The education authority
The Aix-Marseille education authority incorporates all of the schools in the following 4 départements:
- 04: Alpes de-Haute-Provence (Administrative centre: Digne-les-Bains: 17,172 inhab.)
- 05: Hautes-Alpes (Administrative centre: Gap: 41,170 inhab.)
- 13: Bouches-du-Rhône (Administrative centre: Marseille: 850,602 inhab.)
- 84: Vaucluse (Administrative centre: Avignon: 89,592 inhab.)
It caters for nearly 534,000 pupils and apprentices out of a population of 2,816,687 inhabitants, that is 4.5% of the population of mainland France.
Source: Livret d'Accueil handbook
Located in the south of France, the Aix-Marseille education authority shares responsibility for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) region with the Nice education authority. Close to Italy and lying facing the Mediterranean Sea, the region covered by the education authority is shaped by mountain ranges (the Southern Alps and the Alpilles) and emblematic mountains such as the Sainte-Victoire and Mont Ventoux. A number of rivers run through the region, including the Rhône, the delta of which lies in the Camargue Regional Nature Park. The region is in fact home to several nature parks, some at high altitude, such as the Lubéron and the Queyras regional park, some along its rugged coastline close to Marseille, such as the Calanques National Park.
The Provence region has a special climate all of its own - Mediterranean near the coast, with abundant sunshine and very irregular periods of rain, and temperate up in the mountains, which enjoy both Mediterranean and Alpine conditions. Snowfall is frequent but there is no shortage of sunshine, making it the ideal climate for winter sports. The clear skies explain the existence of the Mistral, a dry wind that blows around 130 days of the year at a speed ranging from 30 to 120km/h.
From major urban areas to small Provençal villages, mountain towns that live for winter sports to coastal resorts popular with summer visitors, the education authority spans a very diverse range of environments and landscapes to suit every taste. It is also worth nothing that 70% of those living within the education authority live in the département of Bouches-du-Rhône and that it is home to the 3rd most populated urban area in France, centred around the towns of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.
The education authority can be reached by air (Marseille airport) or by train thanks to the TGV high-speed train line that links Paris to Marseille in 3 hours. It also boasts a large motorway network linking it to the major European axes, as well as coach and regional express train (TER) connections providing access to mountainous areas. There are several transport systems in place within the towns and cities in the region, including a metro system in Marseille, a bicycle rental subscription service in Avignon and Marseille and bus networks in other towns. For more information: :
www.ter-sncf.com/paca : PACA regional express train
www.info-ler.fr/ : PACA regional express lines (coach)
www.lepilote.fr : All travel in Bouches-du-Rhône
www.rtm.fr : Marseille transport authority
www.marseille.aeroport.fr: Marseille Provence and MP2 airport website.
Tourist and cultural attractions
From the Sainte-Victoire so dear to Cézanne to the landscapes of Arles now associated with Van Gogh, Lettres de mon moulin by Alphonse Daudet to L'eau des collines by Marcel Pagnol, Provence has won over many an artist and writer over the years and has certainly left its mark on their work. The region boasts a variety of themed trails providing an opportunity to explore those aspects of the region that most appeal to you, which might include the Ochre Trail, the Provence wine route, the lavender route or indeed the Napoleon route.
The very rich historical and architectural heritage of Provence make it a popular location for internationally-renowned cultural events such as the Aix-en-Provence Festival of Lyrical Art and the Avignon Festival of Theatre. Among the many historic Provençal sites, 3 particularly extraordinary locations are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Roman and Norman monuments of Arles, the Ancient Theatre of Orange and the historic centre of Avignon with its imposing Palais des Papes. From the port of Cassis and the hilltop village of Baux de Provence to the Citadel of Sisteron, each of the Provençal villages is packed with its own little treasures to explore!
Marseille Provence was also be the 2013 European Capital of Culture, playing host to a variety of exhibitions, concerts and major gatherings over the course of the year as part of a programme of popular events, the likes of which had never before been seen in the region, spanning from Arles to La Ciotat, not forgetting Aix and of course Marseille. The Marseille-Provence 2013 preview is available to view online.
The place of the teaching assistant within the education authority
Host school setup
The education authority hosts 257 foreign language assistants across all of the lower schools, collèges and lycées in the region, broken down as follows:
- 24 assistants in Alpes de Haute-Provence,
- 32 in Hautes-Alpes,
- 143 in Bouches-du-Rhône and
- 58 in Vaucluse.
Specifics of the role of the assistant within the education authority
The role of the assistant is part of a pro-active education authority policy designed to diversify the language offer in schools and improve their openness to the rest of the world. The presence of language assistants encourages the acquisition of language skills based on a communicative and action-oriented approach, not to mention representing a considerable asset with regards to cultural awareness. Particular emphasis is placed on the quality of the services and support provided for assistants in order to ensure that they quickly become part of the French education system. Language assistants actively contributed to the teaching of 7 languages, namely German, English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Italian and Russian.