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Learning and teaching - France

After examining the practices of teachers it seems necessary to raise questions about their training, in particular about the attention given to the assessment of learning for pupils with special educational needs. Two types of comments should be noted, one from the Ferrier report, the other from the Gossot-Mollo report. The Ferrier report stresses the fact that initial teacher training has included work on mistakes and their analysis for several years and that pedagogical contributions contain concerns about assessment. It is pointed out however, that the older teachers did not benefit from such an approach.  The same report moreover, deplores that initial teacher training does not pay particular attention to pedagogical approaches such as: the organisation of a class in groups, methods of simultaneously managing different activities, forms of interaction between children favourable to mutual help, pedagogical systems allowing support and strengthening.  These comments taken from the Ferrier report should probably be qualified.  Today initial teacher training continues during the first two years of professional practice of school teachers.  This training is particularly oriented toward the analysis of practices during which the question of learning assessment is again discussed. 

The second report indicates a certain insufficiency in teacher training in terms of the education of disabled pupils.  Other than the knowledge of different types of deficiency, teachers are offered few or no ideas about questions of compensation for the disability and access to education.  

Ongoing teacher training

In the field of learning assessment we can observe a certain impetus in trading focused on the exploitation of the results of national assessments.  This exploitation can also make use of seminars in each département (geographical administrative unit) combining the district team and trainers from the UFMs (teacher training institutes). Training programs are organised in the framework of pedagogical activities under the responsibility of Inspectors from the Ministry of National Education and in the framework of the training plan of the Regional Department of Education. There again, the Gossot-Mollo report states that the problem of disabilities is not dealt with very much.  Some initiatives are proposed but sometimes cancelled as too few persons apply to participate in them. 

Training of specialist teachers

The recent conception of new types of specialised training is totally consistent with laws on learning assessment practices for pupils with special educational needs. The set of skills characteristic of a specialist teacher in elementary and secondary school as well as the content of the training programs proves this. One of the skills required to teach pupils with disabilities is explicitly linked to assessment practices: “the specialist teacher analyses the educational needs of pupils and their impact on learning: he knows and takes into account in his assessment the possible effects in terms of pedagogy of the difficulties, impairments, sensory or motor deficiencies, diseases or problems of a physical, cognitive, emotional and relational type.  For options A, B, C, the teacher knows how to make assessments in order to contribute to the development of the sensory compensations and compensation strategies implemented by the pupils” . As for the content of training programs one of the three training units focused on specific teaching practices adapted to the special educational needs of pupils deals with, there again, in a very explicit way the methodology of observation and assessment.

Training in assessment and classroom practices

Pedagogical initiatives conducted by National Education inspectors and their colleagues on ongoing training initiatives enable us to examine the question of learning assessment with teachers. These initiatives may be focused on the exploitation of the results of national CE2 assessments.  In this case an example of good practice consists in bringing together a group of teachers from the same school.  These teachers, provided with pupil assessment records, will learn to analyse mistakes and/or to design appropriate remedial exercises and to master the methodology of personalised plans.  These same training initiatives may be devoted to exploiting the websites of the Ministry of National Education which offer remedial exercises.  These initiatives may also focus on the specific problems of disabled children and the pedagogical adaptations to use in evaluating their learning. 

Preparation of specialist teachers

We shall present an example taken from the current training of specialist teachers preparing a Capa Sh  at the National Center (CNEFEI). At the beginning the trainees are requested to conduct a theoretical discussion on the problem of the assessment of learning of pupils with special educational needs. 

Then, during sessions devoted to the analysis of practice, guided by two trainers, they present pedagogical or didactic situations that may be linked to the problem of assessment and that raise problems for them. By exploring the various facets of the situation, collective elaboration of the situation makes it possible to consider solutions.  Moreover, courses on different subjects focus on the methodology of observation and assessment. In physical education, for example, the trainees organised a session for pupils who moved around in wheelchairs.  They were thereby led to elaborate an adapted assessment model. Another module provided the opportunity to discover an example of a diagnostic tool to observe the beginning of the cycle focused on circus arts in a class made up of some pupils who were standing up and others who were paraplegic, hemiplegic, or tetraplegic. Sessions were also devoted to designing and setting up, in a cycle devoted to expression activities, a session adapted to the needs of all the pupils, able-bodied and/or suffering from motor limitations, including methods for evaluating the objectives aimed at. Lastly, some trainees chose to study the question of learning assessment further in the framework of a paper that they prepared.

  

Sources:

  • BO n°4 February 26 2004, p.30, complementary certificates for teaching adapted to the education of pupils with a disability. 
  • Capa sh: Certificate of professional aptitude for specialised assistance, adapted teaching and education of pupils.  in a situation of disability.
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