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Title: The elementary school in post-war educational reform in France, 1947-1975
Author: Kidd, James M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3598 9689
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1982
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This thesis examines the transformation of the elementary school, the basic unit of the old primary system of mass education, into its present function as the first stage in a horizontally structured system of education. This change was proposed by the Langevin/Wallon Plan of 1947, in conjunction with the reform of the pedagogy of the school according to the principles of l'éducation nouvelle. During the next twenty years, however, the reform of the French system did not take place as a global planned process, but focussed above all on the first cycle of secondary school, a focus shared by the primary teachers' unions, keen to secure a place in emerging secondary structures. During this process, the elementary school was affected by unprecedented problems of teacher recruitment and training arising from population growth and urbanisation, problems intensified by the "flight" of many trained teachers to the new secondary schools. These quantitative problems were accompanied by increasing pressure on the curriculum of the elementary schools as increased access to secondary schools illustrated the disparity between official expectations and actual attainments in the elementary schools. This retrenchment was subject to qualifications from the outset, however, in that the Ministry simultaneously showed interest in the Vanves innovation which was to form the basis of the reformed school regime, while there was increasing evidence from educational researchers and from the medical profession that the regime of the existing school was ill- adapted and counter -productive. In addition, the extent of grade- repeating in the elementary school called into question the whole strategy of democratisation of the system. These various strands of development, given greater impetus by the events of May, 1968, culminated in the rénovation pédagogique of 1969 onwards. This was intended as a reform of content, methods and organisation of the elementary school within a context of radically altered relationships within the system, breaking with the hierarchical and bureacratic modes of the past. The reform, however, inherited from the varied background of its promoters widely differing educational and political values which led to increasing tensions as the reform progressed. The thesis concludes by examining these tensions as they crystallised around the Haby reforms of 1975 onwards. The thesis traces the main effects of these developments on the schools. The first was the dissolution of the socially homogeneous and politically influential teaching profession of the old primary school through changes in recruitment which brought into teaching an increasing proportion of women and then often as a second choice of profession. The second effect was on the curriculum as the increasing criticisms from secondary schools brought an increasing retrenchment in official thinking dominated by stress on the basic skills at the expense of the wide curricular horizons which the elementary had inherited from the old primary school - at least in theory and official texts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education & training