The Franco-Danish School was founded in 2009 by the Franco-Danish couple Emmanuelle Assenza and Nicolas Guilbert based on a wish to give their and other children a school that could draw the best of two complementary cultures - combine "Tryghed & Excellence ". The slogan was "L'école danoise sans Jantelov" - "Den franske skoleuden elitisme". (The Danish school with crab mentality - the French school without elitism). The school is independent of political, religious, etc. points of view.
From the outset, the school was thought to be
Multi-cultural: In a globalized world, it seems like an obvious opportunity for the individual to exploit the forces that different cultures have managed to develop over the centuries. In addition, other cultures give a new perspective - multicultural people have can have a perspective on themselves both from the inside and from the outside.
Multi-aged: the education's motivation-based and project-oriented approach requires the group of children to continuously define and redefine sub-groups, depending on interests and abilities. Keywords: Freinet and Montessori-inspired pedagogy, mentor learning, inquiry-based learning, Lernen Durch Lehren, Feynman Method, École Mutuelle.
Participatory: To ensure the relevance of the teaching it seemed obvious to expose the group of children to real life issues. This is done partly by going on excursions and partly by inviting the world to visit.
The role of the school as an institution in society is absolutely central - no other function in society has a corresponding effect on the general level of competence, and hence on growth. In addition, the school system is the central place where culture and society in general can be influenced.
Consequently, it makes sense to allocate the most skilled resources to the area, which has not unexpectedly proved to be the main challenge of the project. Thus, the Franco-Danish School is not a regular school and has no immediate intention to become one. The school has the mission of creating a narrative about what it takes to be able to produce unusually good results, both quantitatively and qualitatively, within a normal financial framework.
This story is based on the individual having the right, the duty and the willingness to drive his/her talents to their full potential. This promotes skill, which in our view is a prerequisite for adaptability and for the individual's relevance in the 21st century's knowledge society. We consider freedom and justice in a society as prerequisites for satisfying what we consider the fundamental need of living creatures: to (in a broad sense) understand and develop.
Some of the principles underlying the school have historically worked for large schools, for example L'école mutuelle.
We strive to avoid falling into the complacency trap and to keep up a welcoming and humble attitude.
Administratively, the school is composed of a friskole (charter school) and a kindergarten, both independent (selvejende) institutions. We consider that the commercial, profit-maximizing objectives typically associated with the term "private" are not compatible with ensuring the highest quality of the education given to the children.
The teaching method is Freinet-inspired, more specifically self-motivation-based and with a particular focus on creating independent and resource-rich individuals with the necessary insight and ability to participate in and build the democratic society. The school's normal form of education thus takes the children's own projects into account, preferably in conjunction with Lehren-durch-Lehrnen activities. Class tuition can also take place when relevant, especially for those children who are not sufficiently trained to practice their own learning or simply by nature just prefer the management that comes from classroom education.
We have accumulated a lot of experience in our (approximately) 17 practical educational tips.
We believe that the school, as a social institution, is obliged to take an inclusion task. This means that we actively want to include children who do not necessarily fit elsewhere. However, in practice we have experienced that successful integration requires that:
We continuously evaluate, depending on the composition of the children and staff group, whether new children with special needs can be admitted and if registered children can still be accommodated.
The personnel only administers medicine to the children if they have a medical prescription describing how to give the medicine.
In order to communicate freely around the school's work it is important for us to be able to publish pictures and videos where the children will often appear. At the time of enrollment, parents are therefore asked to decide whether they can accept the school's guidelines for publishing image and video material. These guidelines are:
The kindergarten children: * only attend school if they ask for it themselves * attend school according to the schools' rules, for instance they are free to move around in the school as long as they inform the responsible adult of their whereabouts. * are welcome in the school - as long as the personnel considers it safe
We regard the act of teaching at the Franco-Danish School and Kindergarten as highly specialized knowledge work. We want a teaching position at the school to be considered particularly attractive - a privilege.
Our overall expectation for the employees is that they can participate in and nurture a high-performance culture characterized by:
We expect our employees to be motivated by and focused on the teaching itself - not on the payroll. On the other hand, we also believe that the function they perform is crucial to society's development and that the pay should reflect this. Therefore, we want to give our didactic staff as high a salary as possible. This in practice depends on external factors such as subsidies, number of pupils etc. and the school in consequence does not guarantee a continuously increase in salaries over time. The potential minimal wage is guaranteed through the collective agreement.
All didactive staff is paid equally independently of teaching seniority, which in collective agreement technical terms is handled through the "local qualification supplement". This expresses that the school is interested in recruiting a versatile group of employees, including academics, and encourages a certain on-going renewal of the team.
We don't use substitutes. Absence from teaching sessions are covered by swapping sessions with colleagues.
We want to keep payroll and salary-related processes as simple as possible. This applies to the school's processes in general. A week of work has 37 hours, 6 weeks paid leave per year.
School and kindergarten are perceived as a whole. We perceive the separation between educators and teachers as being arbitrary. For example, the corresponding arbitrary distinction is in the French system between the 5th and 6th grade.
The school does not have a separate teacher's room, the staff is physically in the school on an equal footing with the children. (In practice, it requires a certain tranquility of the premises, which is one of the school's characteristics.)
Power struggles are not welcome. Based on experience, we believe that well-founded arguments and fact-based discussions will solve most disagreements.
In the scenario where two or more employees end up competing for a scarce ressource (e.g. a position, vacation, etc.), we discuss it and choose the solution that is best for the school. Sometimes you just have to take one for the team.
We encourage our staff to enter further education, to network and generally to seek out opportunities outside the school. In practice, this means that the school is willing to pay for education, study trips and the like within reasonable limits and allows for flexibility in working hours, such as in the form of leave. Work from home and overtime are approved in advance on a case-by-case basis.
We also encourage the staff to give each other mutual feedback and see to it that the feedback is:
We work according to objectives. Objectives need to be:
Food is important. Firstly, flavors and the community around the meal are an important part of most cultures, and especially the French, partly because proper nutrition is crucial to health.
The school's food policy revolves around a food pyramid distribution and ensures that the children acquire a versatile taste repertoire and develop a curiosity towards new dishes.
In practice, we experience a clear cultural difference between children's openness to new food experiences. Specifically, we have noted that predominantly ethnic Danish children express a pronounced fussiness. This incidentally correlates with the fact that Danish food culture is documented as life-shortening (Danes have Western Europe's lowest life expectancy, due to smoking, alcohol and malnutrition / overweight).
In order to ensure that children get accustomed to a healthy nutrition pattern, we adhere to the following guidelines:
The school is basically participatory and we want to the extent possible to include parents and other interested people who wish to contribute to the environment.
The schoolhouse is available outside the school opening hours in order to promote this.
In the house, the rules of the house are to be respected - especially about the noise level in the school's opening hours.
We are interested in recruiting parents as staff members in order to strengthen the participativeness. This can be a bit of a challenge to handle and requires very clear and ongoing alignment of expectations. For example, it may often be a good idea that as a parent you stay out of the conflicts that your own children are involved in.
In order to ensure the school's function as an example, economics must not be a barrier to enrolling one's child. In consequence we use the municipality of Copenhagen's subsidy tariffs for day care centers and not ministry of education's. Specifically, this means that the school is self-financing approx. 2/3 of the free place system.
The idea of the participatory principle is not to exploit the parents as cheap (free) labor, for instance for refurbishment and cleaning, but rather to catalyze that many and strong relationships are established in the group.
W.r.t to the composition of the Board we prioritize versatility, commitment and skill and weigh the following concrete elements:
The communication is primarily done in Danish and/or French, but English is also an option in case it solves a specific problem. In the case of written communication we suggest making use of an on-line translation service.
Meetings should in principle be prepared in advance, be structured around an agenda and be summarized in minutes.
Birthdays parties are considered a private matter, but the school strives to ensure that no child feels left out. The school encourages the parents to coordinate and possibly co-arrange the parties.
When choosing technology for education, we only use free (libre) programs, in accord with the school's fundamental values of freedom and justice. From an IT literacy perspective we consider it essential that the children learn to identify which technological choices will make them dependent and which ones will give them autonomy. This includes explaining the privacy-related consequences of using the typical online services.
The policy has always been very easy to apply, as free/libre solutions exist for every relevant problem we have encountered.
Perhaps surprisingly, we have observed that children are very receptive to traditional text-based programming and don't express any need for simplistic point-and-click interfaces. The more interested pupils participate in managing the school's servers and infrastructure, learning valuable skills in that process. In practice this establishes an intense exchange and mentorship culture that characterizes environments where information can be shared freely.
We regularly sponsor free (as in freedom) projects that we make use of and consider it the morally right thing to do for an institution.
In the school we never give students non-free software to use. Some students bring their own phones or tablets; we don't forbid using them to do school activities, but we encourage them to use the free software on the school's computers. They can also buy a computer running free software from the school or we can help them install a GNU/Linux system on their own.
Computer games, including games on phones and tablets, are not allowed at school during the opening hours, because we have observed that they cause attention deficits and addiction. Generally speaking, screen-oriented activities may only occur if they have a well-defined pedagogical purpose.