CAFEP CAPES rouvert aux étrangers non-communautaires

I mentioned last year at the rentrée that the Ministry of Education had changed the requirements for the CAFEP CAPES, previously open to non-EU citizens, unlike the CAPES, which was always only open to EU citizens.

It appears that decision was fairly rapidly reversed, as this article (in French, not a newspaper article) details. To sum up briefly in English:

To take the CAFEP CAPES these days most people sign up for a certain masters degree (the MEEF), which prepares you for the concours and gives you the masters degree necessary to become a teacher.

Some foreign (non-EU) students had already signed up for and started their masters programs when they learned, suddenly, at the time of CAFEP registration, that they were no longer eligible.

This article (also in French, again, not a newspaper article) tried to figure out why, without getting any real answers. The possibilities are, I guess, 1) the Ministry of Education wanted to bring the CAFEP requirements in line with the CAPES requirements, for no apparent reason; 2) the Catholic Schools organisation (l’Enseignement Catholique) wanted no longer anything to do with foreign teachers who needed pesky working papers every year, even though the EC never actually had to help them get those papers.

That second article brings up the point that, if working papers for these teachers were such a problem, why not simplify the process for them?

Anyway, the whole thing in my opinion sounds like bullshit, for lack of a more polite word. I have of course no access to the inner circles of decision-making at the Ministry of Education, but it sounds like they thought this was just a simple bug in the system, and that it wouldn’t actually affect anyone to change the rules, whereas it actually affects quite a number of people. At a time when new younger teachers are hard to come by and/or quitting in large numbers, it seems awfully short-sighted to have created such a rule.

As someone who actually is a non-EU citizen working in the Catholic system, here is my take on it: The Enseignement Catholique has never, ever given me any trouble about my working papers. They never cared one bit. The school I work at was only too happy to have an American, and we have a number of teachers of Moroccan origin. The Rectorat, on the other hand, after my first year, was a royal pain in the ass about it, and never even really tried to understand how getting working papers worked for me. They actually wrote to me my second year forbidding me from working with just my recepisse, and I had to send them bits of  immigration law to convince them they were causing trouble for nothing. If the Rectorat had tried to understand the system, they would have realized much sooner that they had nothing to worry about, and absolutely nothing to do, since I take care of it all through J.

In any case, for now, the Ministry has gone back on this decision. Let’s hope it lasts. There is a real shortage of science, math, and—guess what else—English teachers right now in France.

End of an era?

To interrupt this annual empty period on the blog at the rentrée, I bring you some news on the CAFEP procedural front.

I talked to one of our union representatives the other day, and he informed me that non-Europeans can no longer sit the CAFEP CAPES.

The link that seems to substantiate that news for me is here:

Conditions d’inscription CAFEP CAPES

And the conditions for the public CAPES externe are here.

They’re now the same. The colleague I talked to said that this was being done in the name of “equality,” ironically. I think of all the American teachers I know in the private system and wonder what this can possibly accomplish. Does the private system need to be equal to the public system in every way? Surely it’s supposed to keep some of its quirks and differences? And, if they’re going to insist on this type of equality, does that mean that private teachers will soon be fonctionnaires? (…though obviously not me, seeing as I’m still just a plain old American.)

Papers collected!

This morning I went to the Rectorat for the second time this week to pick up my papers for my titre de séjour: cerfa form, OFII form, and contract all ready! The Rectorat, interestingly, does not have a bank account so that part of the OFII form is blank. I choose to let the government agencies figure that one out among themselves. But the woman in charge of me at the Rectorat was very competent and perfectly friendly. My appointment for my titre de séjour is August 2nd and I am super happy that this bit of the CAPES process has, it seems, worked out. I’ll probably post once I get my récépissé and, if all goes smoothly, complete the section in my mini-guide.

Phew!! Now it’s on to finding an apartment! J and I are looking for a T3 or T4 (2 or 3 bedroom), with the possibility of parking three cars, which sort of limits us. Yesterday we looked at a really nice little house a fifteen-minute drive from town. I’m not sure I’m ready for that distance yet. We’re looking at more tonight, and once we find a place, I have to start looking for a car! Eek!


Good news again: I’ve been assigned to Poitiers!

I’ve been keeping this process a little bit buttoned-up for the past month and a half, so here’s how it happened:

I did a 3-week stage in May that turned out, after weeks of worrying about getting it organized to work with my work schedule, to be a great experience. My tutor was great, the students were great, and the school itself was lovely. It’s the only lycée général in the city, and I sort of just assumed there wouldn’t be any positions open for next year—that would be too lucky, right? Plus I didn’t want to bother anyone since they were being so nice to me already (no one actually had to accept to have me there—my tutor more or less volunteered).

The last day of my stage, my tutor was driving me in to school and said that they might have a position open in the English department next year, and that the lycée director had talked to him about it and said wouldn’t it be great if we could scoop up our stagiaire. I was almost too happy to believe my ears, and when I went in for my exit interview that day, the director told me about the procedure for suppléants to apply for open positions, and that I could apply as an admissible/not-yet-lauréat of the concours, and she showed me what I should do. I had to wait till a certain date for the position to be published officially online, and that morning (before getting on the train to go see my parents down south), I sent off my application file.

I found out yesterday that I got the spot! I’ll have the same tutor and the same director, though I’ll be doing six of my eighteen hours in the collège with two classes of 3ème (9th grade).

I feel really lucky that this worked out this way—if the diocese hadn’t asked me to do my stage, if I hadn’t had a job that allowed it, I could well have been sent over an hour from Poitiers and would have had to move out of Poitiers. As it is, J and I started looking at apartment ads yesterday and will be visiting some next week. I’ll say goodbye to my little T2 35 m2 avec poutres apparentes (exposed beams) about a month from now. It’s a beautiful apartment, with the best landlords I’ve ever had, and I wish I could hand it off to one of my friends looking for a place for next year, but as it’s not furnished, it’s not really practical for them. J and I are hoping to find a T3 or T4 not in the center (money, noise, parking—he has a car for work), so I probably will still need to buy a car in the coming months.

I think I’ll be drowning in work this fall but I’m excited to start and I feel really blessed for the moment. Here’s hoping the carte de séjour process goes smoothly!

(Totally unrelated: Because my wordpress theme has a pretty cool iPad mobile version, I’ve been trying to include more images in each post.)


J’ai eu le CAFEP CAPES! I slept in till 10:30 because at the meeting Friday afternoon the president of the jury had promised us that the results wouldn’t come out before this afternoon. Finally, as a result of getting up early all weekend, I couldn’t stay in bed any longer and turned on the light and checked my e-mail (thank you iPhone). The results came out at 10:01 this morning, and I was on the list!

For the private concours, we didn’t get ranked as they do in the public concours. But here’s what I can tell you:

1) Out of 100 “contracts” available (they don’t actually call them “posts” in the private system), only 79 people were accepted. There were 136 people who had passed the written exams and thus went presumably to the orals (by which I mean that there are typically a few people who don’t show, as well as some who abandon after the first day).

2) I checked my “notes” just now and apparently I killed on the first half of the test on Saturday, with an 8.63 out of 10. This was the one with the scary anglophones who asked me endless questions and didn’t seem happy with my answers. Just goes to show you can’t tell what they think of you by their reactions. The other épreuves went well too: 4.25/10 for the pedagogical bit (yes I know it feels weird to say that less than 50% is good, but I guess it is), giving 12.88/20 for the first day. Then 11.90/14 and 4/6 for the politics dossier and the “agir en fonctionnaire de l’état” ethics bit, respectively, giving 15.9/20 for the second day. I can’t figure out all the math to guess what the passing score was, but I feel pretty good about how I did!

3) I also finally got my scores for the written exam:

  1. For the commentaire on Thoreau: 10.5/20
  2. For the version/theme/choix de traduction: 8.53/20

To put things in perspective, working on version and the choix de traduction made me cry last summer. When I started out working on this stuff in Avignon last July, I really had absolutely now idea how I would manage to pass the written exams, much less the orals. I worked my butt off as much as I could, took time off to relax, didn’t let my job suffer, followed the forums at the CNED and at, and sent in every single homework assignment we got to the CNED.

I’ve never worked so hard on something I was so unsure of getting! I do feel like I’ve learned an awful lot that will help me be a better English teacher, about British culture, history, politics, English grammar, the French education system, to mention a few. And I’ve had an incredible cultural experience as well, which of course is not about to end.

Many of our friends are gone for the summer and my anglophone friends are gone for the month (until Dan comes back Friday) so I’m celebrating with J and our friend B tonight with dinner at the Palais de la bière in Poitiers. I bought a bottle of Mumm to drink at the house afterward (I still love high quality champagne ever since living in Reims). I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of something in my life! There’s still the titre de séjour to stress about, and the question of whether I will get the position I want at the school I like in Poitiers (complicated to explain), but that’s all just “paperasse” (red tape) and I choose not to dwell on it but rather to revel in the feeling of success.

Since I’m at loose ends pretty much this summer except for the occasional bureaucratic mess to deal with, I hope to write up a mini-guide to the CAFEP CAPES for foreigners. I hope to find some other word for it than “guide,” since it will in no way account for many other possible paths to the CAFEP, most notably the M2. But I’ll “publish” it on this blog and put a link to it on the assistantsinfrance forums, and hopefully it won’t take me too horrendously long to do!

On a side note, J’s sister also got her CAPEPS (sports exam), as well as two other of our friends who passed different concours d’enseignement, so it’s been only good news this week.

It’s over!

Ça y est, c’est fait, j’ai passé les oraux du CAPES ce matin et je n’en ai plus rien à foutre jusqu’à ce que les résultats sortent mardi après-midi. The word in French for how I feel is “soulagée.”

I had wonderful time with my parents which helped me take my mind off the concours for a whole week beforehand. It wasn’t till my second day back in Poitiers that I started stressing, and once I started stressing, it came in bizarre waves. Wednesday night I was pretty tweaked but hung out with some friends anyway. Thursday morning I woke up and realized I wished I’d asked J to come with me. Once I arrived in Lille I felt a bit better, meeting up with Shannon Thursday pm and then going out to a friend’s parents’ house to spend Thursday night. Staying with them was lovely and helped to ease the freak-out feeling. For the next two nights I had reserved at the Formule1 hotel near the center of Lille (but not IN the center) which worked out pretty well though it was definitely not as nice as our friend’s house. The guy at reception put me at the end of a long hallway so it would be quieter and I didn’t hear a thing in the evenings.

Friday afternoon was the meeting for the candidates for the weekend sessions, and it tweaked me out a little more to see all the other candidates (97% women), which was odd because I didn’t feel that way for the written exam. Afterward instead of sitting alone and stressed in my hotel room, I met up with a friend who’s trying to move to Lille and had dinner with her and her friends.

Saturday morning I was convoquéed at 9:40 which was perfect. The earliest candidates were called at 6:15. Ew. I had three documents about London during the Industrial Revolution, one from Somerset Maugham, one from Howards End, and two images: one of the Great Exhibition in 1951 and one a Gustave Dore engraving that I’d seen in preparation for the written exams, though that didn’t really help me. For the pedagogical section in French I was to suggest ideas for a class in “cycle terminal”, so, premiere or terminale (11th or 12th grade).

The jury the first day was three people, and at least two of them were anglophones, if not all three. They were nonetheless pretty hardcore and I wasn’t very satisfied with the interview, but it’s hard to tell if that matters. I had lots of things to say and my presentations were very structured, plus I think I spoke carefully in English and okay in French.

Already much more relaxed, I finished at 2 after an hour in front of the jury (the time flew through the three hours of preparation and through the time in front of the jury) and went back to my little F1 to relax. I wandered around Lille and read my book (btw: reading on Kindle > reading on iPad) until meeting up with R, the Swiss assistant from my assistant year, who was in Lille for the orals of the German CAPES. We caught up on everything and everyone (except my ex which I very purposefully avoided as a topic) and I went to bed early.

Today was shorter, and I went in at 8:30 and finished at 11:45. My topic was the American Supreme Court so I was less stressed than I would have been for a British topic. I nonetheless did completely forget what Marbury v Madison was, and one of the jury members did ask me. Oops. Would Coach Sanders ever forgive me if he knew? The jury today was two French women and the interview was much more agreeable. My second topic was about using technology in English class homework, which I was also happy about. My French today felt much better too.

If I take a step back and think about how I did objectively, I think it’ll do the trick. But subjectively, it’s hard to say because I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. I found the interview the first day confusing, though certain of the juries are told to try to “destabilize” or shake up the candidates so maybe I had one of those.

There’s nothing to do but wait till Tuesday afternoon! I’m back at my friend’s parents’ house and will take the train home tomorrow.

In related news, J’s little sister passed the CAPEPS, the sports exam, so we’re happy about that. He wrote a little post about it on his blog. It’s pretty adorable.

A mini-update

I’m taking a break from catching up on So You Think You Can Dance (my guilty pleasure) to update on a couple of things. Not much is going on right now. I’m mostly trying to stay calm mentally about the CAPES and read up on or review things for about an hour a day. I was working on the “Agir en fonctionnaire de l’état” épreuve for a while, I did a few practice subjects, but I feel like I get it now, so I’m just studying flashcards and outlines. I don’t think any new information can go into my brain, so there’s no point stressing about it.

The open positions for the académie will be posted Monday of next week, so I have some paperwork to take care of for that. If this process works out the way I’m hoping, I’ll try to write about it in more detail once it’s done, but for the moment I think I should keep it a bit under wraps.

I was back at the school I did my stage at today for the interview for the Accord Collégial. I don’t understand why there were two interviews for us (the pré-accord last summer, the accord this summer), since multiple sources (internet, person) had explained that you only do an interview for the pré-accord, which, if you follow all the right steps, is transformed by the committee into the accord after you’re admissible. But apparently our académie did it differently, or I’m not really sure what, so I had another interview this morning. I felt much better prepared this time to answer their questions and it was a fairly pleasant experience.

In terms of Plan B, I got a letter this morning saying my application for the M2 here has gotten an “avis favorable,” but they gave me an interview time that’s during my trip to the south, so, I’m hoping we can set something else up.

J-15 till my CAPES oral! (Counting from the first day I have an actual épreuve to pass, July 2nd) I’ll go down south to meet up with my parents on Monday and I’ll fly back with J the following Monday.