private Catholic schools, then the Enseignement Catholique will at some point require you to obtain a préaccord and an accord collégiale in order to work for them. My understanding of this process is that it’s the Enseignement Catholique’s way of asserting a little bit of control over who is hired to work in their schools, despite being integrated into the Education Nationale which recruits via the concours.
I believe every diocese/region organizes the préaccord process differently, so the best thing to do is to communicate with the Enseignement Catholique and the SAAR (the recruiting body of the Enseignement Catholique) in your region. In my case, the SAAR contacted all candidates who were admissible after the écrits with instructions. I had to upload a dossier online which consisted of my CV and cover letter, as well as a questionnaire with job interview-type questions. I was then called to an interview session. Luckily there were several of these throughout the year, because the first one they called me to was on the date of the concours, so of course I couldn’t attend !
The interview was straightforward. I was asked classic questions, including why I wanted to teach in the Enseignement Catholique. The true and honest reply is that it’s one of my only options as a non-European, but I was afraid of coming across as rude if I said that in an interview. However, before I could even answer the question, the interviewer mentioned this himself !! I affirmed, and then added on that I feel strongly about certain values like respect, fellowship, etc which are conveyed by the Catholic school’s mission statement. I was also asked about how I would approach situations with difficult students or students with special needs. The entire thing very much felt like a formality, and as a result I didn’t feel that much pressure about it.
I was granted the pré-accord just before beginning my stage, and, after completing the formation at ISFEC (the Catholic teacher training school), it was automatically converted into an accord.
Dérogation à la condition de nationalité
Another hoop non-EU citizens have to jump through before they can work is asking the rectorat to file a “dérogation à la condition de nationalité” on your behalf. What I understand about this process is that the rectorat, like any business in France, must ask permission from the government before it can hire non-EU workers. I was told by the SAAR I needed to ask for this in order to be placed in a stage.
This was a completely painless process : I simply contacted the service at the rectorat that deals with the Enseignement Privé (in my académie it is called the DEP – Direction de l’Enseignement Privé) and asked what I needed to do. Someone wrote me back with a list of a bunch of papers to send by email. It was a pretty standard list of birth certificate, diplomas, CV, B2 language certificate (I used the expired one that I had done to apply to universities), and a few other things. I never actually heard back from them, but I assume the box was checked internally because no one ever asked for proof of it again…
If, after passing the concours, your current visa is still valid, then you can simply follow the procedure for a “renouvellement : changement de statut” to ask for a salarié visa. Procedures and paperwork can vary depending on your region, so check the website of the préfecture where you live for a list of documents they require.
I needed the rectorat to provide some form of proof of employment (since I had to renew my visa before September 1 – the start date of all teaching contracts – they had to write me a promesse d’embauche letter), and the rectorat had to submit an autorisation de travail request on my behalf. The renewal was once again straightforward without many complications (besides my préfecture giving me the wrong visa type two years in a row, 🙃 but luckily that ended up not causing any issues…). I would just recommend getting it done as early as possible, because if there is any period during which you don’t hold a valid carte de séjour or a récépissé proving your renewal is underway, then you won’t be able to continue working and being paid ! You don’t want to get stuck waiting for a rdv a couple of days before you’re supposed to start working !!
I do not know the process for applying when you don’t already hold a visa, but I think this case is probably very rare…
Your first year post-concours, you will be considered a “stagiaire” or a student teacher (as opposed to M2 MEEF students who are “alternants” but could also be called stagiaires…). This status is distinct from “titulaire” or a certified teacher, because during this year you must “validate” your concours. In other words, during this year you’ll have a series of inspections and evaluations to ensure that you are indeed capable of leading a class, with the goal of gaining titularisation, or certification.
The details of your stage will vary based on whether you were a MEEF student who already completed a stage/alternance during your M2, or whether you were a candidat libre and not associated with a MEEF program.
For MEEF students : because you already had 2 years of training and several months of shadowing and being mentored in a school, you will be assigned a full-time post of 18 hours with 10-20 training days planned throughout the year. While you will still have a mentor teacher (=tuteur/tutrice) who can give you advice, you are no longer observing and co-teaching : you are the English teacher fully responsible for your classes, from lesson planning to grading and everything in between. 18 hours corresponds to roughly 5 or 6 class groups.
For candidats libres : Since you have not necessarily completed any teacher training before passing the concours, you will have an adapted stage. Instead of starting with a full 18h right out of the gate, you will be given the responsibility of 8-10 hours of teaching, while attending weekly trainings throughout the year. These trainings will take place at the INPSE if you have taken the CAPES (public), or most likely at the ISFEC if you have taken the CAFEP (privé). 8 hours of class roughly corresponds to 2-3 class groups.
Student teaching placements can be at any level between 6e and Terminale. It’s also not 100% unheard of to be given BTS (post-bac technical studies) or SEGPA classes (special-ed middle school classes), although schools are theoretically discouraged from assigning these to a stagiaire. Schools are also encouraged to limit the number of different levels a stagiaire will have, to not give them additional responsibilities like prof principal (homeroom teacher), and to avoid giving classes with bac exams; but again there is no formal rule forbidding this… During my stage, I was placed in a lycée with 2 classes of 2de (10th grade) and a class of 1ère générale (11th grade). I was also assigned to correct official written exams for the bac, which is another thing stagiaires are “not supposed to” do. 🤷♀️
L’affectation (the placement)
The placements for the stage in the privé sous-contrat system are assigned by the rectorat and/or the diocese based on what positions are available. They can be anywhere in the académie where you took your concours : if you took it in Toulouse, then you are very likely to do your stage in a semi-private school in that académie. Remember, however, that académies are very large, and there’s no way to guarantee that your placement will be in the main city, or even in the city where you live. Before receiving my affectation, I was able to send a form with geographical preferences which (I assume) were taken into account as much as possible. While I was lucky to get a placement in the center of Toulouse, many of my classmates or acquaintances had their stage in towns between 15 minutes and 3 hours outside of the city.
In the public school system, the placements are even more arbitrary : stagiaires can be sent anywhere throughout France ! I do not know the ins and outs of the public system; if you took the CAPES for public schools and need clarity, I highly recommend contacting a syndicat for advice !
You should receive news about your affectation in July.
In order to be titularisé.e, there are a number of people who must weigh in on your skills and readiness as a teacher. Your school principal, your mentor teacher, your formateurs, and finally the inspectors all contribute to your final performance review which determines whether or not you gain certification. As such, you will be observed a number of times throughout your année de stage, and receive feedback and an official report commenting on your level of mastery of various teaching skills. I was observed informally by my mentor teacher a number of times, and once by a formatrice at my university. However, because I was a student teacher in 2020 when the first big covid wave hit and schools were closed for 2 months, I was never observed by the inspector. While a visit from the inspector isn’t strictly mandatory, it is very common, and should be expected. You should receive word at least a week in advance about the date and time of the observation, at which point they will specify any documents (written lesson plans, etc) they want to see.
The purpose of these visits is for you to show off your skills as a teacher and to get feedback on things that are going well and advice to improve what is not going well. They want to know not only that you can manage a class of students, but that you also understand the teaching methods recommended by the Education Nationale, that you are able to adequately follow the school curriculum, and that you represent the school and the government professionally. This doesn’t mean that you must be the absolutely perfect model of a teacher ! They are obviously aware that it’s your first experience teaching and that some things will not yet be mastered. But, they especially want to know that you are capable of questioning yourself and analyzing your practice, that you can take and apply criticism and advice, and that you are generally on the right track with your students and your colleagues.
Student teachers are paid full-time, even the candidat libres who work only 9h/week. When I was a stagiaire my take home pay was around 1400 euro. This can vary based on your previous experience and a few other factors, and may have even gone up slightly, though I’m not making any promises about that!
If your student teaching year goes well and you receive mainly positive reviews from the different concerned parties, then you officially become a titulaire ! You’ll be offered a position somewhere in France in a CDI (indefinite contract) for the following year !
If your year is less stellar than you’d hoped, or if you were sick/absent for more than 36 days, you could be asked to redo (redoubler) or prolong your stage the following year. In this case, you usually change schools, you often change levels (i.e. if you were in collège before, you may be in lycée for the redoublement), and you are given another chance at obtaining titularisation. You can only redo your stage once. In some extreme cases, where the stagiaire is deemed to have insufficient mastery of the job requirements, they can be turned down and essentially fired.
On that note, I just want to add : there are SO MANY reasons that a stage could go badly, and most of them have NOTHING to do with the stagiaire as a person, or their qualities as a teacher. For every school that is great and supportive of their stagiaires, there is another where the colleagues are distant and unhelpful, or where the students are out of control. Stagiaires have so much thrown at them that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsupported, and if they don’t have people around them who are pulling for them to succeed, it can quickly degrade into an untenable situation. Pressure comes from every side, and it can be truly difficult to deal with, even for the most passionate and level-headed person. Sometimes the admin or a colleague can have an overreaction to some small problem and make life unnecessarily difficult… People are too quick to forget that stagiaires are often doing everything for the first time and deserve help, support, and grace. If your stage turns into a situation that feels unfair, you should absolutely 100% contact a syndicat/union to make sure you understand your rights and get some help mediating with the school and inspectors if necessary.
Getting your first post
Hurrah ! You did it ! You got through your student teaching and officially became certified !!! I’d like to say the hard part is over, but to be really honest, it’s still gonna keep being hard for at least a few more years. Maybe in different ways, but a big challenge nonetheless. It all begins with getting your first definitive job placement.
Just like for the stage, your first post as a titulaire is assigned by the rectorat according to what is available. If you are in public schools, then the placement process is done via an algorithm that sorts teachers by a number of accumulated points which are given based on things like your marital status, if you have kids, number of years teaching, etc etc. Public school teachers can be sent anywhere in France, and those with a low number of points are usually sent to difficult or unpopular districts like Créteil outside of Paris or deep in the countryside. It can take years for young teachers to build up enough points to go back to their home region, especially if it’s in high demand.
For private schools on the other hand, there’s Le Mouvement. I touched briefly on this process in a previous post. The mouvement is a slightly less impersonal system than the public school algorithm, but still confusing, opaque, and convoluted. I’ll try to explain it as I best understand it, but know that the process is slightly different in each académie, so your mileage may vary 😅
In the Education Nationale, a “poste” is considered in hours, rather than by the number of faculty members at a school. For example, let’s say Lycée Escargot has 25 hours of English class that needs to be covered. Rather than saying “we are hiring 2 English teachers,” they say, “we have two posts available : one for 16 hours and one for 9 hours.” As a result, teachers may have to combine posts in multiple schools in order to reach full-time, which is 18 hours. For example, my first year as a titulaire, I taught 14 hours in one school and 4 hours in a second. This kind of doubling-up is fairly common.
The mouvement is run at a regional level, rather than a national one, meaning it is organized by the rectorats of each académie independently. This means that teachers in the privé are usually able to stay in the académie where they did their stage (unlike the public), although there’s no guarantee that you will be placed in or even near the city where you live. This is of course dependent on the number of positions available and the demand. It’s certainly not unheard of to be sent to a neighboring académie because there are not enough positions available in your own.
The mouvement begins at some point in January or February when teachers officially declare their intentions to seek a different post. While titulaires can occupy their post indefinitely with no obligation to change schools unless they want to, all stagiaires must participate in the Mouvement, since they don’t yet have an official post.
Then, between April and June a list of all vacant posts in the académie (or posts that could be vacated by a titulaire seeking a new placement) is published online. At this point, you can look at what’s available and make a list of voeux, or wishes that is sent to the rectorat and to the school principals. You send your CV and cover letter to the schools on your wish list, and the principals may call you for an interview to tell you more about the position and get a sense of your fit with the school. If you have asked to change académies, you will make wish lists in both your current académie and the académie(s) you are hoping to integrate.
In June and July, the rectorat, the syndicats, and all of the school principals get together in a series of “commissions” and work out the placements of everyone involved in the mouvement, based on the teachers’ and principals’ preferences, but also following a hierarchy of priority. Instead of sorting teachers by points, like in the public school system, the Mouvement categorizes teachers by situation on a scale from A to E.
The following is a simplified explanation as some of the levels are more detailed (and small variations may exist in different académies), but generally speaking, Priority A goes to titulaires whose position was eliminated or bumped down to part-time because of low enrollment or loss of funding or who were only assigned part-time hours. Titulaires already in the académie are Priority B1 or B2, while those who are trying to enter the académie are level B3 or B4. Stagiaires who have successfully completed their stage are priority level C (if they’re already in the académie) and D (if they’re trying to move into the académie). And finally, concours lauréats seeking a stage are level E.
As mentioned before, although the rectorat does their best to keep you in the académie, sometimes there are simply not enough posts available, in which case they will try to offer you a post in a neighboring académie. So while there’s a pretty good chance you’ll stay in your original region (English is generally a subject with enough need), you can technically be sent anywhere in France, just like the public school stagiaires. It’s also possible that there are only part-time posts available, in which case you’ll have to decide whether staying in your preferred region or city is worth taking a big pay cut.
You’ll receive your official affectation in July after the final commission. As a stagiaire, you cannot refuse this affectation, as that would mean relinquishing your titularisation.
If I could give one piece of advice about the Mouvement it’s to join a syndicat !!! They can help demystify the process, give you insider advice about which posts are likely to be open, strategies to use when making your wish list, and, most essentially, they will represent you during the commissions to help ensure your rights and personal situation are respected as much as possible. I know that SNEC and CFDT are two syndicats that are present at the commissions in my académie. You can contact them and others to find out more.
Once you find out your affectation, it’s important to try to get in contact with the school as soon as possible before they close for the summer (usually mid-July to mid-August). This way you can find out what grade levels you’ll be assigned and some other relevant information like the textbooks used at the school or dates for back-to-school meetings. If you’re lucky, you may even be invited to attend the end of the year staff meetings to meet the other teachers and start planning the following year together. Calling usually gets faster results than sending emails.
Private school titulaires are paid the same brut rate as public school ones. However, the pension and tax regimes are different, so take home pay for private school teachers is slightly lower. Your final pay can vary based a variety of different factors : your tenure/experience, additional responsibilities you take on like department coordinator or prof principal, your family benefits, overtime hours, and more. My take home salary during my first year hovered around 1800 euro/month (for 17 hours) and is now just under 2000 net (for 19 hours) after 3 years.
The government has recently enacted certain measures to raise salaries, particularly those of early career teachers to boost interest in the job in the midst of a teaching shortage… they’ve announced that first year teachers will make at minimum 2000/month. We shall see if they are true to their word and also what impact that has on experienced teachers’ salaries…
The Education Nationale website has a salary calculator tool which you can use to estimate your salary based on your specific factors. Just be aware that while the brut amount should be accurate, the net amount will not be, because it reflects the public school tax regime, and not the private school ones.
Les heures supplémentaires
When a school has a couple extra hours to fill that doesn’t constitute hiring a whole new person, you may be offered overtime hours (heures supplémentaires annuelles = HSA). You should know that you are required to accept 2 overtime hours if they are assigned to you, but you can refuse any beyond that. HSA are remunerated decently and paid monthly from October to June. They are also non-taxable !
You can also do one-off heures supplémentaires effectives = HSE, such as filling in for an absent colleague, lunchtime clubs, intensive workshops during school vacations, etc. These are only paid once the service is completed and can take a bit of time to show up on your paycheck, but they are also well-remunerated.
Oh, you thought you were finished with being observed and inspected ??? Think again ! Teachers are inspected at key points in their career, to ensure they are advancing sufficiently and to propose opportunities for career evolutions when desired.
Inspections occur when you reach Level 6 on the payscale, and again at Level 8. For a small handful of very exceptional teachers, a stellar inspection can lead to a quicker advancement up the payscale. Conversely, a negative inspection can slow down your advancement.
Unlike in the US, teachers are under no requirement to continue their training once they are titularisé. However, there are some opportunities to attend trainings organized by the académie (via the Plan académique de formation – PAF) and by the Enseignement Catholique (via Formiris). These are worth looking into because the initial teacher training is very basic, whereas these formations can touch on more innovative subjects. I’ve seen trainings offered on a whole host of subjects from pedagogical techniques like flipped classroom, to adapting for special needs students, to integrating neurosciences into you teaching, to classroom management skills, to trainings more specific to EFL / ESL teaching like using theatre in class, developing oral comprehension skills, and more.
Le mouvement encore ??
If you decide that your initial placement isn’t for you, you can of course declare your intention to participate in the Mouvement for the following year. You’ll go through all the same steps : wish lists, interviews, commissions, but this time, with a slightly higher priority ranking, you can hopefully be assigned a post that’s more coherent with your wish list. Rinse and repeat as many times as you want, until you are happy with your placement. In my case, I knew additional hours in one of my schools would be opening up, so I participated in the Mouvement in order to give up my hours at the second school and take on full-time hours at my current school.
Even if you participate in the Mouvement, you retain the priority of your current post; it cannot be given to someone else until you accept a post elsewhere. So, if you are in the mouvement but don’t get the affectation you were hoping for, you can return to your current post with no ramifications.
Et voilà, I think that covers most of the technical and logistical details about the years following the concours. I hope that this series has answered some of your most burning questions, though you should definitely feel free to reach out in the comments if something remains unclear (or if you notice any inaccuracies!!)
In some future posts, I hope to get more into day to day things, the daily life of a teacher in France, the differences I’ve noticed between French and American schools and who knows what else ! Happy reading ❂