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An appetite for learning


In France, a vocational school is helping young drop-outs reconnect with education

"I am proud to have gained my school certificate”, says 16-year old Quentin, It is important to be positive and not dwell on failure, he says while describing his experiences at the Green Leaves vocational school, close to the city of Lille. With ESF support the institution hosts 25 young school drop-outs at a time, and seeks to give them a second chance at gaining their formal school certificates, as well as an array of work-related skills. “Most come from difficult and complex backgrounds which led them to drop out of formal education, they have no appetite for it,” explains trainer Herlé Bossennec. “We offer them a different approach, combining work placements with formal learning in the school. It’s a supple system that can be adapted to individual needs,” he adds.

And this approach works. The teachers find that many young people start with the wish to get the skills for work, yet as the school year progresses they begin to demand even more formal classes and aim to continue their vocational education, rather than taking up apprenticeships. Lucy is an example: “This second chance has saved me and boosted my determination. I am now in vocational training to become a nurse, I haven’t missed a class and my results average 16/20,” she proudly explains.