ERG SES D 12, Vocational Education
School, an institution traditionally committed to the social integration of students (Durkheim, 1922), also plays the role of distributing them between different streams and courses. Thus the students’ rapport to school and learning in part depends on which streams they are allowed to join or from which they are excluded. This rapport in turn participates in their subjectivization (Dubet & Martuccelli, 1996).
In France, at the end of junior high school, students are distributed depending on their grades. Those with good or medium grades are sent respectively into an academic or technological course; those with lower grades are sent into a vocational course.
A report requested by the European Commission, published in 2011 and entitled Attitudes towards vocational education and training emphasizes the value of vocational education and training (VET) in the eyes of European business and organization leaders. Furthermore, it indicates that VET has a positive image in most European countries.
Nevertheless, the way students with academic difficulties are distributed in France is often less about them being included in a vocational high school and rather about them being excluded from the more academic streams (Verdier, 2010).
Our research uses a quantitative method. We administered a questionnaire in 2016. It was addressed to all the young people at a specific school district level (the "académie de Nantes"), who were identified by administrative data as not having been authorised to enter the senior high school training course they had asked for. We questioned them between three to five years after the distribution, so as to give them time to stay in school, get a diploma, or drop out. 1591 people were contacted by phone. Amongst those who were effectively reached, 376 actually answered the questions. The questionnaire is divided into eight parts. Those we offer to focus on in this paper concern the quality of the school and career counselling received, as perceived by the respondents. We also concentrate on the parts of the questionnaire that deal with their perception of their senior high school climate as well as their situation at the time of their questioning.
Our hypothesis was that the people interrogated would express feelings of having been forced to follow a training path and that they had not been able to make sense of their school experience. Instead, their answers show that a majority of respondents used their school experiences to build a socialisation based on their integration in their vocational training and in their senior high school rather than on their exclusion from other school careers and types of high schools.The statistical analysis of the answers indeed underlines that though none of them had been allowed to enter their first choice of training course, 69,7% of the respondents felt, when asked three to five years later, that they had in fact been able to choose their course.
Dubet, F. & Martuccelli, D. (1996). Théories de la socialisation et définitions sociologiques de l'école. Revue française de sociologie, 37 (4), 511-535. Durkheim, E. (1922). Education et sociologie. Paris : Félix Alcan. Verdier, E. (2010). L’orientation scolaire et professionnelle : entre assignation et idées floues, l’anarchie organisée. Formation emploi, 109, 113-126.
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