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The principle of secularism at the heart of School and the society of trust
[anglais] Key policies - Jean-Michel Blanquer - 05/10/2019

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In the last term of 2019, a new edition of the "Secularism in schools" handbook will be published, enriched with practical case studies. The work of the committee of experts and the team promoting the values of the French Republic will also be continued in more depth, to ensure the principle of secularism is respected.

  • The principle of secularism is an integral part of the values of the Republic. In school, respecting it protects pupils against any form of proselytism and provides everyone with a protective environment respectful of their beliefs.
  • Enforcing the principle of secularism demands constant adjustment of the response to arising disputes.
  • For ten years now, the combined work of the Conseil des sages de la laïcité (Elder Council for Secularism), the Valeurs de la République (Republic Values) national team and academic teams has helped address a large number on infringements of the principle of secularism.
  • At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, the work conducted is further developed through the prevention actions within institutions. A new edition of the guide Secularism in School, enriched with concrete cases, is scheduled for the last term of 2019.

2018-2019 review of the Republic values national team

Today, institution heads systematically report any infringements on the principle of secularism and, generally speaking, deeds that breach internal regulations. It involves addressing each of them in a firm, just and fast manner.

Each term, feedback from the Republic Values teams help establish a qualitative and quantitative status report of infringements on secularism and the measures applied.

800 reported cases of infringement on secularism were registered for the 2018-2019 year.

  • 13 % were dealt with directly by the concerned institutions.
  • 87 % were subject to a measure by the academic team. 120 led the Republic Values team to travel to a school or institution to assist the teaching staff.

Where did the infringements occur ?

  • 6 school districts count 50 % of the reports.
  • 33 % of the deeds were registered
  • in pre-primary and primary schools.
  • 45 % in lower secondary schools.
  • 22 % in upper secondary schools.

Who committed them ?

  • 55 % pupils.
  • 23 % parents.
  • 14 % staff.
  • 9 % other people.

Identify difficulties and support staff

The Law for a School of Trust creates in the Education Code an Article L. 141- 5-2 that requires the State to protect pupils' freedom of conscience by prohibiting any attempt at indoctrination.

Law For a School of Trust
Article 10 : "The State protects pupils' freedom of conscience. Behaviours that constitute pressure on the pupils' beliefs or attempts at indoctrination of the same are prohibited in public schools and local public sector schools, their immediate surroundings and during the entire activity linked to education. Ignorance of this prohibition is punishable by the fine established for class five infringements."

The strengthening of this legal framework serves to bolster the action implemented by the educational teams to make school institutions spaces that are conducive to learning, and school time a time for seeking answers and practising critical thinking.

Resources and training that adapt to renewed issues

The Secularism in School guide, a tool for addressing issues in the field.

As infringements on secularism are complex and multifaceted, the Secularism in School guide has been broadened to address issues that schools encounter. After a first update in February 2019, a new version enriched with feedback will be released during this school year.

Boost skills in school districts

Operating the network of academic teams and training are two means for boosting staff skills. Several times a year, academic team coordinators meet to discuss practices.

Following the example of the seminar that was held in February 2019 at the Institut des hautes études en éducation et en formation (IH2EF - Institute of Advanced Studies in Education and Training), the Conseil des sages, in conjunction with the national team, will continue its training activity for academic advisers and instructors. The seminars aim to establish a common culture and reflexes, as well as to harmonise responses to infringements on secularism.

Impart secularism and values of the Republic to pupils

Response to disputes over certain knowledge established by science

Teachers sometimes face some disputes over facts demonstrated by science. To help them, the academic teams have initiated a common brainstorming process and production of tools.

Mobilise for 9 December

The day for commemorating the act separating churches and the state is an important time for the educational community for mobilisation in many institutions that undertake, for the occasion, original projects and many educational actions.

More key policies

Last updated : nov. 8, 2019

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