Background to the programme
Muriel Leselbaum and Sophie Levamis created the Osez la Médiation Association in 2014 to increase the relational intelligence of the "education community" through mediation and the use of third parties.
The two founders are developing a civic project that makes use of mediation (beyond conflict resolution) in order to support partnered initiatives involving social inclusion and the atmosphere and success in schools, to respond to current major educational challenges.
Objectives of the programme
- To educate and train workers in the field (teachers, staff, pupil parents) in the mediation approach and to support their initiatives in order to carry out "learning" experiments and facilitate their recognition and dissemination.
- To help these actors to interact better and find suitable solutions together by using the skills of each person and the partnerships.
- Customised modules on awareness/training: link to the conflict, conflict prevention and management; position of others and ability to involve others in their environment (internal and external).
- Interventions in situations to help teams to strengthen their collective actions. For example, the approach of a middle school in partnership with parents and educators to find alternatives to exclusion: support the formalisation of approaches, collective analysis of practice and the strengthening of partnerships.
Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions
• For the staff and partners of the school community:
- Creation of a welcoming framework for exchanging practice and building a collective spirit
- Formalisation of a collective approach that can be shared with partners
- Development of the power to act (empowerment) and interpersonal skills
- The introduction of a third party into the group, who organises without recommending, has enabled a change in the working environment and promoted a collective discipline, a collective spirit.
• Indirect effects on students: for example, in the establishments where the teams wanted to find alternatives to the permanent expulsion of students, there have been no exclusions for 8 years, absenteeism has fallen and the overall level of education has increased.
- The support of a third party mediator who develops personal skills and helps a collective response to complex challenges.
- Encourage the collective work of teachers who have generally tended to face their students alone.
- The strengthening of inter-disciplinary work for educational staff (teachers, management teams, non-teaching staff ...) and partners of the educational community (parents, educators ...)
- The exemplary nature of the collective practices of the adults in the school community that can inspire students.
Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme
Program developed as part of Paris-Colleges-Families, a program by the City of Paris intended to encourage actions carried out in partnership with Parisian middle schools, local associations, social centres and parents of pupils.
Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :
- The difficulties of cross-institutional work: participants have very different positions and objectives and considerable mobility.
- Lack of time: the partnership process and building trust take time; yet time is scarce, meetings are very short, which reinforces the need for quality support.
- The extent of cultural change necessary: it's about moving from individual practices to collective approaches and from a closed culture to the establishment of an open culture of partnerships.
- Difficulties in finding funding for this kind of support
- Long term sustainability issue: the mediator is not supposed to remain indefinitely
- Inherent obstacles to cultural change: moving from an individual to a collective approach, moving from a rather closed culture in schools to an open culture
Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :
- Formalise the processes so people can take ownership of these creative and relevant collective practices
- Train people from the group in techniques to organise practice exchanges and collective regulation
- Contact local authorities for funding
Suggestions for future improvement :
- Form communities around good practices via digital platforms to enable exchange with other professionals, outside of their educational establishment
- Carry out inter-associative work to make associative offers in training and support for educational personnel better known.
Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :
- In respect of the mediation approach, don't dictate solutions but support people so that they find their own solutions
- Develop support for teams and training in situ, in such a way as to encourage initiatives from partnerships
- Rather than an illusory expansion of the project, the transposing of such measures can be facilitated by putting actors working in the field in touch with each other.
Jacques Faget, Les ateliers silencieux de la démocratie (Silent workshops for democracy), Eres Ed. (Paris), 2010.
Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger, The Promise of Mediation: Responding to Conflict Through Empowerment and Recognition (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1994).