David Bouchoux has been CPE at the Lycée Jules-Renard in Nevers for 12 years. “I originally wanted to be a history and geography teacher. I even have my master’s degree. But during my work as a supervisor, during my studies, I discovered what the CPE profession really is and I decided to enter the competitions.”
He initially worked at universities in the Paris region before joining Jules-Renard. His role ? “There are as many as CPEs and facilities. But I would say it’s to ensure students have the best possible study conditions and help them build themselves up to become better citizens. At the university we are much more present in the field service, there is a “police” part and reports on incidents. They calmed down in high school and the difficulties are more in living together, dropping out, problems with orientation.”
“I see them gaining autonomy, I like that”
It’s two CPEs to distribute Jules-Renard’s 900 students. He takes care of the follow-up of the second and half of the first. “My colleague knows Parcoursup better, and I don’t mind dabbling in the shenanigans of the youngest as I already know middle schoolers well. It’s nice to see how they develop. They arrive completely childish, then calm down, understand the interest of working in high school. When they succeed, it is rewarding.”
Evaluation of the high schools of Nivernais in relation to the results of the 2021 Baccalaureate: in which category is your establishment?
Sometimes the student is not in his place in public high school. “We then work with them to find other courses, or we help them find their place in high school. Families expect a lot from us. But we don’t always have the answers and we don’t always have the necessary financial means.”
Beyond the policing aspect, absenteeism control and behavioral problem management, David prefers to accompany them in the development of a project. “This year, for example, they want to organize an afternoon that mixes sports competitions, carnival, flea market with used clothes and concerts. Last year they wanted to install guards in the girls’ toilets. They handled everything from A to Z, from grant applications to work meetings. The machine will be installed in early April. I see them gaining autonomy and I like that.”
His most unusual night: a hypnotized student
His working days start at 7:30 am with boarding and sometimes end at 10 pm with on-call duty. But no day is like the other. The most unusual? “One night, around midnight, I received a call from the director of the boarding school. He tells me that a student has been hypnotized and can’t “come down”. The surprise and fun are over, David goes there. Some students played Apprentice Messmer, and it looks like the mechanism worked for one of them. He believes he is in an elevator and only sees those “entering” the cabin. Today, David sees it more as a psychological blockage. “The student had difficult times during the week, perhaps he took the opportunity of this hypnosis to stay safe in that place. Still, we had to call the fire brigade… Which caused another student to have an anxiety attack. It was a very special night.”
“Despite the stress, most of them remain super lovable, nice, polite, positive. They want to do things.”
For the coming years, he worries a little about the mental state of the students. He fears that young people are increasingly losing their bearings. But he remains hopeful. “Despite everything, despite the stress, most of them remain super nice, nice, polite, positive. They want to do something, they have plans for school life, they are full of ideas. They stay young, motivated and dynamic.”
Many more young people in trouble
Since the Covid, the CPE has noticed a wave of unease among students.
“Many young people are not doing so well. They don’t really know how to put it into words. It’s not the school, the students, or the teachers. Everything is intertwined. The stress of finding her direction. The reform that favors continuous surveillance that adds constant pressure. And the context doesn’t help young people feel at ease. There was the Covid. The climate future is still a little in the background, they realize that they are not heading for something easy. The war in Ukraine adds a frightening side, like black clouds overhead. It doesn’t really come out in her speech. But they will watch the news, which they don’t usually do, see Macron speak… It’s not easy for their generation. The worst is for the first: they were limited to 3rd place, the second they spent in a semi-group due to the Covid and there they find themselves at more than 30 per class. It is difficult. Some have developed cabin syndrome. You felt at home. There was a bright side, and they are struggling with returning to face-to-face contact.
Solutions to help them get through
The school offers solutions to these young people in difficulty. Like tutoring. The school can also turn to the Home Pedagogical Assistance Service, which, in very specific cases and at the school’s initiative, makes it possible to make up for lost time and avoid dropping out of school. It is also possible to ease the youngster’s run by putting certain subjects aside so that he can find the excitement of high school.
“But that only happens on doctor’s orders, it’s strictly regulated and reserved for very special cases,” emphasizes David Bouchoux. Some youth who suffer from anxiety attacks, for example, are also entitled to leave classes if necessary.
The CPE estimates that more than 10 of these young people have been ill for three months. “Last year, no student had these problems.”