MobileBE - Examples of good practice (IO-1) - Example FR04
“Ouvrir l’école aux parents” - Opening school to parents
Opening school to successfully integrate: a program set up in the PACA Region
Some background information…
Almost 500 000 foreigners live in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (PACA) region (482 800). These statistics are however very relative. In PACA, 45% of foreigner people have acquired the French nationality. In 2014, in Carpentras, a town located in the Vaucluse department (PACA region), the immigrant population represented more than 15% of the population: people aged between 25 and 54 years old were the most numerous (7,5% of the population). These immigrants come mainly from Maghreb (42% of them), while 35% of foreigners living in the PACA region are EU citizens. The proportion of immigrants with no degree is 35%.
Immigrant men are mainly skilled workers, unskilled workers, craftsmen, civil servants. They hold one in six jobs in agriculture and construction. Women work mainly in the health and social services sector (personal assistance). The unemployment rate is high even among graduates.
These people face several difficulties. First, social and civic difficulties (access to housing, work, lack of knowledge of the culture, rights and duties of the host country), integration difficulties (discrimination, communitarianism) but also difficulties related to school (lack of knowledge of the education system, low level of French which does not allow them to monitor their children’s schooling). However, despite these difficulties, many immigrants are determined to make the most of the opportunities that the host country offers them. As their parents, a big number of immigrant students have a real ambition for success.
A will to improve links between school and families
The main difficulty of this target public undoubtedly concerns language. Most migrants are isolated and hardly speak French. These difficulties are even more serious when they have to provide schooling for their children: at that moment, they have to face French school expectations.
To tackle this situation, a program funded by the State was born in 2008 called “Ouvrir l’école aux parents” (“Opening school to parents”). This program was set up in the academy of Aix-Marseille. It is the result of an agreement signed by the kindergarten and elementary school “POUZOL and F. JOUVE” located in Carpentras, the Social Center LOU TRICARDOU of Carpentras, the Municipality of Carpentras, a group of French as foreign language teachers and the National Education.
The idea behind this program is on one hand to facilitate the learning of French for migrant parents whose children are educated in France and on the other hand to help parents to integrate into society while helping children to integrate into the school environment. For a child to succeed at school it is indeed necessary that he is followed by his family. If a child does not understand what he has to do at school he has little chance of succeeding.
This program pursues three objectives. The first one is to work with the beneficiaries on the mastery of the French language (understanding, speaking, reading and writing) so to help them to better understand the documents related to the education of their children (the timetable, the words in the notebook…) and to participate to parent-teacher meetings. Secondly, the program allows the target audience to know and understand the principles and values of the French Republic in order to better integrate into the French society. Finally, the aim is to increase parents’ awareness on the educational institution, on the rights and duties of pupils and parents, on school expectations towards children, so to allow them to support their children’s education
In a word, the goal is to bring school and families close together.
The program in few words…
The program offers a free training of 60 to 120 hours a year, renewable once or twice (the total duration cannot exceed three years). During the week, classes take place in the schools mentioned above. Most of the beneficiaries do not hold a driving license or do not have a means of transport. So providing classes in schools/colleges where their children attend school is a way of limiting their mobility problems. In addition, a shuttle is provided by the Lou Tricadou Social Center for travels to other schools and colleges.
The training hours are flexible and adapted to the availability of the target public so to help parents to better combine their personal, family and professional life.
Recruitment is mainly done through schools and colleges, notably on the occasion of back to school meetings during which the teaching team disseminates a wide range of information about the content and objectives of the program. Parents’ Cafés and other informal meetings between parents are also opportunities to communicate on the program. Parents’ associations and other associations including the Lou Tricadou Social Center can also act as a prescriber by creating links with schools across the city and by raising awareness among the target publics who attend their structure. In addition, local communities (municipal departments, etc.) directly inform migrant pupils’ parents on the possibility of benefiting from this training. Finally, the French Office of Immigration and Integration, in charge of welcoming foreigners, also informs newly arrived parents of the purpose and implementation of the program in the department.
Groups, each one of 15 people maximum, benefit from a training of 4 hours weekly. The courses are adapted to the learners’ personal needs and the trainers use authentic documents as training materials. Ten issues are tackled: the school premises, school staff and its functions, the school materials, a day at school, learning at school, pupils’ homework, participation in school life, the various forms of evaluation, school education and, finally, the school Institution.
The beneficiaries enter the program on a voluntary basis but beforehand they must have signed a « contract of reception and integration » (contract intended for people who obtain for the first time the residence permit and who wish to stay in France durably) since less than 5 years and regularly reside in France.
Focus on the target group
The target public of this program is people who are isolated because of their lack of mastery of French language and their difficulties to enter into training (lack of school habits, previous difficulties with school, lack of education…). It is also an audience who suffers from a lack of oral and written comprehension, whether linguistic and/or social (lack of self-confidence, different writing systems…). All these difficulties have inevitable consequences on the relation that these parents have with the school. The program thus targets men and women, parents (or legal guardians) of immigrant and foreign pupils who have language and/or cultural difficulties with consequences in the education of their children.
The profiles are very different in terms of nationalities, languages, cultures and writing systems. No level of education and no language skills are required.
The innovation of the « Opening schools to parents » program is that it only concerns people above the age of 26 who do not meet the criteria of common law and who therefore cannot benefit from language training: they are not job-seekers and are not in the process of occupational integration.
The initial diagnosis
The diagnostic evaluation is based on the CEFR skills (Common European Framework of Reference for Modern Languages). The person who wishes to benefit from the program is received individually. During this first meeting, his language skills and knowledge of the school institution are assessed, as well as his needs and expectations regarding the training. To evaluate them, the trainers rely on written and oral tests based on French language diplomas (DILF / DELF). This initial diagnosis allows the trainer to create pedagogical sequences adapted to the needs of the beneficiaries.
The validation of the acquired skills
The training is non-degree-granting. However, it allows to obtain a certification (in particular, the initial diploma of French language-DILF) and to facilitate the professional insertion.
In addition, a document certifying the number of hours of training followed, as well as the skills acquired in French, is given to the trainees at the end of the training period.
The action aims at the acquisition of key competences in language (written and oral), the increase of the social and cultural autonomy of the learners. It also helps parents to improve their children's chances of success in school.
At the end of the three-month training, the Lou Tricadou Social Center is responsible for holding the DILF exam session. In 2016/2017, 22 trainees succeeded the exam, which is a very positive result.