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Teachers Experiences

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TITLE OF THE EXPERIENCE
Student placed in a centre for juvenile delinquent (IPPJ)
NAME AND SURNAME OF THE TEACHER
Social assistant
SUBJECTS TAUGHT
Sicial assistant
TYPE OF SCHOOL
General Technical Professional Secondary School in Namur
COUNTRY
Belgium
THEMATIC AREA
Identification of students’ at risk
DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPERIENCE
Period and place in which the experience took place
School and centre for juvenile delinquent. School years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

Main actors involved (special focus on the profile of the student)
• A student from a differentiated classroom, (he did not obtain the primary school certificate).
• In the differentiated instruction, classrooms are smaller, schedules are more flexible and basic-skill oriented. The goal is to succeed in obtaining the primary school certificate in order to go back to regular school.
• The educator and the social assistant.

Description of the factual events
• From the beginning of the year, the student shows some behaviour problems (little troubles, disputes with other students). It is a small but real issue. The student is regularly followed by his educator.
• The student has been sent to a centre for juvenile delinquents (called IPPJ in Belgium) and he wants to come back home.
• From one day to the next, the school is informed about him being sent to an IPPJ. No information has been provided to the school about the student’s situation.

Actions carried out to identify the causes of the students difficulties
• Both the educator and the social assistant decide to contact the centre, as the school wants the student to pass the primary school exam. It is a difficult task considering the strict regulations of the legal institutions.
• The school and the different legal institutions (the IPPJ, the youth social services and the youth protection services) then establish regular contact with each other.
• In the end the school has insisted so much that the student managed to pass the primary school exam at the IPPJ.
• The student stayed for 8 months at the IPPJ and then came back home with his mother. He is followed by the educational services for his return home is difficult. His mother is not cooperating enough.
• The following year he continued school. But he did not do well during his second school year. He thinks a lot about his future and will probably turn to vocational teaching in the building sector.
• He will most likely not succeed the current year but he will be present at school
• He is always followed by his educator and social assistant in order to avoid going back to delinquency. These ones keep also regular contact with the social services and his mother.

Results achieved
• The student has obtained his primary school certificate.
• He pursues his school career and he will be regularly present at school.

Support received by fellow students, colleagues, school management and parents
• The head-teacher supported and strengthened the actions of the two stakeholders.
• There was no contact with the family during the period spent at the IPPJ. Regular contact has been established with his mother starting from the young boy’s return home.
• The legal service and the IPPJ have finally collaborated with the school in order for the boy to succeed his primary school exam.

Strengths and weaknesses of the experience
This experience is an example of the separation between the institutions (mainly legal and educational ones). It fosters coordination of different stakeholders for the same situation. We can especially think about so-called “local and/or mixed district committees” that have been developing these last years in French-speaking belgium, following the studies carried out by the University of Liege and the initiative from the same stakeholders. These committees have been recently officially recognised by decree of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.

Strengths:
• In this school we do not forget anyone! We have to greet the determination of the head-teacher and the two stakeholders to let the guy follow his school career at the youth detention centre.
Without this intervention the kid would have most likely dropped out once out of the youth detention centre and gone back to the delinquency.
• The regular monitoring of the kid and his mother by the school in coordination with the educational service, in a disastrous moment of the kid’s situation (return to his home, continuation of his studies that do not excite him anymore), make part of the same approach: to avoid his decline, which is always possible.

Weaknesses:
• He is a rather friendly and helpful kid, but he has a difficult background and he is always at risk. His success in the current school year is, as a matter of fact, uncertain.
• He has been affected by his stay at the IPPJ. Since his return to school, he has started having “little boss” attitudes. In these institutions it seems that a lot of violence prevails among the kids. According to the head-teacher, this raises issues.
• When a kid is at the IPPJ, it is like the school does not exist anymore, even if he is still enrolled. At best, the school receives a certificate notifying his placement. The head-teacher deplores the separation between the institutions (due to the high amount of rules and procedures of the legal system) that can only damage the kid’s reinsertion. She pleads for a real cooperation between the different stakeholders (in the legal, scool, social and medical spheres).

Comments on this Teachers Experience

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Date: 2014.05.28

Posted by SORIN AIONESEI, "Alexandru cel Bun" High School, Botosani, sorin.aionesei@yahoo.com (Romania)

Message: No child left behind! I guess this sums up the way the social assistant, the school and the other services handled this case. The outcome could have been different, if the the school had decided it should no longer take care of the pupil, once he was in the juvenile delinquency center. However, they chose to help the student from the differentiated classroom and give him the incentive needed to focus on obtaining his primary school certificate.

I appreciate the way this intervention is depicted. It’s realistic, by proving that success is not guaranteed when dealing with deviant pupils. As the social worker points out, the student did get his primary school certificate, but seemed to head for a fail in the school year. One advantage, underlined in the story, is that he continued to show up at classes.

The evolution of this case proves why zero tolerance policies are ineffective. If the school rejects a pupil because of his deviant behavior, it will “sanitize” the school environment, but the burden on the society as a whole will increase. Therefore, ideal solutions are seldom.

20 December 2014

Final Partners’ meeting

The fourth partners’ meeting took place in Florence (IT) on 15 December 2014. The meeting had the objective to check the activities carried out since the third meeting of the project and share and assess the in progress results. A special focus has been dedicated to the presentation of the strategies to solve the case scenarios.