By denouncing the "obsession with inclusion" of children with disabilities and defending the use of "specialized establishments" to educate them, the presidential candidate Eric Zemmour raised a wave of emotion and protest over the weekend. last. For those accompanying students with disabilities (AESH), the emergency is elsewhere. Most of them denounce a glaring lack of resources and issue a cry of alarm. This is the case of Marion Duport who agreed to tell her daily life at L'Express.
L'Express: What does your role as AESH consist of on a daily basis?
Marion Duport: I have been working for three years in an elementary school in Lyon. At the moment, I am five students at the same time. One of them benefits from an individualized follow-up of 20 hours per week. We take turns with her with a colleague half the time each. This is a child born prematurely, who has motor and concentration problems. For a long time, we had to hold her hand to help her walk, which is no longer the case today, even if we always have to stay next to her when she moves. In the corridors, we make sure that she is not jostled; in the canteen, we help him hold his tray. As this CE1 student has accumulated a certain delay in learning, I will also accompany her during the lessons: write for her under her dictation, repeat the instructions to her, sometimes see with the teacher how to simplify an exercise. The other children I take care of mainly suffer from attention disorders. I draw up a diagram of methods for each in order to try to create automatisms adapted to each child. Most of them are only entitled to shared monitoring. Which means that I only see them once or twice a week, on a small slot of 1h or 1h30 each time. Which is unfortunately very little.
Who decides how many hours of follow-up each child is entitled to?
The MDPH (Departmental House for the Disabled) sends a notification to the families which gives them the right either to individualized follow-up, with a determined number of hours, or to shared follow-up. In the latter case, I have to take care of several children at the same time. But they need fairly sustained attention and I often find myself caught up in a game of ping-pong, making sure everyone is following. It's quite complicated to manage. By following these children for only 3 hours a week, without benefiting from the necessary adaptation time, it is very difficult to know on which specific points they need help and to be able to guide the teacher on their problems. And even when we manage to set up a project, it can only be implemented in our presence. Our task is therefore impossible. In three years, I have seen our work deteriorate in an impressive way. All of this got worse with the establishment of the Pial (Inclusive Centers for Localized Support).
What has this system changed in your operation?
Since the start of the 2020 school year, AESH are attached to a geographical area and no longer to a school. They are therefore often required to intervene in several schools, colleges or high schools at the same time. In terms of kilometers and distance, my colleagues experience this constraint differently, depending on whether they live in the heart of Lyon or in the countryside. At the beginning of September, each Pial receives an envelope of hours dedicated to not changing during the year. There can therefore be no hiring or replacements in the event of absent personnel. The problem is that this envelope does not correspond to the needs we have to meet. At the start of the last school year, we were already understaffed. If, during the year, new care notifications arrive, either we are forced to further break up the hours allocated to the children we are already monitoring, or we have no choice but to refuse the new follow-ups. . This is extremely painful for us but also, and above all, for the parents who see the rights of their children diminished every year. Caring for a child with a disability at home is already very complicated. So if in addition the small supports that existed before disappear...
What is the hardest thing for you today?
It's the loss of meaning of my job. After having exercised several professions, such as video editor, childcare assistant in maternity, I was keen to exercise an activity that makes sense... But helping children in so few hours has become a mission impossible. Certainly, I am present, I struggle, I go, but ultimately I do not know if all this is of much use. Some children, whom I managed to follow well three years ago, are literally falling. While they would just need, for some of them, to be put back in the saddle, that we help them to consolidate certain bases to be able to follow an almost normal schooling. Some will continue to fight but others will be gradually lost. Psychologically, I live it as a priesthood. Not to mention all these constraints that can lead us to move constantly, our salary which is around 800 euros on average and the glaring lack of training.
However, directing students with disabilities to specialized institutions is not the solution in your opinion...
This decision may sometimes be necessary for certain children who need multiple care, for example. But, as far as possible, it is important that they can stay in the school system as much as possible. The solution ? It obviously consists of increasing the number of AESH, training them better, granting them more resources. An emergency for all those children who tend to be left behind. We don't say it enough either, but the fact of rubbing shoulders with classmates who progress differently can also bring a lot to other students. It gives them an open mind, it gets them used to being different. In short, it's good for everyone. Admittedly, the children are not always kind to each other, but integration often goes well. Contrary to another popular belief, the children we follow do not always disrupt the class. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but, as far as I'm concerned, I haven't been confronted with this problem much. No, in the majority of cases, children in pain will sink in silence. It is indeed the most terrible.