I’ve had a bit of a break from writing for the last few weeks as my time has been taken up with the ‘to do’ list for troisième.
Back in December, I was approached by the prof principal for my daughter’s class. It turns out that for all those kids who have any disadvantages in the French school system, whether Dyslexia, or in our case being ‘Anglophone’, there is help at hand. It is possible to apply for ‘Tiers Temps’. Now because I only received the infomation by phone, this got translated onto paper as ‘tearton’, and whilst grateful for the obvious dedication on the part of my daughter’s prof, I didn’t really get to grips with what form this ‘help’ might take.
I received a fiche from school with the request that it be filled in with as much evidence as possible regarding her difficulties and that the form be signed by her doctor. This was duly done, and the medecin generalist signed that she was Anglophone, but wasn’t really in the position to specify what actual aid she would need or be entitled to.
It was only later that I learned about the existence of the ‘Orthophonist/e’, and I suppose that anyone moving to France with children already suffering from difficulties such as Dyslexia would be wised up on this one. It could never be said to be the case for my 15 year old. An orthophonist/e is a specialist who pays special attention to a child’s ability to comprehend and articulate spoken and written language and information. We were hugely fortunate to have the ability to approach one direct for an appointment without a reference from our generalist, who in fact hadn’t pointed us in that direction anyway, because whilst working ‘à l’etranger’ (abroad) my husband’s Mutuelle (health insurer) allowed it.
My daughter passed a good 40 minutes with the orthophonist after an initial meeting ‘en famille’. The Orthophoniste gave us the ‘low-down’ on the ‘Tiers Temps’. This is the addition of an extra third of time, relative to any individual exam taken, to allow children with difficulties to have a respectable opportunity to succeed in their exams. For those with writing difficulties, for example speed, a physical disability, or those with comprehension difficulties, for example children being examined in their second language’ , Tiers temps gives them the time and ability to overcome their own particular issues. The Orthophonist was careful to check that the awarding of ‘Tiers Temps’ was not going to be held as a long term record against the child’s future.
Several days later I received a report from the Orthophonist noting where the specific problems lay which I was able to print out and include in our application in the knowledge that putting a ‘cross’ in the box ‘handicapé’ would not be a lifelong marker on our child’s education record.
In February the Brevet Blanc, the GCSE mock equivalent was upon us, the difference being that the Brevet Blanc exams actually do contribute to the final Brevet mark. The subjects examined were Maths, French, History/Geo and Education Civique, all 3 hours but adjusted to 4. My daughter reported that there were about 30 students, approximately 1/5 of the year group, who had been allocated Tiers Temps for one reason or another. We had been able to request access to a French/English dictionary as a comprehension aid and my daughter reported that one or two items of the exams were modified from the mainstream exam, mainly in French where the dictée was completely different.
There are another set of Brevet Blanc exams in April, covering the same subjects before the final Brevet Exams are taken in June. The Brevet Blanc exams are marked externally and the results issued within the month.
I was impressed by the ability to register for this ‘third extra time’ allocation. It certainly made a difference to us, if nothing else than for taking the pressure off my daughter, and giving her the ability to read each exam question more than twice, and to write down the answers knowing that she had understood the questions. It’s not everybody who can go into a formal exam situation after two and a half years in a foreign country and come out with 60% in each subject, with the exception of French Grammar. But as the Orthophonist said – that is exactly the point – French grammar will ‘come’ in time, but making a intelligent child feel a failure by not providing them with room to cope with a passing disability would be a very bad educational ‘call’.
What is also of great benefit to me is having an expert highlight the difficulties experienced by my child, and I do feel that this would be a very beneficial ‘test’ for all my anglophone children to take. A problem identified is a problem on its way to being resolved!
If only they could dispense ‘Tiers Temps’ for struggling mothers so that they actually could get various pieces of paperwork in on time – but that’s another story!
The 2012 Brevet Blanc Papers will be uploaded shortly.
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