Reimagining success

By Jang KapgenLex Kleren

What does it mean to repeat a school year? Teachers might say it is a wake-up call for the lazy ones, while students often tell a story of frustration. To follow up on our article about students’ experiences, Lëtzebuerger Journal interviewed a teacher, a psychologist and the CePAS about new ways of approaching school repetitions.

While students often claim unjust treatment from teachers, the grade systems and the available resources, it seems like the school institution is aware – and tries to tackle the issues. At least high school teacher Mrs. Müller (name changed for anonymity) is aware. She remembers the story of a school repeater who did not fit from the start on into his new class. The pandemic did not make his life easier. "The school was then closed for two months from 13 March [2020]. That’s when I thought that this is not an easy situation for this boy." Inclusion over Google Meets and Zoom is not an easy task while all the other students already know each other. "In other classes, I had three school repeaters at once, but there was never an issue. They were integrated, they were engaged in the course. Sadly, however, only one of them succeeded in the end." As a teacher, Mrs. Müller thus sees the issues of school repeaters at first hand: difficult integration, long academic trajectories, student frustrations – in short, a vicious cycle that looks different for every school repeater.

A class full of school repeaters

"It is interesting to note that I now have a class consisting only of school repeaters", she explains. To contextualize this new project at the 5ième générale level (general secondary education, known as "enseignement secondaire général" in French), the teacher explains the current issues of the system. From 7ième générale until 5ième générale students can succeed to the next level without needing an average over 30 in each course. However, once arrived on level 5ième générale, students are confronted with several realities. For example, if 5ième students strive to continue up to a 1ière générale in order to attend university after high school, "they need to be in the right courses – the so-called courses avancés – and you need to have the right averages. Students can pass from 7ième until 5ième générale with up to four insufficient course averages, if these are above 20, and they then notice the closed doors too late", as Mrs. Müller regrets. "The system is very deceptive, and the children often miscalculate their options."

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Reimagining success


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