For my Learning from Life Placement, I am doing a six-week block at a French primary school called école elémentaire “Bel-Air” in the La Chappelle St Mesmin area of Orléans. As part of my placement, I am observing and teaching in all the classes across the school.
There are 8 classes in this school:
- CP with M. Habault
- CP with Mmes. Da Rocha Foucher
- CP/CE1 with Mme Serrait
- CE1 with Mme Bertrand
- CE2 with Mme Berthier and Mme Rio
- CE2/CM1 with Mme Leslie
- CM1/CM2 with Mme Sarrant
- CM2 with Mme Perrin
The school building spans two floors, with two classes on the ground floor, which can only be accessed from the outside, as well as a music room, the staff room with an adjoining reprographics area and the director’s office. On the top floor are the remaining six classrooms, as well as separate toilets for children and adults, and three other rooms used for different purposes. These three rooms are: a computer suite, a library and a multipurpose room used for T.A.P activities. The classrooms in the school are all of equal size and shape, though some year groups are bigger than others, meaning that the class sizes range from 24-30 children per class.
The grounds surrounding the building are a decent size for the children to play. In the playground, it is mostly concrete; though there are specific areas dedicated to different sports, such as a basketball net, a football pitch and some tables for table tennis. There are specific rules for the playground that the students are aware of that concern behaviour and use of equipment. The atmosphere of the school is very inclusive, and so on the wall outside there is a large notice board, where students can find the rules and rota of the playground, as well as information about upcoming school events and a menu for the school canteen.
Around the back of the building, there is a garden area where the children have planted different fruits and vegetables and I have seen this area being used for educational purposes. As far as I am aware, there is rota to determine which class plays with some of the equipment available on a specific day. The teachers also have a rota for when they are on playground duty and a teacher is always outside 10 minutes before school starts, to welcome the children, then again at 10 o’clock for the 15-minute break. At lunch two teachers return outside 10 minutes before the end to re-welcome any children who went home for lunch, then lastly, they return outside at 3 o’clock for 15 minutes to watch the children during the second break. The gates to enter the school are always locked during school hours with only a teacher possessing a key, so each teacher escorts their class to the gate at the end of the day.
Across from the school, there is a sports area, which is used by the teachers for lessons and activities. There is also a rota for the use of this, with each class entitled to an hour and 40 minute slot each week. The canteen area of the school is separate from the main building and classes take it in turn to eat there lunch there every day. Also separate yet connected to the school is the école maternelle, which is a nursery school for 3-5 year olds.