Teachers in France are on strike again today over changes to the primary school week and over the failure to fund education properly. The changes, which teachers say have not been discussed with or agreed by them, will see primary school children having to go to school on Wednesdays. It has been a tradition in France that children have Wednesdays off school, but work longer hours on the other days of the week. The net effect is that the working week is extended by half a day.

Teachers' leaders say that the authorities are planning to use undertrained people to do extra-curricular activities with the children on Wednesdays. Moreover they say that what is needed is a big investment in education to reduce class sizes and improve teacher training. A spokesperson for SNUipp, the union leading today's strike, pointed out that teachers know that there need to be changes in the way schools are organised, but not ones 'designed down the wrong end of a telescope'.  Instead change should be designed in discussion with teachers, not done without their consent. The union pointed to Finland, which took 20 years to improve its education system, such change cannot happen with this kind of ill thought out 'do-it-yourself' measure, they say.

Moreover the spokesperson said, "This reform is typical of the deterioration of conditions of service in schools, which have been destroyed by years of cuts in teacher posts. We cannot continue to work in this disruptive climate. Teachers need peace in order to be able to do their work well."

As a result of today's action most primary schools in the country are closed or operating with a reduced staff. Many municipalities are delaying the changes or refusing to do them all together and a recent poll suggests that a majority of people are against the government's plans. Demonstrations are taking place in many towns today, including in the capital, Paris.