“You stand for everything that I love,” the French Minister of Education declared to the professors gathered in the auditorium at the start of his speech. With the tone set and the aim clear, Jean-Michel Blanquer sought to explain to the preparatory class professors the benefits of the current reform. A friendly atmosphere pervaded the Rouen campus when he arrived. From the moment he stepped out of his car, he had a smile on his lips and warmly greeted Delphine Manceau, Dean of NEOMA Business School, and Alain Joyeux, President of APHEC, as well as local elected representatives. The enthusiastic round of applause that sounded out upon his entrance to the auditorium confirmed the gracious feeling that marked this meeting, despite the questions over the implementation of the reform.
In keeping with the warm greeting from a general assembly reserved for a person of this stature, the meeting began with a speech from Delphine Manceau. “It’s a great honour for us to welcome you here today at NEOMA Business School. As you know, our school has grown rapidly. We prepare students for new professions and embrace new forms of pedagogy,” she explained in her introduction. “Our school is also characterised by its substantial focus on international students and studies as well as its strong visibility in global rankings, which greatly contributes to the spread of French higher education throughout the world”. Before handing over the podium to the Minister, the Dean of NEOMA BS made an enthusiastic conclusion, “We are sure that these discussions will be both fulfilling and inspiring for all of us”.
Jean-Michel Blanquer then set out to detail the motives and impacts of the baccalaureate reform on preparatory classes. “How students, as they prepare for the baccalaureate, then prepare for what comes after it”, he explained, “is a matter of asking the rights questions without any anxiety”. During the twenty minutes of his speech, the former dean of ESSEC Business School remained wholly optimistic in his explanation of the objectives of the reform, in connection with higher education success. “We are all part of a dynamic focused on progress when we talk to the youth about a better world”, he said. Before responding to questions, Jean-Michel Blanquer expanded his speech by referring to the branch of preparatory classes and Grande Ecole management schools. “Management schools represent one of the strengths of France. With the preparatory classes, they provide a guarantee of excellence and modernity”, he said. “You are the driver of education”. It was an inspiring meeting for all of the players in attendance who were delighted with the Minister’s last remarks. “I’ve always thought that the work done in the preparatory classes could be an inspiration for higher education and we must strive towards pedagogic convergence”, he said as if finishing just before praising his audience. “Thank you very much for this invitation that I’ve had the pleasure of honouring.”