6.7 Skills for innovation
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In the National Education, innovation is associated with experimentation, but also with scientific research and international comparisons. It is a lever for progress for the education system. It also plays a key role in the school’s capacity to adapt, including in the Covid-19 health crisis.
The “Common Core of Knowledge and Skills” (Socle commun de connaissances et de compétences et de culture) (Decree no.2015-372 of 31 March 2015) represents everything that children between 6 and 16 y/o must know and have mastered by the end of compulsory schooling. It includes all knowledge, skills and values required for a pupil’s success at school, in their personal lives and as citizens. At primary and lower secondary school, all subjects taught have a role to play in acquisition of the common core, including artistic, cultural and sports activities.
A new common core of knowledge, skills and culture was introduced at the start of the 2016/2017 school year. It is organised around 5 domains:
- languages for thinking and communicating;
- methods and ways of learning;
- forming the person and the citizen;
- natural systems and technical systems;
- representations of the world and human activity.
The new common core reinforces and reasserts the need to master certain “basic” areas of knowledge (languages, mathematics, etc.) and also strengthens various skills connected with innovation, such as use of digital technology in Domain 2 “Methods and ways of learning”.
In primary and secondary schools, digital technology is incorporated in the programmes for each discipline. The aim is to train pupils in the use of digital tools, equip them with the skills required for their future professional life, develop their critical thinking and provide them with the codes necessary to master the new means of communication and use responsibly the new media, including the Internet.
These skills are assessed as part of the common core of knowledge, skills and culture at primary and lower secondary school. For pupils in the ninth grade, digital skills are assessed as part of the French certificate of general education (diplôme national du brevet): the written test in mathematics, science and technology now includes a computer programming exercise.
In addition, the PIX online platform for digital skills assessment and certification makes it possible to assess the pupils from the grade 8 upwards. In upper secondary school, the pupils’ digital skills are assessed as part of the computing and Internet certification (brevet informatique et internet, B2i), the purpose of which is to certify the proficiency level of the pupils in Internet and multimedia tools.
Apart from the programmes themselves, innovation also concerns teaching practices and methods. The right to try out new teaching methods was instigated by the Ministry of National Education in 2005. Within schools, teachers may draw support from the “Research, Development, Innovation and Experimentation Department” (DRDIE – Département recherche-développement innovation et expérimentation). The department’s role is to foster innovation and carry out research in the field of education.
Resources and tools are made available to teachers so that they can try out innovative approaches, such as the “experiment library” (“éxpérithèque”), which lists all innovative and experimental projects implemented in schools. 5000 projects are listed in it. Some of them may be rewarded during Innovation Days in which innovative educational actions implemented in the context of calls for projects are rewarded and receive “Innovation Prizes”. Teachers can also receive further training during ”Innovation Days”, which organise professional training modules for participants as well as conferences bringing together researchers, education professionals and school partners.
Teachers have resources and tools to test innovative approaches, such as the “Innovating and experimenting” section of the information platform Eduscol, the ‘innovathèque’ (innovation library) which lists the innovative and experimental projects implemented in schools. 5,000 projects are listed there. This list of innovative and experimental actions makes all the projects conducted at the academic, inter-academic and national level known to the general public and the staff of the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports.
The “innovathèque” also offers the possibility for innovative teams to be advised and supported by the academic units for research, development, innovation and experimentation (cellules académiques de la recherche, du développement, de l’innovation et de l’experimentation, CARDIE) which help them refine their project or give shape to their actions.
Teachers can also be trained during the “national day of innovation” which offers participants professional training modules as well as conferences mobilizing researchers, education professionals and school partners. Indeed, the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports annually organises the National Day of Innovation. The eleventh edition was held on 7 April 2021.
This event aims to promote the research and innovation capacity of the education system and its stakeholders. During this day, professionals (inspectors, trainers, teachers, head teachers, directors) and researchers are invited to share their vison and experiences, for the benefit of all.
The Ministry of National Education has set up a programme of “educational actions” (actions actions éducatives), defined as actions “in continuity of and complementary to educational action in the classroom, [promoting] collective and individual initiatives, [encouraging] crosscutting approaches and [contributing] to the development of partnerships”. Educational actions under the Circular bearing on the 2016/2017 Programme of Educational Actions in the Bulletin Officiel of 22 September 2016 are very much at the crossroads of formal, informal and non-formal education.
The educational action offer is organised into nine themes:
- Scientific, technical, industrial and entrepreneurial culture;
- Education in citizenship;
- Artistic and cultural education;
- Education in the environment and sustainable development;
- Media and information literacy;
- Language, literature and philosophy;
- History and memory;
- Sport, healthcare, safety and responsibility ;
- Research, innovation, experimentation, use of digital technology.
Implementation of such actions may rely on members of the Ministry of National Education’s “Citizen Reserve” (Réserve citoyenne), which is made up of bénévoles. They are carried out through organisation of competitions, multi-partner events such as the “French young mathematicians tournament (TFJM^2, Tournoi français des jeunes mathématiciennes et mathématiciens )". the “Fête de la Science” (Science Festival) or the “Cosmos à l'École” (Cosmos at School) project,” the result of a partnership between the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS – Centre national de recherche scientifique), the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (EONR) and French teachers.
Education actions can take practical form through the organisation of competitions, multi-partnership events, such as the “Fête de la science” (Science Festival), or the “ Cosmos à l'École” (Cosmos at School) project resulting from the partnership between the National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre national de recherche scientifique, CNRS), the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire, CERN) and French teachers.
Furthermore, the Ministry of National Education supports the production of innovative digital solutions thanks to the Edu-up scheme which consists of a subsidy of up to €70,000. This scheme is based on a partnership between stakeholders in national education and those involved in digital technology or in the field of non-formal education.
It is aimed at any private or public company, as well as start-ups, associations, foundations and public interest groupings (groupement d’intérêt public, GIP). It subsidises (up to 50% of the budget) an innovative project for the creation of high value-added contents and services for the educational environment. The digital solutions should concern educational, technological, economic and organisational uses and must be inclusive.
The solutions produced under this scheme are made available to teachers and their pupils, in most cases in free access.For example, one of the innovative projects supported is the ”Dédys” project: a tool for inclusion, intended for children with dyscalculia and all young children, for whom images can be used as a learning enhancement tool.
Site : https://eduscol.education.fr/2258/des-ressources-numeriques-innovantes-et-adaptees-grace-au-dispositif-edu?menu_id=2811