Life Style

An out-of-contract Catholic school brings life to a deserted village



June 2016, the kindergarten of Aloxe-Corton lives its last moments. Maurice Chapuis is ” shocked “. “The academy had just announced that the three schools, including ours, participating in an inter-municipal educational grouping, would be brought together in a fourth, eight kilometers away”remembers the mayor of this village surrounded by vineyards. “Decision taken, officially, at the request of the teachers, who are too isolated. »

“At the time, residents came to the school to record the cries of the children, convinced that they would never hear them again. » However, in this month of October when the vines take on golden hues, a group of students rushes noisily onto the gravel of the playground. The establishment is now called Burgundy School of the Holy Childhood, in reference to the sanctuary of the Petit-Roi-de-Grâce, in Beaune.

Bringing life back to the village through the school

“When I was presented with this project in 2018, it was a surprise”, relates Maurice Chapuis. Members of the city council were not happy to welcome a private Catholic school without contract. “But the prospect of renting the premises of the old school (Editor’s note: today €1,000 per month) helped to overcome the reluctance. » This did not prevent the appearance of graffiti on the walls of the town hall: “Secularism”.

If the new school was born, it is because the director, Claire Follin-Arbelet, had taught for twenty years in the public and that she was one of the hundred inhabitants of the village. It is also that the three families at the initiative of the project have shown an unusual determination. So did Elisabeth Sanson de Sansal, five of her six children attending the establishment. “In other schools, it’s Russian roulette, does she justify. The quality is not always there, the teachers are constrained by the programs and the numbers. »

“Tailor-made support”

The establishment has three small multi-level classes. “Something to offer tailor-made support. » To facilitate the learning of reading and writing, we rely on speaking out loud. In math, we apply the method proven by the champion, Singapore: “We perform the operation by manipulating objects and then we visualize it, by drawing it”, explains Claire Follin-Arbelet. The Catholic dimension is clearly affirmed, even if the school also welcomes non-practicing families or families from another religion. Each day begins with a prayer.

Recently settled in Aloxe-Corton, Laetitia, a nurse, has registered her daughter there. “The first school to answer me, in full confinement! » She, who had had to convince her own parents to enroll her in “category”, is finally happy that Susan benefits from a religious education.

Tuition fees and donations

The parents, who often swallow the miles, do not take part in the teaching but take turns for the cleaning and the lunchtime activities. On occasion, villagers lend a hand. Like Crisilde, who runs the post office, the only place to live together in the absence of coffee and shops. “When the school opened, I had the children eat lunch every Thursday”, she says. At the time, there were only seven registered, four times less than today.

Tuition fees – €150 per month – cover a large part of the needs. But the school must also find this year €35,000 in donations from individuals, businesses and foundations. Maurice Chapuis wants to see this project take root. “The school certainly cannot attract new inhabitants because we lack housing. But a village without a school is a village without life. »

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More and more non-contract schools

According to 2022 figures from the Evaluation, Foresight and Performance Department, there are just over 1,000 private non-contract primary schools. This is twice as much as in 2015, and this represents 2.2% of primary schools.

The off-contract totals just over 300 colleges and about 400 high schools (general and technological or professional), i.e. 6.4% of secondary schools.

These establishments are generally much smaller than the others. And the average number per class is 11 students.

According to the association Create your school, 17% of the 172 establishments opened this fall are of Catholic inspiration, 79% are secular.

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