This will be one more stone in the debate, and not the least. While, in recent times, private education under contract has been repeatedly criticized for its lack of social diversity, the Court of Auditors is getting involved. Thursday, June 1, Pierre Moscovici must unveil the first thematic public report devoted to these establishments, 95% Catholic, in which the question of the participation of teaching under contract in the policy of co-education driven by the State is largely addressed.
On the form, so far, private education had only been the subject of fragmentary probes, as in 2014 on the occasion of a report on teacher training or in 2015 on the cost of high school or the individualized follow-up of the pupils the same year. This time, this report is made in the name of the Court as a whole, and it is its president in person, Pierre Moscovici, who has made the results public. It can now be presented to Parliament.
New alert on social diversity
Basically, what does the report say? And what does he not say? Entirely centered on private education, it first of all does not offer a comparison with public education and does not evaluate, for example, the respective performances of the two systems. Nor does it find any obvious failure in the use of public funds by these establishments.
On the other hand, it peels the way in which the contract of association created by the law Debré of 1959 is respected or not. And grants a satisfaction with a downside. If, overall, private education “makes an indisputable contribution to the training offer”, consider the magistrates, “as a component of the public service of education, it must be mobilized more in the service of educational performance and social mix. For this, relations between the State and the private institutions under contract must be renewed in depth. »
The observation is not new. Over the years, the gap has continued to widen between the families of the private and those of the public, recalls the Court. The private now brings together 55.4% of students from privileged and very privileged families, against 32.3% for the public. Conversely, the share of scholarship students rises to 11.8% in 2021 in the private sector against 29.1% in the public sector, she adds. Even though, in recent years, the objective of social diversity has become a priority in education policies.
State called for more control of private schools
In order to better involve the private sector in this political objective, the magistrates propose to rearm the State, in a logic similar to that of the Mixed Protocol signed on May 11 between the Ministry of Education and the General Secretariat of Catholic Education. .
The Court makes five recommendations: “Specify, in the budget documents, the principles and procedures for distributing funding between public education and private education”; “implement, at the level of the rectorates, a program of inspections of establishments”; returning to the local level the “openings of classes in order to take into account educational needs as close as possible to the field”; “integrate, in the models for allocating resources to private establishments under contract, criteria taking into account the profile of the pupils enrolled”; “introduce performance evaluation criteria taking into account the social and educational distribution of pupils. »
In doing so, it therefore refers the State to its shortcomings, particularly in terms of controls, whereas these, it recalls, are expressly provided for by the Debré law as the fair consideration for the freedom granted to education. private. However, today, they are very insufficient and the use of public funds paid to private education remains largely outside the radar, the judges are surprised.
Not enough inspectors
They state: “Financial controls are little or not exercised (…). Pedagogical control (…) is exercised in a minimalist way and administrative control (…) is only mobilized occasionally, when a problem is reported. According to the magistrates, the follow-up of the contract of association with the State is therefore on the whole not very rigorous, certain rectorates not having the documents on the basis of which substantial sums are paid.
Questioned by La Croix, a former inspector admits the problem. “For lack of inspectors in sufficient numbers, the controls are concentrated on the respect of the programs in private education and the speech which is held there with the pupils. But no one has the time to peel, in addition, the annual balance sheets of the 7,500 private establishments. »
Catholic education, for its part, says it is open to more control.