The education authority
The Orléans-Tours education authority is named after its 2 university cities and covers the Centre region of France, comprising 6 départements:
• Cher, 18
• Eure-et-Loir, 28
• Indre, 44
• Indre-et-Loire, 37
• Loir-et-Cher, 41
• Loiret, 45
Spanning an area of 31,160km², the authority accounts for 1/14th of the country, placing it 3rd among the 30 French education authorities, behind Toulouse and Bordeaux. The region has 2,500,000 inhabitants, that is 4.2% of the French population, half of which are concentrated in Indre-et-Loire and Loiret. The education authority itself caters for 495,861 pupils and students consisting of 254,087 primary school pupils, 208,942 secondary school pupils and 32,832 in higher education.
In order to deal with the economic, social and environmental challenges it faces, the authority places great importance on supporting and training its young people and ensuring that they achieve some form of qualification. Education has therefore become an issue of top priority, with half of the regional budget being allocated to lycée pupils, apprentices and students. The region also supports lifelong learning initiatives with the aim of securing the career paths of the working population and enabling those that have withdrawn from the working population to return to employment.
The Centre region enjoys a temperate climate, with dominant oceanic influences to the west of Orléans, more notably in the winter than in the summer months, which are relatively warm (19.4°C in Tours in July). To the east, meanwhile, the climate is more continental. Precipitation is generally around 900mm near the Massif Central but less than 600mm in Beauce.
Tourist and cultural attractions
Being a hotbed of French history, the Centre region has taken full advantage of every period of its past to form a very diverse cultural heritage. The region comprises 3 main areas, namely Eure-et-Loir, Val-de-Loire and Berry, the birthplace of royalty, and boasts an unrivalled historical, cultural, religious and gastronomic heritage.
Running along the banks of the Loire, the castles of Amboise, Chambord and Chenonceau, among many others, still reflect the past splendour of the Kings of France during the Renaissance. The main cities in the region also boast a remarkable heritage, and the cathedrals of Orléans and Chartres are among the most beautiful masterpieces of the Gothic period.
Nicknamed the 'Garden of France', the natural surroundings of the Centre region are protected, making them ideal for exploring on foot, by bike or indeed aboard a boat on Europe's last wild river, the Loire.
The region is also home to various vineyards producing dreamily-named wines of recognised designation, including Chinon, Bourgueil, Bourgueil, Touraine, Vouvray and Sancerre.
Architecture and monument enthusiasts, meanwhile, will no doubt appreciate the rich heritage that can be observed in the region's main cities, namely Blois, Chartres, Tours, Bourges and Orléans. Beyond the towns and cities there are also various natural areas such as Sologne, a wild, wetland area consisting mainly of forests and ponds and spanning some 500,000 hectares to the south of the Loire.
The Centre is one of those regions where a car always seems to be the best way to get around, although hopping on a bike is just as good an alternative. The Loire à Vélo, part of the European-wide project Eurovéloroute, for example, consists of a cycle track that runs right along the banks of the river, making for a very enjoyable ride indeed!
The region also plays host to a number of festivals, including the following:
- The Loire Festival
Europe's largest inland sailing event. In late September every other year since 2003, Orléans City Hall has organised this event which brings the prestigious past of the quaysides of Orléans and its inland sailing heritage back to life.
- The Printemps de Bourges is a music festival in which the most famous of artists perform alongside young, up-and-coming musical talents. The event has taken place every April since 1977 at the heart of the city of Bourges, in the département of Cher.
- The gardens of Chaumont-sur-Loire
The International Garden Festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire has showcased every year since 1992, in a part of the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire estate, a selection of landscaped creations based on a different theme every year. The Festival has become something of an unmissable event in the garden art calendar and is popular among both specialists and a much wider general audience.
The place of the teaching assistant within the education authority
Host school setup
A few facts and figures...
...regarding the public education sector
- 2,138 lower schools
- 232 collèges
- 50 lycées
- 39 vocational lycées
- 3 EREA regional special schools
...regarding the private education sector
- 133 lower schools
- 58 collèges
- 27 lycées
- 10 vocational lycées
Assistants are assigned to public establishments within the education authority, at either a collège or a lycée in an urban or rural area.
Specifics of the role of the assistant within the education authority
The assistant's role is to improve pupils' communication skills (and oral communication skills in particular) and to further their knowledge of a different culture and civilisation.
They are generally required to report to and support the work of modern language teachers in the school to which they are assigned.