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The teaching at L'Autre École follows the basic principles of the French National Education system. For all these subjects (French, Mathematics, History and Geography) our commitment is that the level of the children in each class will be at least that of a child in a traditional school.
Our desire is to go even further by transmitting other skills, in a climate that will be beneficial to all learning. We believe that the development of certain qualities/skills, such as self-confidence, adaptability, meta-cognition, and the development of socio-emotional skills will be assets throughout life, and therefore when the child joins a more traditional curriculum.
Our goal is to enable children who graduate from The Other School to succeed in whatever field they choose! In fact, the "accomplished" children who come out of this type of school are generally more successful in their schooling and develop their leadership skills in the institutions they will join.
Of course, a period of adaptation will be necessary, but the children will be accompanied in this transition by a preparation from CM2 onwards to the different requirements of the traditional system, in particular by taking exams or the progressive integration of a grading system. A tutoring mechanism will also allow our new 6th graders to help their former classmates.
We have been very sensitive to your numerous requests to continue the pedagogical rise by opening a college and a high school. The ambition of The Other School is to contribute to a transformation of the educational system as a whole and to provide for the education of your children for as long as possible.
Nevertheless, in the short term, it seems preferable to strengthen our expertise in primary education. We are therefore setting up partnerships with existing secondary schools and, above all, we are supporting and accompanying the emergence of secondary schools with the same convictions as us (notably La Jonchère).
Firstly, as anxious as it may be, we do not know the world of tomorrow! At the end of the 20' Maria Montessori recalled
''Let's not raise our children for today's world. "This world will be gone when they grow up. And we have no way of knowing what kind of world they'll have. So let's teach them to adapt.
Today, the pace of change has accelerated even further and we are experiencing transformations that are shaking up our economic, political and societal model... our way of making society. For Sir Ken Robinson, "it is education that is supposed to take us to this elusive future", a future where 85% of jobs in 2030 do not yet exist.
After having "dialogued with and accepted this uncertainty" (Edgar Morin), we can nevertheless anticipate certain essential skills in the face of the major trends that are emerging to prepare children as well as possible.
These include complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, the ability to live together and understand others, and cognitive flexibility. These are all skills that we wish to transmit in our teaching.
Many education experts, intellectuals and politicians share our view. It is just that school reforms are hampered by the time lag between awareness of the problems, decision, implementation and impact. The time between the intention behind the curriculum and the results in terms of teaching is usually too long.
Through our size, our independence, our capacity to innovate, and our agility, we at L'Autre École can reduce this delay so that our collective awareness can be reflected in our teaching. This gives us a competitive advantage in adapting to tomorrow's world.
Finally, we believe that education in the 21st century should not only prepare people to join the workforce, it should also and above all prepare them for life. In particular, it must allow each person to emancipate themselves from their environment and give them the keys to free themselves and decondition themselves from the narratives that surround us.
The Other School is based on recent research by pedagogues, neuroscientists and chrono-biologists who indicate that homework should take a maximum of 15 minutes per day in cycle 2, 20 minutes in cycle 3, and should take place around 4.30 pm (when intellectual performance is at its best) and should only involve reinvestment and training.
Homework is also a means of concretizing parents' commitment to their children's schooling.
Following the example of the National Education system, which is tending to do away with the grading system, L'Autre École teaches students to situate themselves, to identify their levels in the acquisition of skills. Grades do not accurately measure students' skills because various factors enter into the grading process (order of correction, fatigue of the evaluated, evaluator, social bias, etc.).
The Other School favours formative assessment (during the learning process with a system of indicators of where the student is and where he/she should be going) rather than summative assessment (at the end of the learning process). The teacher's advice leads the pupil to think in terms of skills, strengths and weaknesses, and the progress to be made.
Finally, too often the evaluation system, through grading, has been diverted from its initial use. All too often it is used to sort, compare and devalue, which undermines the confidence that is essential for learning.
As you know, L'Autre École is a public school without a contract, which is accredited by the French Ministry of Education but receives no funding from the State or local authorities. Today, the average cost for a student in the public system is approximately €8690/year, with a teacher to student ratio of 1:26.
L'Autre École's funding is entirely supported by the families. Tuition fees must cover all of our operating costs (salaries, rent, teaching materials).
In order to be a school accessible to all, we have set up a system of self-financed solidarity financing, involving a fee structure that varies according to family income. This system should allow each family to make the same financial effort, according to their means. In the future, we also plan to support part of this equalisation through sponsorship, in order to reduce the burden on families.
Finally, we take this opportunity to remind you that L'Autre École is a social enterprise. It seeks to reconcile its social purpose with economic efficiency. In particular, L'Autre École is not intended to generate profits other than those necessary for its development.
Its operation thus follows the main principles of the social and solidarity economy (limited profitability, control of the salary scale, democratic management that favours the participation of members and users, etc.)
Bilingualism is a central dimension of the pedagogy of The Other School. Both because it is a necessary tool to evolve freely, an indispensable opening to the world, but also because of the lifelong neuro-cognitive effects it provides. It is also a richness that allows us to welcome children from all over the world. English is taught, in small groups, by native teachers who teach their languages while also transmitting, through their culture, another view of the world.
This year, the kindergarten children have two teachers, one French and one English. The immersion is total and lasts all day long. In the elementary classes, the beginners are immersed in a language bath with at certain times a common work with the whole class on a specific subject, and at other times, a more specific work on vocabulary, grammar and reading/writing according to their level.
Children who have an intermediate level and/or mother tongue are taken in small groups to progress according to their needs.
If the language level permits, classes in science, mathematics, handicrafts, sports, choir, are taught in English to achieve more than 50% exposure to English.
Offering multi-level classes is a strong pedagogical choice on our part. In this respect, we are directly inspired by the work of Maria Montessori, certain alternative schools (l'école du Colibri, Living School, certain rural classes) or other innovative schools abroad, as well as current research.
Concretely, multi-level is a "Win-Win". It allows older people to regularly attend learning sessions, to reinvest in them, to formulate them, to put words on them, which allows a perennial and quality automation and quite simply the best way to retain. It offers the possibility for younger people to learn from their peers, to activate their mirror neurons, to observe a learner with whom they can identify, while arousing their curiosity and willingness to invest in fields to which they would not have had natural access.
The diversity of profiles encourages the child to question himself, to adapt, which allows for mutual enrichment, open-mindedness, mental flexibility, and the development of empathy as well.
Finally, even if there are unavoidable constants in the cognitive and emotional development of children, the multilevel system allows for less compartmentalisation of the age distribution, which is necessarily a bit arbitrary, and guarantees more flexibility to meet the needs of each child.
The pedagogy of L'Autre École is active and differentiated. It is therefore the teacher, through a fine knowledge of the needs of his students, who will nourish each learner. For this, our small staff is a major asset.
In addition, our teachers are trained to deal with the heterogeneity of classes at various levels (ages, school levels, learning profiles).
In concrete terms, once the profiles and forms of intelligence have been identified, the teachers design their lessons, adapting the methods of work and the materials proposed to meet the educational needs of each child. Times of group work with confrontation of strategies alternate with times of work in homogeneous groups (according to the profile of understanding, the form of intelligence...).
Finally, to ensure progress, a weekly formative assessment system is put in place. A written assessment is drawn up every half term in the form of a half-yearly skills booklet which is given to families.
The schools of the L'Autre École group provide comprehensive and personalised support for the child. The pedagogy of L'Autre École is unique and tries to find a middle way between different requirements. In particular:
1/ The development of the child's autonomy and his integration into a community
2/ Benevolence and respect for the rules
3/ The recognition and enhancement of the uniqueness of each child
4/ The search for excellence for all
To paraphrase Maria Montessori, it is a matter of "filling the vessel" AND "letting the spring flow". We have done a lot of work to achieve this goal. The number of skills that we wish to transmit is important and the brain plasticity of the child between 3 and 5 years old is extremely strong.
Céline Alvarez, in support of the work on cerebral imagery carried out by Stanislas Deheane, writes: "During the first six years of life, the human being has a cerebral mechanism that could be described as absorbing, endowing it with the power to effortlessly embody the environment, by making an impressive number of neuronal connections for each experience. And of the hundreds of connections it creates per second, the brain retains only the most frequently used connections. This is called synaptic pruning, and it is how humans learn and specialise. This is why we believe it is preferable for children to be exposed to our pedagogy as early and as long as possible, in order to follow them over a long period of time, which is conducive to the co-construction of lessons specific to their needs throughout their schooling.
If these disciplines are fashionable, it is above all a question for us of allowing a harmonious development of the child, allowing him to improve his concentration and to manage his stress by breathing.
We refer you to the many articles and studies that are flourishing.
The opening of the school was subject to prior authorisation from the town planning departments of the town hall and the prefecture. The work was carried out in accordance with the provisions in force concerning fire safety in particular.
In order to ensure the safety of the children, we follow the provisions of the French National Education system with the implementation of the Vigipirate plan, and even more so concerning the safety and movements of the children inside and outside the schools.
Security is provided at the entrance to the premises by an intercom and an external surveillance camera.
A sufficient number of adults accompany the children on outings, which are mostly on foot, by bus or coach.
Finally, we have carried out evacuation exercises. Safety instructions in the event of exposure to toxic gas are posted, as are safety instructions in the event of an intrusion.
We conceive L'Autre École as a project in co-construction with all the parents who choose to join us. It is a question for us of giving back their full place to the primary custodians of education. This nevertheless imposes clear limits in the respect of the roles of each one.
In order to strengthen this link, we wanted the school to be an open and welcoming space, a place of exchange and sharing in which everyone can offer to contribute and participate in different projects by bringing their own assets. We also wanted to set up stronger communication tools to maintain a close link.
Finally, we will continue to organise such meetings to further strengthen this learning collective in the making.