Students with disabilities.  Towards better recognition of the AESH profession

Students with disabilities. Towards better recognition of the AESH profession

At school, those supporting students with disabilities (AESH) are poorly paid and little considered. Parliament intends to reform the status of these aid professionals.

“Amélie wants a cat for her birthday. She already has her basket.” Today's exercise, for CE1 at the Houssay public elementary school, near Laval (Mayenne), consists of defining the different grammatical classes. At the back of the class, a little boy is wondering.

“A proper name is recognizable, it starts with a…”, whispers Colette, at his side. Colette de Billy is a “supporter for students with disabilities” (AESH). This morning, she helps Noah, a student with attention disorders. The child looks up, fiddles with his pen, gets up. In recent days, it has been more dissipated than usual. Colette doesn't know why. The teacher looks at him: “Did he succeed in the activity?” » His colleague tilts his head to the side. “Not totally,” she makes clear.

Since 2006, the number of children with disabilities enrolled in mainstream education has quadrupled, from 118,000 to 478,000 at the start of the 2023 school year, for only 132,000 accompanying children. The result of the policy put in place for a decade, which made the choice to integrate, in the name of better inclusion, disabled children into the general school system. In this school of 86 students, three children have disabilities. Very different cases that the two AESH of the establishment manage.

Lack of training

This morning, Liam, a high school student with autism, refused to enter the school. Marie-Claude, his AESH, tried to persuade him. In vain. The family had to pick up the child. Dorian, for his part, manages almost alone in CM2 class. Now that he has a touchscreen computer and a magnifying camera, his visual impairment is no longer an obstacle to learning. “We can deal with all kinds of disabilities,” explains Colette. You have to know how to be patient and adapt. » This former secretary has never followed training. In fact, none exist. “Three months after the first hire, for 60 hours, we review the different types of disabilities, the partners… But, it is more about information than training”, details the collective “AESH, not sheep! “.

It is an instinctive profession where the investment takes precedence over the salary received. “Before secondary school, an AESH cannot be mobilized for more than 24 hours per week, for 970 euros net per month. I am mobilized for 20 hours in the establishment. I'm 60 years old, this salary is enough for me. But for a young person starting out, the situation is precarious,” explains Colette de Billy. An unattractive profession even though more than 200 million euros have been released by the government at the start of the 2022 school year. To supplement the income, Senator Cédric Vial (LR) tabled a bill, voted on by the Senate and adopted in first reading in the National Assembly on April 8. “This law should make it possible to increase working hours by including the lunch break, therefore bringing remuneration to around 32 hours. We are approaching full time,” explains the senator.

A single employer

Last year, Marie-Claude was mobilized six hours a week during extracurricular time, which left her little respite during the day. Especially since, if school time is paid for by National Education, the lunch break is covered by the communities. “However, when you have two contracts, there is no compulsory break time,” explains the senator. The bill therefore provides for one and the same employer for AESH: National Education, which will allow staff to breathe. » This would be a relief for small towns, like Houssay. “This is a significant budget,” explains Loïc Faverais, director of the establishment. The town hall had difficulty financing an additional position. » The same goes for private schools. The latter “did not have solutions for midday time, because the communities do not support midday time,” explains the senator. Children had to go to public schools and private schools suffered from a lack of inclusion.” Adopted with modifications, the text returns to the Senate on May 15. If the text is adopted, it will come into force from the next school year.

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