At Collège Pie X, with many students of precarious background, the management has three objectives: to fight school failure, to give school a new purpose and to make students autonomous.
Changing the working rhythm, this school gave students time to catch up and others to develop.
Concretely, the 45 minutes slot gained is used to organise workshops that meet specific needs and a weekly mentoring in small groups.
Around fifty workshops take place every Thursday afternoon. They are led by teachers who act as coaches.
Remediation workshops concern school subjects. Development and personal development workshops make it possible to “develop skills in another way”.
During the mentoring sessions, the teachers work on working methods, behaviour problems, group dynamics, stress management … or welcome at the beginning of term.
The students enjoy the experience. It restores pleasure to go to school and gives school a new purpose, opening appetite for knowledge, will to discover and share.
The teachers have the chance to share their passions, to be creative and audacious far from the restrictions of the curricula. They feel more motivated to take training. They talk to each other, think, act and create efficient and creative tools.
Eight other schools have adopted this method after Collège Pie X.
Since the beginning of term 2013-2014, all the schools that wish to can use this system. It has been the object of a decree by the Government of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. The decree does not make the 45 minute formula compulsory, but it regulates its working.
This method is also used in other countries such as France, in a school in an underprivileged area near Paris. Educational teams used the 45 minute courses to offer modules adapted to the students’ needs.
Points of strength and of weakness
Setting up a different school schedule can only succeed with the agreement of the whole school community, for there are difficulties: complexity of the organisation, good balance between remediation and alternative workshops, students’ weariness in the third cycle (last two years), tiredness, teachers’ demotivation, …
This tool must be seen as a process, always evolving, to be reorganised, ruled, adapted… It is no panacea.