I took part in my first conseil de classe – class council - last night at Ruadhri’s lycée. I was in the conseil d’école for Rors’ primary school for a couple of years a while ago, but didn’t feel I was contributing anything in particular and so didn’t get involved in such conseils after he moved on to secondary school in Boussac. And once he was at lycée in Guéret, distance became a consideration too. A round trip of 90km for a meeting seemed to be going above and beyond!

However, I got an email a month or so ago desperately urging parents to volunteer as a parents’ representative for the conseil de classe for Rors’ class as there currently weren’t any. I was guilted into responding with a half-hearted offer to help out, but that was all it took. I was instantly signed up, along with the only other parent who volunteered as a result of the plea.

There was a training session a week ago. I hadn’t expected one of those! (That was the day I found about my expired driving licence, which I blogged about recently, so Chris had to be my chauffeur.) That session was rather daunting, since I was handed two hefty dossiers, one from the school and one from a parents’ group called the FCPE (la Fédération de Conseils des Parents des Elèves) who take their duties very seriously. It’s they who sent the email for volunteers. It was also rather dull since I found the main presenter quite hard to understand: he spoke quietly and quickly, a fatal combination for non-Francophones to try and comprehend! It seemed that the parents’ reps on the C de C were meant to send out a questionnaire to all their fellow parents before the meeting and then put together a summary afterwards. Panic set in at that point. Would parents appreciate such documents in Franglais? However, I recalled that I’d never received either of such documents at any stage during Rors’ previous two years at lycée, so this was obviously the ideal state of affairs they were outlining. The school sends out a letter to all parents with the contact details for their two representatives so that they can track us down if necessary with queries or demands for us to bring up at meetings. That seems to be enough, and fortunately, Rors’ class is a bright and happy bunch of kids with no issues needing addressing.

The meeting last night was very interesting. All the teachers were present, which I wasn’t expecting, along with the deputy head, me and the other parents’ representative, and the two pupils’ representatives. The form teacher read through each child’s reports, which was projected onto a screen by the deputy head, along with a schematic showing how all the marks for each subject for that youngster compared with the class average. The teachers agreed or otherwise with the form teacher’s summary, and recommended giving congratulations or encouragement to each pupil. They can also exceptionally give warnings if necessary, but that wasn’t necessary for anyone in Rors’ pleasant class. The teachers all said how much they enjoyed teaching this particular group.

There was a slight quandary with some pupils who were doing very well in some subjects but struggling with others. Should they be congratulated or encouraged? The deputy head suggested we should come up with something in-between, and he has a point there. A congratulation can make a pupil rest on their laurels, despite a weak result or two, however much it’s deserved in most areas. But mere encouragement when a kid can see they’re doing brilliantly in some subjects might end up with pffft reaction and a feeling of being underappreciated. It will be fascinating to see if the deputy-head has a new phrase to cut and paste into position on each report next term.

When it was Rors’ turn for scrutiny, the deputy head read out his name as ‘Roo-add-ree’, as many do the first time on seeing the scaring spelling of Ruadhri. At once three teachers leapt in with the correction ‘It’s pronounced Ror-ree’! I was impressed! Rors is one of the kids to whom this new congratulations/encouragement hybrid term would be applicable, but generally he’s doing very well. The whole class is, with an average of about 70%.

I’ve done a bit of playing with the figures, and it turns out the ten girls of the class have a slightly higher average. This agrees with national findings that girls perform better at lycée than boys across the board. (In 2016 84% of girls and 74% of boys obtained their baccalaureat.) I wondered if being an interne (i.e. a boarder) had any effect on results, since I know Rors finds it stressful to be away from home all week and doesn’t sleep well. However, between them the ten boarders have an average slightly above that of the class as a whole.

It was a tiring evening with drives there and back in the dark and wet, but well worth the effort. I must say that I’m rather looking forward to the next two meetings.