Pedagogical research is rather scattered in France. There are no schools of education as such, although pedagogy is treated as a research subject in various institutions like the ÉNS de Cachan; the Institut catholique maintains a Faculty of Education for the training, largely, of Catholic school teachers. Courses in "professional formation" are offered at many universities for future teachers, as well as at the écoles normales that train primary school teachers. C.N.R.S.-sponsored "research laboratories" in such subjects as educational psychology and counseling do exist, as do various offices of pedagogical services within the Ministry of National Education itself. Teaching methodologies, as in foreign language-teaching methods or the laboratory sciences, are variously studied and evaluated. Matters pertaining to proposed institutional restructuring are entrusted to the expertise of specially appointed commissions and boards of research before changes are introduced and implemented.
A final word must be said concerning the role of professional societies and teachers' unions (syndicates) within the general educational picture in France. Membership in unions is usually determined according to the members' various professional levels (primary, secondary, and higher education) and interests, as well as their political affiliations and tastes (left-wing, right-wing, and centrist). There are also a number of students' unions similarly affiliated. All of these unions are legally recognized as such, and they enjoy the right to strike, although their rôle in collective bargaining is not easily determined. In addition, university and research faculty, as well as some secondary school teachers, are members of the many various disciplinary professional associations. From time to time they speak out publically on matters pertaining to their discipline and, more often than not, what they say is taken seriously.
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