With Sarah Peyronnet, Head of the Youth, Education, Vocational Training Department of the APAJH
The inclusive school is both an ideal and a set of pedagogical practices that enable each student to feel confident in a suitable and caring school environment.
What is an inclusive school and education? What are the main principles? Definition and law.
The inclusive school is above all a school that is accessible to everyone. This is the fact” to ensure quality education for all students in kindergarten in high school, taking into account their particularities and special educational needs “, if we are to believe the law for a “school of trust”, proclaimed in the Official Gazette on July 28, 2019.
The inclusive school is based on ” the principle of universal educability Adds Sarah Peyronnet, Head of the Youth, Education, Vocational Training Division of the Association for Adults and Young People with Disabilities (APAJH). This presupposes, she explains, that every student can learn and progress regardless of their difficulties “. It is education for everyone, whereby no child is excluded, regardless of disability, origin, language or economic and social background. In this way everyone has an equal chance of success.
As Philippe Meirieu, essayist and politician, explains during one of his conferences: “ This gamble on education seemed to me (…) ethically justified and necessary, because it is the gamble on humans “. According to him, ” it is thanks to this bet that we get started and that we invent educational resources to help people learn and grow “.
School children: towards a society of coexistence?
That is why a bet on man what inclusive education needs. So it is part of a much larger project, that of a society of coexistence,” a society in which everyone has their place ‘ says Sarah Peyronnet. And the inclusive school would be the basis of this social ideal.
“ A society is not a club whose members could monopolize the social heritage for their own benefit in order to enjoy it exclusively. Nor is it a circle reserved for certain affiliates, engaged in collecting subsidies linked to a ‘normality’ that is perceived and experienced as sovereign. There is no membership card to obtain, nor to pay entrance. Neither debtors nor creditors authorized to place the most vulnerable in regulated cuts. Neither masters nor slaves. Neither center nor periphery. Everyone is heir to what society has best and noblest. No one has the privilege to lend, give or refuse what belongs to everyone. An inclusive society is a society without privileges, exclusivity and exclusion “. Inclusive society, let’s talk about it!Charles Gardou
By confronting children with differences on a daily basis, it becomes a norm and humanistic values are awakened in them, such as respect, solidarity or empathy. It is the hope that each child, as they grow up, will be able to accept and incorporate into their environment a large number of individuals who will resemble them. A long and arduous work of social transformation that begins with a political impetus.
Inclusive education is a right all over the world
Remember that education is a right essential for all children and a pillar of our republican society: every child has the right to go to school, just like everyone else, and to benefit from quality education. Inclusive education would be the key to achieving this.
A fundamental political and international concept, the notion of inclusiveness in school is linked to the Salamanca Declaration (1994), which has been adopted at UNESCO by many governments, including France. Although the word inclusion is never used, this statement lays the foundation for a school for all.
Later, the right to inclusive education was formalized in many other texts related to human rights, such as UNESCO’s “Guiding Principles for Inclusion” (2006) or the UN International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 24 of which recalls the importance of education without discrimination.
What does its application in France mean?
At the same time it also became a priority of the French government.
The law of 11 February 2005 on “equal rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship of people with disabilities” marks the beginning of a gradual evolution of the prerogatives of the Ministry of Education in the field of inclusiveness, through the education of disabled children with intellectual and/or cognitive disorders.
But it was in 2013, with the law “guidance and programming for the re-establishment of the school of the republic”, that we really started ” to speak of an inclusive school, as it is said that every child can receive education in his sector school » explains Sarah Peyronnet.
Inclusiveness has become “a strong ambition of the President of the Republic” since 2019, if we are to believe the ministry’s website. The law for a “school of trust” (2019) reaffirms this wish. Aside from the issue of disabilities, the law now wants to take into account all diversities, as well as the different needs of the children. To do this, the new Inclusive School public service has strengthened its resources within schools and the collaboration between teachers and medical-social professionals.
How do you build an inclusive school for all students, including people with disabilities?
The inclusive school takes shape through the creation of numerous programmes, public services and the joint work of the education and medical-social teams.
In the Back-to-School Circular of 2019, Inclusive School public service specifies the actions performed in each academy:
Setting up a Departmental Inclusive School Service (SDEI)
An SDEI has been deployed in each department to try to support families as best as possible in the education of their children. To this end, a toll-free number has been created to support parents of students with disabilities. It is about 0 805 805 110. In addition, listening units have been set up in each department to inform families and answer their questions.
Deploy new localized units for inclusive education
Example : since 2017, 1,300 Localized Inclusive Education Units (ULIS) are made in schools, colleges or high schools. These devices are intended to train students with disabilities.
Welcoming parents and better training students with special educational needs
“ The inclusive school must respond to the needs of extremely heterogeneous pupils. To make this possible, it is necessary to build individualized paths “, emphasizes Sarah Peyronnet.
Example : the implementation of adequate education and guidance for students with a dysphasia or with an autism spectrum disorder, the use of suitable materials or specific teaching aids (e.g. a voice synthesis software for students with dysphasia) or the presence of counselors for students with a disability (AESH) .
Support and recognize the work of teachers and help train them
Example : Future teachers now have a specific module on disability, special educational needs and inclusion in their initial training.
Strengthen AESH’s place within the education community
We are currently counting 125,000 AESH within national education.
Customize and coordinate student support
Example : The Localized Support Inclusive Centers (PIAL) are responsible for coordinating AESH within schools.
More monitoring of trajectories and evaluation of the quality of actions
Example : between the start of 2017 and the start of the 2021 school year, the number of children with disabilities who could attend a regular public school increased by 19%.
In addition, the inclusive school budget has been increased by 250 million euros in 2021 to strengthen the efforts.
What are the limits of this school system?
What about the facts? Currently, the school does not adapt sufficiently to the specific needs of the pupilsespecially if they have a disability. If more than 400,000 children with disabilities were able to attend school by the start of the 2021 school year, many will still be excluded from school or have a very fragmented education. Despite the political will, many obstacles remain: real professional and psychological suffering for some teachers, their lack of training to adapt to the needs of each, the still very present stigmatization of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (among others ) or the lack of staff, and in particular of AESH.
In France, 220,000 children are accompanied to school by AESH. An essential presence for their learning and to facilitate the teacher’s work. The concern is that many children still do not benefit: in 2019, 400 AESH were already missing, just at the Paris Academy.
The reasons are multiple: layoffs, job insecurity (currently 5% have a permanent contract), recruitment difficulties due to lack of attractiveness… Because if 4,000 AESH positions were created in 2021, on the other hand, ” many are not yet filled “, regrets Sarah Peyronnet. Especially since the PIALs, which were originally set up” to meet the needs on the ground and regulate the AESH (…) are severely understaffed, making administrative management slow and difficult ‘ she continues.
So while the government claims to make inclusiveness in school one of its priorities, Bringing a child with a disability to school is still an obstacle course for many parents.
Still a sign of hope: We are in a transition phase, it takes time. But there has been a real increase in the ministry’s power and willingness to support inclusive schools ‘ Sarah Peyronnet says reassuringly.