FAQ


Frequently Asked Questions


LEARNING

Between birth and the age of three, children acquire an exceptional amount of knowledge and skills. They learn to walk, to eat, to exchange and share with others... They are already integrating into the social world and acquiring the tools that will enable them to live in society, without the need for a programme, a teacher or an evaluation!

In democratic schools, the assumption is that there is no fundamental reason why the learning process should change shape from the age of three. A child who learns to master syntax and conjugation on his or her own is perfectly capable of learning to read, write and count, but also to do mathematics, theatre or gardening when his or her natural curiosity leads him or her to do so.

Oral and written communication as well as basic mathematical skills are so essential in today's environment, that each member will move on to reading, writing and numeracy in due course.

Within a few weeks, he learns to read, write and count, depending on his needs, with or without the help of another child or a learning facilitator.

Although the school is free from curricula, we are happy to comply with the expectations of the National Education in terms of monitoring the acquisition of the skills and knowledge of the Common Base.

Monitoring the acquisition of the common base of skills, knowledge and culture

is carried out by the teaching staff mainly through observation and permanent exchange and self-assessment with each student on a regular basis. In this way, the supervisors guarantee a personalised follow-up respecting the rhythm and specificities of each student, in conformity with the logic of decompartmentalisation of school subjects.

The main monitoring tool allows the activities to be matched to the competences of the common base.

For each pupil, a complete self-assessment is regularly carried out to determine the level of mastery of the required skills, as well as the evolution over the long term. This document thus makes it possible to follow the progress of the pupil in his or her learning and to know his or her progress in mastering the Common Core of Knowledge, Skills and Culture. It allows us to be more attentive to the needs of the pupil and thus better respond to them.

In addition, the teaching team has acquired other tools for monitoring the acquisition of the common base:

- Activity sheets", linking the activities carried out daily by the pupils with the skills mobilised.

- A document establishing, for each of the 5 areas of competence of the Common Base, an indicative and non-exhaustive list of activities to develop their mastery and acquisition.

During his or her Agile education, especially after several years of study in public schools, a student may find himself or herself disoriented, a little lost in the school, not really knowing what to do.

This period of transition is quite legitimate and has been often observed in democratic schools that have been open for a number of years, especially among teenagers coming from public secondary schools. We believe that it is beneficial for the member.

It can be very difficult to move from an environment in which every day or even every hour is organised by a third party, to a place in which one becomes the autonomous actor of one's choices. The child will need to reconnect with him/herself and this process may take the form of longer or shorter periods of time when he/she does not wish to do anything at all.

This type of behaviour is therefore quite common and we want families to be aware of it in order to accept and support this transition period if necessary.

Furthermore, it is important to reconsider the value of boredom. In a world that strongly encourages people to find it normal to be overloaded, to the point of no longer questioning the meaning of their activities, it seems vital to us, on the contrary, to learn to take time again.

There are many sources of stimulation in the school, let alone in the world.

The school is organised in an Agile way in thematic rooms and workshops allowing to diversify the content of the possible activities for the pupils (art, science, literature, computing, cooking, music, ...) in English or not.

Learning will take place through interaction with other students of all ages and the adults in the team. Everyone has a variety of knowledge and skills and will be able to pass on their experiences formally or informally to the pupils in the school. They are then free to pursue activities that satisfy their natural curiosity, either alone or in cooperation.

In addition, we invite guest speakers to share their passions and talents and to organise educational outings for children who wish to do so. These activities are not compulsory and are decided in consultation with the members of the school. Through our experiences in working in democratic schools, we have met volunteers who are happy to pass on their knowledge of astronomy, history, music, sewing, literature etc.

Finally, digital resources (computers, etc.) will also be a means of access to learning that is as varied as it is numerous. Anyone can explore and learn anything. In particular, there are more and more excellent self-learning platforms (e.g. the famous "MOOCs" such as Coursera, Khan Academy, Kartable) or other specialised applications (e.g. "serious games", Domingo).

Through this richness, each member will certainly discover areas of interest.


DEMOCRACY

The most common practice in democratic schools in France is that there is no obligation to attend the School Council (Community Time) but to accept the decisions taken therein. However, Community Time is the governing body of the school and therefore has the power to change its rules of operation.

Community Time will thus be able to explore the various questions that "living together" raises: how to organise? What model of governance? What voting system should be adopted? How should the school budget be allocated? Should all members be obliged to attend and/or vote at the Community Time? Do we think it would be better to reserve certain decisions for certain people in the group?

All these issues are central to the management of democratic schools, and more broadly to our societies and organisations. This is an opportunity for reflection that the members of the Agile School can seize.

The School Council deals with diverse school life issues: budget, its premises, the layout of the building, outings, rules... So, how do we determine who can discuss and decide on these issues concerning the school?

At the Agile School, we want to give this oppurtunity to all members, no matter their age. If a topic is beyond a 3 year old's understanding, then the member is likely to not take part in the debate nor vote on it. However, they may have seen that there are decisions being made in this council, that they can speak out if they want to, and they may pick up on a few bits of thinking here and there.

In addition, the School Council also considers awareness points such as the following: Should the study room be moved? Is cycling allowed inside? Is running allowed inside? Would you prefer to organise a trip to the park or a trip to the museum? Would you like a room to sleep in?

These kinds of questions are more accessible to 3-6 year olds and they will have the opportunity to give their opinion at the School Council if they wish.

« One person's freedom ends where another's begins« 

We understand that there may be concerns about giving equal power to children as to adults, as the concept of danger, order, tidiness and the long term view may be different for a 3 year old and a 40 year old.

However, why do we offer this model?

The best example of the effectiveness and credibility of this model is the 60 year experience of self-governed, by adults and children, democratic schools.

This experience shows that the school works with children who are free to offer and vote what they want. Restless and disorderly situations only last for a while. We believe that it is human nature to need a balance between rules and freedom, between calm and unrest.

If, however, there is an occasion when we feel that a decision puts a member of the Agile School in physical or psychological danger, we will have not hesitate to oppose it; we remain guarantors of the safety of every member of the Agile School.

Furthermore, in order to grasp the concepts of law, regulation, living together and authority, it seems exciting and justified to us to give the children the opportunity to explore this through participating in Community Time. This is an opportunity that we are very happy to offer.

There are several stages in the appropriation of rules and in the evolution of the meaning attributed by the student to school rules:

1.   anomy(the disregard or rejection of rules)

2. Heteronomy (obedience to the rule)

3. Self-regulation (integration of the rule)

4. Autonomy (the ability to negotiate or invent rules)

We want the pupils of Ecole Agile to become autonomous with regard to the school rules and we believe that the systematic use of punishment slows down their empowerment.

When a child is afraid of being punished, he or she focuses on the consequences of his or her action rather than on what motivates him or her to act in this way and on the needs of those around him or her. Furthermore, we believe that punishment fosters a repressive climate that does not encourage children's enthusiasm and cooperation with the school rules.

Marshall Rosenberg, initiator of Non Violent Communication,proposes to understand the ineffectiveness of systematic punishment by asking two questions:

  • How would I want this person to change their behaviour?
  • What motivation would I want this person to have to do what I ask?

As a last resort and if requested, the CAP (Circle for the Apprenticeship of Peace), Mediation Board or other body may decide on a temporary restriction of freedoms (e.g. a ban on the use of a room in the school for a period of 3 days). For more details on the functioning of the different boards, see the relevant articles).


SCHOOL CURRICULUM

If a pupil wishes to join a state secondary school, he or she may do so by passing an entrance examination.

According to the French Academy, the entrance examination covers the main subjects in which the pupil wishes to continue his studies. The content is decided by the Inspector of the Academy, Director of Departmental Education Services.

Our team members are available to prepare children to pass this exam if students wish.

More information on the entrance exams

Yes, there are several possibilities for Agile School students.

A student of Ecole Agile can decide to enter a public high school in order to prepare for the baccalaureate and to obtain report cards which are still required for certain courses (preparatory classes, specific universities...)

In addition, any student from a public school without a contract can take the baccalauréat or other exams, as an free candidate. If they decide to do so, they will obtain a number that will give them access to the Parcoursup admission platform with a view to joining a higher education institution.

Finally, more and more schools of higher education wish to integrate students with different educational backgrounds and favour free and cooperative learning. This is the case, for example, of School 42, a self-training establishment in computer science, but also of certain, art schools, etc.


A SECURE ENVIRONMENT

Our school wishes to guarantee a climate of peace, respect and security, necessary for the individual and collective development of the students. Physical, verbal and psychological violence and endangerment of oneself or others, as well as anything illegal, are prohibited.

Thus, we attach particular importance to the notion of justice as a sine qua non for the preservation of the caring framework built by our school.

We focus on resolving tensions and conflicts, as well as other transgressions of school rules, through a peaceful and constructive dialogue, mediations or during the Circle for the Apprenticeship of Peace (CAP).

Ce dernier est un organe mandaté par le Conseil d’École. Il se compose de cinq responsables élus pour 6 semaines (un pour chaque jour de la semaine), qui peuvent être des membres de l’équipe pédagogique ou des élèves, ainsi que de trois membres additionnels constituant un jury. L’ensemble des tranches d’âge de l’école sont représentées au sein du jury.

The CAP is an instance for clarifying facts, determining rules that have not been respected, allowing each person to express his or her feelings and, if necessary, imposing a reparation in line with the facts.

The primary purpose of a reparation is to remind members of the necessary balance between freedom and responsibility and their role as guarantor of the school climate.

The decisions taken are specific to each situation. They are discussed by the jury and then validated by the jury and the persons concerned.

A member who is not satisfied with the decisions taken may ask the CAP to reconsider the situation.

The CAP meets according to demand and need. A weekly slot is reserved for it. This space allows members to learn about the law, human and civil rights, universal rules and values and those of the French Republic. They learn to measure the consequences of each act and to integrate a sense of responsibility.