The number of students with disabilities has been increasing for several years. But don’t follow the path fast enough. Specialized classes at their receptions often crowd themselves and are in charge of severely disabled children and adolescents.
“In my class, I care for a student with Down syndrome and autism. She is 9 years old but we cannot offer her school activities, even a puzzle complex. I have no solution for that, ”sighed Adele (first name changed), a school teacher (local school inclusion unit) in a Ulysses class in Strasbourg. Over the past three or four years, he has noticed an increase in the number of students with severe disabilities in his class, the impact of which is disrupting the entire class.
Ulis device under power
The purpose of the Ulysses class is to welcome children with disabilities to school, college or high school. These kids are included in regular classes and then find themselves facing a “coordinating teacher”, such as Maya, a teacher at Strasbourg College:
“Outside of enrollment time (in regular classes, editor’s notes), I mainly give support classes in math and French. I go back to their lessons with the students and I observe their daily organization, especially their homework. We do a lot of work with students’ self-esteem so that they can overcome their obstacles and we push them to reach the school level. A
At the beginning of the 2021 academic year, 451,000 students with disabilities were enrolled in primary and secondary education in France. Of these, 105,909 have benefited from the ULIS system, which provides support for students with disabilities (AESH) for each class significantly. The Strasbourg Academy has 3,723 students in this method, divided into 339 Ulysses classes.
Overload and misdirection
But according to Adele, “in my class, four out of twelve students have an IME profile.” In terminology, an “IME profile” is a child who has a very serious disability to attend school. These children should benefit from a Medical-Educational Institute (IME), which provides education, medical care, child development and family support. Alsace has 37 IMEs for 2,345 places.
“We end up with children who scream, hit, throw off their pants… they sometimes endanger themselves and others. They pass for fairground animals to general school students. In these cases the school became indecent to them. A
Lack of space in specialized institutions
But then how do you explain the presence of students with IME profile in Ulysses? Mainly due to lack of place in IME. Between 2012 and 2021, the reception capacity of institutions was more or less the same in the Grand Estate. In 2018, specialized media on the “fair face” of the disabled estimated that 30,000 places were missing in France’s IME. The waiting time for students to attend Ulis with an IME profile is also an explanation It takes an average of two to three years for a place to become available in an organization. Maya proves it:
“I recently met the mother of one of my students four years ago. He was on the waiting list to go to IME. Today, she has started staying at the institute two and a half days a week. But now he is 18 years old. A
This saturation and one of the reasons for this delay may also be in the “Creton Amendment”. This measure, taken in 1989, allows IME maintenance for young adults who have reached the age limit due to lack of space in other structures. About 6,000 young adults benefit from this protection, with 80.8% of them receiving IME. It represents 8.2% of the reception capacity of these institutions out of 70,000 locations in France.
The financial aspect for the state can also explain this situation. The Ulysses system is designed for one additional teacher and one AESH per class. While at IME, a multi-disciplinary team is deployed around the child with doctors, special educators, etc. As well as structural costs.
Limitations of Inclusive Schools
The number of students with disabilities continues to grow in France. Between 2005 and 2020, the number of children with disabilities attending mainstream schools increased by 202%. The government is happy to open about 1,300 Ulysses classes between 2017 and 2021. But between 2007 and 2018, IMEs lost 904 places in France.
The July 2013 Adaptation and Programming Act for the Reconstruction of Schools in the Republic incorporates the policy of inclusive education. In precise terms, this means that every student has the right to attend a mainstream school. And that school must adapt to everyone’s needs.
The number of ulema is defined in a national education circular: a maximum of 12 in the first degree and 10 in the second. But the reality is completely different. At the beginning of the school year, Adele had to take care of 13 students in an elementary school while Maya explained that “there should be 13 to 15 children per class in college”. This class is overloaded.
Affected all students
“In September, three children came with a notification to go to Ulysses. However, only two of them can benefit from the device. That means the end will come in a normal environment, “Adele said.
To turn things around, Adele wants to “open up a new place in the IME to get rid of the Ulis device”. Teachers emphasize the “difficulty of recruiting AESH”. “It simply came to our notice then. The situation is quite uncertain. If we can move these two things forward, Ulysses’ situation can only improve, “he concluded.