In Paris, school for all ages at the Lycée d'adults

In Paris, school for all ages at the Lycée d'adults

A unique model in France, the Lycée d'adults de Paris welcomes students in the evening, all adults, from second to final year, to obtain their baccalaureate.

A room reserved for revision filled with textbooks and dictionaries. A staircase overlooked by colorful signage to indicate the way to the twelve classrooms. Long corridors. The establishment located on rue d'Alésia, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, resembles any general high school in France. Except for two details. The students are not older teenagers but adults, called “listeners”, aged from 18 to… 70 years old. And classes are held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday, as well as Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Funded by the City of Paris, the Adult High School has no equal in France*. It offers a second chance to all those who dream of obtaining the baccalaureate. “Unlike micro high schools for example, we do not set any age limit. We therefore welcome very different profiles,” says Cécile Duportail, principal of this high school which does not depend on National Education. The youngest are those who failed their baccalaureate and cannot find a place in traditional establishments. “Then, we have listeners aged 25 to 30 who are poorly oriented younger or who have dropped out because of harassment, school phobia, psychological problems. They have resolved their concerns and know what they want to do,” explains Cécile Duportail.

The hope of a reorientation

Like Melchisedek, a 29-year-old Congolese, thirty- and forty-year-olds are returning to school in the hope of professional development or reorientation: “I work in the hotel and catering industry. I am still young. I tell myself that maybe I can go to university to consider something else. » Many people from immigrant backgrounds also register, because they do not have a diploma recognized in France. “Finally, we have older people, without professional plans, who have revenge to take,” lists the principal. Just retired at 67, Ghislaine falls into this category. After a second of resumption of studies – a year to get back on track – and a second general, she is now studying in first year with the dream, ultimately, of enrolling in a degree in visual arts. “As a child, I loved school but I had to stop in third grade because of family problems. I couldn't never pass the baccalaureate,” assures this former employee in the civil aviation administration.

Selected through tests and interviews, the auditors as they are called (220 at the start of the 2023 school year) find in the Lycée the opportunity to combine schooling and professional life, subject to impeccable organization and strong will. “Physically, it’s not easy with the fatigue and the workload. The greater motivation allows you to keep going,” confides Melchizedek. “I study at lunchtime and on the road. I'm trying to keep up, it's getting more and more intense, adds Laila, first grade auditor, teacher's assistant in a nursery school during the day. Fortunately, the teachers give us confidence in ourselves. »

Dreams realized

Aware of the atypical paths of their students, teachers adapt. “When I have night watchmen among my students, I negotiate with them on the day the assignment is due,” illustrates Jacques El Alami, certified history-geography teacher. Listeners know why they are there. More mature than high school students, they allow us to go faster on certain things. » Among the forty teachers, 70% work at the same time in National Education establishments and work at the Adult High School in multiple jobs. Motivated by this educational project, the team rotates little. “Listeners have an appetite for knowledge. The baccalaureate can open up perspectives for them. It’s nice to see them accomplish their dream,” summarizes Béatrice Anger, who teaches French and literature lessons.

Last year, among the listeners who took the baccalaureate exams – they registered as independent candidates and therefore did not benefit from continuous monitoring – 71.3% of them won the precious pass (at the national level , the success rate for the general baccalaureate was 95.7%). A good number of these high school graduates continue their studies in paths as diverse as their profiles. The establishment counts among its former students nurses, a professor of philosophy, professors, computer scientists but also… two airline pilots who found themselves by chance in the cockpit of a plane.

* Doors open on Saturday May 25, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Recipes for success

  • Modest tuition fees. Auditors must pay 130 euros per year. The establishment is part of the municipal courts system of the City of Paris, created more than a century ago.
  • Kind teachers. The 40 teachers offer content adjusted to the maturity of their students and adapt to classes of heterogeneous levels.
  • Appropriate hours. To allow listeners to earn a living while studying, classes are held from 6 p.m. Attendance is mandatory but the teaching team is understanding in the event of justified absences.

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