ATD Quart Monde - teacher training module
ATD quart monde is a French NGO involving individuals who experience or have experienced poverty.Among other initiatives, it works with ‘folk universities’ (universités populaires) in France, with the aim to generate and gather expert knowledge from its members - participants on a number of issues, including parenting and perception of school.
Building on this experience, in 2014 ATD designed an experimental training module to be produced by the French training institute for teachers (ESPE), aimed at upper secondary school staff. The objective of the module was to raise awareness of teachers of the different perception and expectations on school from parents coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The module reflects the findings of a series of meetings with parents: the fear of being judged by teachers, the perceived opacity and complexity of schools rules and jargon were highlighted as key challenges for parents. Also, the importance of mutual respect and the recognition of their 'expertise' over their children was stressed: the training module was not intended to be a 'testimonial' from parents, but an 'experts' contribution. As an additional result of this process, ATD parents also prepared a manifesto summarising their vision for a more inclusive school. Some parents also reported that, following this work, they now feel less fearful to go their children's school.