Grandson failing at school. What to do?

Have a look at this people:

It is the blog of Jean-Pierre Rosenczveig who set up the French branch of Defence for Children International some many years ago, allow yourselves to use the translate function if necessary. You will see what it happening here in France that is positive for children. It needs everybody's support.

No expert in education though a father three times. My eldest son was fine at pre prep school in London but for some reason failed entrance exams to famous under schools in London. He lost confidence and it took him years even decades to get back. Now he has a degree from Manchester, Masters from London Birkbeck, Masters with Distinction from St Andrews and is currently doing a PhD at King's College in London. Amongst all this he has worked for several top oranisations including London 2012, given evidence at select committees and lectured in Brunei, New York, London and California. He has written articles published in several newspapers and magazines. I have witnessed many who have not been exactly academic make superb successes of life, and the academically gifted burning out or doing diddley squat. I also have a really great belief in giving greater recognition to the benefits of skills in the areas of inventing, designing and making things. Not everybody can be academically gifted and when you see how countries are run by the supposedly super intelligent it does make you wonder if educational priorities are necessarily right. Some of the nicest people I know got maybe two O levels!

Hi Angela

It can be hard work alerting the authorities to your plight and getting specific help for the child in difficulty ..; but in the end it is possible.

Our boy was 'diagnosed' as dyspraxic when he was 9 years old - after years of extreme difficulties in école maternelle and CP. We had suggested that maybe he had special needs at 4 years old ... but were told that "Dyslexia and dyspraxia were 'foreign' problems, unknown in France". (Our son was born in France: his mother is French). But we stuck at it and through choice of a private, 'alternative' school (La Prairie, Toulouse) got him up to Collège. The winds were changing by then (around the year 2000) and by dint of a lot of lobbying at the Rectorat got him recognized as a child with a disability and had a PPS (projet personalisé de scolarisation) drawn up. They gave him a laptop (he couldn't and still can't write) which saved his life.

Then, in 2005, France passed a law recognizing all these special needs and ordering that all children with learning difficulties or any handicap should be treated like any other child and integrated - as far as possible - in normal classes with 'normal' children. A corps of teachers were recruited and trained to deal with these kids and, more importantly, to train existing teachers on how to deal with these children in the classroom. My wife is one of these teachers but she finds that, today, 8 years later, the teaching profession is 90% against this law and will do everything to avoid having a dyslexic, blind or Down child in their class.

Nevertheless progress has been made: she has a Down child doing the baccalauréat this week and my son has just got his Master II in European law at the University.

My advice is to keep with the speech therapist, alert the medecin scolaire to your problems and ask a neurologue to draw up a bilan medical. Then get to together with the Rectorat to work on a PPS or better, a PAI, which will ensure that he gets the help he needs, either in a normal class with an AVS or in a more specialized structure. Your local APEDYS should be able to help.

Hi Angela,

Our son was a little behind his peers at that age - he started school here at 3.5 not speaking a word of French. His father is dyslexic also and it was my worry that he was going down the same route. He missed a lot of words out of reading/writing and wrote d's and b's backwards etc. He went to an ortophoniste for a year when he was 7/8 and, although she said he was pretty much right for his age and that she felt his problem was mostly vocabulary related (we speak only English at home). Around the same time I took him to have his eyes tested and discovered he needed glasses but also that he had weak eye muscles and we were given a prescription for an orthoptiste (different to an ortophoniste).

Long story short, she was fab and explained that the weakness in the eye muscles was quite often the reason kids fall behind in school work and especially for "jumping lines/words" etc because the eye follows, say, a line of writing and then stops momentarily and then jumps along, missing chunks out.

We had 25 sessions with her, once a week, doing various eye exercises, and we have never looked back. At a recent meeting with his teacher we were told he is in the top 3 of his class (apart from untidy writing!). He is now 10.

Its worth looking into maybe?

Good luck - its such a worry isn't it.

Oh this is so frustrating for you Angela! You are way over the other side of France or maybe I could help, I am dyslexic too, but also a special needs teacher. Is there any one nearby who can come and give him a little bit of help?

Dyslexics tend to be very bright, they need to learning coping stratergies, and to be organised i.e. you need ot organise him in small steps get him to do things imself but remind him constantly.

Play lots of games, counting steps as you go up and down, looking for the red t shirt, you know the sort of thing!counting rhymes too, all the silly stuff you did with your kids.

The internet is a treaure chest of ideas, have a look dont have to doit all just the things you fancy, it will all help, and little and often, 10/15 mins at a time , but build things in to his play, how many kicks to get the ball in goal, how many steps from the kitchen to the tv, ;......Good luck; It can be along hard slog but it is worth it!!


Angela, I am sorry to hear of your frustration at your Grandson failing at school. I know how difficult it can be especially in a foreign country, knowing what to expect from the Education system and where to go for help.

Like Brian, I dont have a high opinion of the 'Inclusive approach,' or rather lack of, that exists here in France. I am a secondary teacher trained in the UK and have taught in primary, college and lycee in France as well. I do think that whilst the speech therapist is a positive move, perhaps you might want to look at some support groups that exist in France and meet up with other parents/carers to better understand how you might support your Grandson esp. given you spend a lot of time with him. to be honest, I had a quick look on the Internet and came up with the link below. i believe no other action apart from the speech therapist will take place until ce2..?? correct me if i am wrong but there are definitely other approaches that can aid Learning like font -using trebuchet and the appropriate background, like green, which works for some but not all of course. we are all individual. please let me know if i can help in anyway and i hope and wish you luck in supporting your Grandson.

I'm absolutely sure about this school and the ex-photographer. It sounds like the CLIS you are in is great.

We are keeping our daughter out of our local SEGPA simply because we looked when we moved to France. One of the people who looks after SEGPA pupils told us that Down children are all definably severely mentally ill and when we explained to her about mosaic Down she said that it does not exist in France, which is far from true - more a case of that this particular area does not have mosaic children. One of the problems we have established is that special education needs is patchy throughout France, thus making your experience as normal as your own. Actually looking at SEN in terms of a specialist literature within education, France is relatively poor compared to other European countries. So good to hear you are in such a good place.

Hello Brian...I'm very surprised by your experience...I work in a CLIS here in Grenoble as a teaching assistant. There is a really long waiting list as we can only have 12 pupils in a class. It is a CLIS for children with learning difficulties...dyslexia, dysphasia, dyspraxia etc. Other CLIS exist for other handicaps. Not only do teachers have to complete the standard teacher training course (you now need a Masters degree before you can do teacher training) but they also need to take a further diploma in order to work with special needs pupils. I do not understand how an ex-photographer could be given this job by National Education - are you sure about this?

Anyway, the CLIS I work in is wonderful! The teacher is brilliant, extremely hard-working and gifted. We adapt the work to each child, taking into account the child's needs, personality, difficulties etc.. We also have great fun and a privileged relationship with each child, as the class is so small. It is such a joy to see a child finally learn to read after years of struggling in a 'normal' class.

As for the ULIS. Again, I don't know what region you're in but here, the places are limited and only the 'least' handicapped can even hope for a place (those who are more severely dyslexic etc often try for a place in a SEGPA). Otherwise, there is the possibility of having an AVS - a person who accompanies the child to school and helps with writing or reading or whatever difficulty the child has.

It's true though that there should be more structures like this in France. Teachers are fighting for this...

Anyway, I just wanted to defend my CLIS!!! Perhaps they vary from region to region or perhaps it depends on the teacher...but the one I work in is definitely fantastic :-D

Our daughter is Down, so clearly another story. However we came from excellent integrated education with specialised SEN help in Wales to CLIS (classe pour l'inclusion scolaire) being a kind of 'dumping ground' in primary here. The outcome is that she is going to college a year late and into the ULIS (unité localisée pour l'inclusion scolaire) there. She is slightly lower academically than she was before we moved here.

Why I am telling you that is because the slightest thing that goes in direction dyslexia, autism, ADHD, and so on and they simply shove children in CLIS. Firstly, teacher training in France is not great to begin with and specialist special needs almost non-existent. Our daughter's CLIS teacher is an ex-photographer who did a one year course before coming to the school. She has children from all ages in the single class, in theory must follow the national curriculum but in practice is too under pressure to even begin to attempt it. Unfortunately inability to learn the alphabet and numbers counts as a form of analphabetism (illiteracy) and the expectation will be that the orthophoniste will resolve that or it will become part of a longer term process. CP not so much but evaluations start in CE1 in all earnest and that is where it gets sticky. My wife and I are both professional child researchers with excellent contacts, since education is not our field, in places like the Thomas Coram Institute in London and are trying to make a better picture of what is lacking in special education in France, not so much for our own daughter but for children who need it generally. I am afraid to say that at this point in time we too are a long way off understanding why the system is so weak in this area as yet, but that is what it is.

Hi Angela

I thought I would quickly trawl the net for you, as educating a child in France can be quite difficult/different without dyslexia playing a part so try this: