Level groups at school: what will happen in September?

While the level groups will come into force at the next school year, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education sometimes present different versions of how the system works.

Level groups at school: what will happen in September?

While the level groups will come into force at the next school year, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education sometimes present different versions of how the system works.

The level groups will arrive at college from the start of the 2024 school year. But a few months before their implementation, the Minister of Education Nicole Belloubet and Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, at the origin of the measure, do not seem to agree on the subject. Since Wednesday March 13, the two members of the government have taken turns in the press to provide details on the operation, but have sometimes had different definitions of these future level groups which will be established in the sixth and fifth grades for the French and mathematics lessons.

However, unity is required to defend these level groups which are very poorly received by teachers who denounce and fear a risk of stigmatization of students. The level groups are also part of the list of motivations which push the entire teaching staff to strike and demonstrate on March 19.

For Gabriel Attal, level groups will be "the rule" for "at least three quarters of the year" and the entire class will become "the exception" as he indicated in an interview with AFP on March 13: "I think that for at least three quarters of the year, students must follow their lessons in French and mathematics in level groups. So the rule is the group, and the exception, very framed, it’s class.” These groups will apply to French and mathematics. Gabriel Attal then added that there will be “three groups according to the level of difficulty of the students, with one objective: that we can take stock of the level of the students”.

Despite protests from teachers, the Prime Minister refused to hear concerns about the stigmatization of students but acknowledged that "the main concern of many parents" is "to know whether the organization of the school will allow their children to progress. Faced with the problem of lack of resources and teachers within National Education highlighted by teachers, Gabriel Attal declared to AFP: “If we realize here or there, in such and such an academy, in such and such an establishment, that additional positions are necessary, we will continue to add resources.

Nicole Belloubet also provided details on the future reform this Friday March 15 at the microphone of France Info. The minister responded to the main concern of the teaching staff which is to create a form of discrimination among students. She said that groups “must be able to evolve over the course of the year” and affirmed to “refuse social sorting” among students. In detail, the minister explained that "to evolve, it is necessary, at times, that [students] meet as a whole class. This gives flexibility to each establishment, on the ground. This is what will happen. put in place and it seems to me to be in line with what the Prime Minister wanted.

In accordance with the initial project, the Minister of Education confirmed that the level groups will not be fixed throughout the year: "We want these groups to be able to be mixed because we do not want a student who, for example, appears in the weakest group, necessarily remains there until the end of the year. To which she added that the whole class moments will promote “this mixing.” Nicole Belloubet also clarified that “each head of establishment will implement [this ‘mixing’] according to the reality of their establishment”. The minister indicated that the "clear framework" of the reform will be detailed in the official texts expected this Saturday, March 16 and should present the final version of what the level groups will be.

The system designed by Gabriel Attal in any case leaves teachers responsible for setting up these groups, as France Info points out. The groups will be formed according to the different chapters covered in the French and mathematics programs. So they should be remixed every chapter with a beat week or two. For example, students in the medium level group in geometry could find themselves in the high level group for fractions the following week depending on their level on the different concepts. For all other subjects in the program, lessons should be taken as a whole class. These groups could also apply to fourth and third grade classes from the start of the school year in September 2025.

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