I can’t believe the kids have been back at school for three weeks. It’s flown by and we’re pretty much in full school routine mode now. I don’t think I shall ever get used to the horribly early Monday morning start, but at least 3 are out of the way now.

We cycle Rors to Nouzerines for his school bus

However, tomorrow our routine will be disrupted. The first strike of the school year is taking place. It’s a big one. Ferc-CGT, FSU, Sgen-CFDT and Unsa Education, all teaching unions, are all involved. Ruadhri’s school will be closed, and Caiti said quite a few of her teachers will be off too. But they have a big protest to make. Pupil numbers are rising, by up to 60,000, and yet teacher numbers are falling – well, are being cut to be precise. In four years 52,000 have been lost, and another 16,000 are facing the axe during 2011 apparently. Only one in two teachers lost through retirement are being replaced. Also, 1,500 primary classes have been cut through the closure of small schools. A couple of years ago this was a real threat facing Ruadhri’s school and so we parents formed an asso, Écoles En Vie, to get activated. We’re OK for the time being, but we need to stay alert.

The teaching staff cuts are noticeable. This year there aren’t any classroom assistants at St Marien, where Rors goes, whereas there had always been two in the past. Caiti at lycée is in a class of 35, the biggest she’s ever been in since she was in a rang of 38 as a Senior Infant at Innishannon National School in Ireland.

It’s not good, is it? I’m disappointed France is taking this route, but I still maintain that kids get a very good education here. And on the plus side, there has been a lot of investment in post-15 education and a big reform of the courses. My two teens just missed out on this. Caiti is in the last year of the old system! Annoyingly it’s meant we couldn’t even give away her old textbooks each year, as the kids coming after her have the new curriculum. They’ve been processed into briquettes!