France: School success doesn’t only depend on school – here’s the proof in numbers

New studies are taking stock of how inequalities outside school influence the course of students.

We knew that the typical day of a student at Clichy-sous-Bois is not really the same as that of a student from the centre of Paris, mainly because of different life conditions: parents absent more oftne, bigger families, lower education level of parents, etc.

A study by SIRIUS French national partner AFEV, released on 24th September, which includes more than 600 children enrolled in CM1 and CM2 in the priority education network and in city-centre schools, tells us precisely the extent of the gulf between these two worlds. It portrays a school strongly marked by “spatial segregation”, explains Nina Schmidt of the Inequality Observatory.

Children who go to school in institutions that are part of the priority education network are much less likely to attend museums (35% against 76%) or to be given books by their parents (44% against 67 %). However, they more often eat fast food (38% against 26%) or go to shopping centers (55% against 46%), which are less fulfilling activities. Budding botanists are less likely: only 13% of them say they go on nature walks, compared to 41% of others.

More worrisome according to the study, is that a significant proportion of these children (10-20%) are in a state of “major cultural deprivation”, saying that they “never go on holiday” (12%), have “never gone to a show, a museum or to the city centre” (10%, 9%, 8%), have “no access to books at home” (19%), and “never received a book as a gift” (20%). We know, according to Eric Charbonnier, education expert at the OECD, that children whose parents read them a book once a week perform better in French. These CM1-CM2 children therefore are less likely to be good in this area, even though they to to school. “Schools can not do everything to reduce inequalities’  in education, according to Nina Schmidt .

Download the study (in French)

Read more via Slate (in French)

Poitiers, 27-28 August – European Forum for Engaged Young People

AFEV_logo_HDAs part of the European Forum for Engaged Young People due to take place in the University of Poitiers on 27 and 28 August next, the French SIRIUS partner, Association de la Fondation Etudiante pour la ville (AFEV), will be highlighting the issue of inclusion and exclusion of migrants in education in it’s SIRIUS National Round Table on Migrant Education.

Under the title Integrating migrants: Our responsibility to host, AFEV will lead work sessions dealing with:

  • The state of affairs of reception and accompanying migrants in France
  • Social marginalisation and educational accompaniment – Schools as the first integration lever for migrant children
  • What solutions exist today? Is our reception good enough? What can France learn from European experiences

Download Programme

France and Belgium: PISA leaders in educational inequality

etudepisaL’appel pour une ecole democratique (Aped) has published a report analyzing data from the 2012 PISA study with regards to educational inequalities in European school systems. It showed that France and Belgium rank at the very bottom when it comes to combating social and academic segregation between migrant and native pupils. According to Aped, migrant pupils in French and Belgian schools face a variety of obstacles:

– large achievement gaps and difficulties to pass minimum benchmarks as established by PISA

– overrepresentation of migrant children in underprivileged schools

– high dropout rates and greater likelihood to repeat a school year

– discrimination based on country of origin and socio-economic status

The report states that discrimination, early separation of pupils into different educational tracks and large differences in quality of education are some of the reasons for the low ranking of Belgian and French schools. APED concludes that Belgium and France still have a long way to go to ensure equal opportunities in education and urges policy makers to work towards substantial reforms.

Download Full report

Via Appel pour une école démocratique (Aped)