It's transfer time.
The server opened yesterday, so I've been busy choosing where I want to go next year. Not that I actually get an awful lot of say in the matter, but I do get a chance to express my wishes, if in vain most of the time. In French education and civil servancy in general, transfers are based on a points system. You get points for staying for chunks of four years in the same school, as they don't like it when you move around too much. You get points for being married and having children, or dependants of any sort, be they ascending or descending. This in turn must answer specific criteria and be proven by specific French paperwork that of course, being English, I never seem to have. They don't actually like my paperwork at all, as it's not French. All our main papers had to be specifically translated by a specific French translater called David when we arrived in France, and I'm still explaining plenty of things whenever I try to get anything done. Why my birth certificate isn't "conforme". Why I seem to have two surnames, and why I seem to have inexplicably changed from one to the other without producing a déclaration from the Mairie, the Préfecture or whoever else it is who looks after that type of thing. Why my social security papers list my birthplace as "Département 99". Why I don't have a carte d'identité, and why the passport page with my photo on it is at the back of the passport rather than at the front, as "normal" would be. You get the idea. On top of that, people have started comparing the number of years I've spent in each country and telling me that I'm more French than English now. Sorry, not a compliment.
When I came to Mayotte, I had 21 points. That was the strict minimum, and got me into the department where they needed teachers so much that they let them in with said strict minimum. Now, I have 100 points. I've been teaching for five years, four of which in the same school, so I got a point bonus for that. Also, French teachers are promoted regularly, at different intervals depending on the results of their last inspection: the better you do in your inspections (which can happen once every five or ten years... some never get inspected!), the faster you get promoted and the quicker you can get to maximum salary (twenty years if you're inspected regularly and come out tops each time, thirty if they leave you alone for your whole career or if your inspections are terrible). I was promoted in my second year here, which gave me another few points to count towards this future transfer. I'm still light-years away from being able to ask for places such as Reunion Island, where everyone wants to go, but I can ask for some of the "cheaper" academies where no-one wants to go. Amiens. Dijon. Lille. Guyane. Mayotte.
Academies are a rather arbitrary chopping-up of the French territory, usually about four departments or counties, pictured above. When you want to change schools, you ask for a list of academies. You can put just one on the list, and some academies value that: Corsica, for example, will not accept you unless you list them as your only wish. Once you're a tenured teacher, you can ask for any academy, but you will only get it if you have enough points that particular year. If you do not have enough points, you just stay where you are and endure the resentment of all your colleagues, as you have now become "the one who wants to leave us and go to [more desirable area]". The number of points that is necessary to enter a given academy changes every year depending on the number of teachers leaving the area as a whole (retirement, for example). If they desperately need more teachers and are ready to accept beginners, they lower the required number of points. If they know how desirable they are and feel like frustrating everybody, they hike it up.
This year, I've asked for Lille as my first wish. Based on the required number of points over the past few years, I have a fairly good chance of getting in unless they hike up the required number at the last minute. I've also asked for the Rouen and Caen areas, but they're in higher demand. While I was at it, I also had a look at the Specific Movement. This is a special transfer system that isn't based on the number of points, but more on your personal profile and experience. It concerns positions teaching Dramatic Arts or scientific Prépa classes, for example. And right at the bottom of the list was something called "International Sections".
I rather liked the sound of that, so I looked it up and found that it was aimed at pupils who either do not speak French at all or who are very strong in the language offered by the school. Some offer Chinese or Russian, others offer English among other languages. If I get the job, I can end up with pupils who are native English-speakers or very strong in English, who will be studying intensive grammar and literature courses and who will have several of their other lessons (such as history, geography, maths or music) taught in English by bilingual teachers. As far as the teachers go, they want native speakers. Unfortunately, these positions are in very high demand and I'll only have a chance of getting one if the current teacher happens to be leaving this year AND if I come tops among the candidates. Extremely doubtful. But definitely worth a try.
By the way, transfers in French are called mutations. I can just about imagine a room full of alien teachers slowly growing tentacles and extra feet.