Based in Saint-Cyprien, Gwénaëlle and Jérôme, parents of three children, have been officially considered outlaws since Tuesday, October 25. Despite an official notice from the Academies Inspectorate, they refuse to send their daughters to school in favor of home education, a lifestyle that “suits” them and “makes the lessons meaningful”.
Both come from, as they explain, the ranks of the “republican school” claiming not to have anything against the “classical” school. Currently installed at Saint-Cyprien-sur-DourdouGwénaëlle and Jérôme practice home school since 2016 together with their daughter Manon, who has Down syndrome and is now 11 years old. The young girl nevertheless spent two years in school, the first years in kindergarten, but her disability soon caught up with her. “We saw her less happy, we saw that she was not feeling well in the evening,” recalls Gwénaëlle, her mother, who explains that the “ritualized” aspect of school did not suit her daughter.
“We saw her less happy”
“At that time, we didn’t even know what homeschooling was, and we weren’t motivated at all to put it in a medical-pedagogical institute,” she continues. To be able to legally dispense their education at home, Gwénaëlle and her husband Jérôme were until now obliged to write a declaration sent to the academy and to the municipality; in return, they undertook to undergo inspections by the municipality every two years and by the national education system every year. The feedback from these institutions has been consistently positive and the opinions have been positive for a continuation of this practice.
Faced with the success of their educational approach with the young Manon, her two younger sisters also fall in line, and the parents, both employed and finding their advantage in home education, pass the baton to run the school for their three children.
Things have changed radically since the entry into force of the law on “separatism”, whose real name is “Law confirming respect for the principles of the republic”, in August 2021. “Now this has changed the regime and we must ask for permission” , sums up Jérôme. The interlocutor is the academy in Toulouse, which is considered “very serious” in the matter, and the family is refused.
Six months in prison and a fine of 7,500 euros
Then a formal notice arrives in their mailbox from the Academic Director of the National Education Services in Aveyron. The latter acts due to parents’ refusal to send their children to school, who had informed it, and “urges them to” enroll their children in a public or private institution within a fortnight.
We are asking for a return to the declarative system because we will not enroll them in school, that is for sure
For Gwénaëlle, Jérôme and their children, the ax therefore fell on Tuesday, October 25, the date on which they will be considered outlaws. And risks 6 months in prison and a fine of €7,500. By their side in this adventure, the movement “Free Childhood”, which brings together about twenty families in the same situation. And some of them have chosen nomadism or a form of disappearance to escape this obligation, which they consider unjust… “Many try to go under the radar. We could not have said anything when we arrived in Aveyron. We ask a return to Aveyron, the declarative system, because we don’t want to enroll them in school, that’s for sure,” says Jérôme.
“We are not saying that the school at home is better or worse than the school itself. Before we had the opportunity to choose, and we think it is important to keep that,” concludes the young father.